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Canadian L-1 Petition Pilot Program set to Take Flight Canadian L-1 Petition Pilot Program set to Take Flight

Canadian L-1 Petition Pilot Program set to Take Flight

The L-1 visa category is reserved for intracompany transferees: employees who have worked for an affiliated company abroad for more than one (1) year in a specialized knowledge or managerial capacity before transferring to a U.S. parent, subsidiary, or affiliate company. Normally, the L-1 process requires filing the petition with U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) first, and once approved, the transferee applies for the L-1 visa from a U.S. Consulate or Embassy abroad before entering the U.S. in L-1 status.
Canadian intracompany transferees applying for L-1 status have long benefited from the NAFTA treaty, which allows them to apply directly at the port-of-entry, generally a border crossing along the U.S.-Canada border, or at a pre-flight inspection in Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal, and other major airports. Their petitions are reviewed and adjudicated on the spot by Customs and Border Protection (CBP), and if approved, the applicants are allowed to enter the U.S. and begin their employment that day.
USCIS and CBP have announced a pilot program that will run from April 30, 2018 until October 31, 2018 that will impact L-1 adjudications at the Blaine, Washington port-of-entry. During this time, employers seeking to sponsor a Canadian citizen for L-1 status must first file the petition with the USCIS and then wait for its approval before the transferee can apply for entry in L-1 status at the Blaine, Washington port-of-entry. The two (2) agencies are working to ensure these L-1 petitions are fast-tracked at the USCIS Service Center to minimize delays and for employers and Canadian applicants to continue to expect quick adjudications.
This policy has currently not been extended to other ports-of-entry, so Canadian L-1 visa applicants may still apply directly at the border or pre-flight inspection at other locations. The closest stations to Blaine, Washington include Point Roberts, Washington; Sumas, Washington; and Vancouver-Washington crossing. However, it is expected that the pilot program could be extended to additional – or all – Canadian L-1 adjudications in the future. To discuss L-1 requirements or other immigration matters, please contact Kristin Kelley, Jenifer M. Brown, Christl P. Glier, or any member of Ice Miller’s Immigration Group.

This publication is intended for general information purposes only and does not and is not intended to constitute legal advice. The reader should consult with legal counsel to determine how laws or decisions discussed herein apply to the reader’s specific circumstances. 
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