U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has announced plans for a pilot program affecting Canadian citizen L-1 applicants crossing into the U.S. through ports of entry in Blaine, Wash. Under the program, these applicants will first submit their L-1 petitions to USCIS rather than directly to U.S. Customs and Border Protection at the border.

Key points:

  • Effective April 30, Canadians using ports of entry in Blaine, Wash. will submit L-1 petitions to the USCIS California Service Center rather than submitting their L-1 petitions for approval at the border checkpoints.
  • Applicants will be required to receive their L-1 petition approval before seeking admission from Customs and Border Protection into the U.S. through Blaine ports of entry. USCIS has indicated that it will provide expedited service for affected L-1 applicants, but has not yet provided details of how the service will work.
  • The change will not initially affect L-1 applicants using other ports of entry. It is not yet clear whether USCIS intends to expand the program to other ports of entry or other visa programs.

BAL Analysis: While the USCIS announcement of this program described it as an “option,” other reports indicate that Canadian L-1 applicants will be required starting April 30 to submit their petitions to USCIS if seeking admission at the Blaine, Wash. ports of entry. Affected applicants should make plans to either submit L-1 petitions to USCIS or use other ports of entry. More information is anticipated between now and the April 30 implementation date. BAL will continue to follow the development of the pilot program and provide updates as needed.

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

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