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Everything You Need to Know About the Blanket Visa Petition for L-1 Visas

What is this L-1 blanket petition all about and how can foreign employers benefit from it? We outline the answers below. 

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Certain foreign employers, especially large multinational companies, often send their employees into the United States, whether to work in their U.S. office or for the purpose of establishing a new one. While there are different kinds of visas available for this kind of venture, the most widely used is the L-1 intracompany transferee visa. This visa is for foreign executives, managers and professional employees who possess specialized knowledge. One of its most appealing features is the ability to file a blanket petition. What is this L-1 blanket petition all about and how can foreign employers benefit from it? We outline the answers below. 

L-1 Visa Overview

Before we get to the nitty-gritty of the blanket L-1 petition, it’s important to have a clear understanding of what the L-1 visa entails. There are two broad categories -- the L-1A visa for foreign workers in a managerial or executive capacity and the L-1B visa for foreign workers with specialized knowledge regarding the company’s interests and its application in the international market. 

In both cases, the L-1 applicant must have worked with the foreign company for at least one full year in the last three years before filing their L-1 petition. They must also be entering the U.S. to perform functions in the same capacity as they did in the foreign company. 

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) handles all the applications. Keep in mind that it is the foreign company and not the individual beneficiary, who is actually responsible for filing an L-1 visa petition. This company must have a qualifying relationship with its U.S. counterpart either as a parent company, branch, subsidiary or affiliate before it can file the petition.

L-1 Visa Duration 

As a nonimmigrant visa, the L-1 comes with a maximum stay period of seven years (in the case of L-1A visa holders). L-1B visa holders are allowed a maximum duration of stay of only five years. For both the L-1A and L-1B visas, the USCIS typically awards the visas for an initial three years and then extendable in two-year terms until it reaches the maximum duration of stay allowed. For companies petitioning an L-1 visa for the purpose of establishing a new office in the United States, the visa is granted for an initial one year and extendable in two-year terms provided they meet the extension requirements as set by the USCIS. 

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What is the L-1 Blanket Petition? 

An L-1 blanket visa petition is a single petition through which certain foreign companies may pre-qualify to transfer their eligible employees into the United States on L-1 visas in groups, thereby eliminating the need to file separate individual visa petitions for each employee. It essentially allows these companies to obtain L-1 visas to transfer several employees to the U.S. at once under one petition and on short notice. 

Once the L-1 blanket petition has been approved by the USCIS, the petitioning company only needs to complete Form I-129S, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker Based on Blanket L Petition, and send it to the L-1 visa applicant along with a copy of the blanket L-1 petition approval notice. The applicant then presents these documents and any other required evidence or supporting documentation to the U.S. consulate or embassy in their home country to process their L-1 visa application. 

Eligibility Criteria for Blanket L-1 Petitions 

Both the petitioning company and the L-1 visa candidate must meet certain requirements to qualify for the blanket L-1 petition: 

The petitioning company

  • Must already have physical premises in the United States for at least a year

  • Must already be doing business on U.S. soil for a minimum of one year. In this context, doing business means the company must be engaged in commercial trade of goods or services.

  • Must have at least three domestic or foreign branches, affiliates or subsidiaries as of the time of filing the L-1 blanket petition. 

  • Must fulfill at least one of the following requirements: 

    • Have a minimum U.S. workforce of 1000 employees

    • Have a combined sales figure of at least USD 25 million in the U.S per year

    • Have received approval for at least ten individual L-1 petitions in the last twelve months

The L-1 visa beneficiary

  • Must meet all the requirements to qualify for an L-1 intracompany transferee visa in the first place. This means being an executive or upper-level manager with the foreign company, or be a specialized knowledge professional. 

For the purpose of the L-1 visa, an executive is someone who directs the management of the company, makes discretionary decisions and receives only general supervision from the board of directors or shareholders of the organization. A manager is someone who oversees the work of other supervisory personnel, has the authority to hire and fire workers and exercises discretion over the day-to-day operations of the company.

Specialized knowledge professionals, on the other hand, refer to employees who possess unique and advanced knowledge of the company’s products, services, management, processes, techniques, research, equipment, or other interests. The individual should also be able to prove how this specialized knowledge can apply in international markets.

  • Must also have been working abroad for a branch, subsidiary, or affiliate of the petitioning company for a minimum of one year prior to the submittal of the L-1 blanket visa application.

