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Basic Immigration Law 2017


Speaker(s): Alexis S. Axelrad, Amy C. Cococcia, Avram E. Morell, Cristina Romero, Cyrus D. Mehta, David A. Isaacson, David Grunblatt, Deborah Lee, Jojo Annobil, Jun H. Lee, Lindsay A. Curcio, Mark R. von Sternberg, Marko C. Maglich, Matthew L. Guadagno, Noemi E. Masliah, Will Bierman
Recorded on: Mar. 2, 2017
PLI Program #: 185763

Cyrus D. Mehta, a graduate of Cambridge University and Columbia Law School, is the Managing Partner of Cyrus D. Mehta & Partners PLLC in New York City. Mr. Mehta is a member of AILA’s Administrative Litigation Task Force; AILA’s EB-5 Committee; former chair of AILA’s Ethics Committee; special counsel on immigration matters to the Departmental Disciplinary Committee, Appellate Division, First Department, New York; member of the ABA Commission on Immigration; board member of Volunteers for Legal Services and board member of New York Immigration Coalition.  Mr. Mehta is the former chair of the Board of Trustees of the American Immigration Council and former chair of the Committee on Immigration and Nationality Law of the New York City Bar Association. He is a frequent speaker and writer on various immigration-related issues, including on ethics, and is also an adjunct professor of law at Brooklyn Law School, where he teaches a course entitled Immigration and Work.  Mr. Mehta received the AILA 2018 Edith Lowenstein Memorial Award for advancing the practice of immigration law and the AILA 2011 Michael Maggio Memorial Award for his outstanding efforts in providing pro bono representation in the immigration field. He has also received two AILA Presidential Commendations in 2010 and 2016.  Mr. Mehta is ranked among the most highly regarded lawyers in North America by Who’s Who Legal – Corporate Immigration Law 2019 and is also ranked in Chambers USA and Chambers Global 2019 in immigration law, among other rankings.


Deborah Lee is a Supervising Attorney within the Immigration Law Unit of the Legal Aid Society, where she represents a wide-range of immigrants before U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and the Executive Office for Immigration Review.  Prior to joining The Legal Aid Society, Deborah Lee was a Senior Staff Attorney with Sanctuary for Families’ Immigration Intervention Project, where she represented foreign-born victims of domestic violence, trafficking and gender violence.  Her previous experience includes serving as Supervising Attorney for the Children’s Legal Project at Americans for Immigrant Justice (previously known as Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center) and a Jesuit Refugee Service Fellow with Catholic Legal Immigration Network (CLINIC).  Ms. Lee frequently trains and writes on immigration legal remedies for vulnerable populations.  She has published articles in the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) Immigration & Nationality Handbook, as well as a practice advisory with AILA on immigrant youth issues.  Ms. Lee is a graduate of Swarthmore College, Harvard Divinity School, and Georgetown University Law Center. 


Jojo Annobil is the Executive Director of Immigrant Justice Corps, an innovative two year fellowship program for recent law school and college graduates.

He is also an adjunct professor at New York University School of Law where he co-teaches the Immigrant Defense Clinic and serves as Special Counsel to the New York State Supreme Court, Appellate Division First Department’s Disciplinary Committee on Immigration matters.

He also serves as co-chair of the New York State Bar Association’s Committee on Immigration Representation.


Lindsay A. Curcio is a solo practitioner. Her practice includes employment-based and family-based nonimmigrant and immigrant visas as well as waivers, removal defense, U.S. citizenship issues and naturalization. She has taught as an adjunct professor at New York Law School and Molloy College. She is a co-author of Immigration and Nationality Law: Problems and Strategies (LexisNexis/Carolina Academic Press). Lindsay has received the Super Lawyers Immigration, Metro New York designation. Lindsay has a bachelor's degree in Spanish from Northwestern University, a juris doctor degree from IIT-Chicago Kent College of Law, an MBA (concentration in marketing with international business designation) from Fordham University an LLM in Transnational Commercial Practice at the Center for International Legal Studies/Lazarski University and a graduate certificate in health care compliance from the University of Pittsburgh Law School. She also is an actress and a writer of short stories.


