Government Affairs

U.S. Agencies Extend Pilot Program for Canadian L-1 Visas

On 31 October, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) announced the extension of a pilot program to expedite the consideration process for Canadians entering the U.S. with an L-1 visa.

The pilot program is currently only being offered through the Blaine, Washington port of entry and for applicants seeking status under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

The six-month voluntary program started on 30 April and was set to expire on 31 October. It has now been extended another six months expiring on 30 April 2019.

The L-1 visa is available for U.S employers relocating executives and managers from a foreign office to a U.S. office and for foreign companies looking to establish an office in the U.S.  Employees establishing an office in the U.S. can remain in the U.S. for an initial one-year period with transferees of a U.S. employer being able to stay for three years. Extensions may be granted for a maximum stay of seven years.

Worldwide ERC® participated in past efforts spearheaded by the Canadian Employee Relocation Council (CERC) on improving the mobility between Canada and the U.S. as part of the Beyond the Border project. The “Known Employer”, also referred to as the “Trusted Employer” program in early discussions, was a key piece of those efforts.

In December 2013, Canadian and U.S. government officials and interested parties held meetings in Blaine, Washington and Vancouver to address this issue. Worldwide ERC® Immigration Forum Chair and Berry, Appleman and Leiden Founding Partner David Berry participated in the meeting in Blaine as a representative of his firm as well as Worldwide ERC® Forum Chair. The group discussed the trusted employer concept and then-Chair of the meeting and now USCIS Director Francis Cissna appeared supportive of trying a pilot program. The Blaine L-1 pilot program can therefore be directly tied to those efforts.

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