Documents Required for an L-1 Blanket Petition

  • Relevant information about the U.S. company’s business (annual report, tax ID number, website information, business address, etc)

  • Pieces of evidence showing that the company actually meets the eligibility criteria for an L-1 blanket petition as outlined above (annual sales figures, 10-K statement, number of employees, lease agreement, etc)

  • Documents that demonstrate the corporate relationships between the U.S. company and its overseas counterpart (e.g., copies of stock certificates or equivalent documents)

  • Completed Form I-129, L Classification Supplement to I-129, and receipts for the filing fees

These are just the general documents required to petition an L-1 blanket visa. The U.S. consular officer may request additional documentation which must be provided before the application is evaluated. 

What are the privileges afforded by an L-1 visa blanket petition?

Since it eliminates the need to file separately for each individual petition, an approved blanket L-1 petition means a significant reduction in processing time from several months to a matter of days or weeks. 

This is because the L-1 candidate can skip past waiting for the USCIS to adjudicate the petition and simply proceed to the final stage -- requesting an L-1 visa stamp at the U.S. consulate in his or her home country. 

For the petitioning employer and its qualifying organizations, the L-1 blanket petition means they can quickly transfer their employees to the U.S.

In addition to these advantages, the L-1 visa comes with a couple of appealing features, such as the ability to transfer dependents of the primary L-1 visa holder to the United States on an L-2 visa. As an L-1 beneficiary, you and your immediate family also have the chance to apply for permanent residency through the Green Card program. 

Are there any limitations to the L-1 blanket petition?

Not too many and not too limiting either. For one, the L-1 employee can only work for the U.S. employer that acted as their L-1 visa sponsor. However, it is possible to transfer to one of the related organizations listed on the Blanket L approval notice. 

Also, just because a blanket petition has been approved does not guarantee that the candidate will automatically be granted an L-1 visa. The consular officer will adjudicate whether the applicant meets the requirements for an L-1 visa, so it’s important to come fully prepared. The interview process at the U.S. consular offices tends to vary in technique and some consulates can sometimes be stricter than others, especially those that receive really high numbers of L-1 applications in a fiscal year, like China and India. 

L-1 Blanket Visa Extensions

Individuals who are granted an L-1 visa under a blanket petition get approved for an initial three years. Two-year extensions are allowed until the maximum stay period. The L-1 blanket for the petitioning company can be extended indefinitely.

What next after obtaining your L-1 visa?

Whether you got your L-1 visa through a blanket or individual petition, it is important to have an idea of how your living conditions will be like once you move to the U.S. Renting an apartment, access to credit cards and loans, having a phone plan, leasing a car… these are all basic services which you might need for your new life in the States. But did you know that you need a solid U.S. credit history to be able to apply for these services? 

Creditors and lenders in the U.S. use this credit history to evaluate your application, they may be unwilling to provide you with their services or provide it at a higher rate. Unfortunately, it is currently impossible to transfer your credit history from your home country. So how do you go about it?  Enter the Nova Credit Global Credit Passport®. What this credit passport does is serve as a bridge between your international credit history and U.S. creditors and lenders, so they have something tangible to evaluate your application for credit and other basic living amenities. Nova Credit partners with consumer credit bureaus around the world, as well as several U.S. agencies, like American Express, Intellirent and MPower Financing. 

This way, it’s easy for you to settle down to your new life in the U.S. without having to make huge downpayments. Nova Credit also offers a variety of newcomer products, including apartment guarantor services and money transfers (MoneyGram) to help you arrive and thrive.

Moved to the U.S. from Australia, India or the UK?

Start your U.S. credit building journey on the right foot

A strong credit score helps you access a lot in the U.S., and a credit card is an easy way to start building your U.S. credit score. Access your free international credit score, and see which U.S. credit cards could be right for you. No SSN required

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More from Nova Credit:

The ultimate guide to the L-1 visa

An overview of the L-1A visa for non-immigrant workers in the United States

A guide to the L-1B Visa for non-immigrant work in the United States

How to get an L-1 Visa extension

Everything you need to know about the L-2 Visa for L-1 dependents

L-1 vs. H-1B: Which work visa is right for you?

How to Transition From an L-1 Visa to an H-1B Visa

How to transition from an L-1 Visa to a Green Card

L-2 EAD: How to obtain work authorization for L-1 Visa Dependents

Your Guide to L-1 Visa Requirements