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Amazon SDE in Vancouver transferring to Seattle on an L1B Visa: POE or US Consulate?

  • Last Updated:
  • Feb 11th, 2019 12:01 am
[OP]
Newbie
Oct 26, 2013
30 posts
3 upvotes
Vancouver

Amazon SDE in Vancouver transferring to Seattle on an L1B Visa: POE or US Consulate?

I posted in the latter part of 2017 my US immigration ordeal, when I wasn't able to start at an Amazon software engineering job in Seattle because my incomplete University of Waterloo Comp Sci education prevented a TN Visa petition from being attempted. I received great advice here from lots of helpful people and thought I'd try again with my current situation.

It's over a year later and I'm an SDE within one of Alexa's organizations in Amazon's Vancouver office, where I've been for 1 year and 3 months. I'm still uncredentialed, but am in the process of transferring within my organization to a different team in Seattle on an L1B Visa. As far as L1B's "specialized knowledge" requirement, I believe my argument is more solid than the average Amazon inter-country transferee, not least because I'm transferring within one of Alexa's suborganizations and I've accumulated very specific domain knowledge that is a blackbox to everyone else within this suborganization. This includes the team I'm joining, where having someone with this experience is a unique boon. I was warned by the Amazon immigration law firm there's some risk due to the lack of diploma, *despite no formal educational requirement for the L1B.*

My questions are regarding how best to apply for the L1B: at a POE or a US Consulate? + other relevant tactics.

Here are the facts:

  • The lawyer at this Amazon law firm is suggesting that since I'm a Canadian citizen and this is a Blanket L1 petition, I should apply directly at the Port of Entry to avoid having to wait for an appointment at the consulate. According to this online wait time calculator, the US Consulate in Vancouver showed a 26 day wait time yesterday, 110 days today, and other consulates such as Calgary and Halifax are currently showing as little as 3 days. The firm said there's a bunch of internal processing that will take 45 days, and I'm assuming that the "wait" would start after that, if I go the consulate route.
  • I'm not 100% sure whether interviewing at a consulate is an option yet (Vancouver or otherwise - I'm willing to fly), but would like to tease out the pros and cons in my case for the POE. The obvious pro is no wait time; I show up at the border and take a stab at applying. I'd prefer not to wait longer than I already have to learn whether this transfer will succeed, but if there's a compelling argument that the POE would be significantly riskier in my situation, I'd like to hear it. For example, a teammate of mine mentioned that US consulates are the more desirable job positions for prospective officers and so I can expect more professional approaches to the proceedings. Hence, the lack of degree is less likely to factor in than at a POE since it's not technically required for the L1B - at the POE I may get someone who'll immediately pounce on the diploma thing and reject the petition without much consideration. Another possible difference is the consulate would receive the petition package ahead of my in-person arrival (I'm assuming), so there's less risk of a rash decision. The flip-side of that is offering them that extra "mulling time" may backfire, in allowing a bias to develop. I'm also weighing calling the POE ahead of my arrival to prime them for my petition.
  • I'm unclear what incentives the law firm is acting on. Are they just trying to process my case and be done with it, agnostic to its success? Hence pushing the faster POE option? The counter-argument is that so far there doesn't seem to be any hurry from their end. e.g. the 45 day figure came from the paralegal; the lawyer didn't know about it.

A less related follow-up question: Will the CBP accept it if I apply at the POE, and assuming I get an approval, turn around and return to Vancouver for a couple of days to weeks, and then make the final move after? Or will they not take kindly to this plan? Otherwise, it's likely I'll be without residence in both countries on that crucial day and the days that follow.

Any thoughts are appreciated.
Thread Summary
The Port of Entry seems the more sensible L1B visa application strategy in this case because it's faster than waiting for a Consulate appointment and doesn't carry the risk of having an odd looking L1 visa stamp in my ("one's") Canadian passport, which would jeopardize re-entry attempts.
12 replies
Deal Addict
Jul 13, 2009
2686 posts
500 upvotes
If it's Amazon's law firm, they are retained by Amazon and hired to get it done. There's nothing much you can do other than follow what they say how they say.

Is this transfer something Amazon wants you do to? IIRC the Vancouver office's purpose was to have anyone who couldn't get into Seattle because of Trump.

Also don't expect any quick turnaround if CBP is affected by the shutdown...unless Trump starts feeding CBP hamberders and fries.
Sr. Member
Nov 30, 2011
881 posts
296 upvotes
GTA
If you are denied at POE what are the ramifications?

