Melanie Walker assists clients throughout the world with their business-based temporary and permanent immigration status needs, dedicating a large portion of her practice to the EB-5 immigrant investor category. As part of the Firm's Global Immigration Group, Ms. Walker is based in the Chattanooga office and has a wide range of experience coordinating with other professionals in the disciplines of securities law, real estate, tax, health care, and corporate finance, to develop immigration-compliant offering documents and has represented investors, developers and regional centers with their I-924 and related filings. She has represented clients in successfully obtaining regional center and project approvals, and overcoming complex USCIS requests for evidence challenging both project-related and individual source of funds aspects of filings originated by others. She works closely with client representatives domestically and overseas to prepare clear and comprehensive funding documentation and has a wide foundation of diverse I-526 and I-829 filing experience.
In addition to her EB-5 practice, Ms. Walker provides strategic guidance and immigration counseling services to companies. These services include business immigration through investment and trade (E-1/E-2) and corresponding registration of companies with Consulates and Embassies abroad; labor certifications/PERM (including Special Handling and Supervised Recruitment cases); nonimmigrant and permanent resident petitions for religious workers (R-1/I-360); Blanket L and individual international transferee programs (L-1), including new office L-1 petitions; specialty occupations (H-1B, TN, E-3); extraordinary/exceptional workers (O-1, EB-1 and EB-2) and multinational manager petitions (EB-1); naturalization applications; immigrant and nonimmigrant visa processing; and other consular representations. She has also assisted companies with developing training programs to enable temporary employment for J-1 interns and researchers or for STEM graduates seeking extensions for work authorization under revised regulations governing STEM OPT status.
Ms. Walker's work with individual clients includes not only employment-related filings, but numerous petitions for family-based immigration benefits through marriage or adoption, including experience obtaining permanent residency for qualified individuals under provisions of VAWA, and as victims of criminal activity through the U-visa classification. She has advocated on behalf of her clients to achieve resolution on unduly lengthy filings, including interacting with governmental liaisons and in some cases, pursuing mandamus actions.
As a member of the Advocacy Department, Ms. Walker has represented clients in various types of litigation where she has aided in the defense of employment discrimination and ERISA claims, and assisted in responding to charges filed with the EEOC.
Prior to joining Baker Donelson, Ms. Walker was a law clerk to Chief Judge Curtis L. Collier in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee. During her clerkship, she provided extensive research and drafting support on decisions resolving various federal and state employment claims under FMLA, FLSA, ERISA, Title VII, Title VI and THRA. Ms. Walker worked as an immigration paralegal before attending law school and cultivated considerable experience serving clients with their employment and family immigration issues during her years in this position.
Ms. Walker has been the monthly editor of Immigration Update, a part of Baker Donelson's Labor & Employment Newsletter, since 2013. Recent articles include:
- "Entrepreneurs May Have a New Way to Start Up in the United States" (August 2016)
- "Visiting Canada? Better Pack Your eTA or Visa!" Baker Donelson Business Insights News (May 2016); reprint, Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce website (May 2016)
- "Extensions for Form I-9 and H-2B Emergency Processing; STEM OPT Rules Pack In more than Just 7 More Months; Shedding Light on the 'Same or Similar' Analysis" (April 2016)
- "H-1B Cap Season and a Cautionary Fairy Tale; Changing ESTA/VWP Questions Answered; Improvements to E-3, H-1B1, CW-1 and EB-1 Regulations" (February 2016)
- "Changes Ahead for Highly-Skilled Workers and a Stricter Visa Waiver Program" (January 2016)
- "Where is the Foreign Affairs Manual?" (December 2015)
- "E-Verify Makes History and Help with Hardship Waivers" (October 2015)
- "Time to Get Simeio-Compliant, Faster H-1Bs, a Permanent Resident Card Refresher and Increased Security Measures Expected in the Visa Waiver Program" (August 2015)
- "USCIS Elaborates on When to File Amendment Under Simeio" (June 2015)
- "H-1B Cap FY2016 and Aftermath, 'Doing Business' for Multinational Managers, myE-Verify Available Nationwide" (May 2015)
- "Helpful Guidance in a Tricky I-9 Situation, and a 'Known Employer' Program in Development" (February 2015)
- "Scams Abound, Getting Acquainted with the Business Visitor, and CBP Eases Your Next U.S. Entry" (January 2015)
- "More Questions for Travelers, and Carving Through the Definition of 'Specialized Knowledge' for Brazilian Chefs" (November 2014)
- "Time to Play the Lottery, New myE-Verify Website Provides Tools and an Education, Free Webinar on Form I-9 and new Blue Secure Ink" (October 2014)
- "Chinese EB-5 Applicants are Beginning to Form a Line, PERM Passwords, Changing Visa Fees" (September 2014)
- "Global Printing Problems for Immigrant Travel Visas, and More Road Signs on the Foggy PERM Highway" (August 2014)
- "Extraordinary Circumstances" Under the Child Status Protection Act, E-Verify Listens to You, and It's Time to Apply for Your H-1B Visa" (July 2014)
- Contributing Author − "Immigration Practice" (Juris Publishing Fifteenth edition)
- Panelist − "International Forum: Options for Students After Graduation," Lee University, Diversity Council (April 2012)
- Recognized as the 2015 Firm Associate of the Year
- Member – American Bar Association
- Member – Georgia Bar Association
- Member – Tennessee Bar Association
- Member – American Immigration Lawyers Association
- Tennessee, 2011
- Georgia, 2009
- U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee
- U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia
- University of Georgia School of Law, J.D., 2009, magna cum laude
- Roosevelt University, B.F.A. in Acting, 1994