The L-1 nonimmigrant classification for intra-company transferees remains under intense scrutiny by USCIS in the adjudication process. This scrutiny has now extended to L-1B blanket visa petitions filed with U.S. embassies and consulates abroad, and to border inspections conducted by U.S. Customs and Border Protection ("CBP"). On January 11, 2011, the DOS issued new guidance to consular officers on how to interpret the term "specialized knowledge" when adjudicating blanket L-1B visa petitions for professionals. In this "guidance," the DOS adopted the myopic construction of "specialized knowledge" that USCIS has been using to deny an increasing number of L-1B petitions filed in this country. This guidance suggests that it may become even more difficult to secure L-1B approvals for those professionals who utilize the blanket L process to avoid the USCIS.
Recently, CBP also has intensified its efforts to force all blanket L-1 travelers to carry a copy of the approved blanket L petition and Form I-129S, Certificate of Eligibility for Intra-Company Transferee, issued by the U.S. embassy or consulate. New L-1 nonimmigrants should be admitted for three years, as long as the blanket petition is valid at the time of admission, their passports are valid for the three-year period, and they are otherwise admissible. If the L-1 nonimmigrant's passport expires prior to the three-year period, then he or she should be admitted only until the expiration date of the passport.
The recent actions by CBP underscore the importance for all L-1 nonimmigrants to carry the required documentation when they travel and to make sure that their passports are valid through the period they intend to remain in the United States.