Tina Romero is staff attorney at the Legal Aid Society.  She specializes in immigrant youth representation, practicing in both state and federal courts.  She advises the Legal Aid Society's Juvenile Rights Practice on immigration matters, supervises pro bono attorneys, and coordinates the New York City SIJS Advocates' group, which engages in local and national policy advocacy.  In 2014, she assisted in the creation of the ICARE coalition to ensure unaccompanied children in New York City obtained representation in immigration court.  She co-teaches an externship at Columbia Law School on Unaccompanied Immigrant Youth.  Tina graduated from the University of Notre Dame in 2001.  She received her J.D. from Loyola University Chicago School of Law in 2005.  She is admitted in New York and Illinois.


Wilhelm F. “Will” Bierman is Field Office Director for the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) New York City Field Office.

Mr. Bierman began his career in jurisprudence in 1991, as an officer and attorney with the United States Army’s Judge Advocate Generals’ Corps, serving in the 1st Infantry Division at Fort Riley, Kansas.  During his tenure in the military, Mr. Bierman served as Trial Counsel for the 1st Infantry Division Artillery and 2nd Armored Brigade, Chief of International and Operational Law, and Defense Counsel with the Trial Defense Service.

Upon leaving the Army at the end of 1995, Mr. Bierman joined the Wyoming State Public Defenders Office as a Public Defender and Field Office Director with the Casper, Wyoming, office of the Public Defender, representing thousands of individual in criminal proceedings, ranging from misdemeanor offenses to capital crimes.  In 2001, Mr. Bierman accepted the position of Deputy State Public Defender, assisting the State Public Defender in managing the day-to-day operation of an organization ensuring criminal defense representation despite limited resources to individuals spread out over an area encompassing almost 100,000 square miles.

In November 2004, Mr. Bierman left the State of Wyoming’s Public Defender’s Office to serve as a Deputy Attorney General Commonwealth Attorney for the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) on the island of Saipan.  For the next two years, Mr. Bierman served as one of the principal prosecutors for the commonwealth and a trainer for newly-hired attorneys.

Mr. Bierman joined USCIS in November 2006, as an Asylum Officer with the Houston Asylum Office, dealing principally with the Credible Fear/Reasonable Fear Expedited Removal processes.  He became a Supervisory Asylum Officer in April 2007, overseeing the Credible Fear program.  In 2009, Mr. Bierman joined the USCIS Refugee, Asylum, and International Operations (RAIO) Directorate as a Supervisory Refugee Officer.  During his time in the Refugee Corps, Mr. Bierman led Refugee Officers on interviewing missions to Nepal, Iraq, Egypt, Kuwait, UAE, Yemen, Jordan, Libya, Thailand and Malaysia.

In September 2013, Mr. Bierman became the Supervisory Immigration Officer for the Fraud Detection and National Security Directorate in USCIS District 25, covering Arizona and Nevada.  He left District 25 FDNS to become the Deputy Field Office Director for the New York City Field Office in USCIS District 3 in October 2014, assuming the duties of the Field Office Director in June 2016.

Mr. Bierman received a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Wyoming, in Laramie, Wyoming.  He obtained his Juris Doctorate from the University of Wyoming, College of Law.


Born in New York City, Alexis S. Axelrad has two decades of experience in immigration and nationality law. Ms. Axelrad received her B.A. from the University of Maryland at College Park in 1994. After earning her J.D. from New York Law School, Ms. Axelrad was admitted to practice in New York in 1998.

Ms. Axelrad has been active in the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) since she began practicing law. Ms. Axelrad currently serves as an elected as a director of AILA National's Board of Governors (BOG) and served as the Chair of the Vermont Service Center committee from June 2013 to June 2015. She is the Vice-Chair of AILA National’s Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Committee and a Past Vice-Chair and was a member of AILA National’s USCIS Headquarters Benfits/Policy Committee for over a decade. Ms. Axelrad is a past chair of the New York Chapter of AILA and served in every capacity on the NY chapter's executive committee.  She is currently the Emeritus Chair of the New York Chapter of AILA’s Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Committee and a member of the District Director Committee for over ten years. Ms. Axelrad is serves on the Board of Directors and is a member of the Executives Association of New York.

