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Will Trump Travel Ban Affect L1 Visa Applicants?

The L visa for nonimmigrant intracompany transferees allows U.S.-based employers to petition to transfer certain alien employees from related foreign entities to work in the United States.


In general, a petition for an L nonimmigrant is filed for a single beneficiary. However, certain petitioning entities may be eligible to petition for multiple foreign employees under what is called an “L blanket petition.” If a petitioner gains L blanket approval, it will become far easier to transfer large numbers of L nonimmigrants to work in the United States.

What are the Petitioner Requirements for L Blanket Approval?

The petitioner requirements for being granted L blanket approval are found in 8 C.F.R. 214.2(l)(4)(i). First, the petitioner must meet the basic requirements for being an L visa petitioner. This means l that all requirements pertaining to the U.S.-based petitioner’s relationship with the foreign entity or entities employing the L visa petition beneficiary as well as the requirement that the petitioner be “doing business” in the United States apply equally to applications for L blanket approval. The L blanket regulations then add additional requirements for a petitioner seeking blanket approval.

The L blanket approval-specific requirements are: The petitioner and each of its qualifying entities are engaged in commercial trade or services; the petitioner has had an office in the United States that has been doing business for at least one year; the petitioner has three or more domestic and foreign branches, subsidiaries, or affiliates; and the petitioner (or other qualifying organization) has either obtained approval for at least ten L1A or L1B managers, executives, or specialized knowledge professionals over the previous twelve months, or the petitioner has U.S. subsidiaries or affiliates with combined annual sales of at least $25 million or a combined U.S. work force of at least 1,000 employees.

The requirements for L blanket approval exclude “new office” L visa petitioners and non-profit petitioners. Furthermore, approved L1B petitions for non-specialized knowledge professional intracompany transferees are not counted toward meeting the requirement for L blanket approval. As we will see, the only type of L1B beneficiary who may be petitioned for under an L blanket petition is an L1B specialized knowledge professional.

Seeking L Blanket Approval and Adjudication Process

An application for L blanket approval is filed on the Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker. The petitioner must establish that it meets the regulatory requirements for L blanket approval. 

If the L blanket petition is approved, the petitioner will have L blanket approval for an initial period of 3 years. L blanket approval may be extended indefinitely provided that the petitioner continues to meet the applicable requirements. An L blanket petition may be approved in part and denied in part where certain organizations under the petitioner’s umbrella are found to meet the requirements while others are not. 

If there is a change in the relationships of any of the qualifying organizations with L blanket approval, the petitioner must file an amended Form I-129 explaining the changes.

Transferring Employee from Abroad Under L Blanket Petition

In order to transfer an individual L1A or L1B employee under an L blanket petition, the petitioner must file the Form I-129S, Certification of Eligibility for Intracompany Transferee under a Blanket Petition. The petition beneficiary must be provided by the petitioner with a Form I-797 reflecting the petitioner’s blanket approval. The beneficiary may then apply for a visa through consular processing within six months of the date on the Form I-129S. A Canadian beneficiary of a Form I-129S may apply for a visa with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) at a qualifying port of entry in order to seek admission under the L blanket petition.

The consular office will only approve an L1A or L1B visa for a beneficiary under a blanket petition for “clearly approvable applications.” The requirements for a beneficiary are the same as for a non-blanket L1A or L1B petition except for the limitation on the L1B category to specialized knowledge professionals only. A petitioner may not seek to afford L1A or L1B status to a beneficiary through a non-blanket and blanket petition simultaneously. However, a petitioner with blanket approval may opt to file a non-blanket petition on behalf of a beneficiary in lieu of seeking approval under the blanket petition. A petitioner may file an individual L1 petition on behalf of a beneficiary who was denied a visa under the L blanket procedure.

Limitations on L Blanket Validity and Extensions of Stay

An individual may be approved for an L1 visa under an L blanket petition so long as the L blanket approval of the petitioner remains valid. The beneficiary may be approved for an initial period of stay of three years even when the validity of the L blanket petition may expire before that date. However, if the validity of the L blanket approval is slated to expire while the employee is on L1 status in the United States, the petitioner will be required to either seek an extension of the validity of the L blanket petition or to file an individual petition to support the employee’s continued employment in the United States.

In order to seek an extension of stay for an employee under an L blanket petition, the petitioner must file a new Form I-129S on behalf of the employee. This extension request may be filed concurrently with a request to extend the validity of the L blanket petition. However, the applications will be considered separately.

Transferring Employees Under L Blanket Petition

An employee may be transferred from one of the petitioner’s organizations with L blanket approval to another with L blanket approval so long as the employee will be performing virtually the same job duties. If the job duties will be different, the petitioner must complete a new Form I-129S on behalf of the beneficiary and submit it for approval with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) director who approved the blanket petition. The petitioner cannot transfer an L blanket employee to an entity that does not have L blanket approval under an L blanket petition.

Conclusion

Large petitioners that meet the L blanket requirements may benefit from seeking L blanket approval. L blanket approval makes it easier to transfer multiple L1A and L1B employees from abroad than filing individual petitions on behalf of each employee. However, it is important to note that, while the L blanket petition makes it easier to seek approval for L1A and L1B intracompany transferees, it does not alter the beneficiary’s requirements for eligibility. For this reason, petitioners may still be required to file individual petitions on behalf of beneficiaries who do not present clearly approvable cases or for L1B beneficiaries who fall outside of the scope of the L blanket procedure.

Petitioners should consult with an experienced immigration attorney for guidance in seeking L blanket approval and in handling individual cases that may present special concerns.

by A. Segal

If you have any additional questions or queries contact us at (954).944.2799 or email info@DSALegalGroup.com

 Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer. For specific technical or legal advice on the information provided and related topics, please contact an attorney.

