Sandra Calles, PhD

Dr. Sandra Calles is a psychologist, educator, life coach, mentor and activist. Her passion is to advocate for causes she believes in, teach about mental health topics, and guide others, so they may achieve success in their personal and career endeavors.

She has over 11 years of experience as a mental health professional having worked at various mental health facilities. Most recently she was a therapist at Los Angeles Harbor College at the Life Skills Center. While at Harbor College, she helped many students overcome emotional obstacles so they could transfer to universities and meet their career goals. She devotes her personal and professional life to political causes, and activities that promote mental health, women’s issues, the empowerment of Latinas through education, business ownership, financial literacy and political engagement. Dr. Sandra is a graduate of California State University, Dominguez Hills, earning both a BA in Human Services and an MA in Clinical Psychology. She earned her doctorate from Saybrook University in Psychology, where she developed a treatment modality from her research on survivors of sudden cardiac death. The treatment plan known as PROSPER, is an acronym detailing a healing plan that can be applied to survivors of various traumas and is the underpinning for the work she does with her clients..... Continue Reading

General M-A Professional News

Mexican and Central American Immigrants in the United States

K Brick, AE Challinor… – 2011
… immigrants.32 Second-generation Central Americans also are more likely to have a bachelor’s,
graduate, or professional degree than … Significantly, second-generation Mexican American women
are more likely to be employed (62 percent) than their first-generation counterparts
Link to article

Mexican and Canadian NAFTA Professional Worker


North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) creates special economic and trade relationships for the United States (U.S.), Canada and Mexico. The nonimmigrant NAFTA Professional (TN) visa allows citizens of Canada and Mexico, as NAFTA professionals, to work in the U.S. in a prearranged business activity for a U.S. or foreign employer. Permanent residents, including Canadian permanent residents, are not able to apply to work as a NAFTA professional.
How Can Professionals from Mexico and Canada Work in the U.S.?

Professionals of Canada or Mexico may work in the U.S. under the following conditions:

* Applicant is a citizen of Canada or Mexico;
* Profession is on the NAFTA list;
* Position in the U.S. requires a NAFTA professional;
* Mexican or Canadian applicant is to work in a prearranged full-time or part-time job, for a U.S. employer (see documentation required). Self employment is not permitted;
* Professional Canadian or Mexican citizen has the qualifications of the profession.

Note: The application requirements for citizens of Canada and Mexico, shown below are different.
Requirements for Canadian Citizens

Canadian citizens usually do not need a visa as a NAFTA Professional, although a visa can be issued to qualified TN visa applicants upon request. A Canadian citizen without a TN visa can apply at a U.S. port of entry. Learn about requirements and more on the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) website and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website. Canadian citizens can also review information regarding TN visas through U.S. Embassy Ottawa’s website.

When Does a Canadian NAFTA Professional Need a Visa? A Canadian residing in another country with a non-Canadian spouse and child would need a visa to enable the spouse and child to be able to apply for a visa to accompany or join the NAFTA Professional, as a TD visa holder. Canadians applying for a visa will follow the same documentation requirements as shown in the sections Mexican Citizens, Applying for a TN Visa, and Required Documentation.
Requirements for Mexican Citizens

Mexican citizens require a visa to request admission to the U.S. (A USCIS approved petition is not required.)
Applying for a TN Visa

NAFTA applicants must meet specific requirements to qualify for a NAFTA Professional Worker (TN) visa under immigration law. The consular officer will determine whether you qualify for the visa. Applicants may apply at consular sections around the world for a NAFTA professional (TN) visa. As part of the visa application process, an interview at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate is required for visa applicants from age 14 to 79, with few exceptions. Persons age 13 and younger, and age 80 and older, generally do not require an interview, unless requested by the U.S. Embassy or Consulate. Making your appointment for an interview is the first step in the visa application process. The waiting time for an interview appointment for applicants can vary, so early visa application is strongly encouraged. Visa wait times for interview appointments and visa processing time information for each U.S. Embassy or Consulate worldwide is available on our website at Visa Wait Times, and on most U.S. Embassy or Consulate websites. Visit the U.S. Embassy or Consulate website where you will apply for your visa to find out how to schedule an interview appointment, pay the fees and any other instructions.