Ms. Axelrad was also the recipient of the AILA President's Commendation Award for Outstanding Service on the USCIS HQ liaison committee, June 2008-2010 & 2014. New York Super Lawyers has listed her in the 'rising stars' section of top immigration attorneys in New York in 2011 and 2012, and as a Super Lawyer from 2013 to present. She is recognized by Chambers & Partners USA: America's Leading Lawyers for Business

Ms. Axelrad was the author of quarterly column on immigration matters published in the New York Law Journal and is a frequent speaker throughout the United States and Europe on US Immigration Law. Ms. Axelrad was the researcher and writer of US Immigration Laws: Working, Living and Studying in America (1999). Ms. Axelrad maintains a busy corporate and family based immigration practice with a particular emphasis on interaction with the various offices of Department of Homeland Security and the Justice Department including USCIS, Department of State, and Customs and Border Protection.


Graduated with a B.A. from Cornell University majoring in Government and concentration in International Relations. Graduated with a J.D. from Syracuse University School of Law.

I have been a Staff Attorney with the DDC since 2001. I am presently a Principal Staff Attorney investigating and prosecuting professional misconduct by attorneys in the First Department where allegations vary from neglect of legal matters to escrow violations. In addition, I have been designated to head up the investigation of attorneys practicing in the area of immigration law, who engaged in professional misconduct. I am a member of the Katzman Study Group as well as a member of the Protecting Immigrants New York Task Force.


Avram Morell is a member of Pryor Cashman’s Immigration Law Group. His experience includes a wide range of areas of immigration and nationality law, including counseling employers in the hiring of foreign employees, representing entrepreneurs and investors seeking permission to live and work in the United States, obtaining immigrant and non-immigrant visas for professionals in a variety of industries, advising employers on all areas of immigration compliance, guiding individuals through the permanent residence and naturalization application processes, developing corporate immigration policies, and creating global mobility guidelines and procedures.

Mr. Morell is ranked among the leading immigration lawyers by Chambers USA and US Legal 500 and lectures regularly on immigration law to professional associations, educational institutes, and private businesses. He is the author of articles on areas of immigration law in state-wide, national and international publications and has contributed to Immigration Law and Procedure, the leading treatise on immigration law. Mr. Morell has also served in key capacities for the American Immigration Lawyers Association on the national Department of State Liaison Committee, the national Verification and Worksite Enforcement Liaison Committee, the Liaison Committee to the New York District Office of USCIS, and the Liaison Committee to Customs and Border Protection in New York and New Jersey.  

Mr. Morell is a 1993 graduate of Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, where he was a Samuel Belkin Scholar.


David A. Isaacson, a graduate of Princeton University and Yale Law School, is a Partner at Cyrus D. Mehta & Partners PLLC in New York City.  David is a co-chair of the Federal Practice Committee of the New York Chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), was formerly co-chair of the AILA New York Chapter Customs and Border Protection Committee, and is a frequent speaker at AILA conferences, including the AILA Annual Conferences of 2012-2015 and 2017-2018.  David’s practice includes a variety of family-based and employment-based applications for both nonimmigrant visas and permanent residence, as well as waivers, naturalization and citizenship matters, asylum cases, other removal proceedings such as those stemming from criminal convictions or denied applications for adjustment of status, and federal litigation.


David Grunblatt is a Partner at Proskauer Rose LLP, heading its Immigration Practice Group and is an authority on employer immigration compliance and employment-based immigration benefits.  He served as Chair of the New York Chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association and of its Vermont Service Center Liaison Committee.  He was formerly Chair of the New York State Bar Association’s Committee on Immigration and Nationality Law and was Chair of the Committee on Immigration and Nationality Law at the New York County Lawyers Association.  He lectures and writes extensively on the subject of Immigration and Nationality Law.


Noemi E. Masliah is the principal of The Masliah Firm PC in New York City. She has been engaged exclusively in the practice of immigration law since 1980 and has spoken and written frequently on a broad range of immigration topics. Her practice covers all categories of employment-based cases for both temporary and permanent visas. She also represents individuals in family-based immigration matters and citizenship applications. She has received several community awards for her activism in immigration reform, specifically in connection with the discriminatory impact of the US immigration laws on the LGBT community.  She served on Lambda Legal’s Board of Directors for many years. Ms. Masliah was a co-founder of Immigration Equality. Most recently, she has been involved in the sanctuary movement. A long-time and active member of the American Immigration Lawyers’ Association, Ms. Masliah served as a Trustee of the American Immigration Council.


