American Immigration Lawyers Association Proves Worthy

Curious about New England’s premiere immigration lawyer association?  I was too.

Recently, Orr & Reno’s Paula Violo and I attended the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) New England Chapter’s annual conference in Boston at the Federal Reserve.  AILA is the nation’s premier membership association for immigration law professionals, with over 15,000 members across the country.  AILA’s New England Chapter is no small potatoes either: It boasts over 700 members from Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island, and it recently received AILA’s Platinum Award in recognition of the Chapter’s service and leadership.  The Chapter’s 2018 Conference was award-worthy, too, in our opinion.

We attended panels on topics ranging from ethics to I-9s, H-1Bs to I-485s, and ports to PERMs.  If this summary sounds like alphabet soup to you, read on for a run-down of just some of our key takeaways from the day.

One of the most interesting discussions of the day was during a panel on current admission issues at ports, led by AILA professionals, Leslie Holman, Danielle Rizzo, and Ramon Curiel.  Panelists described the differences in procedure at ports on the Northern and Southern borders.  Under 8 C.F.R. 292.5(b) there is no right of representation during admission at a port, regardless of the geographic location, provided that the client has not been taken into custody and is not subject to a criminal investigation.  Historically at some of the ports on the Northern border, lawyers were allowed to accompany their immigrant clients through the admission process.  This was never the case at the Southern border.  And today at the Northern border, fewer ports of entry allow lawyers to accompany their clients.  This is just one of the many differences in border culture between the North and South.

Other juicy tidbits from the day include:

  • Attorneys who keep work email on their smartphone risk the confidentiality of that material (and its corresponding attorney-client privilege) whenever they cross the border because Customs and Border Patrol agents are free to search anyone’s belongings, including smartphones. A best practice for any attorney is to remove the work email account from the phone before crossing the border or store all work-related content in the cloud, not on your phone.
  • For H1-Bs there is like to be heightened scrutiny from U.S. C.I.S. regarding the definition of “specialty occupation.” To better understand H1-Bs, check this out.
  • I-9s are a lurking source of liability for employers who don’t ensure accuracy in completion and adequate protection of personal information. The best advice for employers may be to complete a self-audit before ICE performs an inspection.

All in all, Paula and I had a great time deepening our knowledge of developments in immigration law.  We’re already getting excited for AILA’s national conference in June.

About the Author: Laura Hartz

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