The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has issued a policy update, found in Volume 2 of the USCIS Policy Manual, clarifying that a sole proprietorship cannot submit a petition on behalf of its owner. This decision is rooted in the fact that a sole proprietorship is not considered a separate legal entity from its owner. This reaffirms the existing policy and highlights the distinction between a sole proprietor and a self-incorporated petitioner, like a corporation or a single-member limited liability company, which are legally separate from their owners and are eligible to file petitions.
Additionally, this update brings clarity to blanket petitions, often used by international organizations for L-1 visa applications. USCIS emphasizes that the failure to timely extend a blanket petition will not result in a 3-year waiting period for another petition.
This policy update is effective immediately and supersedes any prior guidance on the subject. The L-1 visa classification, allowing temporary employee transfers for qualifying organizations, maintains the prohibition on sole proprietors filing L-1 petitions for themselves.