CBP recently released a memorandum dated March 16, 2009 regarding the admission of non-immigrants in the L-1 (intra-company transferee) classification. CBP explained that if the beneficiary of an L-1 petition is otherwise admissible to the United States, there are four factors that determine the term of admission: (1) the validity of the beneficiary's passport; (2) the validity of the beneficiary's L-1 visa (for the purpose of applying for admission to the United States at a port of entry); (3) the validity of the L-1 petition; and (4) the alien's maximum period of stay as an L-1 in the United States, as defined by statute.
CBP noted that non-immigrants admitted to the United States under individual L-1 petitions generally should be admitted for the validity of the petition (not the validity of the visa), not to exceed three years. For individuals admitted under a blanket L-1 petition, CBP explained that if a petition is valid at the time of initial admission, the beneficiary should be admitted for three years, regardless of the expiration date of the petition. If the blanket petition will expire while the alien is in the United States, the burden is on the petitioner to file for indefinite validity of the blanket petition or to file an individual petition to support the alien's status in the United States. If the alien is seeking readmission under a valid blanket L-1 petition (with a valid visa, if required), the individual should be admitted for an additional three years regardless of the time remaining on the initial admission.
CBP also highlighted the following exceptions to these general rules of admission, which apply to beneficiaries of both individual and blanket L-1 petitions. If a beneficiary's passport will expire before the expiration of the petition, the alien will be admitted only for the validity of his or her passport. Additionally, if the alien will reach his or her statutory maximum period of admission in L-1 classification (seven years for L-1A non-immigrants in executive or managerial capacities and five years for L-1B non-immigrants in specialized knowledge capacities), the alien will be admitted only until he or she reaches the maximum period of admission (we note that time spent outside the United States does not "count" toward the 7- or 5-year maximum for L-1A and L-1B non-immigrants, respectively).
Finally, CBP explained that a citizen of Canada is not required to have an L-1 visa; however, the individual must possess evidence indicating that an L-1 petition has been approved on his or her behalf. A Canadian citizen also may apply for admission as an L-1 at a port of entry with Form I-129, Petition for an Alien Worker, and other supporting documentation.