L-1 Blanket

The L-1 (Intracompany Transferee) Blanket Petition is used to transfer executive, managerial and “specialized knowledge professional” em­ployees from foreign entities of an international group of companies to one or more related U.S. entities. A Blanket Petition will be ap­proved if the following conditions are met:

  • The petitioner and each of those entities are engaged in commer­cial trade or services;
  • The petitioner has an office in the United States that has been do­ing business for one year or more;
  • The petitioner has three or more domestic and foreign branches, subsidiaries, or affiliates; and
  • The petitioner and the other qualifying organizations have ob­tained approval of petitions for at least ten “L” managers, executives or specialized knowledge professionals during the previous twelve months; or have U.S. subsidiaries or affiliates with combined annual sales of at least $25 million; or have a U.S. workforce of at least 1,000 employees.

The Blanket Petition must be supported by evidence showing that the listed entities meet certain eligibility requirements. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Service’s (USCIS) Regional Service Centers take approximately two months to four months to adjudi­cate this type of petition.

The USCIS’s “Premium Processing Service” allows businesses to re­quest expedited adjudication on certain pending and newly filed petitions, including the L-1 Blanket Petition, by filing a completed Form I-907 (Request for Premium Processing Service) and paying a fee in addition to the normal filing fee.

The USCIS guarantees that within fifteen (15) calendar days of re­ceipt, the employer will receive either an approval notice, a notice of intent to deny, a request for evidence or a notice of investigation for fraud or misrepresentation. If USCIS fails to meet its 15-calendar-day guarantee, it will refund the additional filing fee but will continue to process the petition expeditiously. Once the petition is approved, qualifying individuals (along with spouses and minor children) may apply for L visas directly at the U.S. Consulate that has jurisdiction over their place of residence.

The blanket petition approval notice identifies the organizations in­cluded in the petition and states the petition’s validity period. (The approved petition has an initial validity of three (3) years and may be extended indefinitely thereafter if the qualifying organizations have complied with all appropriate regulations).

A report must be provided with the extension petition (in three (3) years) including a list of the employees admitted under the blanket petition during the initial three-year period, their positions, their dates of initial entry and final departure, and the employing entity for each. The qualifying criteria must still be met and any changes in approved relationships or the addition or deletion of any qualifying organizations must be documented.

To qualify for visa issuance (following the blanket petition approval), the employing entity in the U.S. must demonstrate that the transfer­ee has been employed abroad for one (1) year during the immediate prior three (3) years with a company named in the blanket petition, and that the qualifying employment abroad was as a manager, ex­ecutive or ‘specialized knowledge professional.” Further, it must be shown that the transferee will be employed as a manager, executive, or as a specialized knowledge professional in the U.S.

“Specialized knowledge professional” is defined as a transferee who has gained knowledge of a company’s product, service, research, equipment, techniques, management or other interests and who possesses a four-year university degree.

Visas issued pursuant to an approved Blanket Petition are normally issued within one (1) week and may be issued for a validity period of no more than three (3) years. A beneficiary admitted under an approved blanket petition may be reassigned to any organization listed in the approved petition during the authorized stay, providing the job duties remain virtually the same.

L-1 Intracompany Transfer

The L visa classification enables large, multinational companies to bring critical personnel from abroad to work temporarily in the U.S. Smaller companies also use the L visa classification as a method for transferring entrepreneurs.

Basic Requirements:
  • The U.S. employer must have a qualifying relationship with a foreign company. A qualifying relationship includes parent company, branch, subsidiary or affiliate.
  • The U.S. employer must be, or will be doing business as an employer in the U.S. and in at least one other country directly or through a qualifying organization for the duration of the sponsored employee’s L-1 stay in the U.S. Doing business is defined as the regular, systematic and continuous provision of goods and/or services. It is not simply having an agent or office in the U.S. or abroad.
  • The sponsored employee must have worked full-time for the qualifying organization abroad for one continuous year within the three years immediately preceding admission to the U.S. The employment may be cumulative but must be in an executive, managerial or specialized knowledge capacity. These capacities are defined as follows:
    • L-1A Executive generally refers to the employee’s ability to make decision of wide latitude without much oversight.
    • L-1A Managerial generally refers to the ability of the employee to supervise and control the work of professional employees and/or managers and/or the organization or a department, subdivision, function or component thereof.
    • L-1B Specialized Knowledge generally refers to having special knowledge of the company product and its application in international markets or an advanced level of knowledge of processes and procedures of the company.
  • The sponsored employee must also be seeking to enter the U.S. to work in an executive, managerial or specialized knowledge capacity

Foreign companies intending to send an employee to the U.S. as an executive or manager to establish a new office must demonstrate sufficient physical premises to house the new office as well as evidence that the U.S. office will support an executive or managerial position within one year of the approval of the petition.

Period of Stay:
  • One year initially for those employees entering to establish a new office.
  • Seven years total for executives and managers. Initial stay is up to three years, with two two-year extensions available.
  • Five years total for specialized knowledge employees. Initial stay is up to three years with one two-year extension available.
Dependent Family Members:
  • Spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21 may accompany the transferring employee.
  • Following arrival in the U.S., spouses may apply for and obtain temporary work authorization to engage in open-market employment.
  • Requires submission of an L-1 Visa Petition with supporting evidence to U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS). Following approval, the employee must apply for and obtain an L-1 visa at a U.S. consulate abroad before being admitted to the U.S.
  • Canadian citizens are considered visa-exempt and may submit the L-1 Visa Petition directly to U.S. Customs & Border Protection at a qualifying port-of-entry instead of to USCIS for same-day adjudication.
Processing Times:
  • USCIS processing times are subject to change but average 30-45 days unless premium processing service is used, in which case USCIS will review the petition with 15 calendar days.
  • Visa appointment availability is subject to change but appointments are generally available within 1-2 weeks, with visas being issued within 7-10 days following, assuming no government administrative processing delays.
Maintaining L-1 Visa Status:
  • The visa is employer-specific, meaning that an employee cannot change employers without government authorization.
  • The visa is job-specific, meaning that an employee cannot change positions without government authorization if a material change in job duties will occur.