Debra focuses on employment-based immigration for businesses and academic institutions, preparing H-1B, TN, E-3, E-2, L-1, O-1, and other non-immigrant petitions as well as NIW and EB-1 immigrant petitions. She has extensive knowledge regarding F-1 students and J-1 Exchange Visitors through her experiences at four different universities throughout the past 17 years. Most recently she served as the Assistant Director for the Office of International Services at the University of Pittsburgh. In this role she led the Employment Team of Immigration Specialists who work with nearly 2000 international scholars and employees as well as Pitt department administrators. She helped to guide initiatives and efforts to advocate for international scholars and employees and assisted in shaping how OIS could best educate the Pitt community on cross-cultural matters.
At both the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University, she served as a Designated School Official (DSO) and an Alternative Responsible Officer (ARO) with authorization to access the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Student & Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS). While Manager of International Student and Scholar Services at Kent State University in Ohio, she was the Primary Designated School Official (PDSO) and the Responsible Officer (RO) for the F-1 and J-1 programs.
She has presented on numerous academic-related immigration issues at professional conferences locally, regionally and nationally. She also served two years as the NAFSA: Association of International Educators Regulatory Ombuds for NAFSA’s Region VI. In this position she provided case intervention and regulatory problem solving as a liaison with USCIS and engaged in practice advocacy for F-1 student issues.
Debra holds a Bachelor’s degree in Public Relations and a Master’s degree in Organization Development. She began her adventure in international affairs in the late 1990s serving as a volunteer chaperone and host for ESL student excursions and activities. She went on to become an international student & scholar advisor in higher education before becoming an immigration paralegal focusing on employment-based cases.