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Joel Stewart on PERM Labor Certification

Running in Overdrive

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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 the clients I represent are Brazilians, and that I represent the Brazilian Consulate in Miami.

You might ask yourself what does Brazil have to do with PERM? The link between Brazil and PERM is logical, but you have to look beneath the surface to understand it. The fact is that each country in the world has its own approach to come to the U.S. Since Brazilians do not have E visas, they cannot apply for E-2 visas as many Europeans do. Central Americans, Cubans and Haitians usually come to the USA clandestinely, by boat or foot, and obtain special immigration benefits from the U.S. Government. This is usually parole status or TPS. Furthermore, Colombians and others have frequently requested asylum, a long shot and possibly frivolous for Brazilians.

As you can see, Brazilians, are shut out from these popular immigration opportunities, so they gravitate towards employment based immigration cases like PERM! Over the years, we have represented many Brazilians (and Portuguese) and prepared Labor Certification cases for them.

Another question is how I got to work with Brazilians anyway, since my former specialty was Russian. (I was a Russian language teacher from 1966 to 1980). This occurred because of several 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 to the U.S. beginning in the 1980's was timely for me, since I had graduated from Law School in 1979 and by 1983 I 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 visit. 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, Latins and Americans 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 Booth. I am looking forward to meeting you there.

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