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Canadians With L-1 Visa No Longer Can Renew at Border

Blog posted on by Evelyn Ackah in Canada Work Permits, NAFTA, U.S. Immigration and Intra-Company Job Transfers - L-1 Visa

Canadians With L-1 Visa No Longer Can Renew at Border

The United States Customs and Border Protection are telling the Canadian workers they need to file L-1 renewal applications with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, instead of at the border points of entry and international airports as they have for over 20 years. CBP says new Homeland Security Department policies require the change:

“CBP cannot accept applications for extensions of L-1 status if the applicant is not in the United States as the regulations require an L-1 applicant to be present in the United States when a request for an extension of status is filed. In this instance, the request for an extension must be filed with USCIS.”

The USCIS policy change is primarily affecting skilled Canadian workers who live in Canada and work in the United States, many of whom cross the border into the U.S. daily. Previously, these workers could apply for an L-1 renewal and get approval that same day.

Bloomberg News reports that CBD data indicates that in fiscal year 2018, there were 75,570 L-1 northern border crossings, and 30,709 in fiscal 2019 as of March 31:

Under The North American Free Trade Agreement, CBP allowed Canadian workers to apply for L-1A (executive or manager) or L-1B (specialized knowledge) status at certain ports of entry, regardless of whether it was a first-time application or a renewal.

L-1 Visas

Intra-company transfer Work Permit L-1 Visas allow a worker to enter the U.S. on a temporary basis for business, temporary work, or study. A multinational company in the United States can transfer skilled foreign workers who either are executives or managers at the company or employees with specialized knowledge to work at their U.S. offices:

  • The L-1A visa enables a U.S. employer to transfer an executive or manager from one of its affiliated foreign offices to one of its offices in the United States.
  • The L-1B visa enables a U.S. employer to transfer a professional employee with specialized knowledge skills relating to the organization’s interests from one of its affiliated foreign offices to one of its offices in the United States.

Canada and US NAFTA immigration lawyer Evelyn Ackah says businesses will need to apply for L-1 visa renewals earlier:

CBP and USCIS new renewal policies are less convenient, more expensive and take longer for both the employee and the employer. Employers should start the process 6-8 months before the employee's current L-1 will expire. Canadian employees planning to submit an initial L-1 application or apply for TN visa at a U.S. port of entry should prepare for potential delays.

For more information about how the Customs and Border Protection policy changes can impact your business and initiate L-1 extension petitions for filing with USCIS, contact us today at (403) 452-9515 Ext. 100 or 1-800-932-1190 or email us directly.


Evelyn L. Ackah, BA, LL.B.

Founder/Managing Lawyer

Ms. Ackah is passionate about immigration law because it focuses on people and relationships, which are at the core of her personal values. Starting her legal career as a corporate/commercial ...

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