Mayer Brown’s Global Mobility and Migration practice recently hosted the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) in honoring Charles “Charlie” Oppenheim for his dedicated public service over the past 43 years at the Department of State. Charlie is a legend in the field: he served as Chief of the Immigrant Visa Control and Reporting Division from 1998 to 2021, when he retired. In this role, Charlie was responsible for determining each month the number of people who could be granted U.S. legal permanent residence (green cards) in each family- and employment-based category. This meant calculating the maximum number of green cards that could be allocated to each country worldwide without exceeding the numerical limits based upon the statutory quotas and preference system set by Congress. To provide additional insights into the process and his predictions, Charlie broadcasted “Chats with Charlie” with the Consular Affairs Press Office every month. He also regularly provided analysis regarding reform proposals to White House and Congressional representatives.

Elizabeth (Liz) Stern, managing partner of Mayer Brown’s Washington DC office, delivered heartfelt remarks at the event, which was organized by AILA’s DC chapter. Lawyers from across the DC-Maryland-Virginia region attended the event, representing a broad range of firms and practices, including business, family and humanitarian immigration services. 

Charlie’s monthly updates were an invaluable resource for lawyers advising clients on the green card processing and strategy. Given the numerical limits set by Congress, the Department of State sets new cut-off dates each month to establish which individuals with approved employment- or family-based petitions are eligible to submit applications. Charlie’s task was not only to calculate these dates, but to explain any movements and trend lines to the public. These updates helped attorneys answer questions including when it would be possible for a client to submit an application, under which category a client should apply, and how long the client may have to wait before adjudication of the application.

Mayer Brown was proud to join AILA in honoring Charlie and to thank him for his public service. While Charlie himself is no longer hosting his monthly chats, the framework he established continues to provide critical information.  

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