USCIS and CBP Announces New Form I-129 Pilot Program for Canadian L-1 Nonimmigrants
On March 30, the USCIS announced a new pilot program for L-1 visa applicants who are Canadian citizens. Read on for the full announcment:
“From April 30, 2018, to Oct. 31, 2018, the USCIS California Service Center (CSC) and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Blaine, Washington, port of entry (POE) will implement a joint agency pilot program for Canadian citizens seeking L-1 nonimmigrant status under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). This pilot is designed to facilitate the adjudication and admission process of Canadians traveling to the U.S. as L-1 nonimmigrants.
DHS regulations permit an employer to file an L petition on behalf of a Canadian citizen in conjunction with the Canadian citizen’s application for admission to the United States. Petitioners choosing to participate in the joint agency pilot program will be asked to:
- Submit Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, and supporting evidence to the CSC before the Canadian citizen seeks nonimmigrant L-1 admission to the United States through the Blaine POE; and
- Use a cover sheet annotated with “Canadian L” to ensure quick identification of the Form I-129 and for any correspondence thereafter, such as a response to a request for evidence (RFE).
A petitioner who chooses not to participate in the Pilot Program may continue to file its L-1 petition on behalf of a Canadian citizen with CBP at the Blaine POE. In such a case, CBP will accept the petition but will adjudicate it at the next Class A POE.
About the Pilot Program
For those who choose to participate in the pilot program, USCIS will receive fees, issue a Form I-797C receipt notice, and adjudicate the Form I-129. If USCIS needs additional evidence, USCIS will send a request for evidence (RFE) to the petitioner.
CBP will continue to make the final determination on whether a Canadian L-1 applicant is admissible to the United States. Applicants participating in the pilot and seeking an immediate determination of admissibility must bring a copy of the petition approval notice for the Form I-129 when seeking admission to the United States at the Blaine POE.
If the petitioner chooses to send the applicant to the Blaine POE before USCIS makes a decision on the Form I-129, there may be delays while USCIS remotely adjudicates the form. In such a case, the applicant must bring a copy of the petition receipt notice for the Form I-129 and await adjudication of the Form I-129.
If a petitioner chooses not to file the Form I-129 in advance with USCIS, the filing may continue to be made with CBP at the Blaine POE, but CBP will adjudicate it during the pilot at the nearest Class A POE. The beneficiary may apply for admission at any designated Class A CBP POE optimized for processing L-1 petitions for Canadian citizen beneficiaries. Accordingly, petitioners can still choose to have CBP adjudicate their petitions at the time an applicant appears at any CBP-designated Class A POE or pre-clearance airport (PC). The three optimized stations nearest to Blaine are Class A POEs Point Roberts, Washington, and Sumas, Washington, and the Vancouver, Washington, PC.
CBP and USCIS strongly encourage petitioners participating in the L-1 pilot program to file L-1 nonimmigrant petitions with USCIS as far in advance of travel as possible. The L-1 nonimmigrant pilot program for Canadian citizens will allow both agencies to determine the efficiency of the program’s procedures, identify shortcomings, and develop operational improvements. During the six-month pilot, stakeholders may communicate and provide feedback to USCIS through USCIS-IGAOutreach@uscis.dhs.gov. Once the pilot is complete, USCIS will seek feedback from stakeholders before considering extending the program concept to other POEs.
About L-1 Canadians
Under existing law, a Canadian citizen may apply for admission as an L-1 nonimmigrant by presenting a petitioning employer’s Form I-129 to an immigration officer at a Class A port of entry or pre-clearance airport. Alternatively, an L-1 petitioner may choose to file a Form I-129 for a Canadian citizen with USCIS, seeking to classify the individual as eligible for L-1 nonimmigrant status. If the petitioner chooses to file its petition with USCIS and USCIS approves the Form I-129, the qualifying Canadian citizen may then apply at a POE for admission to the United States in L-1 status.”