Beginning April 30, 2018, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will no longer adjudicate L-1 intracompany transferee petitions for Canadian citizens at the Blaine, Washington ports of entry. Canadians seeking L-1 status who wish to enter the United States through Blaine must first file their petitions with the USCIS California Service Center for processing. This will apply to both L-1 admissions based on an employer’s previously approved blanket petition and individual L-1 petitions. Once an approval notice is issued, the beneficiary may use it at any northern border port of entry to request admission.
It has been strongly advised that applicants wait for the USCIS approval notice before applying for admission at the border. However, USCIS has indicated that applicants could be able to bring the filing receipt to the border for entry, at which point CBP would contact USCIS to verify whether the case would be approved, and then act on the admission request accordingly. USCIS is expected to provide further information on the pilot program as the implementation date nears and HLG will provide updates as they are available.
Initially, the pilot program will operate only at Blaine, Washington ports of entry. CBP is expected to continue to adjudicate Canadian L-1 applications for admission at other ports of entry until further notice. USCIS also has indicated that the program could be implemented across the northern U.S. ports of entry, and may also be extended to other immigration categories, such as the TN!
If you are a Canadian planning to apply for admission at the Blaine ports of entry for an L-1 visa, you need to take the upcoming pilot program into account when planning your travel.