On October 28, 2014 the U.S. Department of Homeland Security issued a policy memo regarding the effect of assisted reproductive technology (ART) on Immigration and the Acquisition of Citizenship under the INA (Immigration and Nationality Act) in an effort to shed light on the issue of genetic relationships between parents and children.

The memo outlines that under the INA, if a non-genetic gestational mother has carried and given birth to a child, and is also the child’s legal mother, that mother would possess the same legal status as that of a genetic legal mother’s under the Immigration and Nationality Act. This is groundbreaking news given that prior to this policy change, a genetic relationship between a U.S. Citizen parent and their child was required in order for the child to gain an immigration benefit and acquire citizenship at birth via their parents.

Under this policy for the purposes of immigration the following has changed:

  • A natural mother or father is a genetic parent or gestational parent
  • A natural mother of a child that has been worn out of wedlock is considered a non-genetic gestational mother only if the mother was the legal parent of the child at the time of their birth
  • A gestational mother can petition for their child even if she does not have a genetic relationship to the child. The only requirement that must be fulfilled is that the gestational mother be the child’s legal parent at the time of the child’s birth
  • Non-genetic gestational legal mothers who are US citizens can transfer their citizenship to their children at birth and after birth if all other citizenship and naturalization requirements have been met

For further guidance and legal advice please contact our office.


According to new reports released by the U.S. Border Patrol, the surge in Central Americans crossing into the United States is dropping at an alarming rate—approximately 60% fewer unaccompanied minors were apprehended during the month of August, in comparison to the summer months, a time when the migration crisis was in full effect in Central America. These unaccompanied minors make the perilous trek north from their Central American countries due to the violence they have encountered right at home.

The report suggests that the primary reason for the sudden drop is owed to the Mexican government’s crackdown on Central American immigrants. According to the report, increasing pressure on Mexico to instill effective deterrents has resulted in increased arrests and deportations of thousands of Central Americans, making it harder for such migrants to reach the American border.

Bowing to American pressure, the Mexican government recently announced a plan to militarize the southern border by placing federal forces along it. As part of these plans, the government will be setting up interior checkpoints, whereby authorities can inspect buses and vans carrying passengers into northern Mexico. Setting up checkpoint will also allow the authorities to ID passengers and question them. Additionally, Mexican authorities have forbidden migrants to board the infamous lumbering freight train known as ‘La Bestia,’ or the Beast in English. Many Central Americans and children have died while attempting to board such freight trains bound for the United States border. What does this mean for Central American immigrants journeying north? A longer and more dangerous journey ahead of them. According to the Mexican interior ministry, since the crackdown, approximately 30,000 Central Americans have been apprehended and sent back home; 20,000 of which were minors. Central Americans who have sought shelter from authorities in Mexico say that they are afraid of being turned in by Mexican authorities, according to news reports by NPR. Pro-immigrant activists argue that the work being done by Mexican authorities should be done by United States authorities which are better staffed and have better resources. Moreover, they argue, that despite the crackdown, nothing has changed in Central America. Central American countries remain impoverished, and innocent children are left to suffer the consequences of living in a country where impunity and violence run rampant. These critics argue that much more must be done and the issue is much more complex than the American and Mexican government are admitting. Critics insist that the issue is bilateral and humanitarian in nature. Congressional oversight will be necessary to tackle the issue.

Continue reading


From preparing clients for their citizenship and marriage interviews to successfully filing I-601A waivers and I-360 applications, Attorney Marie Puertollano Esq. is definitively a prized asset for our law office. Marie Puertollano specializes in the case processing of various types of applications with USCIS including the successful processing of H1-B’s, I-751 waivers, religious worker visas, asylum, I-601A waivers, F-1 reinstatement, B-2 tourist visitors, B-1 business visitors, H-3 trainees, I-360 abused spouses, etc.

Bio: Marie Puertollano was born and raised in France. She earned two Master Degrees in Law at California Western School of Law; one in France in Public Law and one in the United States in Comparative Law (LL.M). Marie Puertollano is fluent in French, English and Spanish. Marie has been with the law offices of Jacob Sapochnick since March 2012.

