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Basic Immigration Law 2015


Speaker(s): Barbara Camacho, Cora-Ann V. Pestaina, Cyrus D. Mehta, David Grunblatt, Deborah J. Notkin, Gayle S. Oshrin, Julie E. Dinnerstein, Karin Wolman, Linda Kenepaske, Mark R. von Sternberg, Matthew L. Guadagno, Phyllis A. Coven
Recorded on: Mar. 12, 2015
PLI Program #: 58873

Cora-Ann V. Pestaina is a Partner at Cyrus D. Mehta and Partners PLLC (CDMA) 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, Automobile Manufacturing and Design. Ms. Pestaina regularly counsels clients regarding temporary employment-based nonimmigrant visas and permanent residence sponsorship for their foreign national employees. She also represents artists and investors.

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 three consecutive terms as co-chair of the New York Chapter’s Department of Labor Committee and is currently co-chairing 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, http://www.cyrusmehta.com/, and the firm's blog, The Insightful Immigration Blog. She has been a featured speaker on various business immigration panels. She was the discussion leader on a panel at the AILA New York Chapter Immigration Law Symposium in 2011 regarding labor certifications under PERM.

She was included in Chambers USA, which identifies the world’s leading lawyers and law firms and she has also been included in the 20th Edition of The Best Lawyers in America.


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 2018 and is also ranked in Chambers USA and Chambers Global 2018 in immigration law, among other rankings.


Linda Kenepaske has been representing private and corporate clients in all aspects of immigration law in her New York City based practice for more than 25 years.  Linda has served as chair and member of many local and national AILA committees, was previously Chair of the Immigration and Nationality Law Committee of the New York City Bar, serves on the Federal Bar Association Immigration Law Section Advisory Board,  and lectures frequently on a variety of immigration topics. She is AV rated and has been selected as a “Super Lawyer” since 2009.


Phyllis A. Coven officially entered on duty as District Director for the New York District Office on March 24, 2014 following two years of service as the District Director of the Los Angeles District Office (March 2012-2014). 

Background Experience and Educational Information

Ms. Coven has two decades of experience working for both the federal government and international organizations leading a wide range of immigration and refugee initiatives.  She has worked on numerous migration emergencies and is one of the few members of the Department who has worked for USCIS, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the Department of Justice (DOJ), as well as the United High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

Ms. Coven began her federal service as a Deputy Associate Attorney General at the U.S. Department of Justice where she was responsible for the immigration portfolio (1993-95). She later served as the Director of the INS Office of International Affairs (1995-98), where she was the key policy and operational official responsible for implementing the reform of the United States Asylum System, and managing numerous, multifaceted immigration service and enforcement programs and initiatives.  She served as the primary point of contact with the National Security Council for the Department of Justice and INS in handling the Haitian and Cuban boat emergencies in the mid-90s. She played a pivotal role in the Cuban Migration Talks, in creating the first Regional Consultative Process on Migration, and in establishing unprecedented cooperation with Mexico and Central American governments on returns.

Ms. Coven has extensive experience working overseas in the migration arena.  She served as Officer in

Charge of the INS Office in Johannesburg, South Africa (1998-2001) and as Field Office Director, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services in Amman, Jordan (2008-09).  She was recruited by UNHCR to serve on a special secondment from the Department (Geneva, 2002-2004).  As a Senior Advisor on Resettlement her role was to institutionalize and enhance the use of as Resettlement as a Durable Solution.  She is credited with having created a Group Methodology for Resettlement which now accounts for more than one half of the referrals UNHCR makes to resettlement partners.  She also served as a Technical Migration Specialist to the International Organization for Migration in Geneva and Africa (2005-09), teaching and establishing capacity building initiatives throughout Africa and the Middle East.  Ms. Coven returned to the Federal Government in 2009 to head up the Office of Detention Policy and Planning for the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the office established to design and oversee implementation of detention reform.


Barbara Camacho is Pro Bono Counsel at Fragomen, Del Rey, Bernsen & Loewy, LLP. As Pro Bono Counsel, Barbara is responsible for managing the firm’s pro bono initiatives throughout the United States.  She has overall responsibility for coordinating and mentoring Fragomen attorneys in the United States in their pro bono representation of clients in removal proceedings, asylum, and applications for a variety of available immigration benefits. She is also responsible for developing and providing training to volunteer attorneys, supervising and litigating pro bono cases, and acting as the firm’s liaison to various non-profit legal service providers with which the firm partners. Barbara is a frequent panelist on a variety of immigration issues, including removal defense and children’s immigration issues before bar associations, community groups and child protective agency personnel.

