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Basic Immigration Law 2021: Business, Family, Naturalization and Related Areas

Speaker(s): Alexis S. Axelrad, Avram E. Morell, Cora-Ann V. Pestaina, Cyrus D. Mehta, David A. Isaacson, David Grunblatt, Gregory L. Eddy, Jun H. Lee, Kenneth Craig Dobson, Patrick Shen, Paul A. Rodrigues, Rosanna M. Fox, Thomas E. Moseley, Timothy J. Houghton
Recorded on: Feb. 4, 2021
PLI Program #: 305450

Cora-Ann V. Pestaina is a Partner at Cyrus D. Mehta and Partners, PLLC where she practices primarily in the area of business immigration law. She represents large global corporate clients, emerging growth companies and individuals in a wide range of industries including Information Technology, Finance, Healthcare, Pharmaceutical, Management Consulting and Design. Ms. Pestaina has extensive experience in PERM labor certifications and she regularly counsels clients regarding temporary employment-based nonimmigrant visas and permanent residence sponsorship for their foreign national employees. She also represents artists and investors including EB-5 investors. Ms. Pestaina also represents individuals in family-based applications and naturalization.

Ms. Pestaina received her J.D. from Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law/Yeshiva University where she served as an Editor for the Cardozo Women’s Law Journal.  She earned her B.A. in Political Science from Marymount Manhattan College.

Ms. Pestaina is admitted to practice in New York and is a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) where she served several terms as co-chair of the New York Chapter’s Department of Labor Committee and the Corporate Practice Committee.  Ms. Pestaina is also the author of articles that have appeared in professional publications such as Bender’s Immigration Bulletin and on the firm’s website,, and the firm’s blog, The Insightful Immigration Blog.  She has been a featured speaker on various business immigration panels including at AILA meetings and conferences both locally and nationally. She was a speaker on PERM labor certifications at the AILA New York Chapter Immigration Law Symposium in 2011 and 2014; at the AILA National Immigration Conference in 2016 and 2017; and at the 2017 AILA PERM/H-2B Practice Conference.

She is included in Chambers USA, which identifies the world’s leading lawyers and law firms and she has also been included in various editions of The Best Lawyers in America. She is also ranked by Super Lawyers and listed in Who’s Who Legal Corporate Immigration.

Craig Dobson provides ethics advice to lawyers, represents lawyers in disciplinary matters, and practices immigration and nationality law at Dobson Law LLC.  He has a Bachelor of Arts in philosophy from Furman University and a Juris Doctor, cum laude, from New England School of Law.  During law school, he received CALI awards in both the Law and Ethics of Lawyering and International Business Transactions and served as Editor-in-Chief of the New England Journal of International and Comparative Law.  He previously served as Georgia UPL Liaison for the American Immigration Lawyers Association’s (AILA) Georgia-Alabama Chapter and was appointed by the Supreme Court of Georgia to serve as Chairperson of the District 1 UPL Committee for the State Bar of Georgia from 2014 to 2017.  He is currently Chair of AILA’s National Ethics Committee and is Co-chair AILA New York’s Ethics Committee.  He is also a member of the Association of Professional Responsibility’s (APRL) Cross-Border Practice Subcommittee, which is working on proposed amendments to current ABA multi-jurisdictional practice rules.  Additionally, he is a member of the New York City Bar Association’s Mindfulness & Wellbeing in Law Committee and AILA’s new lawyer well-being committee.  In October 2017, he became one of the first National Board-Certified Health & Wellness Coaches.

Mr. Eddy has been a Chief in the Passenger Operations Division of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) at John F. Kennedy International (JFK) Airport in New York since 2006.  He is primarily responsible for the processing of arriving international passengers and their baggage.  Currently, this division has over 800 CBP Officers and an operating budget of $20 million.  In Fiscal Year 2019 CBP at JFK processed in excess of 17.2 million arriving passengers at its five international arrival terminals.

Mr. Eddy started his career with the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) in 1989 as an immigration inspector assigned to JFK.  He conducted primary as well as secondary admissibility inspections and was often assigned to the Deferred Inspection Unit.  As an inspector he held many collateral positions including member of the Inspections Response Team (IRT), Firearms Range Officer, and Fines Officer. 

In October of 1992 Mr. Eddy was promoted to Supervisory Immigration Inspector (SII).  As an SII he oversaw the Senior Inspector program responsible for passenger analysis, fraud detection, adverse action casework, and statistics.  This group also encompassed the Criminal Enforcement Unit responsible for identifying, removing, and when appropriate, prosecuting criminal aliens; most commonly aggravated felons who had attempted to illegally re-enter the United States after being formally removed.  The methods developed within this unit became the national standard for identifying inadmissible criminal aliens.

