A “blanket” L-1 petition is a cost-effective and efficient strategy for global companies with offices in the United States and abroad to transfer employees to the United States.
Before we get into the blanket petition, let’s cover what an L-1 visa is, who it is for, and the benefits. It is also important to note that even if the company is successful in obtaining a blanket L, it does not guarantee the outcome of the individual L-1 visa petitions. Read on to see the benefits of the blanket L.
What is an L-1 visa?
An L-1 visa is a temporary (or nonimmigrant) visa for employees of multinational companies working in an executive, managerial (L-1A) or specialized knowledge (L-1B) capacity, who are transferring from an overseas location to a subsidiary or affiliated entity in the United States. The employee will need to have been employed by the company for at least one year overseas and must be working in a managerial, executive, or specialized knowledge capacity that is critical to the business.
An L-1 visa petition is filed by the U.S. company on behalf of the foreign national employee it is seeking to transfer to the US. This petition is filed directly with USCIS and normally takes 2-4 months. If the petition is filed with premium processing, USCIS is required to process the petition within 15 calendar days. Canadian citizens may apply at the border for admission as L nonimmigrants by filing an L-1 petition at the border or an international airport in Canada.
Initial L-1 visa approval is granted for up to three years (except for employees of new offices of overseas companies for whom initial approval is limited to one year). L visa extensions are granted in increments of up to two years. A manager or executive may ultimately remain in the U.S. for up to seven years on an L-1A visa. A specialized knowledge employee may generally remain in the U.S. for up to five years on an L-1B visa but may be able to change to L-1A visa status and take advantage of the seven-year maximum.
What is a blanket L petition?
A blanket L-1 petition allows employees of multinational companies who are executives, managers, and specialized knowledge professionals to apply for L-1 status directly at a U.S. consulate, without having to obtain preapproval from USCIS.
To take advantage of the blanket L-1 petition, a company must file a petition with the USCIS, requesting “blanket” approval that the company and the specified foreign affiliates have a qualifying relationship, and meet the additional requirements for the blanket L. If approved, the petition will initially be valid for three years and may be extended indefinitely after those three years.
Once the blanket L-1 petition has been filed and approved with USCIS, an individual employee will be able to file evidence of the blanket petition approval with the other supporting documents of their L-1 qualifications with their local US consulate or embassy.
What are the benefits of a blanket L visa?
There are numerous benefits to a company for obtaining a blanket L-1 The big ones are:
- It speeds up the process of transferring employees from foreign affiliates, allowing employees to obtain visas in a matter of days rather than weeks or months.
- It eliminates the hassle and expense of filing separate petitions with USCIS for each employee.
- It enables companies to file L-1 petitions directly at the U.S. consulate or embassy in the employee’s home country, providing the employee with flexibility and avoiding USCIS processing completely.
Is your company eligible for a blanket L visa?
To be eligible for a blanket L, the company must meet the following criteria:
- The company must be engaged in commercial trade or services
- The company must have an office in the U.S doing business for one year or more
- The company must have three or more US-based and foreign branches, subsidiaries, or affiliated company
In addition, the company must meet one of the following:
- The company has obtained at least 10 L-1 visas during the previous 12 months
- The company has U.S. annual sales of at least $25 million
- The company has a U.S. workforce of more than 1,000 employees
While an approved blanket L petition does not guarantee an employee will be approved for their individual L-1 visa, it allows an employer the flexibility and ease to transfer eligible employees to the United States quickly and on short notice while also eliminating the need to file individual petitions with USCIS.
A recent bit of great news for L visas came in the form of a settlement agreement as a result of federal litigation. With this settlement agreement, L-2 dependent spouses are now recognized by USCIS as being employment authorized “incident to status.” This means that spouses of L-1 visa holders no longer need to apply for separate work authorization and can immediately begin to work in the US.
With all this in mind, working to get an L blanket for your global company as soon as it meets the requirements will be a vast improvement on the efficiency and costs for transferring foreign national employees to the US for critical business operations.
The material contained in this article does not constitute direct legal advice and is for informational purposes only. An attorney-client relationship is not presumed or intended by receipt or review of this presentation. The information provided should never replace informed counsel when specific immigration-related guidance is needed.
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