Will applying for an L-1 visa at the border soon become a thing of the past? If the pilot program starting on April 30, 2018 is any indication, change may be on the horizon.
U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) have joined forces to launch a pilot program at the port of entry in Blaine, Washington, estimated to last six months. Currently, a Canadian L-1 applicant may present their petition at any U.S. border crossing for immediate adjudication by a CBP officer. This will no longer be an option at the Blaine, Washington, port of entry for the duration of the pilot program.
Instead, applicants in the Blaine Washington State area will need to submit their L-1 applications (Form I-129 and supporting evidence) for processing at the USCIS California Service Center before CBP can admit them into the U.S. Applicants cannot seek admission in L-1 status until they receive USCIS’s approval. According to USCIS, expedited service will be provided to L-1 applicants affected by the pilot program. The specifics of the process are still being solidified but is projected that a decision -- an approval or Request for Evidence (RFE) -- will be issued within 2-3 business days of receipt. In an effort to accelerate the process, USCIS is expected to have an email address devoted to the processing of these L-1 applications to provide case updates, and it could be possible for admission to be sought upon an email confirmation of approval.
Through the preliminary pilot program, the goal is to develop a strategy that will lessen lengthy process delays and make adjudication for L-1 applications more consistent. Additionally, through the change in process, CBP officers can give their full attention to inspections and admissibility issues instead of dedicating time to on-the-spot adjudications.
Things you should know about the pilot program:
- It is currently for L-1 applications only.
- CBP will continue to allow Canadian L-1 applicants to apply for “on the spot” adjudications at all other ports of entry.
What has yet to be determined:
- Clarification regarding potential changes to the RFE process and response time. Will it decrease the number of superfluous RFEs (as intended)?
- If the pilot program is deemed successful, will this new process be nationally implemented – and how quickly will it happen?
- Will the processes for other types of applications eventually be affected?
Updates will be made as new developments arise and Serotte Reich will be keeping you posted. Questions or concerns? Contact us at 716-854-7525 or http://srwlawyers.com/contact