U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is suddenly, and without advance notice, refusing to adjudicate and process L-1 petition renewals submitted by Canadian nationals at ports-of-entry (POEs) and at Canadian international airports, a benefit that Canadian nationals have enjoyed for decades. Filing at the port of entry was quicker than filing an extension with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), and generally led to a less stringent adjudication.
CBP now appears to be taking the view that a request for a subsequent L-1 visa petition amounts to a request for an "extension," which, according to immigration regulations, falls under the exclusive jurisdiction of USCIS. This viewpoint distorts the benefit that is actually being sought by the Canadian L-1 applicants, as a renewal of one's L-1 petition ― which is what applicants are seeking ― is distinct from a request to extend one's period of authorized stay in the U.S. (which is under the exclusive purview of USCIS). There does not seem to be a legal basis for CBP refusing to process these petitions at POEs. Nevertheless, unless and until CBP is convinced of the error of its ways, Canadian national employees currently in the U.S. in L-1 status will be forced to file extensions of stays through USCIS (which under the Trump administration has been much tougher on L extensions than has CBP), rather than seeking to process at the border.
We will continue to monitor this fluid situation and provide updated information as it becomes available.
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