Most government organizations aren’t exactly known for their speedy paperwork turnaround.  If you’ve recently filed an application for an L-1 Visa, you’re probably anxious to know what sort of waiting period you can expect.  In this article, we’ll go over average application processing times, how to expedite processing with USCIS’ Premium Processing program, how to check the status of your petition, and what to do if your application is denied.

Timeline for the Average L-1 Application Review

To apply for an L-1 Visa, petitioners must submit the following documents to USCIS (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services) for review:

  • Form I-129 (Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker)
  • L Classification Supplement to Form I-129
  • Employment Verification Letter
  • Complete and thorough Employer supporting documentary evidence to demonstrate the I-129 Requirements for the L-Visa

The average processing time for these L-1 Visa application materials — which also include supporting documents of the Employee such as passports, contact information, and copies of pertinent educational certificates and degrees — depends largely on the manner in which you applied.  While the duration of each review varies on a case-by-case basis, USCIS usually processes blanket L-1 petitions much more rapidly than their standard counterparts: one to three weeks for the average blanket petition, versus four to six months (or even longer) for the average non-blanket petition. 

Unfortunately, the blanket petition is not a suitable choice for every application scenario.  Blanket petitions are utilized by large companies with numerous employees or annual sales of greater than $25 million, thereby allowing the employer to avoid the hassle of filing dozens of separate applications.  This also explains the significant difference in processing times which exists between standard and blanket petitions.

While blanket petitions can potentially cover both L-1A and L-1B variants, visa applicants may only obtain blanket petition approval if they are able to satisfy the eligibility requirements mandated by USCIS.  If you cannot satisfy USCIS criteria for a blanket L-1 petition, is there any other way you can speed up your application processing time?

passport green card immigration

USCIS’ Expedited Premium Processing Service

The short answer to this question is yes — but expedited processing comes at a price.  For a fee of $1,225, you may file via USCIS’ Premium Processing Service, use of which guarantees your application will be processed in 15 days or less (unless USCIS requires more evidence supporting your request, at which point you will receive a formal notification).

The 15-day period begins counting down once USCIS receives your completed Form I-907 (Request for Premium Processing Service), a simple two-page form which requires information such as the form and receipt number of the related L-1 application, and the type of visa classification you are requesting.  Form I-907 can be filed by the petitioning employer or by his or her attorney, and may be filed with or separately from Form I-129 and its supporting documents.

While L-1 Visas are not subject to annual USCIS approval caps, petitioners who are interested in applying for other visa types should be advised that use of the Premium Processing Service does not waive, supersede, or otherwise affect USCIS caps on annual visa approvals.

How Can I Check the Status of my Visa Petition?

Visa petitioners with pending applications can easily check the status of their applications at any time by using the USCIS Case Status Online tool.  To get instant updates, simply enter the 13-digit receipt code assigned to your application into the search field.  Your receipt number should start with three letters, followed by 10 numbers.  This code will be printed on every notice of action you receive from USCIS.  If you would like to receive an email or text message alert once USCIS finishes processing your application, you must complete and submit Form G-1145 (e-Notification of Application/Petition Acceptance).

If USCIS initially denies your application you are able to challenge the denial by filing a Motion to Reopen or Reconsider with USCIS or filing a direct appeal through the Administrative Appeals Office (AAO).  However, successful appeals are very difficult to obtain as the USCIS and the AAO deny the vast majority of such challenges.  Accordingly, it is exceptionally important to ensure that your L-1 Petition is file correctly initially, ideally with assistance from an experienced investor visa lawyer.  Be advised that beneficiaries do not have the right to appeal USCIS L-1 rejections: only the actual petitioner has this authority. The forms you must submit depend on the type of matter you are appealing, though most petitioners will end up using Form I-290B (Notice of Appeal or Motion).

If you need help filing an L-1A or L-1B Visa application, or if your application has already been rejected by USCIS and you wish to appeal the original decision, the attorneys of Colombo & Hurd may be able to assist.  To learn more about how we can help in a private legal consultation, call to speak with one of our L-1 Visa Attorneys today.