The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) permits qualifying Canadian citizen employees of multinational companies to apply for admission to the United States in L-1 intracompany transferee status without first obtaining USCIS approval. Until recently, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) would review all such applications made directly at U.S. ports of entry, making no distinction between an initial application and subsequent renewal applications made by the same Canadian employee.
In a recent policy change, CBP headquarters has confirmed that it will now only review the initial application made by that Canadian employee. Subsequent applications must now be filed with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), and only upon USCIS approval may the individual apply for admission to the United States. With one exception Canadian employees who are considered “intermittent” or “commuter” L-1 intracompany transferees may process initial or subsequent applications directly at a port of entry.
Since the 2nd week of May 2019, the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) has received reports of inconsistent handling of commuter/intermittent L-1s at ports of entry. Please feel free to contact the attorneys of Iandoli, Desai & Cronin if you have any questions or concerns about the quickly changing landscape for L-1 entries for Canadians.