What is an L-1 blanket petition?
An L-1 Blanket Petition is designed to simplify and expedite the L-1 visa application process for large multinational companies.
Here are key points about L-1 Blanket Petitions:
- Eligibility: the company must have a significant presence in both the United States and the foreign country where it is headquartered or has a significant office. The eligibility criteria will be discussed below.
- Pre-Approval: Once the L-1 Blanket Petition is approved by USCIS, the company can use this pre-approval to transfer employees to the U.S. office(s).
- Qualified Employees: Employees being transferred should be managers, executives, or employees with specialized knowledge.
- Consular Processing: After the L-1 Blanket Petition is approved, the employees can apply for L-1 visas directly at a U.S. consulate or embassy in their home country.
- Period of Validity: The L-1 Blanket Petition is typically valid for three years and can be extended in three-year increments. During that time, multiple employees can be transferred to the U.S. office.
It’s important to note that the L-1 Blanket Petition is available to larger multinational companies.
Smaller companies or non-profit organizations are not eligible to file L-1 blanket petitions.
Such smaller organizations will need to file individual L-1 applications for each employee seeking to transfer to the U.S.
Who is eligible to file an L-1 blanket petition?
The following multinational companies are eligible to file an L-1 Blanket Petition:
- Company is engaged in commercial trade or services
- Has a U.S. office that has been doing business for one year or more
- Has three or more domestic and foreign branches, subsidiaries, or affiliates
- Have obtained approval of L petitions for at least 10 L-1 managers, executives, or specialized knowledge professionals
- Has U.S. subsidiaries or affiliates with combined annual sales of minimum $25 million, or has a US workforce of at least 1,000 employees
How to file an L-1 blanket petition?
The general steps to file an L-1 Blanket Petition include:
Step 1. Determine Eligibility: Before you begin the process, ensure that your company meets the eligibility criteria discussed above
Step 2. Gather Documentation: Collect all the necessary documentation to support your L-1 Blanket Petition. This typically includes evidence of your company’s business activities, financial documentation, and information about the relationship between the U.S. and foreign entities. The specific documents required are provided below.
Step 3. Complete Form I-129S: Complete Form I-129S, Nonimmigrant Petition-Based Blanket L Petition.
Step 4. Pay the Filing Fee: Submit the required filing fee(s) with your L-1 Blanket Petition.
Step 5. Submit the Petition: File the completed Form I-129S, along with the supporting documentation and filing fee, to the appropriate USCIS Service Center.
Step 6. Wait for USCIS Approval: USCIS will review your L-1 Blanket Petition, and if it is approved, your company will receive a Notice of Approval.
Step 7. Use the Blanket Approval: With the approved L-1 Blanket Petition, your employees can apply for an L-1 visa at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in their home country.
Step 8. Extend L-1 visa: File an application to request the extension of L-1 status up to 6 months prior to expiration with USCIS.
How to apply for a visa under an approved L-1 blanket petition?
Here are the steps to apply for a visa under an approved L-1 Blanket Petition:
- Confirm Eligibility: Ensure that you are an eligible employee for an L-1 visa under the approved L-1 Blanket Petition. You must be employed by a company that is related to the petitioner through a qualifying relationship (subsidiary, affiliate, or branch) and meet the general requirements for L-1 visa categories, which include being a manager, executive, or employee with specialized knowledge.
- Obtain a Job Offer: You must have a job offer from the U.S. subsidiary, affiliate, or branch of the multinational company. This job offer should be in a managerial, executive, or specialized knowledge capacity and align with the nature of the L-1 visa category (L-1A or L-1B).
- Complete the DS-160 Form: Complete Form DS-160 (Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application) online.
- Pay the Visa Application Fees: Pay the non-refundable visa application fee of $205. There are additional fees of $500 (Fraud Prevention and Detection Fee) and $4,500 (only for companies who employ 50 or more individuals in the U.S. if more than 50% of those employees are in H-1B or L-1 status). The fees are subject to change, so check the current fees on the U.S. Department of State website.
- Schedule a Visa Interview: Visit the website of the U.S. embassy or consulate where you will apply for your visa to schedule visa interview appointment.
- Gather Required Documents: Assemble the necessary documents for your visa interview, which typically include:
- A valid passport.
- A passport-sized photo meeting U.S. visa photo requirements.
- The DS-160 confirmation page.
