Other News:

February 16th, 2017

Abby Loomis Joins Christoffersen Law

On February 16, immigration lawyer Abby Loomis joined our team.  With over 20 years of experience in the area of US immigration law, Abby's practice focuses on advising US employers in the areas of NonImmigrant and Immigrant Visas, PERMs, NIWs, and EB1. Please contact Abby at 206.389.1795 or aloomis@pnwimmigration.com

New I-9 Form

As of January 22, 2017, employers must use the 11/14/16 version of Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, to verify the identity and work eligibility of every new employee hired after November 6, 1986, or for the reverification of expiring employment authorization (if applicable). Prior versions of the form may no longer be used at this time.

H-1B Cap
The H-1B cap for FY2018 (10/1/2017-9/30/2018) will occur during the first week of April. Please contact Lisa at lmc@pnwimmigration.com if you would like to discuss the H-1B Lottery, most often filed for employees who are currently in the US on TN, H1B1, E3, or student OPT status.

Please remember that the lottery and H-1B cap only affects “new” H-1Bs - applications may still be filed for individuals already working in the United States in H-1B status (porting to a new employer) and extensions may be filed for employees who already hold H-1B status.

For context about the Lottery, the USCIS press release from April 12, 2016 follows:

"USCIS Completes the H-1B Cap Random Selection Process for FY 2017

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced on April 7, 2016, that it has received enough H-1B petitions to reach the statutory cap of 65,000 visas for fiscal year (FY) 2017. USCIS has also received more than the limit of 20,000 H-1B petitions filed under the advanced degree exemption, also known as the master’s cap.

USCIS received over 236,000 H-1B petitions during the filing period, which began April 1, including petitions filed for the advanced degree exemption. On April 9, USCIS used a computer-generated random selection process, or lottery, to select enough petitions to meet the 65,000 general-category cap and the 20,000 cap under the advanced degree exemption. USCIS will reject and return all unselected petitions with their filing fees, unless the petition is found to be a duplicate filing.

The agency conducted the selection process for the advanced degree exemption first. All unselected advanced degree petitions then became part of the random selection process for the 65,000 limit.

As announced on March 16, 2016, USCIS will begin premium processing for H-1B cap cases no later than May 16, 2016.

USCIS will continue to accept and process petitions that are otherwise exempt from the cap. Petitions filed on behalf of current H-1B workers who have been counted previously against the cap will also not be counted towards the congressionally mandated FY 2017 H-1B cap. USCIS will continue to accept and process petitions filed to:

Extend the amount of time a current H-1B worker may remain in the United States;
Change the terms of employment for current H-1B workers;
Allow current H-1B workers to change employers; and
Allow current H-1B workers to work concurrently in a second H-1B position. U.S. businesses use the H-1B program to employ foreign workers in occupations that require highly specialized knowledge in fields such as science, engineering, and computer programming."

Happy New Year from Christoffersen Law
Best wishes for a healthy, happy, and prosperous new year. We look forward to working with you in 2017, the year of the rooster!

Christoffersen Law: 2016 SuperLawyer 

Lisa Christoffersen has been named a Washington State "Super Lawyer" in the area of immigration once again for 2016.

Stephanie Thorpe - 2014 Washington Leadership Institute Fellow
Stephanie Thorpe is honored to be a Washington Leadership Institute Fellow for 2014. WLI is a competitive program designed to train and develop future leaders for the Washington State Bar Association and Washington State's legal community.  

Immigration Benefits for Same-Sex Married Couples

With the Supreme Court decision on June 26, 2013 striking down DOMA, same sex married couples may now apply for US immigration benefits. This means that US citizens may apply for permanent residency and fiancee visas for same-sex spouses; foreign nationals may obtain greencards at the same time as their spouse and may receive dependent nonimmigrant visa authorization based on marriage. Please contact Lisa or Stephanie if you would like to discuss permanent residency or visa processing for gay and lesbian married couples.

I-94 Automation
In May 2013, US Customs and Border Protection implemented an electronic/automated I-94 system. The I-94 provides evidence of lawful entry into the US and lawful status in the US.

Starting in late April, CBP gradually phased in an electronic system, whereby the officer at air and sea ports of entry will stamp the passport with an entry stamp and handwrite the class of admission and an expiration date. Airlines will no longer pass out the white cards prior to landing and CBP will not issue or stamp a white card. Foreign nationals should be sure that the class of admission and expiration date are correct before leaving immigration so that the error can be corrected right away.

If the I-94 number or documentary evidence is needed, foreign nationals may print the I-94 information at https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov/I94/request.html. This printed document may be used for I-9 purposes, social security, future immigration applications, and for some licenses. For anyone who is confused by the I-94 retrieval system, CBP has made a video: https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov/captivatevideo_html.html.

SeaTac implemented this process in mid-May 2013. Please see: http://www.cbp.gov/xp/cgov/travel/id_visa/i-94_instructions/i94_rollout.xml for information about location and timing of the system rollout.

Note that white cards are still issued at some airports and at land borders. Please contact Lisa Christoffersen with any questions.

CBP Opens NEXUS Lane at Sumas effective May 25, 2012
US Customs and Border Protection has announced the opening of a dedicated NEXUS lane at the Sumas port of entry starting May 25, 2012. It will operate from 7am to 7pm seven days a week.

Immigrant Visa Processing - India
After January 1, 2012, the US Embassy in New Delhi and the US Consulate in Mumbai will conduct all immigrant visa processing for India. Chennai will no longer process immigrant visa petitions.