On Oct. 20, 2023, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) released policy guidance, effective immediately, for L-1 petitions filed by a sole proprietorship. 

This guidance is reflected in the latest USCIS Policy Manual and upholds existing policy, stating that a sole proprietorship may not file an L-1 petition on behalf of its owner. The guidance clarifies that a sole proprietorship does not qualify as a distinct legal entity separate and apart from the owner if the owner and the beneficiary are the same. In this case, the filing would be considered a self-petition that is not permissible. 

The guidance further distinguishes self-petitions from a self-incorporated petitioner, defined as a corporation or a limited liability company with a single owner that is a separate and distinct legal entity from its owner. Such self-incorporated entities may petition for that owner.

In addition to the sole proprietorship clarification, the policy guidance also clarifies filing extensions of blanket L-1 petitions, stating that a failure to file a timely extension of the blanket petition does not require a waiting period before a new blanket petition can be filed. Blanket L-1 petitions allow qualifying employees who are executives, managers, and specialized knowledge professionals to apply for their L-1 visa directly at a U.S. consulate or embassy abroad instead of pre-filing with USCIS, provided that the entity they worked for abroad (employee must have worked there for more than one year in the last three years) and the entity they will work for in the United States are both listed on the blanket approval.