- The visa application fee receipt.
- Original and 2 copies of Form I-129s issued by the employer
- 3 copies of the L-1 blanket petition approval notice
- Proof of your relationship to the petitioner company.
- The job offer letter from the U.S. employer.
- Documentation supporting your eligibility for the L-1 visa (e.g., resumes, qualifications, and experience).
- Attend the Visa Interview: Attend the visa interview at the U.S. embassy or consulate on the scheduled date. Be prepared to answer questions about your job, your qualifications, and the purpose of your visit to the U.S.
- Visa Approval and Passport Stamping: If your visa is approved, the consular officer will return your passport with a stamped visa.
- Travel to the U.S.: Make sure to carry all the necessary documentation with you when you enter the U.S., as U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers may request it.
L-1 blanket petition checklist of required documents
Here is a checklist of required documents for the L-1 Blanket Petition:
|Form I-129S, Nonimmigrant Petition-Based Blanket L Petition||
|Letter from U.S. Parent Company||
|Proof that the company meets the L blanket petition requirements||
|Foreign company documentation||
|U.S. company documentation||
|L-1 visa application with the U.S. Embassy or Consulate||
How long will an approved L-1 blanket petition be valid for?
Blanket L-1 petitions may be approved initially for 3 years and extended in 3-year increments.
USCIS may revoke the petition if no employees were transferred for 3 consecutive years.
The employee being transferred may be admitted for 3 years in L-1 status.
If the blanket L petition will expired while the employee is in the U.S., the company must either:
- Apply for indefinite validity of the blanket petition, or
- File an individual petition (Form I-129) to maintain the status
L-1 blanket petition processing time
L-1 blanket petitions processing times can vary depending on several factors, including the workload of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the specific service center processing your petition, and whether you choose to expedite the process through premium processing. Here are some general guidelines for the blanket L-1 petitions’ processing times:
- Regular Processing: Blanket L petitions are processed by the California Service Center. The average processing time is 1 month. You can check the most current processing times on the USCIS website.
- Premium Processing: If you choose to pay a $2,500 Premium Processing, USCIS guarantees a response within 15 calendar days. Premium processing is only available for Form I-129S, not for consular processing of the visa.
- Consular Processing (if applicable): If you are applying for the L-1 visa at a U.S. embassy or consulate outside the United States, the processing time will depend on the specific embassy or consulate’s workload and procedures. In general, it can take anywhere from 1 month to 3-4 months to receive an interview appointment at a US Embassy or Consulate. If the L-1 visa is approved, the passports with stamped visas are generally returned in 1 week.
L-1 blanket petition filing fees
Here are the typical filing fees associated with an L-1 Blanket Petition:
- Form I-129S, Nonimmigrant Petition-Based Blanket L Petition: $0
- Fraud Prevention and Detection Fee: $500
- Pub. L. 114-113 Fee: $4,500 (only for companies who employ 50 or more individuals in the U.S. if more than 50% of those employees are in H-1B or L-1 status)
Please note that immigration fees can change, and it’s essential to check the official U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website for the most current fee information:
L-2 visas for spouses and children of L-1 visa holders
The L-2 visa is a nonimmigrant visa category in the United States that is designed for the spouses and unmarried children (under the age of 21) of L-1 visa holders.
The L-2 visa allows the immediate family members of L-1 visa holders to accompany them to the United States.
Here are some key points about the L-2 visa for spouses and children of L-1 visa holders:
- Eligibility: To qualify for an L-2 visa, you must be the spouse or unmarried child (under 21 years old) of an L-1 visa holder. The L-1 visa holder must be the principal applicant, and the family members are considered derivative beneficiaries.
- Duration: The L-2 visa is typically granted for the same period as the L-1 visa holder’s status. L-2 visa holders can stay in the United States as long as the L-1 visa holder maintains valid L-1 status.
- Employment Authorization: L-2 spouses are eligible to apply for work authorization (Form I-765 must be filed with USCIS) in the United States. Once approved, they can work for any U.S. employer, without any restrictions.
- Travel: L-2 visa holders can travel in and out of the United States while their L-2 status is valid. They should ensure that their visa and travel documents remain up to date to facilitate re-entry into the country.
- Extensions: L-2 status can be extended along with the principal L-1 visa holder’s status, as long as they continue to meet the eligibility criteria.