A pilot program that was scheduled to expire Wednesday for Canadian nationals applying for L-1 visas at the Blaine, Wash. port of entry has been extended through April 30, 2019.

Key points:

  • Canadian citizens seeking L-1 nonimmigrant status under the North American Free Trade Agreement may continue to request that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services remotely adjudicate their sponsoring employer’s Form I-129 (or I-129S for blanket L-1’s) before they arrive at the Blaine port of entry.
  • If an applicant arrives at the Blaine port of entry before USCIS makes a decision on the Form I-129, there may be delays while USCIS remotely adjudicates the form. In such cases, the employee must bring a copy of the petition receipt notice for the Form I-129 and await adjudication of the Form I-129.
  • Employers may opt not to file the I-129 in advance, and may file it with U.S. Customs and Border Protection at the Blaine port of entry, but CBP will adjudicate it when an applicant appears at any CBP-designated Class A port of entry or pre-clearance airport. The three optimized stations nearest to Blaine are Class A ports of entry at Point Roberts and Sumas, Wash. and the Vancouver Airport pre-clearance location.

Background: The pilot program is a joint initiative between CBP and USCIS. It began April 30, 2018 and was set to expire Oct. 31.

BAL Analysis: While this program may at some point be extended to all Canadian posts in order to centralize processing at the Service Centers, at this point it is still limited to the Blaine port of entry. USCIS and CBP encourage employers using the pilot program to file their petitions as far in advance of travel as possible. The agencies are seeking feedback on the pilot program from Canadian citizens and their employers via email at public.engagement@uscis.dhs.gov. Comments will be used when the agencies consider extending the program to other points of entry.

This alert has been provided by the BAL U.S. Practice group. For additional information, please contact berryapplemanleiden@bal.com.

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