The USCIS California Service Center (CSC) and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Blaine, Washington, port of entry (POE) will implement a pilot program for Canadian citizens seeking L-1 nonimmigrant status under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) from April 30, 2018, to Oct. 31, 2018. This program is designed to open doors for the adjudication and admission process of Canadians traveling to the U.S. as L-1 nonimmigrants.
DHS regulations permit an employer to file an L petition on behalf of a Canadian citizen in conjunction with the Canadian citizen’s application for admission to the U.S. Petitioners choosing to participate in the joint agency pilot program will have to:
- Submit Form I-129 and supporting evidence to the CSC before the Canadian citizen seeks L-1 admission to the U.S. through the Blaine POE; and
- Use a cover sheet annotated with “Canadian L” to ensure quick identification of the Form I-129 and for any correspondence thereafter, such as a response to a request for evidence (RFE).
A petitioner who wishes not to participate in the Pilot Program may file its L-1 petition on behalf of a Canadian citizen with CBP at the Blaine POE. In such a case, CBP will accept the petition but will adjudicate it at the next Class A POE.
What Is The Pilot Program?
For those who wish to participate in the pilot program, USCIS will receive fees, issue a Form I-797C receipt notice, and adjudicate the Form I-129. If USCIS needs additional evidence or documents, USCIS will issue an RFE to the petitioner.
CBP will simultaneously make the final determination on whether a Canadian L-1 applicant qualifies to seek entry into United States. Applicants participating in the pilot and looking for an immediate determination of admissibility must bring a copy of the petition approval notice for the Form I-129 when seeking admission to the U.S. at the Blaine POE.
If the petitioner wishes to send the applicant to the Blaine POE before USCIS makes a decision on the Form I-129, there may be delays while USCIS remotely adjudicates the form. In such a case, the applicant must bring a copy of the petition receipt notice for the Form I-129 and await adjudication of the Form I-129.
If a petitioner chooses not to file the Form I-129 in advance with USCIS, the filing may continue to be made with CBP at the Blaine POE, but CBP will adjudicate it during the pilot at the nearest Class A POE. The beneficiary may apply for admission at any designated Class A CBP POE optimized for processing L-1 petitions for Canadian citizen beneficiaries. Accordingly, petitioners can still choose to have CBP adjudicate their petitions at the time an applicant appears at any CBP-designated Class A POE or pre-clearance airport (PC). The three optimized stations nearest to Blaine are Class A POEs Point Roberts, Washington, and Sumas, Washington, and the Vancouver, Washington, PC.
The L-1 nonimmigrant pilot program for Canadian citizens will allow both agencies to determine the efficiency of the program’s procedures, identify shortcomings, and develop operational improvements.
Regarding L-1 Canadians:
Presently, a Canadian citizen may apply for admission as an L-1 nonimmigrant by presenting a petitioning employer’s Form I-129 to an immigration officer at a Class A port of entry or pre-clearance airport. Otherwise, an L-1 petitioner may choose to file a Form I-129 for a Canadian citizen with USCIS, seeking to classify the individual as eligible for L-1 nonimmigrant status. If the petitioner chooses to file its petition with USCIS and USCIS approves the Form I-129, the qualifying Canadian citizen may then apply at a POE for admission to the U.S. in L-1 status.
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