What is an L Blanket Petition?
The L visa for nonimmigrant intracompany transferees allows U.S.-based employers to petition to transfer certain alien employees from related foreign entities to work in the United States. In general, a petition for an L nonimmigrant is filed for a single beneficiary. However, certain petitioning entities may be eligible to petition for multiple foreign employees under what is called an “L blanket petition.” If a petitioner gains L blanket approval, it will become far easier to transfer large numbers of L nonimmigrants to work in the United States.
What are the Petitioner Requirements for L Blanket Approval?
The petitioner requirements for being granted L blanket approval are found in 8 C.F.R. 214.2(l)(4)(i). First, the petitioner must meet the basic requirements for being an L visa petitioner. This means l that all requirements pertaining to the U.S.-based petitioner’s relationship with the foreign entity or entities employing the L visa petition beneficiary as well as the requirement that the petitioner be “doing business” in the United States apply equally to applications for L blanket approval. The L blanket regulations then add additional requirements for a petitioner seeking blanket approval.
The L blanket approval-specific requirements are: The petitioner and each of its qualifying entities are engaged in commercial trade or services; the petitioner has had an office in the United States that has been doing business for at least one year; the petitioner has three or more domestic and foreign branches, subsidiaries, or affiliates; and the petitioner (or other qualifying organization) has either obtained approval for at least ten L1A or L1B managers, executives, or specialized knowledge professionals over the previous twelve months, or the petitioner has U.S. subsidiaries or affiliates with combined annual sales of at least $25 million or a combined U.S. work force of at least 1,000 employees.
The requirements for L blanket approval exclude “new office” L visa petitioners and non-profit petitioners.. Furthermore, approved L1B petitions for non-specialized knowledge professional intracompany transferees are not counted toward meeting the requirement for L blanket approval. As we will see, the only type of L1B beneficiary who may be petitioned for under an L blanket petition is an L1B specialized knowledge professional.
Seeking L Blanket Approval and Adjudication Process
An application for L blanket approval is filed on the Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker. The petitioner must establish that it meets the regulatory requirements for L blanket approval.
If the L blanket petition is approved, the petitioner will have L blanket approval for an initial period of 3 years. L blanket approval may be extended indefinitely provided that the petitioner continues to meet the applicable requirements. An L blanket petition may be approved in part and denied in part where certain organizations under the petitioner’s umbrella are found to meet the requirements while others are not.
If there is a change in the relationships of any of the qualifying organizations with L blanket approval, the petitioner must file an amended Form I-129 explaining the changes.
Transferring Employee from Abroad Under L Blanket Petition
In order to transfer an individual L1A or L1B employee under an L blanket petition, the petitioner must file the Form I-129S, Certification of Eligibility for Intracompany Transferee under a Blanket Petition. The petition beneficiary must be provided by the petitioner with a Form I-797 reflecting the petitioner’s blanket approval. The beneficiary may then apply for a visa through consular processing within six months of the date on the Form I-129S. A Canadian beneficiary of a Form I-129S may apply for a visa with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) at a qualifying port of entry in order to seek admission under the L blanket petition.
The consular office will only approve an L1A or L1B visa for a beneficiary under a blanket petition for “clearly approvable applications.” The requirements for a beneficiary are the same as for a non-blanket L1A or L1B petition except for the limitation on the L1B category to specialized knowledge professionals only. A petitioner may not seek to afford L1A or L1B status to a beneficiary through a non-blanket and blanket petition simultaneously. However, a petitioner with blanket approval may opt to file a non-blanket petition on behalf of a beneficiary in lieu of seeking approval under the blanket petition. A petitioner may file an individual L1 petition on behalf of a beneficiary who was denied a visa under the L blanket procedure.
Limitations on L Blanket Validity and Extensions of Stay
An individual may be approved for an L1 visa under an L blanket petition so long as the L blanket approval of the petitioner remains valid. The beneficiary may be approved for an initial period of stay of three years even when the validity of the L blanket petition may expire before that date. However, if the validity of the L blanket approval is slated to expire while the employee is on L1 status in the United States, the petitioner will be required to either seek an extension of the validity of the L blanket petition or to file an individual petition to support the employee’s continued employment in the United States.
In order to seek an extension of stay for an employee under an L blanket petition, the petitioner must file a new Form I-129S on behalf of the employee. This extension request may be filed concurrently with a request to extend the validity of the L blanket petition. However, the applications will be considered separately.
Transferring Employees Under L Blanket Petition
An employee may be transferred from one of the petitioner’s organizations with L blanket approval to another with L blanket approval so long as the employee will be performing virtually the same job duties. If the job duties will be different, the petitioner must complete a new Form I-129S on behalf of the beneficiary and submit it for approval with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) director who approved the blanket petition. The petitioner cannot transfer an L blanket employee to an entity that does not have L blanket approval under an L blanket petition.
Large petitioners that meet the L blanket requirements may benefit from seeking L blanket approval. L blanket approval makes it easier to transfer multiple L1A and L1B employees from abroad than filing individual petitions on behalf of each employee. However, it is important to note that, while the L blanket petition makes it easier to seek approval for L1A and L1B intracompany transferees, it does not alter the beneficiary’s requirements for eligibility. For this reason, petitioners may still be required to file individual petitions on behalf of beneficiaries who do not present clearly approvable cases or for L1B beneficiaries who fall outside of the scope of the L blanket procedure.
Petitioners should consult with an experienced immigration attorney for guidance in seeking L blanket approval and in handling individual cases that may present special concerns.