Many of us have seen sudden refusals by U.S. border officers to process renewals of L-1A (intracompany cross border transfers of key employees).
For decades, this was a routine procedure. Assuming correct documentation was produced, along with a compelling reason for the extension, the applications were routinely approved. Without any meaningful notice, such applicants have been turned away, being told that these must be done through the Consulate. What was a two hour turnaround, is now a three month wait.
This policy has been applied inconsistently and referrals are often made to changes that were encoded some years ago but never applied.
It now turns out that the confusion may lie in an imperfect understanding by border officers of Blanket L petitions; those that allow large multinational companies to secure L visas for 50 or more employees.
These new interpretations appear to be legally flawed. As these applications are submitted when the applicant is not ‘physically present’, this is an ‘extension of petition validity’, not an ‘extension of stay’ and, as such, these may be processed upon presentation at a Port of Entry. This appears to have caused widespread confusion, resulting in many officers declining to process any application other than an original L visa.
Until this is clarified, applicants should prepare for new time lines and, possibly, higher fees if Premium Processing is required. Contact Janice P Warren for more detailed information.
In practice for 20 years, Janice P. Warren has concentrated her immigration law practice on helping Canadians move to the United States and finding ways to make their move as efficient and cost-effective as possible.