Amy Cococcia is a Partner at the New York office of Fragomen, Del Rey, Bernsen & Loewy, LLP where she has practiced immigration law for more than 20 years. Amy currently leads worldwide engagements for multinational financial and technology companies.

In 2015, Amy was on a short-term assignment at the firm’s Singapore and Malaysia offices, where she was instrumental in the opening and development of Fragomen’s office in Kuala Lumpur. Amy has extensive experience representing both individual and corporate clients in a wide variety of immigration matters (e.g., complex citizenship and naturalization, employer sanctions and I-9 compliance issues).

Amy is a Fellow of the Foreign Policy Association, a Board Member of the Tufts Lawyers Association and a member of several industry associations, including the American Immigration Lawyers Association, the American Foreign Law Association and the Federal Bar Council. She holds a J.D. from Brooklyn Law School and a B.A. from Tufts University. Amy was listed in Best Lawyers in America from 2017 to 2019, and Super Lawyers from 2013 to 2018. 


Mark R. von Sternberg is a Senior Attorney with Catholic Charities Community Services/Archdiocese of New York where he concentrates on litigation before the Executive Office for Immigration Review. Mr. von Sternberg serves as an adjunct faculty member at Pace University School of Law where he teaches general immigration and comparative refugee law; he is also an adjunct faculty member at St. John’s University School of Law where he teaches an immigrant and refugee rights clinic. Mr. von Sternberg received a J.D. degree from Vanderbilt University School of Law in 1973 and an LL.M. degree (in International Legal Studies) from New York University School of Law in 1984. He has lectured at law schools and at professional associations regarding immigration matters and has written extensively, particularly in the areas of refugee law, international humanitarian law, and human rights. Mr. von Sternberg is the author of an internationally recognized treatise regarding the refugee definition as applied in the United States and Canada. In 2002, he received the American Immigration Lawyers Association Pro Bono Award. Mr. von Sternberg is a former chair of the American Bar Association’s Immigration and Naturalization Committee and of the New York City Bar Association’s Immigration and Nationality Law Committee. Mr. von Sternberg has served as an active participant in significant international conferences regarding asylum such as the Refugee Rights and Realities Conference in Nottingham, England and, more recently (September 2012), the UNHCR's Expert Roundtable on "International Protection for Persons Fleeing Armed Conflict and Other Situations of Violence" in Cape Town, South Africa.


Marko C. Maglich is a Principal in the White Plains, New York, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. Mr. Maglich practices immigration law exclusively, and is a member of the firm’s Immigration practice group. The practice deals with all aspects of business-related visas, compliance by employers and individuals with U.S. immigration law (including in M&A transactions and workplace enforcement), and proceedings before the Departments of State, Homeland Security, and Labor.  His practice includes family-based immigration, and removal and admissibility issues on criminal and other grounds.  Having formerly practiced in the area of trusts and estates, Mr. Maglich regularly handles the immigration aspect of tax and immigration planning for high net worth families and individuals.  Mr. Maglich also leverages a network of practitioners around the world to co-ordinate "outbound" (non-U.S.) Immigration for Jackson Lewis and its clients.

Mr. Maglich has been a speaker, author, and teacher on immigration topics for organizations and schools including Human Rights First, the Practising Law Institute (PLI), the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), and the New York State Society of CPAs.  Mr. Maglich earned his J.D. at Fordham University School of Law in 1999, his A.B. from Sarah Lawrence College, and a Diploma from the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA).  He is admitted to practice in New York State and Federally in the Southern District of New York.


Matthew L. Guadagno has been practicing immigration law since 1997.  He is a solo practitioner in Manhattan.  Mr. Guadagno’s practice focuses on deportation defense and federal litigation relating to immigration.  He has argued numerous cases in the federal courts that have resulted in precedent decisions.  In September 2016, Mr. Guadagno was listed in the New York Metro Edition of the publication Super Lawyers for the ninth year in a row.  He is also AV rated by Martindale-Hubbell.  Mr. Guadagno regularly speaks at continuing legal education courses about immigration law.  He is an adjunct professor at Brooklyn Law School.