In 1996 Mr. Eddy was promoted to the level of a second line manager, first as an Assistant Area Port Director under the legacy INS, then in 2003 as a Deputy Chief within CBP under the newly created Department of Homeland Security.  His primary responsibility in this position was the oversight of the application of the Immigration and Nationality Act to all arriving aliens in order to determine admissibility.  He also oversaw the Passenger Analysis Unit responsible for not only identifying traditional INA violators, but then, in light of the new mandate under CBP, to aid in developing strategies to identify previously unknown terrorists as well.

From February of 2012 through August of 2015 Mr. Eddy served as the Chief of the Anti-Terrorism Contraband Enforcement Team (A-TCET).  This unit, under the Tactical Operations Division at JFK, was responsible for enforcement efforts in the outbound passenger, inbound and outbound cargo, aircraft and express consignment arenas.  A-TCET included the Aircraft Search Team and Canine Units as well.  Areas of particular focus for this team included outbound currency smuggling and narcotics interdiction in all environments.

In April of 2018 Mr. Eddy was assigned as Chief of the Resource Planning, Strategies, and Logistics office in the Executive Division where he had oversight of CBP budgets and assignment of the more than 800 uniformed Officers and Agriculture Specialists.  Finally, in August of 2019 Mr. Eddy returned as Chief in the Passenger Operations Division.

Patrick is a partner in Fragomen's Government Strategies and Corporate Compliance Group. In this capacity, he works with U.S. and multinational clients to maintain compliant immigration programs.

Prior to rejoining Fragomen, Patrick was appointed by the President and confirmed unanimously by the United States Senate as Special Counsel for Immigration-related Unfair Employment Practices in the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division. He also served as Policy and Planning Director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in the Department of Homeland Security, and Chief Immigration Counsel of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Earlier in his career, Patrick spent several years as an immigration litigator for the Justice Department, having served as Assistant District Counsel of the former Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) and a trial lawyer in the United States Attorney’s Office in Brooklyn, NY and the Justice Department in Washington, DC, representing INS and other agencies in federal courts. He also had a stint in private practice as Director of Government Relations for Fragomen prior to his presidential appointment.

Patrick is a volunteer with his local fire department in Maryland. He was an adjunct professor at American University’s Washington College of Law, and a sports reporter in Taiwan before returning to the United States to attend law school.

Patrick speaks English and Mandarin Chinese.


Paul Rodrigues graduated from Loyola University Chicago School of Law in 2006, and he is a member of the Illinois State Bar.  Following his graduation, he worked as a Law Clerk/Staff Attorney for the Illinois Appellate Court, Third District, for over two years.  At the Illinois Appellate Court, he drafted orders and opinions for both civil and criminal cases.  Paul then worked as Assistant Legal Counsel for the Illinois State Senate, Office of the Senate President, for the 2010 legislative session.  In that role, he negotiated with stakeholders and advocates and drafted legislation on criminal and judiciary-related issues.  Paul began working for the United States Department of Justice, Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) in June 2010, as an Attorney-Advisor at the Board of Immigration Appeals.  In August 2011, he moved to the EOIR Office of the General Counsel as an Associate General Counsel.  There, Paul worked for the Attorney Discipline Unit, the Fraud and Abuse Prevention Program, and the Freedom of Information Act Service Center.  He drafted the comprehensive update to the agency’s regulations regarding non-attorney representation.  In October 2016, Paul shifted to working solely for the Attorney Discipline Unit as the Assistant Disciplinary Counsel.  In November 2018, Paul became the EOIR Disciplinary Counsel.

Rosanna is the Co-Founding Partner of Lepore Taylor Fox LLP headquartered in Paramus, New Jersey.  She has extensive experience advising domestic and multinational companies, including Fortune 500 companies, with respect to short- and long-term immigration strategies and programs. She advises clients with respect to the full range of worksite compliance issues including Form I-9 compliance, E-Verify registration and compliance, Public Access Files, and government site visits. Rosanna also serves as Head of the Firm’s Entrepreneur and Start-up Practice, advising foreign entrepreneurs and investors in all aspects of starting a business in the United States with a focus on immigration strategy and planning. Over her many years of practice, Rosanna has successfully advised start-up companies in a range of industries with respect to temporary work visas as well as green card strategies. Ranked by Chambers USA 2020 as a top immigration attorney in New Jersey, listed in the Best Lawyers in America, Immigration Law, in 2018 and 2019 and voted a Rising Star by the New York Metro Super Lawyers magazine since 2016, Rosanna is a frequent speaker and author on a range of immigration-related topics. As an active member of the New York and New Jersey Chapters of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), she presently serves on the Executive Committee of the New York AILA Chapter. Prior to founding LTF, Rosanna was a Shareholder in the New York and New Jersey offices of a large international law firm. Prior to that, she was a Partner in the immigration practice group of a prominent Manhattan law firm.

