United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) recently implemented a major policy change to the adjudication process of L-1 Intracompany Transferee petitions filed by Canadian citizens. Beginning in March of 2019, CBP officers at all ports of entry and pre-clearance facilities ceased adjudicating L-1 petitions for extension or renewal, including L-1A blanket petitions. CBP continues to adjudicate all new L-1 petitions for Canadian citizens and L-1 petitions for intermittent/commuter Canadian citizen employees.
CBP made this policy change after determining that the authority to extend/renew L-1 petitions falls to United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), rather than CBP. As a result, all L-1 petitions for extension/renewal must now be filed with USCIS by mail.
The L-1A visa enables a US employer to transfer an Executive or Manager from one of its affiliated foreign offices to one of its offices in the US. The L-1B visa enables a US employer to transfer a professional employee with specialized knowledge of organization’s product, service, research, equipment, techniques, or management, or organization’s processes and procedures to new or existing US office. For either visa, the employee must be able to demonstrate that she or he worked for a qualifying foreign employer for at least one out of the last three years.
Canadian L-1 status-holders and their employers should now be prepared for the additional wait times and expenses associated with filing an extension/renewal petition with USCIS. Unlike filing for readmission at the border, L-1 petitions will now need to be mailed to USCIS. The Petitioning employer and beneficiary will then need to wait for a decision from USCIS. Furthermore, if the beneficiary is outside the United States, he or she will not be permitted to return to the US until the petition is approved.
If the beneficiary is currently located in the United States, he or she will need to obtain an approval from USCIS prior to extending/renewing the period in which he or she is permitted to work under L-1 classification. On the plus side, Premium Processing is available for L-1 petitions, which will allow for a decision within 15 days, for an additional $1,440 fee. This fee is in addition to the L-1A renewal filing fee.
Under the current Administration, L1 visa extension applications for professionals with specialized knowledge have come under greater scrutiny, escalating to the same level used to assess new applications. Therefore, it is imperative that applicants submit the most thorough application possible in order to reduce the number of issues in a Request for additional Evidence (RFEs have been on the rise for employment-based petitions over the last year), and to prevent an outright denial. An experienced L-1 visa attorney can help ensure you are making a persuasive case with the best chance of success.
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This article is for informational purposes only, and does not constitute legal advice or create an attorney-client relationship. This article does not make any guarantees as to the outcome of a particular matter, as each matter has its own set of circumstances and must be evaluated individually by a licensed attorney.