Meet Kristopher Jay Banzon: Highly-skilled, award-winning electrical lineman. Reliable colleague. Brave hero. Our country needs more people like him.
Kris keeps the power lines working during disasters. He fixes power lines while hanging at the end of a cable attached to a helicopter. His work is in the national interest. He’s a hero. What’s in the national interest if not protecting families and businesses and keeping the power lines up during disasters?
Last month, we were thrilled to inform Kris that USCIS approved his EB-2 NIW (National Interest Waiver) green card. This is what gets me excited about immigration law—working with heroes like Kris, which our country needs now more than ever.
Northern California Firestorm
In the early-morning hours of Oct. 9, 2017, a fire forced police to shut down the roads. A few hours later, Kris and his colleague were called to Sonoma County to begin replacing burned transmission poles and restore power to the area. “It was devastating to see all the damage,” Kris recalls. Breathing was difficult amid the heat and ashes. Kris and his colleague worked through the day and night and into the next day—nearly 40 hours straight. They took a brief rest and then returned to work. Kris and his fellow linemen worked 16- to 20-hour days for nearly a month until all repairs were made.
“I worked on a lot of power restoration projects in the Philippines due to typhoons, but this fire was more devastating than anything I had seen before,” says Kris. “The linemen I worked with under these tough conditions and hazardous environment made me proud to be part of our crew.”
Kris earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering in the Philippines. But due to heavy competition for jobs among electrical engineering graduates, Kris took a job as a skilled laborer at National Transmission Corp., the government agency that maintains the power transmission network in the Philippines. Six months into the job, he became a lineman, installing and repairing high-powered electrical lines and systems. He quickly rose within the ranks of the company. A regional award and recognition followed.
Soon, Kris moved to Canada to continue his work as a lineman. Later, he became a Canadian citizen.
Eventually, Kris was offered a position at the Pacific Gas & Electric Co. in California. He was offered a TN (Treaty National) visa for Canadians, a nonimmigrant—or temporary—visa available as part of NAFTA. Kris moved to Northern California where he continued to do the dangerous work of a lineman with the added danger of aerial work—maintaining hard-to-reach power lines by hanging from the end of a cable dangling from a helicopter.
The EB-2 NIW Green Card
The EB-2 NIW is reserved for individuals with exceptional ability in the sciences, arts or business whose work has substantial merit and national importance. Given that, most people assume that only internationally renowned research scientists with several patents to their name who obtain a job with a U.S. research institution can receive these green cards.
However, people who simply make a difference in their community can receive them as well. And unlike most green cards, an EB-2 NIW does not require an employer sponsor.
A Call for Action
Kris is an inspiration to us all. We are so happy that he and his family will be able to call the United States their home. If you know any other people who are making a positive contribution to our country and might qualify, please feel free to contact us. We’re happy to help!