Rosanna loves practicing immigration law because it allows her to help others materialize their professional and personal dreams. When she is not practicing law, Rosanna loves to run and has completed a number of races including six half-marathons. She has also coached a local Girls on the Run team. Rosanna lives in New Jersey with her husband, two daughters, and their cockapoo Benji.

Timothy J. Houghton entered on duty as District Director for District N-13 in March of 2020. He previously served as the Deputy District Director for District N-13 from December 2015 - March 2020.

Background Experience

Mr. Houghton has over 21 years of government service which began with legacy Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) at the Garden City Office of the New York District in 1998. He has his held a variety of positions In United States Citizenship and Immigration Services.

He began his federal service as a District Adjudications Officer at the Garden City Office of the New York District. In 2004, Mr. Houghton became a Supervisory District Adjudication Officer in the Naturalization Unit. In 2007, he was assigned to the Adjustment of Status Unit where he served as supervisor until May 2009. In 2008, Mr. Houghton received the Federal Executive Board Award as Supervisor of the year for his work in the Naturalization Unit by organizing a more efficient manner to receive documents from customers. In May 2009, he became a Supervisor for the Newark District Office in the Adjustment of Status Unit where he served in that position until March 2010. In March 2010, Mr. Houghton was selected by New York District to serve as Section Manager for Adjudications 2. The Adjudication 2 Unit adjudicated multiple immigration applications and adhered to the Stokes Agreement. In January of 2011, he was assigned as Section Manager for the Naturalization Unit. Mr. Houghton received the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services; Distinguished Government Service Award on May 11, 2012. In May 2012, Mr. Houghton was selected as Field Office Director for the New York Queens Field office. In May 2014, Mr. Houghton was selected as the Field Office Director of New York Field office where he served until appointment as the Deputy District Director in December 2015. Mr. Houghton received the Manager/Supervisor of the Year in 2017.

Born in New York City, Alexis S. Axelrad has over two decades of experience in immigration and nationality law. Ms. Axelrad received her B.A. from the University of Maryland at College Park (1994.) After earning her J.D. from New York Law School (1997), Ms. Axelrad was admitted to practice in New York in 1998.

Ms. Axelrad has been active in the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) – the preeminent bar association for US immigration lawyers - since she began practicing law. Ms. Axelrad currently serves as an elected as a director of AILA National's Board of Governors (BOG) and as the Chair of AILA National’s Customs and Border Patrol (CBP).  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 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 also an elected member of the Board of Directors of the Executives Association of New York.

Ms. Axelrad was also the recipient of the distinguished 2020 AILA Susan Quarles Service Award and a past recipient of AILA President's Commendation Award for Outstanding Service on the USCIS HQ liaison committee, June 2008-2010 & 2014, 2019. 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 the researcher and writer of US Immigration Laws: Working, Living and Studying in America (1999). She is a frequent writer for periodicals and speaker on immigration and nationality law and is honored to be a source of information and guidance for her colleagues in and outside of the immigration bar and for the NYC SHRM community.

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.


I graduated with a B.A. from Cornell University majoring in Government with concentration in International Relations.  Graduated with a J.D. from Syracuse University School of Law.   I am admitted in the State if New York, Appellate Division, First Judicial Department. 

I have been a Staff Attorney with the Attorney Grievance Committee 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 oversee the investigation of complaints filed against attorneys practicing in the area of immigration law.  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.  He is admitted in New York, New Jersey, and Ontario.  David is a former co-chair of the Federal Practice Committee and the Customs and Border Protection Committee of the New York Chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), and is a frequent speaker at AILA conferences, including the AILA Annual Conferences of 2012-2015 and 2017-2019.  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.

Thomas E. Moseley practices immigration law in Newark, New Jersey concentrating in federal court litigation and removal defense. He received his A.B. from Harvard College and his J.D. from Harvard Law School and previously served as Chief of the Immigration Unit in the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York. He is a past chair of the Immigration Section of the Federal Bar Association and has lectured on immigration before the Federal Bar Association, New Jersey ICLE, the Practicing Law Institute, and the American Immigration Lawyers Association (“AILA”). He is the recipient of AILA’s 2016 Jack Wasserman award for excellence in immigration 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.

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 the American Immigration Lawyer’s  (AILA) Administrative Litigation Task Force; AILA’s FOIA Strategy Committee; former chair and current member of AILA’s Ethics Committee; special counsel on immigration matters to the Departmental Disciplinary Committee, Appellate Division, First Department, New York; board member of Volunteers for Legal Services and board member of The 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 three AILA Presidential Commendations in 2010, 2016 and 2020.  Mr. Mehta is ranked highly by Who’s Who Legal – Corporate Immigration Law  and also by Chambers USA and Chambers Global in immigration law, among other rankings.