I doubt you’ll find this written on any government website, but U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has decided to stop adjudicating extensions and renewals of L-1 status for Canadians at Ports of Entry and Pre-Flight Inspection. The agency’s position is these applications must be filed at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). “L-1 status” refers to intracompany work and stay authorization for executives, managers, and employees with specialized knowledge.
We first heard this news via attorney meetings with the agency. Specifically:
QUESTION: How are Canadian L-1 extensions treated at the border? Must intermittent L-1 applicants also apply for an L-1 extension with USCIS?
ANSWER: CBP officers shall not approve any requests for extension of stay or renew petitions for L-1 nonimmigrants; those requests will be reviewed and approved by USCIS exclusively for all nationalities.
This important policy change is nowhere to be found on the agency’s website, unsurprisingly. We hear though that the policy is being implemented. One officer is said to have told an individual, “Spread the word.” By all appearances, CBP wants to stop adjudicating immigration benefits, and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services wants to take this responsibility over.
This is bad news, even if it hasn’t actually made the news. For decades, Canadian businesses have been able to present applications at the border, and receive on-the-spot adjudications. A lot of Canadian executives and managers travel back and forth, and live in Canada. USCIS is painfully slow in adjudicating applications, although it is possible to pay for “premium processing” and receive initial adjudication in 15 days, for $1410 USD. Of course, that’s not as good as on-the-spot adjudication, for the base application fee, which Canadian businesses now can receive. L-1 extensions for Canadians will only be adjudicated so fast now, and USCIS has become justifiably notorious for issuing lengthy requests for evidence, which bury employers in paperwork.
The United States government seems committed to making immigration harder, when it should be going for smarter. L-1 holders are typically job creators, adding value to the U.S. economy. By definition, an executive or manager is presiding over many more workers. The U.S. should be making it easier for Canadian businesses and their executive management teams to do business stateside.