Impact Of President Trump’s Executive Orders on Caribbean Nationals

On November 8, 2016, the American people voted and Donald J. Trump secured the majority of the Electoral College votes defeating Hillary Clinton (304 to 227).   On the campaign trail, President Trump noted border and national security as a top priority for his Administration.  Given this reality, it should be no surprise that President Trumpissued Executive Orders on immigration https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefingroom/presidentialactions/executiveorders).  The impact of these Orders is a developing situation.

The Department of Homeland Security (www.dhs.gov) is responsible for the enforcement of the president’s Executive Orders in a manner that ensures the safety and security of all U.S. citizens.  In this regard, DHS retains the right to revoke visas at any time if required for national security or public safety.   As an immigrant, lawful permanent resident, or a visa holder, it is therefore incumbent on you to be mindful of all the requirements of your travel to and from the United States.   In addition, please note that DHS retains the discretion to conduct any security screenings for entry to the United States, consistent with its immigration laws and judicial orders.

Though some of the underlying tenets of U.S. immigration law is family unification and protecting those fleeing war or persecution,  no Caribbeannational, without ties to the United States, has any automatic right to request or demand entry into the United States or to receive immigration benefits in the United States.   Nonetheless, we must be vigilant in educating ourselves of the proper procedures to preserve the relationships of our families, protecting our families from oppression, and availing ourselves of any due process rights or remedies.

As you may be aware, a NY federal judge granted the American Civil Liberties Union’s request for a nationwide temporary injunction that will block the deportation of all people stranded in U.S. airports under President Trump’s executive orders.   The ACLU, along with several groups, filed a lawsuit this past weekend on behalf of two Iraqi men who were en route to the United States on immigrant visas when President Trump issued an executive order banning many persons, specifically from Syria, Iran, Iraq, Somalia, Sudan, Libya, and Yemen.

Though both men were granted immigrant visas, they were detained at JKF Airport for no other reason than the impact of President Trump’s executive order. In recent cases in Alexandria, Virginia; Boston; New York; and Seattle, federal courts have ruled against the detention of individuals at airports. The rulings appear to be limited to those people already at U.S. airports or in transit.  Subsequent legal proceedings are pending.

Here are a few practical facts and tips in sifting through the noise of the past few days:

FACT

  • The executive order on international travel ban of new arrivals affects only nationals and citizens, specifically from predominantly Muslim nations of Syria, Iran, Somalia, Sudan, Libya and Yemen for 90 days; Though the impact will disproportionately impact persons of the Muslim faith, the travel ban affects all individuals from these countries irrespective of religion.
  • It is advisable that any persons born in or citizens of any of the seven countries listed in the Order, including lawful permanent residents and US citizens, refrain from travel at this time or seek advice of immigration counsel.
  • Lawful permanent residents from non-listed countries should be mindful of any international travel. While the President’s Order is directed only to nationals of the seven listed countries, reentry to the United States is not guaranteed for any lawful permanent resident. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) agents have the discretion at all times to question U.S. citizens or permanent residents coming from the above seven countries or from any other country.
  • The executive order applies only to non-U.S. citizens. If you are a U.S. citizen, whether naturalborn or naturalized other than dual citizens from the countries above, you should be mindful, but not concerned.
  • For 120 days, the Order bars the entry of any refugee who is awaiting resettlement in the U.S.
  • If you’re not a U.S. citizen and an immigration agent requests your immigration papers, you must show them. If you’re over 18, you should carry your immigration documents with you at all times. If you don’t have immigration papers, say you want to remain silent. Under no circumstances, please do NOT lie about your immigration status or provide fake documents.
  • If you are an immigrant or refugee of any of the seven countries above (or any country for that matter) with fear of repatriation and you are denied entry and detained at any airport or port of entry, you have the right to demand hearing before an immigration judge and the right to speak to legal counsel. In addition, if you are a lawful permanent resident , you have the right to resist any demand to abandon your permanent residency (by signing Form I-407).   
  • To maintain the validity of your U.S. permanent residency, be sure to (1) renew your green card; (2) maintain employment in the U.S.; (3) file your U.S. tax returns; (4) maintain a U.S. address, bank account, driver’s license and credit card account; (5) retain ownership of property in the U.S.; (6) keep your dependents in the U.S.; (7) obtain a reentry permit if you’re going to come close to the six-month red line outside the U.S.;
  • Most importantly, if you are a lawful permanent residents for more than five (5) years domicile (or three (3) years when married to a U.S. citizen) in the U.S., you are eligible for U.S. naturalization (Form N-400: https://www.uscis.gov/n400) and should apply immediately.

FICTION

  • The recent Executive Orders from President Trump also created travel bans of non-immigrants, permanent residents, or U.S. citizens of Caribbean descent (WRONG).
  • The Department of Homeland Security has issued preferential visa allocations, approval processes and treatment for Caribbean nationals (WRONG).
  • Caribbean nationals who are lawful permanent residents will not be subject to any screening OR normal discretionary questions at the border (WRONG).
  • Lawful U.S. permanent residents do not have any legal rights at the airport or any port of entry (WRONG).
  • Lawful permanent residents can remain out of the United States as long as they wish without any intention to return to the U.S. (WRONG).

Bottom Line:  Check all news from social media or any stock text messages prior to sharing and most importantly make a plan for your personal travel or to unify your family months in advance in order to ensure that you are in full compliance with all immigration laws and regulations.

Written by Marlon Hill and published on Jamaicans.com

Stefan McHardy is managing attorney of DSA Legal Group, PLLC and past Executive Board Member of the Caribbean Association.