L1B Blanket Visa Eligibility Criteria
The US L1B visa permits foreign workers with specialist skills or knowledge to transfer to a US branch of their employer or to move there to set up a new subsidiary. Under the Trump administration, stricter adjudication continues to emerge in respect of the L1 classification, as resident US workers are favored for US-based vacancies.
In order for US immigration authorities to approve the L1B visa petition, it must be demonstrated that the employee is vital to company and that their specialist knowledge is key to the running of the business.
The L1B blanket visa allows companies to transfer a number of employees to the US without having to file a separate petition for each worker. It is a way for qualifying companies to move the personnel they need from overseas to a US operation through a less costly and resource-intensive application process. Not all companies however are eligible for the blanket L.
How the L1B blanket visa works
The L1 blanket is a single petition to the USCIS that qualifies a company to transfer a number of managers and executives to the US without having to submit separate individual visa applications.
Once an L1B blanket visa has been approved, the employer simply needs to complete a Form I-129 for the transferring employee to submit with their visa application. The employee can also apply for a visa for their spouse and dependents on this basis.
There are several advantages to multinational companies of applying for an L1 blanket, including reducing the administrative burden on the employer with each visa application and in doing so, saving time when filing L1 visa applications and facilitating the transfer of personnel at short-notice.
L1B blanket visa eligibility criteria
There are a number of requirements that the organisation must fulfill in order to be eligible for an L1B blanket visa:
- All the qualifying parts of the company must be engaged in commercial trade or services.
- The company must have a US office and it must have been trading for at least one year.
- The company is required to have at least three US and foreign offices, subsidiaries or affiliates.
- The company must have three or more domestic and foreign branches, subsidiaries, or affiliates.
- The company must have either successfully applied for a minimum of ten L1 visas in the past year, have annual sales of a minimum of $25 million, or have a workforce of a minimum of 1000 employees in the US.
The blanket L application will require the employer to submit documentation to demonstrate eligibility. It is advisable to seek professional guidance on the specific documents to collate as part of your submission, to ensure you are providing sufficient proof of L1B blanket eligibility. This could, for example, include general documents relating to the company, listing all the companies to be included in the Blanket L visa, to verify ownership and full details of financial statements and tax returns. An organizational diagram is often helpful in illustrating the relationships of the various companies to be included in the petition.
Once the blanket L petition is complete, it will be submitted to USCIS for adjudication. Processing times may vary depending on USCIS workload and the quality of the submission and supporting evidence.
The fee for applying for an L1B blanket visa is $325 with an additional anti-fraud fee of $500. For premium processing you will need to pay $1225.
An L1B blanket visa is initially valid for 2 years but the US company can file for an extension to continue to benefit from the streamlined processing, provided the organization continues to meet the blanket L requirements.
Even with a blanket L in place, the requirement on the employer and employee remains to prove the transferee’s eligibility under the L1B route.
Whether the employee is entering the US on an individual L1B visa or a blanket visa, they must in all instances meet the visa requirements on an individual basis. Yet with US authorities now scrutinising the L1 visa process more rigorously than ever before, there are increasing numbers of L1 visas being rejected.
To be eligible for an L1B visa, an employee must be able to evidence they have specialist knowledge or skills. This specialism must be relevant specifically to the business petitioning for their visa. That means the individual must be shown to be indispensable in relation to the products, services, research or management of the company. Unlike the L1A visa, the L1B does not require the employee to prove any level of authority or specific managerial duties.
Under the US government’s L1B visa memo, adjudicators must apply a “preponderance of the evidence standard”. This requires the company to show it is more likely than not that the employee is eligible for the L1 visa as they possess specialized knowledge and that they will use that knowledge in the role.
Given the adjudicator may have little to no knowledge of the petitioning company and its market, it becomes critical for applications to contain sufficient and compelling evidence of eligibility.
Whether via an individual or blanket L petition, the process for the L1B visa is complex and can be time consuming. The application process is however time-consuming and gathering the correct documents together can be complex. An error or miscalculation on your application is a common cause for visas to be rejected. It could be as simple as the wrong job description, an application error such as sending it to the wrong address or even not using the recommended delivery method. L1B blanket visa eligibility criteria are particularly exacting and organizations often find themselves needing to apply for this in time-sensitive circumstances where staff are urgently needed in the US.
NNU Immigration are specialist US immigration attorneys. From our central London base, we support companies from across the globe with L-1 visa petitions, ensuring initial eligibility and helping to minimize the L1 application processing time. We also provide guidance to the employer and employee through the petitioning process, and also extension applications.
If you have a question about the L-1 visa application process or eligibility requirements, contact us.
This article does not constitute direct legal advice and is for informational purposes only.