Previously, as the Fragomen Fellow at the City Bar Justice Center, Barbara directed the Center’s Immigrant Outreach Project, which included the Varick Removal Defense Project. She worked to expand the Justice Center’s recruitment, training and mentoring of pro bono attorneys from leading law firms to address the crisis in lack of counsel for detained immigration cases in the New York metropolitan area. Barbara served as a mentor to pro bono attorneys in addition to providing direct representation to immigrant clients, both detained and non-detained. She developed, supervised and strengthened pro bono immigration outreach clinics and activities to benefit the community at large.

Barbara Camacho, graduated from Drew University, B.A., 2000 and received her J.D. from Seton Hall University School of Law. She is admitted to the practice of law in New York,  New Jersey, Third Circuit, Second Circuit,  and the U.S. Supreme Court.  


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.


Deborah J. Notkin is a partner in the firm of Barst Mukamal & Kleiner LLP and maintains a large international immigration and nationality practice.  During her 25 years in practice, she has acquired a nationally recognized expertise in business immigration matters. Ms. Notkin is the lead attorney at Barst Mukamal & Kleiner LLP for the PERM Unit and maintains a corporate client base spanning all business immigration matters.

She is a past president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), 2005-2006 and serves on its Board of Governors. Within AILA, she has held numerous leadership positions including Chair of the National Labor Liaison Committee, Chair of the Vermont Service Center Committee, Chair of AILA’s Interagency Committee and New York Chapter Chair.  She served  also as the Co-chair of the New York Chapter Committee on the Unauthorized Practice of Law.

For the past seven years, Human Resource Executive has named Ms. Notkin one of the 20 most powerful business immigration attorneys in the U.S.  In June 2010, Ms. Notkin received the American Immigration Lawyers Media Award for her work in advocating for reasonable immigration laws.  She is listed in Best Lawyers in America; the International Who is Who of Corporate Immigration Lawyers, and Chambers USA as recommended immigration counsel.  New York Super Lawyers has listed her as one of the top immigration attorneys in New York and one of the overall top women attorneys in New York City.

Deborah has served as the Chair of AILA’s Media Advocacy Committee and on AILA’s Labor Liaison Committee.  As an advocate for positive immigration reform, Deborah Notkin has appeared on many television and radio programs and has addressed many religious and business organizations. She remains a resource and occasional commentator for MSNBC, CNBC and Fox News regarding immigration legislation and related issues.

A noted expert in business immigration she has been a lecturer for many years at the Practicing Law Institute’s (PLI) annual Immigration Law Institute, PLI’s Basics Seminar, the New York State Bar Association’s bi-annual immigration seminar and AILA’s Annual and regional conferences. She has also been a presenter at many different venues including the American Council of International Personnel (ACIP), the Pacific Chapter and New York Chapter of the US Mexico Chamber of Commerce and the Global Independence Organization.


Karin Wolman is Principal of the Law Office of Karin Wolman, PLLC, serving businesses of all sizes, non-profit organizations and individuals, across industries from healthcare and the sciences, academia, finance and technology, to the performing arts and entertainment, fine and graphic arts and new media, culinary arts, fashion and beauty, architecture and design. Ms. Wolman is a frequent speaker at local and national conferences on topics in immigration law ranging from aliens of extraordinary ability to naturalization, for organizations including the American Immigration Lawyers Association, the Practising Law Institute, New Jersey Institute of Continuing Legal Education, and New York State Bar Association. Ms. Wolman has been recognized among the top 5% of attorneys in the New York Metro area by SuperLawyers, and has a 10/10 “Superb” rating on Avvo. A graduate of Columbia University and UCLA School of Law, she worked at the Brooklyn Academy of Music when the O & P visa categories were first introduced. She has served since 2002 as moderator of the AILA InfoNet forum on O & P visas, as well as other forums, and numerous local committees for the New York chapter of AILA.


Gayle Oshrin practices employment and family immigration in New York City with Wormser, Kiely, Galef & Jacobs. She was formerly a Senior Diplomatic Legal Advisor for the NYC Commission for the UN, Consular Corps and Protocol. She has long been active in the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) on both national and chapter levels. She is currently an elected Director on AILA’s Board of Governors. In 2007, she received AILA’s Joseph Minsky Award for outstanding accomplishments in immigration law.


Julie E. Dinnerstein is a graduate of Columbia College and Columbia Law School where she served as an editor on the Columbia Law Review.  Prior to opening a private practice, Julie worked at Sanctuary for Families for over fifteen years where she helped to develop the Immigration Intervention Project’s team of attorneys and paralegals from a department of one (herself) to a thriving four-borough practice with over fifteen full-time staff members representing immigrant victims of domestic violence, human trafficking and related gender-based harms in a variety of immigration matters.  In addition to her private practice, Julie works with the City University of New York’s Citizenship Now project where she continues to serve low income New Yorkers.  Julie's past experience includes working at the New York Immigration Coalition and Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton and clerking for the Honorable Jack B. Weinstein.  She has written extensively on immigration options for immigrant victims of domestic violence.


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.


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.