Large multinational companies frequently need to move their employees to the United States quickly and efficiently. The L visa is typically the preferred status for these employees, but the process of getting the L visa can be cumbersome. One way for these companies to streamline this process is to apply for “blanket” L petitions.
Normally, the process of procuring an L visa for an employee involves the company filing a petition for that individual with USCIS, and then, upon approval, having the individual apply for the L visa at a U.S. embassy or consulate based on the approved L petition.
A blanket L petition allows a multinational company to establish the requisite qualifying relationship between its U.S. and international offices without filing an L petition for any particular person. The blanket L petition is filed with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service. Once approved, the blanket L approval notice can sent to any qualifying employee who will simply apply directly for an L visa at a U.S. embassy or consulate. In essence, the blanket L visa cuts out the first step of the usual L visa process, and reduces the time required to obtain the visa from months to weeks or even days.
The legal requirements for a blanket L petition limit its availability to relatively large multinational companies. The requirements include:
- The petitioner and each of the qualifying organizations are engaged in commercial trade or services;
- The petitioner has an office in the United States which has been doing business for one year or more;
- The petitioner has three or more domestic and foreign branches, subsidiaries, and affiliates; and
- The petitioner along with the other qualifying organizations meet one of the following criteria:
- Have obtained at least 10 L-1 approvals during the previous 12-month period;
- Have U.S. subsidiaries or affiliates with combined annual sales of at least $25 million; or
- Have a U.S. work force of at least 1,000 employees.
The approval of a blanket L petition does not mean that an employee is guaranteed an L visa. The employee must still qualify as an executive or manager (L-1A) or specialized knowledge employee (L-1B). However, the blanket L petition does facilitate the rapid transfer of qualifying employees to the U.S.