An L-1 visa is a great option when a foreign company wants to transfer an employee working for abroad to a U.S. office. These are the four main requirements to obtain L-1 visa:
- The U.S. employer must have a qualifying relationship with a foreign company
- The company must be/ or will be doing business (in case the L-1 visa is for a new office) in the U.S. and at least one foreign country for the duration of employee’s stay in the U.S.
- The employee being transferred must have been working for the foreign company for one continuous year out of the preceding three years
- The employee will be working as a manager, executive, or specialized worker at the U.S. company
What is blanket L petition?
Certain large international companies that are engaged in commercial trade or services may file blanket L petition with USCIS. The main advantage of filing blanket L petition is that once this petition is approved, the U.S. Company may transfer eligible employees to U.S. quickly and without filing individual L petitions with USCIS. This means, that the U.S. Company does not have to file an individual petition for every employee it wants to transfer to the U.S., but once the blanket L petition is approved, the employees will apply for L-1 visa at the Consulate abroad.
What companies can file blanket L petition?
In addition to the requirements listed above, a U.S. employer must meet the following requirements to be able to file blanket L petition:
- The U.S. employer must have an office and has been doing business in the U.S. for at least one year or longer
- The U.S. employer and each of the qualifying organizations listed in the blanket L petition are engaged in commercial trade or services
- The U.S. employer has 3 or more domestic or foreign branches, subsidiaries, or affiliates
- The U.S. employer must meet one of the following requirements:
- The U.S. employer has obtained at least ten L-1 approval for managers, executives, or specialized knowledge professionals within the previous 12 months, or
- The U.S. employer has U.S. subsidiaries or affiliates with combined annual sales of at least $25 million, or
- The U.S. employer has a U.S. workforce of at least 1,000 employees.
USCIS will only decide whether the employer meets the requirements for blanket L petition and whether the qualifying relationship exists.
Our blanket L petitions was approved. What employees can we transfer to the U.S.?
Because the employees that are going to be transferred to U.S. were not listed in the blanket L petition, the Consular officer will examine at the time of the interview whether the employee meets the L employee requirements.
Only managers, executives and specialized knowledge professionals may apply for L visa under an approved blanket L petition. In addition, the employee must have been employed for a qualifying organization as a manager, executive, or specialized knowledge professional for at least 1 continuous year in the previous 3 years.
Our blanket L petition was approved. How long is the blanket L petition valid? Can we apply for an extension?
If your blanket L petition was approved by USCIS, you will receive an Approval Notice with the validity dates. The initial blanket L petition is usually valid for three years and the U.S. employer can then file for an indefinite extension. It is very important to request an indefinite validity for the extension as if the indefinite validity is not requested (or if the indefinite validity is denied), the U.S. employer will then have to file individual L petitions for employees and it may file a new blanket petition only after 3 years.
The interview at the U.S. Consulate
The approval of a blanket L petition does not guarantee that employee’s L-1 visa will be granted and the Consular officer will adjudicate whether the employee meets the L-1 visa requirements. The employee will have to bring three copies of Form I-129S (the U.S. Employer will have to fill this in and send it to the employee), blanket L petition Approval, and documents showing that the he/she has been working for the foreign company for one continuous year out of the preceding three years and that he/she is coming to the U.S. to work as a manager, executive, or specialized knowledge professional. You should always check the website of the relevant Consulate to see what additional documents you should bring to the interview.
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