State Department reverses guidance on blanket L petitions

18 Nov 19

UNITED STATES

The U.S. State Department has removed updates to the Foreign Affairs Manual (FAM) for consular officers that added stricter language for adjudicating blanket L petitions.

Key points:

  • The changes would have required blanket L applicants to present “clear and convincing evidence” of their eligibility, and would have required consular officers to deny a case if the applicant was unable to “quickly or easily” resolve questions about eligibility during the interview.
  • With removal of the changes, the guidance reverts back to the standard that consular officers only grant blanket L petitions that are “clearly approvable.”

Background: Blanket L petitions are commonly used by multinational companies transferring large numbers of employees from international offices to a U.S. branch or affiliate office. The blanket petition eliminates the need to file individual petitions for each employee.

Last month, the State Department quietly updated the FAM section that guides consular officers on granting blanket L petitions with the stricter language. Though the stricter language did not clearly change the legal standard regarding the burden of proof for blanket L petitions, its focus on requiring applicants to establish visa eligibility was expected to encourage consular officers to scrutinize blanket L petitions more closely and potentially increase denials.

BAL Analysis: The removal of the stricter language restores previous, longstanding blanket L adjudication policy. It is unclear whether there will be subsequent attempts to tighten the FAM guidelines on blanket L adjudication.

This alert has been provided by the BAL U.S. Practice group. For additional information, please contact berryapplemanleiden@balglobal.com.

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