At POE, your previous TN denial will surely come up and some overzealous agent will get hung up on academic credentials. Best case is you get an old timer, working to rule and hoping his next paycheck doesn't bounce!

Personally, I would go the Consular route. More professional and the immigration lawyer will have set your dossier ahead.
[OP]
Newbie
Oct 26, 2013
30 posts
3 upvotes
Vancouver
bhrm wrote:
Jan 16th, 2019 8:56 pm
If it's Amazon's law firm, they are retained by Amazon and hired to get it done. There's nothing much you can do other than follow what they say how they say.
I have reason to suspect I have some leverage in the POE vs Consulate decision. The POE was stated as a suggestion to me. If I were really intent on Consulate I believe I can get them to agree to do that.
bhrm wrote:
Jan 16th, 2019 8:56 pm
Is this transfer something Amazon wants you do to?
It's something I arranged with my new and current managers. I accepted a new job offer.
bhrm wrote:
Jan 16th, 2019 8:56 pm
IIRC the Vancouver office's purpose was to have anyone who couldn't get into Seattle because of Trump.
I don't know where you heard this. Amazon has several corporate offices in Vancouver and it's been like this since before I arrived here and before Trump. It's not a "staging" office for Seattle, like Microsoft's down the road; there are whole teams here whose de-facto HQ is Vancouver. It is true that it's a convenient location to have for those who face barriers getting into Seattle, but it's been like this from the beginning.
[OP]
Newbie
Oct 26, 2013
30 posts
3 upvotes
Vancouver
westcoastyvr wrote:
Jan 16th, 2019 9:20 pm
If you are denied at POE what are the ramifications?

At POE, your previous TN denial will surely come up and some overzealous agent will get hung up on academic credentials. Best case is you get an old timer, working to rule and hoping his next paycheck doesn't bounce!

Personally, I would go the Consular route. More professional and the immigration lawyer will have set your dossier ahead.
I never applied for the TN last year. My prospective petition was grounded before it could lift off by the law firm, so the CBP doesn't know anything about that.

It really seems like a toss-up in my case, but I heard from the lawyer today and have new insight into why she thinks the POE is the way to go, other than the extra wait-time factor: If approved, the Consulate will put a visa stamp in my passport. Most Canadians seeking L-1 entry into the U.S. do not get visa stamps, so having one in my passport may look strange to any CBP officer admitting me for future entries. She said based on this, she considers the POE the less risky option.

She said given the current immigration climate, it would behoove me to be cautious regardless of previous admissions into the U.S. in L-1 status, and I should ensure to carry all the appropriate documents (recent paystubs, L-1 blanket approval, etc.) upon each re-entry into the U.S. .

This seems like a reasonable perspective.

As far as ramifications for denial at POE, I'm not sure, other than that I should let the law firm know so they can investigate alternatives.
Member
Feb 19, 2017
334 posts
143 upvotes
gbershad wrote:
Jan 17th, 2019 5:13 am
I never applied for the TN last year. My prospective petition was grounded before it could lift off by the law firm, so the CBP doesn't know anything about that.

It really seems like a toss-up in my case, but I heard from the lawyer today and have new insight into why she thinks the POE is the way to go, other than the extra wait-time factor: If approved, the Consulate will put a visa stamp in my passport. Most Canadians seeking L-1 entry into the U.S. do not get visa stamps, so having one in my passport may look strange to any CBP officer admitting me for future entries. She said based on this, she considers the POE the less risky option.

She said given the current immigration climate, it would behoove me to be cautious regardless of previous admissions into the U.S. in L-1 status, and I should ensure to carry all the appropriate documents (recent paystubs, L-1 blanket approval, etc.) upon each re-entry into the U.S. .

This seems like a reasonable perspective.

As far as ramifications for denial at POE, I'm not sure, other than that I should let the law firm know so they can investigate alternatives.
I can't speak to consulate vs. POE, but crossing at Blaine in particular would be a bad idea. Almost all the CBP officers there hate their life and make it their sole purpose to torture/harass Canadians crossing into the US to work. Most tech firms in Seattle have an advisory out to their Canadian employees warning them of this. I would try to cross somewhere else if you go the POE route.
[OP]
Newbie
Oct 26, 2013
30 posts
3 upvotes
Vancouver
Walch1102 wrote:
Jan 18th, 2019 12:43 pm
I can't speak to consulate vs. POE, but crossing at Blaine in particular would be a bad idea. Almost all the CBP officers there hate their life and make it their sole purpose to torture/harass Canadians crossing into the US to work. Most tech firms in Seattle have an advisory out to their Canadian employees warning them of this. I would try to cross somewhere else if you go the POE route.
You've anticipated the lawyer's advice to me yesterday. She requested a call in the morning to tell me just that. I'll likely attempt to cross at Sumas/Abbotsford.

