Form I-129/I-129S Pilot Program for Canadian L-1 Nonimmigrants

From April 30 to Oct. 31, 2018, the USCIS California Service Center 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 program is designed to evaluate how long USCIS needs to adjudicate these petitions and whether USCIS can support CBP through remote adjudications. Ultimately, the goal is to increase consistency in adjudication of L-1 petitions and facilitate the adjudication and admission process of Canadians traveling to the United States as L-1 nonimmigrants.

The Pilot Program

This pilot program allows Canadian citizens to request that USCIS remotely adjudicate their petitioning employer’s Form I-129 or I-129S prior to their arrival or when they arrive at the Blaine POE. Previously, Canadian citizens had two options: (1) Go to a Class A POE or pre-clearance airport to apply for admission as an L-1 nonimmigrant and ask CBP to adjudicate the Form I-129 or I-129S on that day, or (2) Wait for USCIS to adjudicate their employer’s Form I-129 or I-129S before going to a POE to apply for admission into the United States.

To participate in this pilot program, petitioners must file their Form I-129 or I-129S and supporting evidence with the California Service Center. USCIS will receive fees, issue a Form I-797C receipt notice, and adjudicate the Form I-129 or I-129S. If USCIS needs additional evidence, USCIS will send a request for evidence (RFE) to the petitioner.

The Canadian citizen then does not need to wait for USCIS to adjudicate the form before going to the Blaine POE to apply for admission into the United States. At the Blaine POE, they can request that USCIS remotely adjudicate their employer’s Form I-129 or I-129S. This option is only available at the Blaine POE during this pilot program.

Employers

As an employer, you may choose to file some, all, or none of your L-1 petitions under this pilot program.

Filing under the pilot program

If you choose to file under the pilot program, you must:

CBP and USCIS strongly encourage petitioners filing under the L-1 pilot program to file L-1 nonimmigrant petitions with USCIS as far in advance of travel as possible.

Filing under the existing process

You may choose not to file under the pilot program.  The Canadian citizen can still submit Form I-129 or Form I-129S at a CBP POE or you may submit your form to USCIS. However, during the pilot program, CBP will not adjudicate these forms at the Blaine POE. Instead, CBP will adjudicate them at the nearest Class A POE. The three stations nearest to Blaine that are able to process L-1 petitions are the Class A POEs Point Roberts, Washington, and Sumas, Washington, and the Vancouver Airport Pre-clearance location.

Canadian Citizens

If you are a Canadian citizen and your employer is filing a Form I-129 or I-129S for you to apply for admission as an L-1 nonimmigrant, look at the chart below to see your options during this pilot program.

If your petition…

Go to…

And…

Has already been approved by USCIS

Any CBP POE

Present CBP with the approval notice (Form I‑797) that USCIS sent you. CBP will review your admissibility and determine whether to allow you to enter the United States as an L‑1 nonimmigrant

Is still pending with USCIS and was filed at CSC as part of the pilot program.

Blaine POE

Present CBP with the receipt notice (Form I‑797C) that USCIS sent you, and USCIS will remotely adjudicate the Form I-129 or Form I-129S. This may cause delays. If USCIS approves your form, CBP will review your admissibility and determine whether to allow you to enter the United States as an L‑1 nonimmigrant.

Has not been (or will not be) submitted to USCIS

Any Class A CBP POE that can process L-1 petitions for Canadian citizens

Submit your employer’s Form I-129 or I-129S to CBP to adjudicate.

Please note that if you submit your form at the Blaine POE, CBP will not adjudicate the form there. Instead, CBP will adjudicate the forms at one of the following Class A POEs:

  • Point Roberts, Washington
  • Sumas, Washington
  • The Vancouver Airport Pre-clearance location

Feedback

We encourage you to send us feedback as quickly as possible. The L-1 nonimmigrant pilot program for Canadian citizens will allow USCIS and CBP to determine the efficiency of the program’s procedures, identify shortcomings, and develop operational improvements. During the six-month pilot, you may communicate and provide feedback to USCIS about the program by emailing USCIS-IGAOutreach@uscis.dhs.gov. USCIS values your feedback as we consider extending the program concept to other POEs.

Once the pilot is complete, USCIS will seek feedback from stakeholders before considering extending the program concept to other POEs.

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