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"USCIS Service Centers: Current Benefits Issues"

Speakers: Marc Ellis, Steven N. Garmo, Rómulo E. Guevara, Laurence F. Johnson, Judy J. Lee, Rolando Rex Velasquez, Roy J. Watson, Jr. and Karen Weinstock

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Each call features an hour of analysis, strategy and practice tips by Marc Ellis, Steven N. Garmo, Rómulo E. Guevara, Laurence F. Johnson, Judy J. Lee, Rolando Rex Velasquez, Roy J. Watson, Jr. and Karen Weinstock, followed by 30 minutes of questions and answers from participants.


FIRST Phone Session on Sep 29: Rescheduled for Oct 6, 2005

  • Current issues at Texas Service Center
    1. Filing Applications
      1. How many copies?; Order of documents in applications
      2. Requesting Special Handling: (Requesting Visa Cross-Chargability, Requesting Expedited Processing, Flagging applications to recapture priority dates)
      3. Filing Deadline Cases At TSC
    2. Inquiring About The Status Of Pending Cases
      1. Petition Return from Consulates (How to inquire? How long do they take? NOID letters issued without citing the consulate’s specific findings)
    3. I-485 Questions:
      1. Why 2 approval notices?
      2. What to do if no card arrives?
      3. Wait time for Biometrics appointment after filing?
      4. Reopening based on Service Error
      5. Lawyers receiving approval notices dated after the retrogression
    4. Appeals to TSC
    5. Processing of Derivative Family Members
  • Current issues at Nebraska Service Center
    1. Multi-Year EADs
    2. Asylum Issues
    3. F-1/OPT
    4. EOS/COS & 212(a)(9) Overstays
    5. I-130 Reinstatement Issues

SECOND Phone Session on Oct 20:

  • Current issues at California Service Center
    1. "Interview-waivable" family-based adjustment cases
    2. The effect of PERM on CSC processing of I-140 and I-485 cases
    3. H-1B Issues with CSC
    4. CSC’s mass-RFE project for I-130s
    5. VisaScreen Certificates and AOS
    6. Extensions of NIVs
    7. Late TPS Registration
    8. I-751s
    9. I-212 Waivers
  • Current issues at Vermont Service Center
    1. EAD & Advance Parole Processing
    2. VSC Issuance of NTA’s

THIRD Phone Session on Nov 3:

  • Current issues at National Benefits Center
    1. Is the Chicago lockbox part of NBC? If not, what is the difference? When is a receipt generated? Which office generates it?
    2. Will NBC respond to attorney's status inquiries? When should an attorney inquire about a case?
    3. Will NBC reissue receipts that were not originally issued but should have been issued?
    4. Where to file employment-based EAD extensions? NBC or the District Office? Why are EAD's "Administrative Closed" by NBC? Can an interim EAD be issued after a case is administratively closed? Why does the on-line case-status show the case is still open?
    5. Is it necessary to file an I-130 with a 485 at NBC? Does a receipt notice for a pending I-130 at a different Service Center suffice? Does NBC request a copy of the pending I-130 and does this delay or speed up the process?
    6. Where should expedite requests be filed? At the District Office or at the NBC?

  • Current issues at Administrative Appeals Office
    1. Interpretation of maintenance of status and unlawful presence found in the March 27, 2003, memo "Interpretation of 'Period of Stay Authorized by the Attorney General' in determining 'unlawful presence' under INA section 212(a)(9)(B)(ii).
    2. Porting under AC21: Must an H-1B presently be in H-1B status in order to port under 214(m)?
    3. Can an alien who is denied adjustment under 245(i) use the same grandfathering mechanism, (ie., a timely-filed application for labor certification or visa petition), to file a new application based on a new ground of eligibility?
    4. I-751 waivers available prior to a divorce?
    5. Can AAO and USCIS adjudicators rely on non-precedent AAO decisions that have not been made available to counsel or applicant?
    6. Cases unsuccessful in converting to PERM? Are they still available for AC21?
    7. EB-5 investor issues?

