State Department updates guidance for blanket L adjudications with stricter language

4 Nov 19

UNITED STATES

The U.S. State Department has updated its guidance in the State Department Foreign Affairs Manual (FAM) for consular officers with stricter language for adjudicating blanket L petitions.

Key points:

  • The updated guidance indicates that blanket L applicants must present “clear and convincing evidence” of their eligibility, meaning that the evidence is highly probably or reasonably certain.
  • If a consular officer does not find a blanket L application to initially appear “clearly approvable,” he or she may ask the applicant questions that may be “quickly or easily resolved during the interview.” If the questions cannot be resolved during the interview, the officer should deny the case, according to the guidance.

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.

BAL Analysis: The State Department’s updated guidance does not clearly change the legal standard regarding the burden of proof for blanket L petitions, but the FAM’s new extended focus on requiring the applicant to establish visa eligibility could lead to consular officers scrutinizing these petitions more closely and potentially increasing denials.

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

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