USCIS Form I-129S: Understanding Nonimmigrant Petition for L-1 Blanket Visa Holders

USCIS Form I-129S, Nonimmigrant Petition Based on a Blanket L Petition, serves as a crucial document for employers who wish to transfer certain employees to the United States as intracompany transferees under a blanket L petition. This process is integral to multinational companies that require the relocation of executives, managers, or specialized knowledge professionals to their U.S. operations for temporary business assignments. The form acts as a petition for an employee, designated as the beneficiary, to be classified as an L-1 nonimmigrant, allowing them to undertake employment in the U.S. entity of the same multinational group.
Understanding the nuances of Form I-129S is essential for both petitioning employers and beneficiaries. It outlines the eligibility and requirements for obtaining L-1 status, which is predicated on

and requirements for obtaining L-1 status, which is predicated on a previously approved blanket L petition, streamlining the individual petition process for these transferees. As part of the immigration procedure, it is filed with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and must be accompanied by the necessary documentation to prove the beneficiary’s eligibility for L-1 classification.

The utility of Form I-129S extends beyond its role as a petition; it is also used during the visa application process and at the point of entry into the United States, serving as evidence of the beneficiary’s eligibility for L-1 status based on an approved blanket petition. Employers and employees alike must be aware of the details and constraints of the form, including its expiration date and filing locations, to ensure compliance with USCIS regulations and facilitate a smoother transition for nonimmigrant workers.

Overview of USCIS Form I-129S

USCIS Form I-129S serves a critical role in classifying noncitizen employees as L-1 nonimmigrant intracompany transferees under a blanket L petition.

Purpose of Form I-129S

The purpose of Form I-129S is to facilitate the process for employers to classify certain noncitizen employees as L-1 nonimmigrants. These employees may be executives, managers, or professionals with specialized knowledge who are being transferred within the same company to work in the United States. The form relates to a previously approved blanket L petition.

Eligibility Criteria

To be eligible for classification under Form I-129S, the employee must meet specific criteria:

  • They should be coming to the United States as an executive, manager, or specialized knowledge professional.
  • They must be employed by a company or organization that has obtained an approved blanket L petition.

The approved blanket L petition is an essential prerequisite that provides a streamlined process for qualifying companies to transfer multiple employees without filing separate petitions for each individual.

Filing Requirements

When filing Form I-129S, petitioners must adhere to specific guidelines in terms of documentation, fees, and timing to ensure successful submission and processing.

Documentation Needed

  • Completed Form I-129S: Must be accurately filled out by the petitioner.
  • Approved Blanket L Petition: Evidence that the blanket L petition has already been approved by USCIS.
  • Proof of Beneficiary’s Eligibility: This includes their resume and proof of their qualifications as an executive, manager, or specialized knowledge professional.
  • Passport: A copy of the beneficiary’s valid passport.

Documents should be presented in English or accompanied by certified translations.

Filing Fees

USCIS requires:

  • Filing Fee: As of the latest information, the fee can vary, and petitioners should verify the current amount on the USCIS website.
  • Fraud Prevention and Detection Fee: Required for beneficiaries who are outside the United States and are seeking visa issuance abroad.
  • Public Law 114-113 Fee: If applicable.

Fees are subject to change and the latest fee schedule should be checked on the USCIS official website.

Deadlines and Processing Times

  • Deadlines: Petitioners should file Form I-129S within the validity period of the approved Blanket L Petition.
  • Processing Times: Vary based on the service center and can fluctuate. Current processing times are available on the USCIS website.

Timeliness is paramount in filing to avoid unnecessary delays or the need for re-submission.

Completing the Form

When filling out USCIS Form I-129S, precision and attention to detail are crucial. It is important that the petitioner provides accurate and complete information in the specified sections to avoid delays.

Petitioner Information

The petitioner must provide comprehensive company details, including the full legal name of the organization, as well as the physical and mailing addresses. Contact information should also be meticulously detailed to facilitate any necessary communication from USCIS.

  • Name of the Petitioning Organization: Include the full legal name.
  • Petitioner’s Physical Address: Include street number, name, city, state, and ZIP code.
  • Petitioner’s Mailing Address: If different from the physical address, provide the complete mailing address.

Beneficiary Details

In this section, the petitioner specifies information regarding the foreign worker, or beneficiary, such as their full name, date of birth, nationality, and current nonimmigrant status. It’s essential to ensure that all personal identifiers match the documentation provided to support the petition.

  • Full Name of the Beneficiary: Ensure it matches passport and other legal documents.
  • Date of Birth: Use the MM/DD/YYYY format.
  • Current Nonimmigrant Status: Specify the beneficiary’s current visa classification if applicable.

Employment Information

The employment section requires details of the proposed position in the United States, including the job title, duties, and the location where the beneficiary will be working. Furthermore, it must be indicated if the employment is part-time or full-time.

  • Job Title: Clearly state the title of the position offered.
  • Duties: List the key responsibilities and tasks of the position.
  • Location of Employment: Include the full address where the beneficiary will work.

Legal Considerations

In addressing the legal stipulations of the USCIS Form I-129S, one must be acutely aware of the terms and conditions tied to L1 status and the rights and protections the law extends to workers under this classification. If employers looking to hire nonimmigrant workers in the U.S. filling the Form I-129 is crucial.