During the visa application process, usually at the interview, an ink-free digital fingerprint scan will be quickly taken. Some visa applications require further administrative processing, which takes additional time after the visa applicant’s interview by a Consular Officer.
Required Documentation

Each applicant for a TN visa must adhere to the procedure as explained below:

* Online Nonimmigrant Visa Electronic Application, Form DS-160. Visit our DS-160 webpage to learn more about the DS-160 online process.
* A passport valid for travel to the U.S. and with a validity date at least six months beyond the applicant’s intended period of stay in the U.S. (unless country-specific agreements provide exemptions).
* One (1) 2×2 photograph. See the required photo format explained in Nonimmigrant Photograph Requirements. A photograph is not required if you are applying in Mexico.
* Letter of Employment in the U.S. Additionally, the applicant’s employer in the U.S. must provide an employment letter that includes the following:
o The letter must indicate that the position in question in the U.S. requires the employment of a person in a professional capacity, consistent with the NAFTA Chapter 16, Annex 1603, Appendix 1603.d.1.
o The applicant must present evidence of professional employment to satisfy the Consular Officer of your plans to be employed in prearranged business activities for a U.S. employer(s) or entity(ies) at a professional level. Part-time employment is permitted. Self-employment is not permitted. An employment letter or contract providing a detailed description of the business activities may be provided from the U.S. or foreign employer, and should state the following:
o Activity in which the applicant shall be engaged and purpose of entry;
o Anticipated length of stay;
o Educational qualifications or appropriate credentials demonstrating professional status;
o Evidence of compliance with DHS regulations, and/or state laws; and
o Arrangements for pay.
o Although not required, proof of licensure to practice a given profession in the U.S. may be offered along with a job offer letter, or other documentation in support of a TN visa application.

What are the Required Visa Fees?

* Nonimmigrant visa application processing fee – For current fees for Department of State government services select Fees. You will need to provide a receipt showing the visa application processing fee has been paid, when you come for your visa interview.
* Visa issuance fee – Additionally, if the visa is issued, there will be an additional visa issuance reciprocity fee, if applicable. Please consult the Visa Reciprocity Tables to find out if you must pay a visa issuance reciprocity fee and what the fee amount is.

Additional Documentation

Applicants must show their intended stay is temporary, without the intent to establish permanent residence. Additionally, applicants must demonstrate that they have the following:

* Education: The applicant’s employer must submit proof that the applicant meets the minimum education requirements or has the alternative credentials set forth in NAFTA agreement, chapter 16 appendix 1603.d.1. Evidence of professional qualifications may be in the form of degrees, certificates, diplomas, professional licenses, or membership in a professional organization. Degrees, diplomas, or certificates received from an educational institution outside the U.S., Canada, or Mexico must be accompanied by an evaluation by a reliable credentials evaluation service specializing in evaluating foreign documentation.
* Work Experience: Documentation proving to the applicant’s experience should be in the form of letters from former employers. If the applicant was self-employed, business records should be submitted proving that self-employment.

Is Licensure Required?

Requirements for NAFTA professional do not include licensure. Licensure to practice a given profession in the U.S. is a post-entry requirement subject to enforcement by the appropriate state or other sub-federal authority.
Spouses and Children

Spouses and children (unmarried children under the age of 21) who are accompanying or following to join NAFTA Professionals (TN visa holders) may receive a TD visa. Applicants must demonstrate a bona fide spousal or parent-child relationship to the principal TN visa holder. Dependents do not have to be citizens of Mexico or Canada. Spouses and children cannot work while in the U.S. They are permitted to study.

* Canadian citizen spouses and children do not need visas, but review the CBP website for the port of entry requirements:
* Spouse and children are not Canadian citizens – They must get a TD nonimmigrant visa from a U.S. Embassy or Consulate. They should review U.S. Embassy or Consulate website how to apply information.
* Mexican citizen spouses and children must apply for TD nonimmigrant visas at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate,
* Spouses or children following to join must show a valid I-94, thereby providing proof that the principal TN visa holder is maintaining his/her TN visa status.

