USCIS Provides Clarity on L-1 Petitions

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has released policy guidance (PDF, 311.12 KB) in the USCIS Policy Manual to explicitly state that a sole proprietorship is ineligible to file a petition on behalf of its owner. This clarification arises from the understanding that a sole proprietorship lacks a distinct legal identity separate from its owner.

The update in the Policy Manual reinforces existing guidance and draws a clear distinction between a sole proprietor and a self-incorporated petitioner, such as a corporation or a limited liability company with a single owner. In the latter case, the corporation or single-member limited liability company operates as a separate legal entity, allowing it to file a petition on behalf of the owner.

Furthermore, the guidance addresses blanket petitions filed by international organizations on behalf of individual entities named in the petition. USCIS is updating the policy to emphasize that the failure to timely file an extension for a blanket petition does not initiate a 3-year waiting period before another blanket petition can be submitted.

This guidance, outlined in Volume 2 of the Policy Manual, takes immediate effect. It serves as the authoritative source, superseding any previous guidance on the subject. The L-1 nonimmigrant visa classification facilitates the temporary transfer of employees from a qualifying organization's foreign offices to locations in the United States. USCIS reiterates that, according to existing policy and practice, a sole proprietorship is not permitted to file an L-1 petition on behalf of its owner.

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