Terms and Conditions of L1 Status

An individual on L1 status is authorized to work in the United States as an intracompany transferee within multi-national corporations. This status is specific to managers, executives, or those with specialized knowledge. Conditions of maintaining valid L1 status include:

  • Employment Consistency: The individual must continue employment with the company that sponsored their L1 status.
  • Petition Validity: Staying within the time limit set by the approved I-129S petition, usually up to three years for initial entry, which can be extended in two-year increments, not to exceed five years for specialized knowledge workers or seven years for managers and executives.

Rights and Protections for Workers

Workers under L1 status are entitled to several protections in line with U.S. labor laws. It is imperative for employers and employees to understand these rights fully:

  • Fair Wages: They are entitled to receive fair wages, which are to be commensurate with the prevailing wage for similar positions in the geographic area of employment.
  • Workplace Safety: They must be provided a safe working environment as per the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations.
  • Anti-Discrimination Laws: L1 employees are also protected by anti-discrimination laws, which prohibit any form of discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, or age.

After Submission

After USCIS receives Form I-129S, the applicant should be prepared to attentively manage the subsequent steps, which include tracking notices, responding to any USCIS queries, and monitoring the status of their case.

Receipt and Notice

Once an applicant submits Form I-129S, USCIS will issue a Receipt Notice, officially known as Form I-797C. This document confirms that USCIS has received the application and provides a receipt number. Applicants should keep this notice as it’s crucial for tracking the status of their case and for future reference.

Responding to Requests for Evidence

If USCIS requires more information to make a decision, they may issue a Request for Evidence (RFE). Applicants will need to respond to any RFEs within the timeframe indicated on the notice, usually within 30 to 90 days. Submission of the exact information requested is vital to avoid any delays or denials.

Case Status and Inquiries

Applicants can track the progress of their application using the receipt number provided on their I-797C notice through the USCIS case status online tool. For any further inquiries or if an unusual delay is encountered, applicants may contact the USCIS Contact Center or file a case inquiry through the USCIS website. It’s essential to have all relevant information ready when making such inquiries to facilitate assistance.

Renewal and Extensions

The renewal and extensions of the USCIS Form I-129S pertain exclusively to individuals holding or seeking L-1 nonimmigrant status under a blanket petition. This process enables intracompany transferees to maintain lawful work status in the United States.

Eligibility for Renewal

Generally, individuals can seek renewal of their L-1 status on Form I-129S if they continue to meet the eligibility criteria that qualified them for the initial approval. The criteria include:

  • Current L-1 status: The employee must be in valid L-1 nonimmigrant status at the time of renewal.
  • Ongoing employment: The individual must continue to be employed by the same employer that was the petitioner of the original blanket petition.
  • Compliance: There have been no material changes in the terms and conditions of employment.

Extension Process

To extend one’s stay on an L-1 visa using an I-129S Blanket Petition, the following steps are generally involved:

  1. Filing: The employer must file a new Form I-129S before the employee’s current L-1 status expires.
  2. Documentation: Supporting documents, evidencing the ongoing qualification for the L-1 category, must accompany the form.
  3. Fees: All applicable USCIS filing fees must be paid according to the most recent fee schedule.

The approval notice of Form I-129S can subsequently be used for the visa application process and facilitate re-entry to the United States, serving as prima facie evidence of eligibility for L-1 status.

Special Circumstances

In handling Form I-129S, it is crucial to address specific situations that may affect the status of the petition, particularly amendments and employment changes.

Amendments to Petition

When there are material changes in the terms or conditions of employment or the eligibility criteria, the petitioning employer must file an amended I-129S. Examples of such changes include but are not limited to:

  • A significant change in the beneficiary’s job duties or responsibilities
  • Transfer to a different parent, subsidiary, or affiliate of the organization
  • Changes in the wages significantly higher or lower than the amount specified in the original petition

Effect of Changes in Employment

Employment changes can have significant effects on an L-1 nonimmigrant’s status. Here are key points to note:

  • If the beneficiary’s job location changes but stays within the same metropolitan statistical area, an updated LCA and a notification to USCIS may suffice.
  • For a change in the place of employment outside the original area, a new LCA and potentially an amended petition are generally required.
  • The L-1 status may be jeopardized if the beneficiary is not performing the specialized or managerial duties as stipulated in the original petition.

Resources and Assistance

When filing USCIS Form I-129S, resources and assistance play a crucial role in ensuring accurate completion and submission. The following information provides direct points of contact and ways to procure legal aid.

USCIS Contact Information

  • Phone: Applicants may contact the USCIS National Customer Service Center at 1-800-375-5283 for general inquiries.
  • Online: For detailed information and the latest updates on Form I-129S, visit the official USCIS website.
  • Local Offices: Individuals may locate their nearest USCIS field office for in-person assistance by using the USCIS Office Locator.

Legal Help and Guidance

  • Attorneys: Seek the aid of an immigration attorney who can provide professional guidance on case-specific matters.
  • Pro Bono Services: For those unable to afford legal representation, the Immigration Advocates Network offers a national directory of more than 1,000 free or low-cost nonprofit immigration services providers in all 50 states.
  • Educational Resources: USCIS provides educational materials, including guides and checklists, that can be instrumental for self-representation.