Author: Breanne Johnson

by Breanne Johnson Breanne Johnson No Comments

Customs and Border Protection Says Goodbye to Passport Stamps

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is moving forward with its “stampless entry program.” Last year, CBP initiated a streamlined arrival process at all 238 arriving airports, 34 seaports, all southern pedestrian ports, and most northern secondary land ports. The objective of this streamlined process is simple – to fully digitize the process of entering the United States. As part of this digitized process, CBP piloted a project to eliminate ink stamps in passports at entry. This fall CBP confirmed that this program will become permanent and expanded to all ports of entry. While CBP officers may stamp passports on request, many will not as a discretionary matter. Similarly, all I-94s are electronically issued – no paper I-94s will be issued.

This digitized change in process will have a practical impact on nonimmigrants and noncitizens. Specifically, now the only record of a noncitizen’s admission into the United States is an electronic I-94 record that is not reviewed by the applicant for admission until after admission and only if the applicant takes it upon him or herself to check their records. Errors in admission status and duration are common, and any negative consequences of an overstay due to CBP error are borne fully by the noncitizen applicant. Because of this, CYA strongly encourages all noncitizens entering the US to promptly check and download their I-94 after each re-entry into the U.S. Any errors should be taken seriously and promptly corrected. Maintaining thorough and complete records of entries and exits is often critical for recapturing nonimmigrant status, proving maintenance of status, and eligibility for naturalization.

by Breanne Johnson Breanne Johnson No Comments

And That’s a Wrap on Cap!

Today at 12pm EST the H-1B Cap Registration widow will close, and US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will conduct the FY2024 H-1B lottery. By April 1st, USCIS will electronically notify winners, and winners will have 90 days (until June 30th) to submit their substantive H-1B petition to USCIS for consideration.  Yesterday afternoon registrants and attorneys were experiencing difficulty completing the H-1B registration process and many were receiving an error message when attempting to pay the $10 filing fee. This understandably created much stress and anxiety for all parties as the H-1B registration deadline is today. USCIS has acknowledged this issue and is working on a fix. USCIS states on its website that USCIS will extend the registration deadline to account for these technical difficulties, but has not released further information at this point in time. Stay tuned for more details and see this link for the most up-to-date information.

Fingers crossed for all of our H-1B cap applicants to be selected in the lottery! If you submitted the H-1B cap registration on you own and would like assistance preparing the substantive petition to USCIS please feel free to reach out to us for a consultation.

by Breanne Johnson Breanne Johnson No Comments

U.S. Department of State Plans Pilot Project for Stateside Visa Renewals

In a very exciting development, Bloomberg law reported late last week that the U.S. Department of State is planning to launch a pilot program later in 2023 to offer visa renewals from within the United States for individuals in H-1B and L-1 status. Stateside processing of visa renewals used to be offered by the U.S. Department of State but was discontinued in 2004. Revitalizing this stateside renewal process would be a very welcome change to an immigration process that currently requires everyone who needs to renew a visa to travel abroad to a U.S. consulate or embassy. While the pilot project will begin with just individuals in H-1B and L-1 status, it may be expanded to include other visa categories. Stay tuned for more information as this exciting new pilot program continues to be rolled out.

by Breanne Johnson Breanne Johnson No Comments

Access to Counsel Act Reintroduced by House Rep. Jayapal

House Representative Pramila Jayapal (D-W.A.) recently reintroduced the Access to Counsel Act to ensure that U.S. citizens, green card holders, and other individuals with legal status are able to consult with legal counsel, relatives, or other interested parties to seek assistance if they are detained by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) for more than one hour at ports of entry, including airports. Companion legislation will be introduced in the Senate in the coming weeks by Senator Alex Padilla (D-CA).

The Access to Counsel Act would:

  • Require the Department of Homeland Security to ensure that people with valid travel documents who present themselves at the border, airports, or other points of interaction can communicate with counsel and other interested parties if they are subjected to prolonged inspection by CBP. 
  • Allow counsel or a covered interested party the ability to advocate on behalf of the individual by providing information or documentation in support of the individual.
  • Invalidate any effort by CBP to persuade someone to relinquish their legal status (by executing an I-407 or Record of Abandonment of Lawful Permanent Resident Status) if that person has been denied access to counsel.

The Access to Counsel Act was originally introduced by Representative Jayapal in 2017 as a response to Donald Trump’s Muslim Ban.

by Breanne Johnson Breanne Johnson No Comments

Expiring Green Cards will be Automatically Extended if You’ve Applied for Naturalization

Starting this week U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has updated its policy to automatically extend the validity of permanent resident cards (also called green cards) for individuals who have applied to become U.S. citizens.

This change in policy is a welcome change as it alleviates the need for naturalization applicants to file an extra application, the I-90, to renew their green card while they’re in the process of naturalizing. This automatic extension will apply to all applicants who file Form N-400 on or after Dec. 12, 2022. As a result of longer than normal processing times, many applicants for naturalization were finding themselves needing to renew their green cards while they waited for USCIS to adjudicate their naturalization cases. With a filing fee of $540, this need to file the I-90 was a costly and frustrating extra expense for many lawful permanent residents who were in the process of becoming US citizens.