Period of Stay and Extension of Stay

Review the USCIS website for NAFTA period of stay information. Canadian or Mexican citizens admitted as a NAFTA Professional may apply to USCIS for extension of stay.
NAFTA Professional Job Series List

For a complete list of professions with minimum education requirements and alternative credentials, see the NAFTA webpage, Appendix 1603.D.1 With some exceptions, each profession requires a baccalaureate degree as an entry-level requirement. If a baccalaureate is required, experience cannot be substituted for that degree. In some professions, an alternative criteria to a bachelor’s degree is listed. For some professions, experience is required in addition to the degree.
Additional Information

* No assurances regarding the issuance of visas can be given in advance. Therefore final travel plans or the purchase of nonrefundable tickets should not be made until a visa has been issued.
* Unless previously canceled, a visa is valid until its expiration date. Therefore, if the traveler has a valid U.S. visitor visa in an expired passport, do not remove the visa page from the expired passport. You may use it along with a new valid passport for travel and admission to the U.S.

Misrepresentation of a Material Facts, or Fraud

Attempting to obtain a visa by the willful misrepresentation of a material fact, or fraud, may result in the permanent refusal of a visa or denial of entry into the U.S. Classes of Aliens Ineligible to Receive Visas, provides important information about ineligibilities.
Visa Ineligibility/Waiver

Certain activities can make you ineligible for a U.S. visa. The Nonimmigrant Visa Application, Form DS-156, lists classes of persons who are ineligible under U.S. law to receive visas. In some instances an applicant who is ineligible, but who is otherwise properly classifiable as a visitor, may apply for a waiver of ineligibility and be issued a visa if the waiver is approved. Classes of Aliens Ineligible to Receive Visas provides important information about ineligibilities, by reviewing sections of the law taken from the immigration and Nationality Act.
Visa Denials

If the consular officer should find it necessary to deny the issuance of a TN visa, the applicant may apply again if there is new evidence to overcome the basis for the refusal. For additional information, select Denials to learn more.
Entering the U.S. – Port of Entry

Applicants should be aware that a visa does not guarantee entry into the U.S. The visa allows a foreign citizen to travel to a port-of-entry in the U.S., such as an international airport, a seaport or a land border crossing, and request permission to enter the U.S. CBP, U.S. immigration inspector will permit or deny admission to the U.S., and determine your length of stay in the U.S., on any particular visit. Form I-94, Record of Arrival-Departure, which notes the length of stay permitted, is validated by the immigration official. Form I-94, which documents your authorized stay in the U.S., is very important to keep in your passport. Additionally, as a Mexican citizen seeking entry as a NAFTA professional, you must present evidence of professional employment to satisfy the Immigration Officer of your plans to be employed in prearranged business activities for a U.S. employer(s) or entity(ies) at a professional level. To find out more detailed information about admissions and entry in the U.S., select Admissions to go to the CBP website.
Staying Beyond Your Authorized Stay in the U.S. and Being Out of Status

* It is important that you depart the U.S. on or before the last day you are authorized to be in the U.S. on any given trip, based on the specified end date on your Arrival-Departure Record, Form I-94. Failure to depart the U.S. will cause you to be out-of-status. Staying beyond the period of time authorized by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and being out-of-status in the U.S. is a violation of U.S. immigration laws, and may cause you to be ineligible for a visa in the future for return travel to the U.S. Select Classes of Aliens Ineligible to Receive Visas to learn more.
* Staying unlawfully in the U.S. beyond the date CBP officials have authorized, even by one day, results in your visa being automatically voided, in accordance with INA 222(g). Under this provision of immigration law, if you overstay on your nonimmigrant authorized stay in the U.S. your visa will be automatically voided. In this situation, you are required to reapply for a new nonimmigrant visa, generally in your country of nationality.

How Do I Extend My Stay?

