The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) met earlier this year to talk about adjudicating nonimmigrant business category visas at the northern border. Decisions and future plans from this meeting potentially impact how officers handle L visa and TN visa requests along the U.S./Canadian border.
Some highlights of that meeting include:
• CBP issued a TN checklist to the field to aid in the adjudication of TN visa applications. According to CBP, the checklist will be used for multiple purposes. First, the checklist provides very high-level guidance on what the officer will be looking for in a TN application. However, it is very important to understand that this list is general in nature and does not include everything that may be required for approval.
For example, to qualify for TN status as a computer systems analyst, an individual needs a bachelor’s or licentiatura degree, or a postsecondary diploma, or a postsecondary certificate with documentation of three years experience. The checklist does not get down to that level of detail. Alternatively, the checklist will be used to notify applicants if their application is deficient. The officer will specify on the checklist what additional information is required. CBP hopes that, in this situation, the checklist will eliminate situations where a person reapplies but is given different reasons for ineligibility because a second officer has no connection between the applicant and the first officer.
• CBP has established monthly calls with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to “define and narrow” issues concerning adjudication of TN and L visa classifications.
• USCIS has provided training materials to CBP which CBP anticipates using.
• The CBP Office of Field Operations has identified northern border ports of entry and pre-clearance locations that handle the most TNs and Ls and will be suggesting that travelers use those specific places for initial applications for entry in TN visa or L visa status. While this is not an official policy yet, the OFO will be asking ports of entry to provide specific hours for adjudication of NAFTA-based applications. While people will not be required to utilize these ports of entry, CBP is hoping that many will.
• CBP is also planning on developing a checklist procedure, similar to what has been developed for TN visas, for L visas.
Berardi Immigration Law attorneys present applications at the Peace Bridge border crossing, one of the busiest in the country, multiple times every week. Our attorneys understand what the officers are looking for and prepare thorough and well-documented applications for our clients. For more information on nonimmigrant business category visas or to schedule a consultation, please visit http://berardiimmigrationlaw.com/contact-immigration-lawyers.