By: Roujin Mozaffarimehr
US Citizenship and Immigration Services has announced a new pilot program for Canadian citizens applying for L-1 nonimmigrant status under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
The California Service Center and the Customs and Border Protection unit at the Blaine, Washington port of entry have joined together to begin allowing employers to file L-1 applications at the port of entry under new filing guidelines. This includes individual L-1s and L-1 Blankets.
The L-1 visa is for intra-company transfers of executive, managerial, or specialized knowledge employees from entities abroad to offices in the U.S.
For an employer to qualify, they must have a qualifying relationship with a foreign company and is either currently doing business or will be doing business in the U.S. and in at least one other country for the duration of the beneficiary’s stay in the US as an L-1.
For an employee to qualify, the employee must have worked at a qualifying organization abroad for one continuous year in the immediate three years preceding admission to the U.S. in an executive, managerial, or specialized knowledge capacity.
Currently, a Canadian citizen may apply for L-1 non-immigrant status by filing form I-129 directly with an immigration officer at a Class A port of entry or pre-clearance airport. Canadian citizens may also still have petitioners file L-1 petitions directly with the USCIS. Thereafter, the Canadian citizen would apply for admission at a port of entry for admission to the United States.
This pilot program will take place from April 30, 2018 to October 31, 2018. Under the program, a Petitioner may forgo the above current filing processes by applying directly for an L-1 visa at the Blaine, Washington port of entry by doing the following:
- Submit Form I-129 or I-129S and supporting evidence to the California Service Center before seeking admission through the port of entry;
- Use a coversheet annotated with “Canadian L.” The cover sheet template is provided by the USCIS here.
Petitioners may continue filing L-1 petitions via the options available under existing law while the pilot program is in process.
We note that the pilot program only applies to Canadian citizens at this time. If you are considering the L-1 process for a Canadian national, please contact our firm for additional details about the process.