Visitors who wish to stay beyond the date indicated on their Form I-94 are required to have approval by USCIS. See Extend Your Stay on the USCIS website.
How Do I Change My Status?

Some nonimmigrant visa holders, while present in the U.S., are able to file a request which must be approved by USCIS to change to another nonimmigrant category. See Change My Nonimmigrant Status on the USCIS website.

Important Note: Filing a request with USCIS for approval of change of status before your authorized stay expires, while you remain in the U.S., does not by itself require the visa holder to apply for a new visa. However, if you cannot remain in the U.S. while USCIS processes your change of status request, you will need to apply for a nonimmigrant visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad.
Further Visa Inquiries

* Questions on visa application procedures and visa ineligibilities should be made to the American consular office abroad by the applicant. Before submitting your inquiry, we request that you carefully review this web site and also the U.S. Embassy or Consulate website abroad. Very often you will find the information you need.
* If your inquiry concerns a visa case in progress overseas, you should first contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate handling your case for status information. Select U.S. Embassy or Consulate, and you can choose the Embassy or Consulate website you need to contact.

We Want You to Know

* Visa News

* Adoption Alerts

* Diversity Visa

* Visa Waiver Program (VWP)

* Iraqis & Afghans-SIV

* Business Visa Center

* Customer Service Statement to Visa Applicants

* Fraud Warning

* Privacy
* Copyright & Disclaimer
* Office of the Inspector General
* No Fear Act Data
* U.S. Department of State
* Other U.S. Government Information

Canadian Work Permits


Commercial interior designer earns award
David Burge / El Paso Times
Posted: 08/25/2009 12:00:00 AM MDT

Patty Holland-Branch, founder and CEO of Facilities Connection, stands inside her West Side office which showcases some of the office furniture and commercial design elements sold by her 22-year-old interior design company. (Victor Calzada / El Paso Times)
EL PASO — Patty Holland-Branch knows how to put together space, furniture, and color to make an office a nice place to work and also convey a company’s preferred image.

Those design skills have made Holland-Branch and her 22-year-old El Paso company, Facilities Connection, succeed in commercial interior design. But other skills have made the company click and grow.

“We always have to be re-creating ourselves. That’s how our business has survived,” said Holland-Branch, founder, owner, and CEO of the West Side company she started in 1987 in a West Side condo she shared with her children.

The company now has about 30 employees, including three other interior designers, and is headquartered at an acre site at 240 E. Sunset on the West Side.

Through the years, the company has diversified its services beyond traditional interior design. It now also sells, installs, and maintains furniture; provides move management, and offers information technology services. In the past few years, it also has shifted its customer base from mostly private companies, including the maquiladora industry, to a large focus on the military and other government agencies.

That shift, which required spending years learning the ins and outs of federal contracting, is responsible for the company’s revenues growing 411 percent from 2003 through last year, Holland-Branch said. She did not provide revenue numbers.

The success caught the attention of the Texas Association of Mexican American Chambers
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of Commerce, which earlier this month named Holland-Branch, 65, a native of Chihuahua City, Mexico, as Texas Hispanic Business Woman of the Year.

Cindy Ramos-Davidson, CEO of the El Paso Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, said the local chamber nominated Holland-Branch for the award because of her company’s longevity, and growth, but also because she figured out how to “re-engineer” the company to find new opportunities with the federal government. She also is focused on knowing her clients and how best to meet their needs, Ramos-Davidson said.

“There’s a difference between those who service their customers and those who really care about their customers,” as Holland-Branch does, Ramos-Davidson said.

Holland-Branch said her husband, Dave Branch, 62, president of the company, gets credit for helping the company move into the federal contracting arena.

Dave Branch said he focuses on much of the business management side of the company while his wife focuses more on the creative, and client-services side.

Holland-Branch, who said she’s always had a creative streak, said designing some homes and a restaurant years ago convinced here that interior design was her forte. She received a degree in interior design technology from El Paso Community College, and worked for an El Paso interior design company for three years before going into business for herself in 1987.

