Effective December 1, 2011, the U.S. Consulate General in Chennai will be the only visa acceptance and processing center in India for all applications for intracompany transfers under the “blanket” L visa category. Foreign nationals applying for L-1A and L-1B visas in India under their employer’s blanket petition will be required to travel to Chennai for visa interviews and processing. The U.S. Embassy in New Delhi and the U.S. Consulates in Mumbai, Kolkata and Hyderabad will no longer accept or process applications for this visa category. L-2 visa applications for the spouses and children of L-1 visa holders, and individual L-1A and L-1B petitions, may still be processed at any U.S. Consular section in India.

What does this centralized processing mean for employers and their foreign national employees?

While the apparent intention behind the centralization of blanket L-1 processing at one post in India is to streamline the blanket L-1 visa issuance process, improve efficiency, and ensure consistency in the standards of adjudication, we expect that this change will lead to even more stringent adjudications and cause delays for visa appointments, particularly over the holiday season. Foreign nationals and their employers should anticipate processing delays and plan accordingly.