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Bloggings: March 12, 2008

by Joel Stewart

Editor's note: Here are the latest entries from Joel Stewart's blog.

March 11, 2008

Running in Overdrive

Hi, Everybody!

The last two weeks have been very hectic. I had to go to Sao Paulo to meet with the US Consuls, as part of the preparation of my articles for the AILA Visa Processing Guide. I wrote an update for Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Lisbon and Ponta Delgada. Some of my readers may be aware of the fact that most of this office's clients are Brazilians, and that I represent the Brazilian Consulate in Miami.

The link between Brazil and PERM is logical, but you have to look beneath the surface. The fact is that each country has its own approach to immigration. Brazilians do not have E visas, so they cannot apply for E-2 visas as many Europeans do. Central Americans, Cubans and Haitians usually come to the use clandestinely, by boat or foot, and obtain special immigration benefits from the US Government. This is usually parole status orTPS.

Most of the Brazilians, however,  are shut out from these opportunities, so they gravitate towards employment based immigration like PERM! Over the years, we represented many Brazilians (and Portuguese) and prepared PERM cases for them.

Another question is how I got to work with Brazilians, since my former specialty was Russian. (I was a Russian language teacher from 1966 to 1980). This occured because of several historical reasons. First, when I moved from Connecticut to Florida in 1983, the Brazilians had just started to come to the U.S. During the previous military dictatorship, travel to the U.S. was frowned on, and they usually just remained in their country. The flow of Brazilians in the 1980's was timely, since I had graduated from Law School in 1979 and by 1983 had chosen immigration law as my specialty. The second factor is that the Portuguese language, especially the Brazilian dialect, is very similar phonetically to Russian. Both languages are highly palatalized, and the vowel systems are similar. Over the years I have been amazed how easily Russians can adapt to Portuguese and vice versa. And so it was with me. I just learned to speak Portuguese without any problem, especially since I had a background not only in Russian, but in French and Latin, which share the same vocabulary base with Portuguese.

When I came back from Sao Paulo last week, the office administrators at my law firm decided to move all the lawyers around, and I had to move the Immigration Department from one wing of the building to another. By coincidence, our building is owned by a Portuguese Bank, which in turn is owned by a Portuguese family, "Espirito Santo," which of course means "Holy Spirit" in Portuguese. The building was hit hard by a hurricane 3 years ago, and all the glass blew out on the South side. All this proves that no Spirit of any kind was protecting us. Nevertheless, we love our building. If you want to see what it looks like, you can go to It won many architectural awards as one of the most beautiful buildings in Florida. The owners hold frequent receptions for Brazilian Diplomats, and US Ambassador Sobel to Brazil was recently here for a reception. By coincidence, the French Consulate is also here in the Espirito Santo Plaza. It's fun guessing nationalities in the elevator. You can tell the French, Brazilians and Latins by the way they are dressed.

I have also been busy completing the PERM BOOK II, and we hope to have it ready soon for delivery. It is the best PERM book ever, with extensive coverage of every PERM issue imaginable.

I'll be traveling to NYC on Thursday March 13th to chair the PERM Workshop. If you don't make it to NYC, I'll also be in Vancouver for the AILA Conference, especially at the ILW.COM Booth. I am looking forward to meeting you there.