Marie developed a passion for the protection of immigrants’ rights, while being a social worker in Gainesville, GA. Marie worked with an organization helping battered women to obtain their visa and for an organization helping detained and non-detained people seeking cancellation of removal proceedings.

In her spare time she enjoys spending time with her husband and her son, swimming, biking, and dancing. She regularly serves food to the homeless and is a motivational speaker.

Prospective clients often ask our law office, how long does the adjustment of status to permanent resident usually take? At what point can I legally work in the United States? How can I obtain my social security number and driver’s license? When can I travel internationally?

Below is an approximate timeline that will give you an idea on what the current wait times are for the adjustment of status process, based on your marriage to a U.S. Citizen:



During the 2-3 month mark, the applicant will receive a very important document in the mail, known as the employment authorization card. The employment authorization card is important for a variety of reasons:

First, it allows the applicant to work in the United States legally.

Secondly, if Form I-131 (Application for Travel Document) was filed in conjunction with the I-765 (Application for Employment Authorization), the applicant can also travel internationally with their valid UNEXPIRED passport. Our office also recommends that the applicant have in their possession their original receipt notices and copy of their marriage certificate when traveling domestically and internationally.


You will know if you are eligible to travel internationally if your employment authorization card is issued with the following text on the bottom center of the card which says ‘Serves as I-512 Advance Parole’ . If the Employment Authorization card does not indicate on the bottom center that it also serves as an advance parole card, then you cannot travel internationally. It is strongly advised that you consult with an attorney before making any travel plans. In some circumstances, it is not advisable for the applicant to travel even with a valid passport and employment authorization/advance parole card combo, because the interview date comes very close to the issuance of such card. Re-scheduling an interview is possible but can delay the case significantly.

Thirdly, the employment authorization card allows the applicant to obtain their social security number by visiting their local social security office. Applicant’s can also mail the social security card application and supporting documents to the social security administration, but it is best to visit the office in person in order to expedite the process. Obtaining a social security number is important for tax, health care, and insurance purposes. To download the application and read the required supporting documentation  please click here.

Lastly, in addition, the applicant can obtain their state driver’s license once they have the employment authorization card in their possession. Please contact your local department of motor vehicles office to inquire about this process and the supporting documents that must be provided. The requirements vary by state.

The interview stage is naturally the most important part of the process. In the majority of cases the employment authorization/advance parole combo card is received by the applicant prior to the interview, but in some circumstances it may arrive after or very close to the interview notice.

It is very important to be well organized and well prepared for the interview. To read all about the interview stage please click here to go to our previous blog.  For legal representation and to schedule a consultation please visit our website. Remember to follow us on our social media platforms which you can access to the right of this page.

Creative Company Conference 2011

Start-up companies face several legal concerns when first starting out, from choosing the best legal entity option to drafting airtight contracts. Below is a list of some of the common legal concerns and pitfalls that start-up companies should consider and address when opening its doors in the United States.

Immigration and Visa Issues

The most important concern of any U.S. start-up company should be making sure that its founder can stay in the U.S. Without the presence of the founder, the company will suffer or even fail. Therefore, it is imperative that start-up company founders ensure that the proper immigration procedures have been followed and that a proper visa application has been submitted and approved. Hiring an immigration attorney offers you the best chance of success and alleviates the concern of a minor error delaying or causing a denial of your application. There are several immigration visa options available to entrepreneurs and business owners wishing to come to the U.S. It is important that you understand the benefits and downsides of each one and chose the best visa that fits you. In addition, the founder should keep track of the expiration date of his or her visa and request an extension as necessary.

Intellectual Property

Start-up companies need to address and protect their intellectual property at the very outset of their business. This avoids the prospect of getting a couple years into the company only to realize that it must change its name or the name of a popular product or service because another person realized the company is using a variation of their name and wishes to sue you. Therefore, you should trademark your company’s name and products at the beginning. You should also address any patent, service marks, or copyright concerns, if applicable to your start-up, for the same reasons.

Continue reading


If you are adjusting your status to permanent residency, based on your marriage to a United States citizen, chances are you are already thinking and may even be dreading your interview.

