AILA Public Statements, Press Releases

AILA Presents Charles Oppenheim with the Founders Award

6/15/22 AILA Doc. No. 22060256.
George Tzamaras
Belle Woods

WASHINGTON, DC - The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) recognizes Charles Oppenheim with the Founders Award, which is given from time to time to the person or entity having the most substantial impact on the field of immigration law or policy.

Charlie Oppenheim worked for the U.S. Department of State for over 43 years and was the Chief of the Immigrant Visa Control and Reporting Division in the Office of Domestic Operations from January 1998 through December 3, 2021, when he retired.

He was lauded by nominators as being not just an expert, but accessible, sharing his wisdom and knowledge over decades. “Even since his retirement, he continues to engage with AILA members, most recently attending an AILA EB-5 committee meeting and working with members of that committee on technical advice related to the EB-5 reauthorization legislation. Charlie is deserving of the Founders Award not only because of his remarkable government service, but his enduring partnership with the AILA community.”

As Chief of the Immigrant Control and Reporting Division, his main responsibility was the administration of the complex series of annual numerical limitations on immigrants, subdivided by preference category and country, which are set by the Immigration and Nationality Act. The decisions which he made in this regard resulted in applicants having used over nine million numerically controlled immigrant visas numbers. In addition, he regularly provided analysis and assessment of the impact of proposed legislation on visa availability and workload impact for overseas posts.

On a monthly basis he was responsible for determining the number of visas which could be made available in each numerically controlled visa category, and to each country on a worldwide basis. The goal was to have the issuance level through September come as close as possible to the applicable annual limit without exceeding it. The Division maintained a database containing workload statistics for immigrant and nonimmigrant visas issued at Foreign Service posts worldwide. It also compiled statistics on immigrant numbers provided to USCIS for adjustment of status cases in the numerically limited categories.

For years he provided AILA’s Visa Office liaison representative with an interview to answer questions regarding the latest published Visa Bulletin. In March 2021, that interview process evolved into a monthly YouTube “Chat with Charlie” hosted by the Consular Affairs Press Office.


The American Immigration Lawyers Association is the national association of immigration lawyers established to promote justice, advocate for fair and reasonable immigration law and policy, advance the quality of immigration and nationality law and practice, and enhance the professional development of its members.