Those companies that are eligible to file blanket L1 visa petitions will want to opt for this methodology, as it will completely avoid the lengthy approval process with the immigration service typically required prior to the actual visa request with the foreign national’s local consulate or embassy, thus allowing employees to essentially show up at those offices, and with proper documentation on hand, receive their L1 visa. This blanket status is habitually approved for three years but can subsequently be granted an extension for an essentially indefinite term. Because this process is so very accommodating to the business that serves as a qualifying organization under the blanket petition, there are several strict requirements that must be met in order to allow for this benefit’s provision.
Requirements for an Blanket L1 Visa
Whether you pursue the L1 individual vs L1 blanket visa for your employees depends on how many L1 visas you need every year. Blanket L1 visa petitions exist only for specific, carefully defined enterprises that are able to demonstrate a sophisticated intracompany relationship and magnitude. As an initial matter, the entity requesting blanket status must demonstrate that each qualifying organization is conducting commercial trade or providing commercial services. The entity must also exhibit a presence of an office location within the United Stated for minimum one year prior to filing their application. Often a tax return or annual report may not yet be available for newer businesses that should present invoices, bank transactions or payroll processing documents to illustrate the business indeed meets the one-year requirement. Additionally, the petitioner must possess at a very minimum three domestic and foreign branches, affiliates or subsidiaries. The qualifying relationship must also be shown for each of these entities.
Finally, the L1 blanket visa petition eligible business must demonstrate any of the following characteristics in order to be approved for blanket status:
- It has a U.S. workforce of 1,000 or more employees;
- It has obtained approval of 10 or more L1 visas within the twelve months immediately proceeding the request for blanket status; or
- It has U.S. subsidiaries or affiliates with annual sales of a minimum $25 million.
The business will want to explicitly note its request approval of L1 blanket visa status on its I-129 petition with USCIS through its immigration counsel. Once approval of the L1 visa has been granted, as stated, the business will not need to file a separate petition with the immigration service for every individual worker but will instead file a DS-160 directly with the consulate or embassy in the worker’s home country, or if a Canadian national, proceed directly to the port of entry. An additional benefit here is the obviation of the need to respond to lengthy RFE demands on the part of immigration with numerous individual applications, which typically can be a burdensome part of the process and delay the engaging of important staff in U.S. operations.
Simply because a business has blanket L1 status, however, does not guarantee that the consular officer will not carefully inspect the eligibility of each worker to receive an L1 visa. Credentials, position description, and the other required materials mentioned in my previous blog will be necessary and if insufficient will likely result in a denial.
None of the advice contained in these materials serves as a substitute for individualized legal representation by a licensed attorney with experience in the practice area.