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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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It is one thing to earn a living; it is another thing to make a difference in the world.

This is our formal thank you note to Evelyn Ackah and the Ackah Law Team for all the effort they put into helping us navigate and finally resolve the hurdle that was Canadian Immigration back in the spring of 2012.

A friend referred us to Evelyn; he assured us that Evelyn would take good care of us. Our friend was confident we were in good hands and said Evelyn would do her very best to help us and she did! At the time we did not know that his referral would go far beyond finding us help. Slowly we realized that it would become our own personal story of how we received grace and were reminded of the power in paying it forward

We wrote a detailed page of our dilemma, explaining how we came to be in the position we were in (overwhelmed with the hurdle that was Canadian Immigration and the uncertainty that we faced as a young family in Calgary). Evelyn agreed to take on our file with her team. They found the time to personally call us and listened intently and understood the details of what we were dealing with. They gave us their time, an honest opinion and provided clear direction which proved to be invaluable advice. Months went by but in time, we received word from Ackah Law that the Immigration office had finally reviewed our file and a decision had been made allowing our family to finally put the immigration matter to rest. We were finally able to focus again to live our lives without fear or pending doom.

Looking back now, even the sun appeared to shine a little brighter that day. At first we didn’t know whether to bake them a cake, drive out to meet their team, find their offices and personally thank them with a mighty hug or simply cry out to the heavens in thankful relief. Instead we emailed them to express our heartfelt thank-you and we hoped that they would know deep in their hearts just how grateful we were for all of their help.

Even though we relied on emails and phone conversations to communicate with them that year, we will always remember their constant professionalism, their kindness and understanding at a time that brought us so much pain not to mention fear. As if all their hard work wasn’t enough, Evelyn then then casually mentions that all their work was done pro-bono! We were thoroughly humbled!

To this day we are still eager to share how wonderful they all are as human beings but even more than that, we continue to pay it forward in honour of them, their service to us and their continued dedication in helping others.

Eternally thankful

– The Brummunds

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