L-1 extensions under NAFTA are no longer adjudicated at the port of entry.

By: Yeon Me Kim

Since March 2019, CBP officers have been refusing border processing at US/Canada ports of entry for L-1 extensions under NAFTA (i.e., Canadian L-1 extensions). This policy change came without any formal public announcement and left immigration practitioners in a quandary. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) later clarified its position via a discussion with the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), stating that CBP’s headquarter office internally issued a directive to terminate L-1 extension adjudications under NAFTA based on CBP’s interpretation of immigration regulations. CBP is taking the position that extension of stay petitions are within the jurisdiction of USCIS only. However, AILA contends that CBP’s interpretation of the applicable provision is incorrect, because Canadian L-1 holders are not actually seeking an extension of stay. AILA explains that instead of seeking an extension of stay, these individuals are seeking an extension of their petition validity period in order to continue to work in L-1 status after they return to the U.S. Currently, AILA is engaging with CBP to find a solution. Meanwhile, Canadian L-1 holders should be aware of this adjudication change and consult with an immigration attorney to extend their L-1 validity period. Please note that this change does not affect adjudication of new L-1 petitions at the border.

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