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Immigration Bulletin – CBP Refuses to Accept Canadian L-1 Renewal Applications at U.S.-Canada Ports of Entry

June 4, 2019 BULLETIN TO ALL IMMIGRATION CLIENTS

In March 2019, United States Customs and Border Protection (“CBP”) implemented its policy of refusing to process L-1 renewal (extension) applications for Canadian nationals at select ports of entry. Since its implementation, and although it began with only a handful of locations, CBP has progressively expanded this policy and has recently confirmed its official position that Canadian L applicants can only renew their status by filing an extension petition with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”).

Background:

Based on the North American Free Trade Agreement (“NAFTA”) and longstanding policy, Canadian nationals seeking to renew their L-1 status were, until this year, permitted to reapply for this classification in-person directly at a port of entry or at an airport pre-flight inspection location in Canada. Once approved, the applicant could then return to the United States in renewed L-1 status on a same-day basis. This provided an efficient and cost-effective process for employers seeking to extend the stay of their qualifying employees.

However, CBP has now determined that the agency does not have authority/jurisdiction to adjudicate renewal/extension L-1 petitions and has, instead, advised that only USCIS can do so. As a result, all U.S.-Canada ports of entry and pre-flight inspection locations will no longer accept L-1 renewal applications for Canadian nationals. This policy applies to both individual and Blanket L renewal applications, as well as L-2 renewal applications for dependent family members.

Canadian nationals are still permitted to apply for initial L-1 status at a port of entry or pre-flight inspection location in Canada. Those applicants who utilize intermittent or commuter L-1 status are also not affected by the new policy.

What This Means:

For the foreseeable future, employers should plan to file extension petitions with USCIS for their Canadian L-1 employees. We will continue to monitor the policy and will provide updates accordingly.

Please contact any member of the Cohen & Grigsby Immigration Department if you have any questions regarding the above at 412.297.4900. To receive future bulletins and news alerts, please send an e-mail to bulletins@cohenlaw.com.

Copyright © 2019 by Cohen & Grigsby, P.C. (No claim to original U.S. Governmental material.)

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