USCIS Updates the L-1 Visa Policy Guideline: Sole Proprietorships Cannot Submit L-1 Applications on Behalf of Owners L-1 Visa


L-1 Visa

The L-1 visa encompasses both the L-1A visa for managers and executives and the L-1B visa for specialized knowledge workers.

To qualify for an L-1 visa, applicants must demonstrate a consistent record of working for the same company for at least one year within the preceding three years. They must be transferred to a U.S. office of the same company in a managerial, executive, or specialized knowledge capacity. Additionally, the U.S. office must have a qualifying relationship with the foreign company, such as being a parent, subsidiary, affiliate, or branch.

Read our L-1 article for more detailed information on the visa and its requirements.

L-1 Visa Policy Update

In late October 2023, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issued new L-1 visa policy guidelines regarding L-1 visa applications submitted by sole proprietorships. These L-1 visa policy guidelines, now part of the USCIS L-1 visa policy manual, reinforce the rule prohibiting sole proprietorships from filing L-1 visa applications on behalf of their owners.

The new L-1 visa policy guidance emphasizes that a sole proprietorship is not legally distinct from its owner when the owner and the beneficiary of the L-1 petition are one and the same. Thus, such a filing would be categorized as a self-application and is not permissible.

Furthermore, these new L-1 visa policy guidelines clearly distinguish between self-applications and those submitted by self-incorporated entities. Self-incorporated entities are described as corporations or limited liability companies with a single owner that stand as separate legal entities distinct from their owners. Such self-incorporated entities are eligible to file L-1 visa applications on behalf of their owners.

To summarize:

What is permissible?

  • Self-incorporated entities, such as corporations or limited liability companies with a single owner, can file L-1 visa applications on behalf of their owners. These separate legal entities are distinct from their owners.

What is not permissible?

  • Self-applications for L-1 visas, where the owner and beneficiary are the same individual, are not permitted and fall under the category of self-application, which is not allowed.

  • Sole proprietorships are not allowed to submit L-1 visa applications on behalf of their owners, as they are not legally separate entities from their owners when the owner and the L-1 beneficiary are the same.

Before of applying L-1, make sure you are aware of this new L-1 visa policy update and apply accordingly,

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