USCIS updates plan for L-1 pilot program

In a previous post, we reported on a pilot program for Canadian L-1 visas that would temporarily affect applications presented at the border for adjudication at the Blaine, Washington state port of entry. U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS) has provided new details on the program, which is a joint initiative by (USCIS) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP). It will only be conducted at the Blaine, Washington port of entry, and is intended to identify procedural issues and increase efficiency.

USCIS has confirmed that the pilot program will last for six months (April 30 to October 31, 2018) and further explains the process, according to a press release on the agency’s website:

  • First, Canadian L-1 petitioners will submit Form I-129 and supporting evidence to the USCIS California Service Center. Fees also will be submitted to USCIS.
  • USCIS emphasizes that this submission – and all correspondence related to the L-1 application – must include a cover sheet that says “Canadian L.” This is supposed to “ensure quick identification.”
  • The USCIS California Service System will issue the Form I-797C receipt notice and make a decision.
  • If a request for evidence (RFE) is necessary, it will be sent to the applicant by USCIS.
  • After approval from USCIS, applicants must bring a copy of the approval notice to present to CBP officers at the Blaine, Washington port of entry.
  • It should be noted that “CBP will continue to make the final determination on whether a Canadian L-1 applicant is admissible to the United States.”

USCIS adds that participation in the pilot program is optional for Canadian L-1 applicants at the Blaine, Washington, port of entry. CBP officers at the Blaine POE will accept the petition, but it will be adjudicated at the nearest Class A Port of Entry. (The closest ones in Washington State are at Point Roberts, Sumas, and preclearance at the Vancouver International Airport.)

Petitioners participating in the pilot program are “strongly encouraged” by CBP and USCIS to file Canadian L-1 applications with USCIS “as far in advance of travel as possible.”