Kelli Duehning

Partner and head of office // San Francisco


“I am drawn to immigration law because of its complexity and its expanding reach in people’s everyday lives. My experience working for the U.S. government allows me to bridge the gap between the private and public sectors to develop immigration solutions that fulfill my clients’ needs while also satisfying the requirements of the public sector.”

As a Partner and head of the San Francisco office and a vital member of BAL’s Government Strategies team, Kelli is at the forefront of immigration government policy, trailblazing with creative tactics to meet even the most urgent contemporary matters.

From complex cases requiring strategic government interaction to broad policy initiatives that involve sensitive political dynamics, Kelli successfully leverages her extensive background in government, her technical expertise and her passion for advocacy to help U.S. businesses access global talent and remain in compliance with the complicated web of employer immigration obligations.

She keeps clients updated on fast-moving legislative and policy changes, drives immigration program management and advises on complex compliance issues in her role as a leader of the firm’s I-9 and e-verify practice.

Kelli joined BAL after a 17-year career with the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and the Department of Justice Immigration and Naturalization Service. She managed the Western Law Division of USCIS and was responsible for developing and coordinating all legal strategies in the western United States. She also worked closely with government investigators and federal law enforcement officials and was a close advisor to agency leadership on complex immigration issues.

In addition to her legal duties as a USCIS attorney, Kelli worked as an immigration officer in the overseas refugee program in Nairobi, Kenya; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; and various locations in Thailand. She was the acting field office director in Beijing, China and New Delhi, India, as well as an adjudications officer in Bangkok, Thailand.

As USCIS special counsel to Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Penn.), chair of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, she assisted with comprehensive immigration reform during the 2006 legislative session.

Kelli is a prolific advocate for immigration policy. She is a frequent speaker at WERC, SHRM and other venues and is sought after by the media for her immigration expertise. She currently serves as Chair of the Federal Bar Association's Immigration Law Section.

Mitchell Hamline School of Law, J.D.
University of Wisconsin at Madison, B.A., Psychology and Behavioral Science and Law

Minnesota Bar

Recent activity

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Episode 63: SHRM pushes for employment-based immigration reforms

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