I'm just about settled the POE is the right way to go for me. Thank you to those who've commented.
Deal Addict
Nov 10, 2018
1134 posts
952 upvotes
bhrm wrote:
Jan 16th, 2019 8:56 pm
If it's Amazon's law firm, they are retained by Amazon and hired to get it done.
The vast majority of the immigration lawyers for Amazon are in house staff. I used to manage them.

Because of an agreement that I signed, I cannot comment on this thread further, but thought I'd share that. These aren't 3rd party contractors, for the most part.

It is my professional opinion that the OP should not be commenting on this in a public forum. I will decline to publicly say further as to why.
For legal topics and discussions, the opinion, guidance, and thoughts provided are my own and are not considered to be legal advice, in any manner.
[OP]
Newbie
Oct 26, 2013
30 posts
3 upvotes
Vancouver
angryaudifanatic wrote:
Jan 18th, 2019 9:12 pm
The vast majority of the immigration lawyers for Amazon are in house staff. I used to manage them.

Because of an agreement that I signed, I cannot comment on this thread further, but thought I'd share that. These aren't 3rd party contractors, for the most part.
I’m absolutely not dealing with an in-house Amazon lawyer *and* I haven’t seen any indication of this any time, ever.

The degree of indirectness in this message reeeeaaaaaally irritates me. It reads as a complete non-answer whose only possible impact is to instill confusion or perhaps intimidation to ask questions from anyone in a similar situation (it's certainly what I felt); a situation where the personal stakes are very high and in which one is in a very poorly lit area and answers aren’t exactly forthcoming.

“but thought I'd share that” With who? Not with me, I know that, because I’m being addressed in the 3rd person. You didn’t contact me privately to warn me against this mystery offense that I’m committing or what repercussions I face for “commenting on *this* in a public forum”. Of course, I will never know, because “you will decline to publicly say further as to why”.

This is the most indirect legalistic newspeak thing I’ve ever read. I absolutely believe you’re a lawyer or a manager of them.

For this message to be of genuine help to anybody reading the thread who’s in a similar situation (of course I know it ain’t me; see above), there needs to be an “or else so-and-so may happen”. I know, I know, you can’t say more because of that agreement that you signed.

Should I be worried about a libel suit sometime in the future? I didn’t refer to anyone by name, I didn’t reveal the firm’s name, and I certainly didn’t do anything against my personal ethics.

“It is my professional opinion… the OP should not be commenting on this.”
“For legal topics … thoughts provided are my own and are not considered to be legal advice.”
Huh??

In my professional opinion as an uncredentialled techie, this message is incapable of helping anyone.
Newbie
Feb 4, 2017
81 posts
12 upvotes
Just curious , Why are you moving from Vancouver to Seattle considering its a same company?
[OP]
Newbie
Oct 26, 2013
30 posts
3 upvotes
Vancouver
bhushh009 wrote:
Jan 19th, 2019 9:24 am
Just curious , Why are you moving from Vancouver to Seattle considering its a same company?
I see an opportunity worth pursuing. This is as much as I'm willing to disclose here.
Member
Feb 19, 2017
334 posts
143 upvotes
angryaudifanatic wrote:
Jan 18th, 2019 9:12 pm
The vast majority of the immigration lawyers for Amazon are in house staff. I used to manage them.

Because of an agreement that I signed, I cannot comment on this thread further, but thought I'd share that. These aren't 3rd party contractors, for the most part.

It is my professional opinion that the OP should not be commenting on this in a public forum. I will decline to publicly say further as to why.
How many years ago was this?
Amazon, as with most tech firms these days, outsources all this work. Amazon, in particular, uses 2 of the top 10 immigration law firms in the US to handle all of their immigration issues.
Most of the time, candidates and employees deal with paralegals and not lawyers.
Deal Addict
Dec 10, 2007
1876 posts
8 upvotes
bhushh009 wrote:
Jan 19th, 2019 9:24 am
Just curious , Why are you moving from Vancouver to Seattle considering its a same company?
The new salary could easily be 2x after exchange; even for effectively the same position.

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