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What is a L-1 blanket petition and how can a company get one?

The L-1 visa for non-immigrant intracompany transferees allows U.S. based employers to have certain foreign employees transferred from related foreign entities to work in the U.S. by filing a petition on behalf of such employees with the USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services).

The petition for an L-1 non-immigrant visa is generally filed for a single employee. However, certain large multinational companies can file what is known as an L-1 “blanket” petitioneliminating the need to file a separate L-1 petition for each individual employee the company wishes to transfer to the United States. Instead, an eligible employee can apply for an L-1 visa directly at a U.S. consulate under the approved L-blanket petition.In India, the U.S. consulate in Chennai handles L-1 blanket applications.

Eligibility for an US employer (petitioner) for the L-1 blanket certification may be established if:

  • The U.S. petitioner and each of the qualifying organizations (parent company, branch, subsidiary, or affiliate, collectively referred to as qualifying organizations) are engaged in commercial trade or services;
  • The U.S. petitioner has an office in the United States which has been doing business for one year or more;
  • The U.S. petitioner has three or more domestic and foreign branches, subsidiaries, and affiliates; and
  • The U.S. petitioner along with the other qualifying organizations, collectively, meet one of the following criteria:
  • Have obtained at least 10 L-1 approvals during the previous 12-month period;
  • Have U.S. subsidiaries or affiliates with combined annual sales of at least $25 million; or
  • Have a U.S. work force of at least 1,000 employees.

Initially, an L-1 blanket petition is approved for a period of three years. However, it can be extended indefinitely provided the U.S. petitioner continues to fulfil the eligibility criteria as mentioned above.

If the US employer has an approved blanket L petition, an eligible employee of its foreign branch/subsidiary/affiliate can directly apply for either an L-1 visa (Managerial/Executive) or L-1B specialized knowledge at the U.S. Consulate. Thisconsiderably reduces the processing time as the employer does not need to prove eligibility every time that it files an individual L-1 petition; only the employee needs to prove his or her L-1 visa eligibility.  Thus, it’s comparatively easier for the petitioner to transfer eligible employees to the U.S.

Any of the qualifying organizations listed in the approved L- blanket petition may transfer employees to the U.S. However, any related entity that is not listed in the petition cannot transfer employees, but additional entities may be added to the petition by filing an amended L blanket petition. Also, ablanket L-1 beneficiary may be transferred to any other U.S. organization listed on the approved blanket petition during his or her authorized L-1 stay without having to file a petition with the USCIS, as long as the employee’s job duties remain ‘virtually the same’ at the new qualifying entity.

Majority of employees under the L- Blanket apply for the L-1 visa at a U.S. consulate. While a USCIS denial of an individual L petition may be appealed, consular denials of L-1 visas under the blanket cannot be appealed or reviewed.Upon consular denial, the petitioner may have the option of filing an individual L-1 petition for that employee with the USCIS.

Amit Solanki