  • Current issues at Office of CIS Ombudsman
    1. Interpretation of maintenance of status and unlawful presence found in the March 27, 2003, memo "Interpretation of 'Period of Stay Authorized by the Attorney General' in determining 'unlawful presence' under INA section 212(a)(9)(B)(ii).
    2. I-751 divorce waivers - Must the applicant be divorced prior to filing for the Good Faith Termination of the Marriage Waiver?
    3. AC-21 Porting for 7th Year H-1B's? Must the I-140 be approved?
    4. How can background check response times be improved?
    5. How can you expedite immigrant petitions for aliens in proceedings? Is the applicant still at the mercy of the IJ and the District Director?
    6. When can an asylum grantee obtain an I-94?

Citations for Session 1        Citations for Session 3       


Marc Ellis is an immigration attorney in Texas. He is a frequent chat speaker for ILW.COM and also an advisory board member for Immigrants Weekly. In France, he is known as the composer of "The Fantomas Waltz". Mr. Ellis served two tours during the Vietnam War with the US Army, 1971-73. His most recent article written is "Live From New Orleans: Riding My Bicycle To The Office" He can be reached at

Steven N. Garmo is a Principal in the law firm of Garmo & Associates, P.C., in Farmington Hills, Michigan where he specializes in U.S. Immigration Law. He has a J.D. from the University of Detroit School of Law, a B.A. in History from the University of Michigan, and an A.S. in computer Science from Detroit College of Business. Mr. Garmo previously chaired the advocacy/legislation committee for the Michigan Chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association and was a past chair of the Oakland County Bar Association, Immigration committee. Mr. Garmo is a frequent speaker on immigration related issues. Mr. Garmo is a frequently invited guest speaker on immigration related issues. He has published extensively both in English and Arabic various articles relating to U.S. immigration law. Mr. Garmo authors the article on the Visa Processing guide for the American Embassy in Amman, Jordan and Damascus, Syria for the Visa Processing Guide published by the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA). Mr. Garmo is also a frequent speaker and lecturer on immigration law through out the United States. Mr. Garmo has maintained an immigration practice concentrating solely on immigration related matters. As an immigration attorney, Mr. Garmo handles all types of immigration related matters including Business and Family visas.

Rómulo E. Guevara is a senior attorney with Neil A. Weinrib & Associates in New York City, where he focuses on complex business immigration issues, including the ability to pay, labor certifications, and multinational executives and managers, in both large corporations and small businesses. Mr. Guevara currently serves on the AILA New York Chapter DOL Liaison Committee, and contributes articles to Interpreter Releases, AILA’s Immigration Law Today, AILA’s Immigration & Nationality Handbook, Bender’s Immigration Bulletin, and He received his undergraduate degree in 1993 from Long Island University and his law degree in 1996 from Hofstra University School of Law in 1996. Mr. Guevara is originally from El Salvador and has been practicing immigration law since 1997.

Laurence F. Johnson has authored articles on immigration law in the Maryland Law Forum, and has served as faculty for immigration law seminars at the Bar Association, Montgomery County, Maryland, the Annual Conference on Immigration Law, Washington DC, and the Maryland Institute on Continuing Professional Education of Lawyers. He previously served as the Vice President of the DC Chapter of AILA and also served as National Chair of AILA's Office Technology and National Telecommunications committees.

Judy J. Lee is a native Houstonian and summa cum laude graduate of the University of St. Thomas, majoring in Economics and Business Administration. She received her law degree from the University of Houston Law School in 1980 and is board certified in the area of Immigration and Nationality Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. Ms. Lee is an active member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), and has served on the liaison committee with the USCIS Texas Service Center since 2001. She was the Liaison for the USCIS Houston District office in 1999 and 2000, and has served as speaker and co-chair for AILA Texas Chapter Immigration Conferences. She has played an active role in various civic and charitable organizations. Ms. Lee was a member of the Texas State Board of Public Accountancy (1991-1997) and a Board member of the YWCA Houston (1991-1992). She is a member of the State Bar of Texas; Houston Bar Association (pro-bono coordinator for the firm); Asian American Bar Association; World Affairs Council; and Boy Scouts of America. Ms. Lee handles a wide variety of immigration and nationality matters, with special focus on temporary work visas, labor certification, outstanding researchers, executive/manger transferees, other employment based immigration, family based immigration, and naturalization. She is a frequent presenter on immigration topics.

