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USCIS Policy Update: Clarifications for L-1 Intracompany Transferee Petitions

The L-1 nonimmigrant visa classification allows qualifying U.S. employers to temporarily transfer employees from related foreign offices to locations within the United States. It plays a pivotal role in facilitating the smooth exchange of talent within international organizations.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has recently issued policy guidance on L-1 intracompany transferee petitions in the USCIS Policy Manual. This guidance takes immediate effect upon publication and focuses on two key points:

Sole Proprietorships and L-1 Petitions

The USCIS update affirms that a sole proprietorship cannot file an L-1 intracompany transferee petition on behalf of its owner. This is because a sole proprietorship does not exist as a distinct legal entity separate from its owner.

In the context of L-1 visa applications, USCIS makes a distinction between sole proprietors and self-incorporated petitioners, such as corporations or limited liability companies with a single owner. In the case of the latter, the corporation or company is considered a separate and distinct legal entity from its owner. These self-incorporated entities have the eligibility to file petitions for the owner, while a sole proprietorship does not possess this privilege.

Timely Filing of Extension for Blanket L-1 Petitions

The USCIS policy update also addresses the timing of extension requests for approved blanket L-1 petitions. It clarifies that a petitioning organization that fails to timely file an extension of an approved blanket L-1 petition is not required to wait before submitting a new blanket petition.

This means that the failure to timely file an extension of the blanket petition does not trigger a mandatory waiting period of three years before another blanket petition can be filed. This adjustment offers more flexibility for organizations and reduces potential delays in the process.

In summary, the USCIS policy update focuses on enhancing clarity within the L-1 intracompany transferee petition process. This update introduces a distinction between sole proprietorships and self-incorporated entities for L-1 purposes and incorporates revised guidelines for the timely filing of blanket L-1 petition extensions.

If you are interested in applying for an L-1 visa, be sure to contact our office to schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys today!