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An Interview with Original Peace Bridge NAFTA Officer Samuel Tiranno

After serving more than 33 years as an immigration inspector, it comes as no surprise that our NAFTA paralegal, Samuel Tiranno, has a vast understanding of employment-based visa categories. Mr. Tiranno first began his career in immigration in 1973 with the Buffalo District Office of Immigration & Naturalization Services (INS). He then went on to become an immigration inspector at the Buffalo Peace Bridge in 1975.
In 1989, Mr. Tiranno had the rare opportunity to become one of the first Free Trade officers with the creation of the Free Trade Agreement between the United States and Canada. Mr. Tiranno became the first NAFTA officer at the Peace Bridge after the treaty was brought into effect on Jan. 1, 1994. To prepare for this role, he received extensive training in Washington, D.C. and St. Albans, VT. Upon completing his training and returning to Buffalo, Mr. Tiranno was considered an expert Free Trade officer.
Mr. Tiranno recalls that when he was first appointed, NAFTA-related cases were minimal, but as individuals and attorneys became familiar with the regulations his workload increased dramatically. “I recall many days when I would arrive at work at 7:30 a.m. and find six or seven immigration lawyers or applicants in the waiting room,” Mr. Tiranno said. “There were many days that my schedule was completely filled with applicants, one right after the other.”
While rules and regulations seem to change frequently in other areas of government, Mr. Tiranno notes that in his area of work the processes for handling applications seemed to change more than the regulations. Mr. Tiranno has witnessed one major change since his retirement in 2008: “A TN applicant can now be admitted for up to three years, whereas when I worked for the immigration service that regulation was set up at one year.” This change has eliminated the need for TN applicants to reapply year after year.
As you would imagine, after three decades as an immigration inspector, Mr. Tiranno experienced some very interesting situations. One scenario seemed to repeat itself often. Mr. Tiranno remembers, “A standard question I used to ask applicants was if they had ever been arrested or refused admission to the United States, and you would be amazed how many people responded by saying, ‘I don’t know.’ ”
As the NAFTA paralegal for Berardi Immigration Law, Mr. Tiranno is now on the other side of things as he helps to analyze, prepare and present NAFTA applications for our clients at the Peace Bridge. After his retirement, he felt it was a natural transition to share his knowledge and experience. This gives Mr. Tiranno a rare advantage. “I still witness the same types of conflicts between attorneys and officers,” he said, and “I’m in the unique position of being able to anticipate some of those conflicts and resolve them quickly.”
Our attorneys and paralegals are vastly experienced in preparing thorough and well-documented applications for our clients. If you are interested in applying for a nonimmigrant business category visa, please contact our office to schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys today!