“As an immigrant from Colombia with three decades of practicing corporate immigration from varied venues, I can appreciate and respect different points of views, cultural nuances, business needs, professional goals and personal desires. It is for all of these reasons that I continue working in this fascinating and ever-changing world of corporate immigration.”

Maria is a Senior Counsel in the Dallas offices of Berry Appleman & Leiden LLP, focusing on advising and representing a large number of clients in a variety of industries, including, but not limited to financial services, technology, and information services. Over the course of her career, Maria has worked on both nonimmigrant and immigrant visa petitions, handled complex PERM applications, and I-140 Immigrant visa petitions for all employment-based classifications. She offers a breadth of experience in consular processing at the numerous U.S. Consulates overseas serving as the trusted advisor counseling and preparing clients for a streamlined consular processing experience.

Maria has a broad range of experience working with companies from Fortune 100 to smaller and mid-sized companies. Immediately, prior to joining Berry Appleman and Leiden LLP, Maria worked for close to 15 years with entrepreneurs, startup companies and universities in South Florida managing their immigration programs, while working closely with their employees. Before moving to Miami, Florida, Maria worked in New York for over 18 years in the immigration arena, starting her career in 1987, as a Trial Attorney in the DOJ Attorney General’s Honor Law Graduate program at the New York legacy Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) offices. Thereafter, she worked at a number of firms’ immigration practice groups serving large hospital groups, manufacturing and specialty chemicals corporations as well as the banking industry. Maria then went on to serve as Immigration Counsel to one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies for over 2 years which was followed with many years working at another New York based immigration practice group.

Additionally, Maria has helped the immigrant community in South Florida on a number of pro bono projects, including the processing of Special Immigrant Juvenile (SIJ) cases, provisional waivers, and family-based petitions as well as conducted legal screenings for naturalization applicants. Maria is fluent in Spanish and has an advanced knowledge of French.

Education & Admissions

Brooklyn Law School – Juris Doctorate
Brooklyn Law School Minority Opportunities Fellowship
Tulane University School of Law
Summer 1985 Institute on Comparative Law, Grenoble, France
New York University – Bachelor of Arts
NYU in Paris Graduate Summer Program, 1983
Completed Masters Courses in French Language & Civilization, 1985
Admitted to: State Bar of New York

Memberships

American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), S. Florida, Texas and NY Chapters
Board Member, S. Florida AILA Chapter
Immigration and Nationality Committee Secretary - NYC Bar Association, 1992-1995

Recognition

Edward L. Dubroff Memorial Award - AILA, June 1987
Outstanding Writing in the Field of Immigration and Nationality Law

Professional Accomplishments

Speaker, "Practice Pointers and Updates on Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and Employment-Based Adjustment of Status (AOS) to Membership," South Florida American Immigration Lawyer’s Luncheon, Miami (April 17, 2019)
Speaker, “School’s Out – The J-1, F-1, and M-1 Panel,” 40th Annual South Florida American Immigration Lawyers Association Law Update, Miami (February 28, 2019)
Speaker, “Permanent (Immigrant Visas) Part II: Employment-Based,” PINCUS Professional Education, Immigration 101 South Florida Conference, Fort Lauderdale, FL (October 18, 2018)
Speaker, “Working Visas,” PINCUS Professional Education, Immigration 101 South Florida Conference, Fort Lauderdale, FL (October 18, 2018)
Speaker, "New DHS Rule’s Impact on H-IB Petitions, Grace Periods, and Annual Caps: Practical Insights on Mastering Filing Requirements Ahead of April 1 H-1B Petition Filing Deadline," BLR webinar (February 7, 2017)
Published, 10.29.2015 "Choosing the Right Entertainment Industry Work Visa," Law360
Published, 10.12.2015 "Visas For Latin American Professionals Available at U.S. Consulates Overseas," Daily Business Review, Miami, Florida
Published, 08.14.2015 "Immigration Law for Startups: Best Practices, Prime Options, and Common Pitfalls," JD Supra Perspectives
Published, 05.22.2015 "USCIS to Accept Employment Authorization Applications from Certain H-4 Dependent Spouses," Carlton Fields Jorden Burt Web Article
Published, 02.27.2015 Co-Author, "Key Employment and Immigration Issues Facing Banks Today," Law360
Speaker, ACIP, ACEC, AILA, HHRA, LORMAN – private organizations, and immigration training sessions and presentations (2003 – 2006)