One of our partners, Douglas Halpert and a senior associate, Christy Turovisky recently published a helpful article about issues that business travelers may encounter at the border. Check it out here. If you advise business travelers at your company, this will be worth the read.
Customs and Border Protection has stated that they will only accept educational equivalencies prepared by members of the National Association of Credential Evaluation Services (NACES.ORG) for cases presented at the Preflight Inspection or Port of Entry. A review of their website indicates that only 19 educational evaluation services providers are listed including the Foundation for International Services, Inc. and World Education Services, Inc. But other equally reliable service providers are not. Membership to NACES is by application and requires completion of a rigorous screening and selection procedure, which includes a two-member on-site visit at the applicant’s expense.
The Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) expects to launch the “Known Employer” pilot program by late 2015 which is designed to streamline adjudication of certain types of employment-based immigration benefit requests filed by eligible U.S. employers. The pilot program is designed to make adjudications more effectively and less costly and reduce paperwork and delays for both the department and U.S. employers who seek to employ foreign workers.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) would jointly implement the pilot program. A goal would be to expedite or otherwise facilitate legitimate cross-border business travel along the northern border ports of entry. Doing so is a binational commitment under the North American Free Trade Agreement as well as the U.S.-Canada Beyond the Border initiative.
We will provide additional information about the “Known Employer” program in the coming months.
As of September, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is optimizing processing for first-time Canadian TN and L applicants at 14 designated ports of entry including 4 preclearance locations. According to CBP, optimized processing will ensure a more efficient approach to processing the high volume of applications received every day. Optimized processing is only available at certain times for some ports. For a complete list and additional information, please see http://www.cbp.gov/travel/international-visitors/canada-mexico-travel. We will see if optimized processing is good or bad thing and will provide an update once we have more information.
In a change that has been planned for a long time and delayed several times, it appears that the process which will eliminate the issuance of I-94 cards at most ports of entry will finally go into effect as of April 30, 2013 and be phased in over the following month. CBP has published a very helpful fact sheet describing this change.
The CBP released a statement on its procedures for handling L petitions under NAFTA. Our experience is that CBP officers have a far greater grasp of the L regulatory standards and far less of a political agenda than their US Consulate brethren and that well-prepared L petitions are met with routine approval at the border.