“Clear and Convincing” Warning Regarding Blanket Ls?
Large multinational companies may petition USCIS for a Blanket L approval, which is an approval that the company and its specified foreign affiliates have the necessary qualifying relationship to transfer specialized knowledge and manager/executive employees in L-1 status. Once a company has a Blanket L approval, its employees may apply for L-1 visa directly with the U.S. Embassy or Consulate, without first obtaining a USCIS approval.
For an employee to be issued an L-1 visa using the Blanket L (i.e., without an USCIS approval), the consular officer must find the L-1 visa application to be “clearly approvable.” The clearly approvable standard is not new. What is new is the Department of State recently updated its manual to indicate that “clearly approvable” requires “clear and convincing” evidence of eligibility.
According to the DOS manual, “the clear and convincing evidence standard requires enough proof to make something highly probable or reasonably certain” and is “more than what would be required for the preponderance of the evidence standard.”
By requiring “clear and convincing” evidence of eligibility, more consular denials are likely to come. Most immigration attorneys believe the heightened scrutiny already began before this update, with L-1 visa denials based on a Blanket L on the rise, particularly with U.S. Consulates in India and China.
If a L-1 visa application based on a Blanket L is denied and the employer still wishes to transfer the employee, it will have to file a L-1 petitions with USCIS and if that is approved, the employee will then return to the U.S. Embassy/Consulate for visa processing.