Beginning April 30, 2018, U.S. Customs and Border Protection will not adjudicate L-1 intracompany transferee petitions for Canadian citizens at Blaine, Washington ports of entry. Canadians seeking L-1 status who wish to enter the United States through Blaine must first file their petitions with the USCIS California Service Center for processing. This will apply to Canadians seeking L-1 admission based on an employer’s previously approved blanket petition as well as those seeking L-1 admission based on an individual petition. USCIS unveiled the pilot program earlier this week in a meeting attended by multiple Department of Homeland Security officials including USCIS Director L. Francis Cissna.
According to USCIS officials, the California Service Center is expected to provide expedited processing of Canadian L-1 petitions. Once an approval notice is issued, the Canadian beneficiary may use it at any northern border port of entry to request admission. The agency strongly advises applicants to wait for the USCIS approval notice before applying for admission at the border, though USCIS indicated that applicants could bring the filing receipt to the border for entry, at which point CBP would contact USCIS to verify whether the case would be approved, and then act on the admission request accordingly. USCIS is expected to provide further information on the pilot program as the implementation date nears.
Initially, the pilot program will operate only at Blaine, Washington ports of entry. CBP is expected to continue to adjudicate Canadian L-1 applications for admission at other ports of entry until further notice.
USCIS indicated that the program could be implemented across the northern U.S. ports of entry, and may also be extended to other immigration categories, such as the TN.
Canadian L-1s who plan to apply for admission at Blaine ports of entry should take the forthcoming pilot program into account when planning travel.
Fragomen March 2018