All green card applicants, who have filed Form I-485 Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, based on their marriage to a US citizen, can expect to receive an initial interview notice scheduling both the green card applicant and their US Citizen Spouse to appear at a local office on the date and time indicated on the appointment notice. The initial interview notice typically arrives in the applicant’s mailbox about 3-4 months from the receipt date. The actual interview takes place about one month after receiving the initial interview notice.

Many of our clients begin to wonder about the marriage interview early on and it is a reoccurring topic in our consultations with couples who are ready to start the process. Couples have asked us countless times ‘so are they going to ask me what side of the bed my spouse sleeps on, what color my spouse’s toothbrush is, or about the last time we were intimate.’ The answer to this question is no, not at the initial marriage interview. Like the thousands of couples who have already gone through the interview process, and the thousands more who will go through the very same process in the future, your interview will also be successful with the right preparation and representation.

Continue reading


By Lupe Lopez

Just a few weeks ago, Maria Elena came in to get information for her parents.  Her brother, a U.S. citizen, had just turned 21 and they wanted to know if the parents would be able to get their green cards when their son filed a petition for them.

While discussing the issues related to their parents’ case, we spoke to Maria Elena about her status as well.  We found that Maria Elena was 29 years old and had been in the U.S. since she was 5 years old.  She did attend school in the U.S. her entire life and was just a few credits short of fulfilling the requirements for her high school diploma when she had to drop out of high school due to pregnancy.

Maria Elena was now married to Jorge, her baby’s father but he, too, had entered the country illegally as a child and has not obtained legal status.  Jorge graduated two years before Maria Elena and was able to finish two years of community college before he had to stop going to school so he could support Maria Elena and the baby.  Even though Jorge had an Associate’s Degree in biology, he could not get a job.  His friends who had graduated with him were able to get jobs at local biotech firms, but he did not have a social security number or legal work authorization.  Both he and Maria Elena struggled to find consistent and meaningful work.

Continue reading


Start-up entrepreneurs who wish to come to the U.S. to open a business have several immigration options. It is important that you understand the requirements, benefits, and downsides of each and choose the one that best fits your situation.

B-1 Business Visa

A B-1 business visa is a non-immigrant visa issued to those who wish to enter the United States for a business purposes. You are eligible to apply for a B-1 visa if you want to consult with a business associates, participate in a required medical clerkship without any remuneration, embark on independent research which does not benefit any U.S. institution, or participate in educational, professional scientific or business conventions, seminars, or conferences.

The validity period for this visa will differ depending on your country of origin. If you are seeking entry into the U.S. for business reasons for the first time, you may be allowed to stay in the U.S. for a period of time long enough to enable you conduct your business. However, the maximum period of stay allowed per visit is 6 months. But you can also apply for another six-month extension if you needed. A B-1 visa can be used for multiple entries in so far as it has not expired.

There are certain tasks that you are and are not allowed to do while in the U.S. on a B-1 visa. If you are in the U.S. with a B-1 visa, you are allowed to negotiate business, discuss planned purchases or investment, solicit sales or investment, attend and participate fully in meetings, conduct business research, and interview and hire staff. You are not allowed to look for employment, run a business in the U.S., or to take part in sporting and entertainment events as a professional.

Continue reading


The O-1 visa is a great option for those who have a demonstrated record of extraordinary achievement in their field. In order to obtain an O-1 visa, one must be an alien with a proven track record of extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics. Proving that you are extraordinary in your field is not always an easy task. However, there are several steps you can take to help ensure that your application for an O-1 visa is approved.

Include all required documentation

First, you need to ensure that you completely and accurately fill out the O-1 visa application, Form I-129. Next, you need to make sure that you include in your application package all of the other required documentation, such as a written advisory opinion from a peer group, a copy of the written contract between you and your employer, and your itinerary. If you accidentally forget to include these documents, you risk having your application delayed or even denied.

Provide sufficient and convincing evidence

The most important step in filing your O-1 visa application, however, is including sufficient and convincing evidence that you are an alien of extraordinary ability in your field. The evidence you include needs to prove that you have received a major, internationally-recognized award or, if you have not done so, you need to prove at least three other listed achievements.

Continue reading