Obtaining a Blanket Approval as a Petitioning Employer
Multinational corporate petitioners can, in some instances, seek to obtain a Blanket Approval for L-1 intracompany transferees. The purpose of a Blanket Approval is to establish and document the required intracompany relationships between the petitioner and any related entities abroad in advance. Once approved, having a Blanket Approval can reduce the amount of time and documentation needed for an L-1 petition. It also allows employee beneficiaries to apply for their L-1 visa directly at a US Consulate instead of through USCIS.
To qualify for a Blanket, petitioners must show that:
- The petitioner and each of the qualifying organizations (parent, branches, subsidiaries, and affiliates) 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, and affiliates; and
- • The petitioner along with the other qualifying organizations meet one of the following criteria:
o Have obtained at least 10 L-1 approvals during the previous 12-month period;
o Have U.S. subsidiaries or affiliates with combined annual sales of at least $25 million; or
o Have a U.S. work force of at least 1,000 employees.
A Blanket Approval may be a preferred option for larger, multinational companies that plan to use the L-1 visa for employee transfers on a regular basis.
Applying for an L-1 Visa using the Blanket Approval
Once a Blanket Petition is approved, a Form I-129 does not need to be filed for most beneficiary employees. Rather, employee beneficiaries are eligible to apply for their L-1 visa directly at a U.S. Consulate or - in the case of Canadian applicants - directly at the border.
Employees must still meet the general L-1 requirements of having at least one year of experience as a manager, executive, or specialized knowledge employee in the previous three years. Eligible employee beneficiaries to use the Blanket Certification include managers, executives, and specialized knowledge professionals. Note that specialized knowledge beneficiaries who are not degreed cannot apply using the Blanket Certification. Specialized knowledge beneficiaries without degrees must complete the Form I-129 Petition process through USCIS.
Employee beneficiaries must complete a Form DS-160 for themselves and any spouses/children under 21 that will be joining them in the United States. After the Forms DS-160 have been submitted, beneficiaries must next follow the specific steps at their local U.S. Consulate to schedule an interview appointment. This generally requires paying a visa fee and creating an account to schedule an interview.
Canadian beneficiaries do not need to complete a Form DS-160. Rather, they should bring the below documentation with them to a Port of Entry.
Beneficiaries should bring triplicate copies of their L-1 petition to the Consulate, including:
- Form I-129S signed by authorized signatory for the petitioning company
- Copy of the Blanket Approval
- Evidence of their one full-year of qualifying employment abroad
- Evidence of their qualifying job role abroad
- Evidence of the proposed qualifying role in the US
- Evidence of relationship with derivative family members, i.e. marriage certificate and/or birth certificates for children
- Any additional evidence their local Consulate requires
If the employee beneficiary is approved at their interview, the Consulate will retain the beneficiary's passports in order to issue the visa. Each Consulate has a different method of returning passports. The Consulate will also provide the employee beneficiary with a stamped copy of the Form I-129S. That form will list the validity dates of their L-1 petition. The employee beneficiary and their family can enter at anytime during the validity of the L-1 petition with their unexpired visa.
Contact the Law Offices of James D. Eiss today if you would like to set up a Blanket Petition for your multinational company.