Cindy Bilbe, president of Stewart Title, which hired Facilities Connection to design and furnish the interior of its 12,000 square-foot Downtown office and three branches, said Holland-Branch has “an extremely good eye for space planning and color selection,” and also delivers what she promises. Holland-Branch was involved in all aspects of the Stewart Title project, including talking to the Downtown office’s 20 employees to find out their space and desk needs so the interior and furniture worked for them, Bilbe said.

The design featuring Southwest colors has increased employee morale, and has received great customer reviews, Bilbe said.

Facilities Management also recently designed and furnished the interior of the new JDW Insurance offices on the seventh and eighth floors of the Chase Bank Building. That design features more muted tones to convey a more “classic” executive style, Holland-Branch said.

“You see a lot of designers where everything looks like them (their tastes). For Patty, everything looks like the customer,” Dave Branch said. “She can take the personality of a person and turn it into a work space where everything works.”

Vic Kolenc may be reached at; 546-6421.

Personal file
# Name: Patty Holland-Branch
# Job: Founder, owner and CEO of Facilities Connection Inc., a 22-year-old commercial interior design company, which also sells, installs, and maintains office furniture; does move management; and provides information technology services.
# Background: Born in Chihuahua City, Mexico. Moved to El Paso at age 6 when her father, an engineer for Asarco, was transferred here.
# Family: Married 21 years to her second husband, Dave Branch, 62, Facilities Connection president. Five children and nine grandchildren.
# Education: Austin High School graduate. Associate’s degree in interior design technology from El Paso Community College.
# Quote: “I love creating things. I also like solving problems. I have a passion to work with my customers.”

Award winners
TheTexas Association of Mexican American Chambers of Commerce gave these awards to El Paso area business people at its recent state convention:
# Texas Hispanic Business Woman of the Year: Patty Holland-Branch, CEO and founder of Facilities Connection.
# Texas Hispanic Business Man of the Year: Ray Hernando, owner of RHO Logistics.
# Texas Corporate Hispanic Business Advocate of the Year: Maria Mendez, vice chair of corporate relations, Aetna insurance.
# Large Hispanic Chamber of the Year: El Paso Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
Source: El”Paso Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
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Photo Collections

Selected photos England and Belgium, 2016


Selected photos Filoli Gardens, Spring 2017, Spain, England, and Belgium

You may purchase any photo from the Photos Collections for $.99 each. Please email with your order request.

“…And would it have been worth it, after all,
Would it have been worth while,
After the sunsets and the dooryards and the sprinkled streets,
After the novels, after the teacups, after the skirts that trail along the floor—
And this, and so much more?—
It is impossible to say just what I mean!
But as if a magic lantern threw the nerves in patterns on a screen:
Would it have been worth while…”

T.S. Eliot
The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

Press Release

2015 Annual Report on Mexican American Professionals Now Available

The 2015 Annual Report on Mexican American Professionals is now available on

News from the 2015 American Community Service shows good increases in the numbers of Mexican Americans attending college, achieving educational attainment, and holding jobs in industries including science, management, and business.

• Mexican American college enrollment increased from 18.7% to 18.9% between 2014 and 2015
• Graduate or professional degree attainment among Mexican Americans rose from 2.9% to 3.0%
• The number of Mexican Americans achieving bachelor’s degrees rose from 7.6% to 7.8% in 2015

Despite these numbers, Mexican Americans are still near the bottom of college enrollment and educational attainment by race and ethnicity.

The University of California is proactive in pushing for a greater number of underrepresented minorities. The number Chicano/Latino students attending UOC increased by 2.7% since 2014; this group now makes up 32.3% of admitted university freshmen.

In terms of occupations, the number of Mexican Americans making up part of the management, business, science, and art occupations continues to rise, from 16.6% to 17.5% from 2012 to 2015. Mexican Americans have also seen consistent numbers in the professional, scientific, management, administrative, and waste management services occupations, keeping steady at 10.2% of all jobs in these fields held by Mexican Americans.

These numbers represent continuing gains in higher education and professional jobs for Mexican Americans. For more, visit