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Brazilian Chef Fights Battles USCIS to have his L-1B Visa Approved

International corporations who would like to bring employees with specialized skills into the United States from overseas utilize one of two visa categories, the L-1A or the L-1B. The L-1A is limited to executives and individuals who will act in a managerial capacity and may have achieved higher education in the field of expertise. The L-1B visa is less concerned with education and focuses on employees with certain specialized skills or knowledge particular to their specific field.

In recent news, a Brazilian restaurant chain, based in Dallas, Texas, Fogo de Chao, has been battling to bring skilled and genuine Brazilian churrasqueiro chefs to work at their restaurants located throughout the United States. The corporation has hit a road block with the Department of Homeland Security, USCIS, who ultimately makes the decision regarding the viability of the L-1A and L-1B visas. The restaurant chain applied for an L-1B petition for Rones Gasparetto, a Brazilian churrasqueiro, who worked in Brazil as a chef.   The petition was initially denied by USCIS who did not agree with Fogo de Chao, that Mr. Gasparetto established that he had the specialized knowledge, required to have such a visa issued.

A Brazilian churrasqueiro restaurant, is traditionally known for serving an all-you-can eat menu of barbequed specially seasoned meats, 16 selections in all. The Fogo de Chao chain has brought this form of Brazilian dining to the United States in recent years and have opened restaurants throughout the country. The gaucho chef, who is responsible for cooking and flavoring the meats is the key ingredient to the unique quality of the meat that is served.   The chefs, who are employed by in all of the Fogo de Chao locations wear the traditional costume of the gaucho. The ethnic costume consists of billowing pants, typically worn for horseback riding, a leather belt, cotton shirt, with a handkerchief tied around the chef’s neck. These gauchos, trained in Brazil, on how to precisely prepare and cut the meat they are serving, ceremoniously greet the guests and present the meat choices tableside. A diner choses the meat based on cut and temperature.

The case denial was appealed and the appellate court affirmed the decision of USCIS, denying the L-1B visa to Mr. Gasparetto. The attorneys for Fogo de Chao did not accept the denial, but furthered the appeal to the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.   The Appeals Court found that the Department of Homeland had erred in their denial of Gasparetto’s visa. The District Court held that Mr. Gasparetto had attended a very intensive training program for gaucho chefs, which gave him the specialized skill required. Luckily for the Fogo de Chao chain, this higher court reversed the district court’s denial on Tuesday and the case has since been remanded back to the Department of Homeland Security, USCIS, with instructions to have the Appeal Office’s order vacated. Mr. Gasparetto will have another opportunity to present his case before USCIS and hope for a more favorable outcome this time around. A delicious opportunity for all!