Rolando Rex Velasquez is a former I.N.S. Assistant District Counsel; Member, New Jersey Bar and American Immigration Lawyers Association; Law Professor, University of Buffalo Law School. Mr. Velasquez served as Trial Attorney for 8 years with the former I.N.S. (now C.I.S.) in 2 New York districts, as acting Chief Legal Officer and lead national security special interest attorney. He joined the prestigious New York immigration firm, Serotte, Reich & Wilson, LLP, where he managed the litigation unit, family and employment-based adjudications advocacy, port-of-entry representation, and political asylum cases, among others. Simultaneously in 2002, and until his transfer to Las Vegas, Mr. Velasquez was an Adjunct Professor of Law at the University at Buffalo School of Law, State University of New York, as a professor in immigration law. He obtained his J.D. as well as a Masters in Business Administration from the same university.

Roy J. Watson, Jr. Is a graduate of Brandies University, with a B.A. in Economics, (1971); a J.D. from Boston College School of Law, (1975); and an M.P.A. from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, (1983). Roy is founder and past Editor-in-Chief of the Immigration Case Reporter (ICR), published by Matthew Bender, Inc., and sent to over 1,000 lawyers in 5 countries to provide the latest information and changes in the field of immigration law. Roy has authored numerous articles on a variety of immigration law topics, and is a frequent lecturer on business-relevant immigration law issues. Roy is past Past President of the New England chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), and has served on numerous AILA national committees during his 30 years of active practice of immigration law. Roy is a past Chair of the immigration law committees of both the Massachusetts Bar (MBA) and Boston Bar (BBA) Associations, and a past International Law Section Chair for the BBA. Roy remains active with numerous international business organizations, and Watson Law Offices is the first law office in the United States to be registered under ISO 9002. Watson Law Offices have recently relocated from downtown Boston to Bedford Center to better serve the high-tech, bio-tech and business corridor between Route 128 and I-495.

Karen Weinstock is a partner in Siskind Susser’s office in Atlanta, Georgia. Karen graduated law school from Hebrew University School of Law in Jerusalem, Israel and has a license to practice law both in Israel and in New York State. She is also admitted to practice before the Supreme Court of the United States, the United States Federal Court of the Southern and Eastern Districts of New York, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th and 5th Circuits. Karen is fluent in English, Hebrew and speaks some Spanish. She is a member of the New York Bar Association and the American Immigration Lawyers Association. She is also a member of the Board of Directors of the American-Israel Chamber of Commerce and a member of the Board of Directors of the Georgia Indo-American Chamber of Commerce. She also sits on the Board of Directors of the Georgia Association for Women Lawyers, and is a member of the Lawyer's Club of Atlanta. Karen Weinstock worked in an Intellectual Property firm in Tel Aviv and later in one of Jerusalem's largest law firms. Immediately prior to joining Siskind Susser, Karen had a solo law practice in New York City, focusing on serving international clientele doing business or working in the U.S. Having practiced corporate law, Karen can accommodate the special needs of multinational corporations. She represents U.S. companies and multinational corporations. Karen authors and is the editor of Siskind Susser's Visalaw Health Care Immigration Newsletter and also contributes to Siskind's Immigration Bulletin, a newsletter with over 30,000 subscribers. She also writes for newspapers and is a keynote speaker at immigration law forums and events. Karen authored a book on the H-1B visa that will be published this year.

Cancellation/Return/Shipping Policy
$199 Seminar Package
Audio tape of Sep 29, 2005 (90 minutes)
(Oct 6, 2005)
Audio tape of Oct 20 seminar (90 minutes)
Audio tape of Nov 3 seminar (90 minutes)

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Disclaimer: participation in this seminar does not create an attorney-client relationship with the speakers