Lawful permanent residents who submit their naturalization application on or after December 12, 2022 will receive this extension automatically. USCIS plans to update the language on the N-400 receipt notice to make clear that the naturalization applicant’s green card is automatically extended for up to 24 months. This N-400 receipt notice can then be shown along with the expired green card as evidence of continued employment authorization for I-9 purposes.

by Breanne Johnson Breanne Johnson No Comments

Ukrainian and Afghan Parolees Eligible for Employment Authorization Incident to Parole

In order to provide Ukrainian and Afghan parolees with the same benefits that are given to refugees under the immigration laws, USCIS has decided that Ukrainian and Afghan parolees are eligible for employment authorization immediately upon entering the United States. Parole is the legal term for allowing someone to temporarily enter the United States even though he/she may not have a visa or be otherwise eligible for admission.

This policy is effective as of November 21, 2022, and enables certain Ukrainian and Afghan parolees (and their qualifying family members) to begin working immediately, and without applying for employment authorization from USCIS.  Eligible individuals will be able to show an unexpired I-94 to their employers to document their employment eligibility. This new policy provides a welcome and much needed benefit to many Ukrainian and Afghan nationals who have recently fled their home countries. For more information regarding eligibility for this new policy, please contact us for a consultation.

by Breanne Johnson Breanne Johnson No Comments

Many U.S. Airports No Longer Issuing Passport Entry Stamps

A growing number of U.S. airports have stopped stamping foreign passports with an entry stamp when a foreign national enters the United States. Instead, each time someone enters the United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) creates an online electronic record of the individual’s entry. This online electronic record is called an I-94, and international travelers should check their I-94 record after every entry into the United States to ensure that all of their data and admission information is correct.

This weekend CBP launched a new app called “CBP One” that serves as a single portal to CBP services and makes checking your I-94, registering for a provisional I-94, and booking customs appointments available all in one app. Check it out here, and help ensure that your international travels into the U.S. go as smoothly and quickly as possible.

by Breanne Johnson Breanne Johnson No Comments

USCIS Extends COVID-19-related Flexibilities

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is extending certain COVID-19-related flexibilities through Jan. 24, 2023. Under these flexibilities, USCIS considers a response received within 60 calendar days after the due date before taking any action. The USCIS notices and requests eligible for this extension include:

  • Requests for Evidence;
  • Continuations to Request Evidence (N-14);
  • Notices of Intent to Deny;
  • Notices of Intent to Revoke;
  • Notices of Intent to Rescind;
  • Notices of Intent to Terminate regional centers;
  • Notices of Intent to Withdraw Temporary Protected Status; and
  • Motions to Reopen an N-400 Pursuant to 8 CFR 335.5, Receipt of Derogatory Information After Grant.

In addition, USCIS will consider a Form I-290B, Notice of Appeal or Motion, or a Form N-336, Request for a Hearing on a Decision in Naturalization Proceedings (Under Section 336 of the INA), if:

  • The form was filed up to 90 calendar days from the issuance of a decision we made; and
  • We made that decision between Nov. 1, 2021, and Jan. 24, 2023, inclusive.

As a reminder, the reproduced signature flexibility announced in March 2020 became permanent policy on July 25, 2022.

Please visit for USCIS updates.

by Breanne Johnson Breanne Johnson No Comments

Extension of I-693 Medical Exam Validity Granted Through March 31, 2023

In order to become a permanent resident of the United States, applicants must undergo a medical exam to ensure that they will not trigger any of the health-related grounds of inadmissibility. For example, having a contagious disease such as measles, mumps or tuberculosis could render someone unable to become a permanent resident. Normally, USCIS considers a completed Form I-693 medical exam to remain valid for 2 years after the U.S. civil surgeon signs the form, so long as the civil surgeon’s signature is no more than 60 days old when USCIS receives the application for permanent residence.

Because of COVID-related delays, USCIS has excused this 60-day signature requirement. This is a temporary exception that was set to expire today. However, USCIS announced yesterday that the exception to the 60-day signature requirement will be extended until March 31, 2023. This is a welcome extension that will help ease filings timelines and processing delays caused by COVID. For more information about the requirements to become a lawful permanent resident of the United States, reach out to our attorneys for a consultation.

by Breanne Johnson Breanne Johnson No Comments

Within the Next Two Decades Population Growth in the United States will be Fully Fueled by Immigration

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) predicts that within the next two decades population growth in the United States will be fully fueled by immigration. “As the effects of the pandemic wane and economic conditions in the U.S. improve, net immigration flows are projected to rise.” In a new report released in July 2022, the CBO concludes that immigration will soon drive all of the United States’ population growth.  By 2043 deaths will outnumber births in the U.S., and immigration will be the only source of the United State’s population gain.

In CBO’s assessment, pandemic-related travel restrictions and reduced visa-processing capabilities resulted in 160,000 fewer net immigrants in 2020 and 110,000 fewer net immigrants in 2021. From 2022 to 2051, however, the annual net flow of immigrants is predicted to be higher. CBO now estimates 10,000 more people per year, on average, than the agency projected last year. If your family or business is amongst those looking to bring immigrants to the U.S., reach out to talk with one of our attorneys.