EXPERT INSIGHT 53 MAR 2022 | WWW.LAWYER-MONTHLY.COM About Emily L Durbin Emily L Durbin (she/her), or L for short, has been practicing immigration law exclusively since her admission to the Washington State Bar in 2019. L is experienced in various immigration matters including Adjustment of Status and Consular Processing (Green Cards), Naturalisation, Fiancé(e) Visas, Asylum, Derivative Citizenship, U-Visas, waivers, humanitarian parole, Temporary Protected Status, and more. She enjoys helping families to stay together, individuals to pursue work or educational opportunities, and all to find lasting safety. About ERM Immigration Law ERM Immigration Law is a boutique law firm based in Seattle with clients both national and international. The firm’s practice is primarily focused on family-based and employment-based immigration matters, including visas, re-entry permits, consulate processing, asylum, survivors of domestic violence (VAWA) and refugee status. Emily L Durbin Lawyer, ERM Immigration Law 105 14th Ave Suite 110, Seattle, WA 98122 Tel: +1 206-745-9241 E: L@ermimmigrationlaw.com www.ermimmigrationlaw.com present the client with their options and work with the client to figure out how to achieve what they want to do. I will demonstrate this point using three fictional consultation appointments: First, a potential client from Venezuela comes to my office. After digging into their story, I know that they should be eligible for Temporary Protected Status (TPS), a humanitarian program, and they can also apply for and receive work authorisation. This option sounds amazing to someone who currently has no status in the US even though TPS is not a path to citizenship. If I stopped listening there, I have a viable option to present, but I would have missed something better. As I continue to ask questions and listen to their story, I hear that several months ago, they were attacked and robbed at knifepoint. They reported the crime to the police and have been cooperating with the investigation. Now their story reveals that they may be eligible for U nonimmigrant status, which can lead to a green card and later naturalisation. Additionally, as an experienced immigration attorney, I know they can actually pursue both benefits. While they are waiting for many years to obtain permanent status derived from U-status, they can legally live and work in the US temporarily under TPS without fear. Multiple layers of status also mitigate risk for the client. Second, a brilliant scientist has been working in the US in authorised nonimmigrant status for the last two years. Their employer wants to petition for them to remain in the US as a permanent resident. They enjoy their work, but do not want to work for this company in the long term and instead would like to pursue a start-up in a field requiring certain security clarences, so they must have a green card. After inquiring further, I learn that they have earned a master’s degree, are published, and have won several awards. A good immigration attorney knows that they may be eligible to selfpetition so they would not be tied to a specific employer. A self-petition may be a riskier choice, but they do not actually have to choose; they can have competing petitions in both categories. If approved without the employer, they can work anywhere they like in their field. If they are denied on the riskier application, they can still fall back on their current employer’s petition, hedging their bets. Lastly, a US citizen just married her fiancée who is in the U.S. on a student visa. She is about to graduate and the couple have planned to return to her home country, but the US citizen has fallen ill and cannot travel. The student does not want to leave her wife, but she will soon no longer be in status. She comes to my office to talk about starting the green card process through the consulate in her home country. If I did not take the time to hear about her wife, I would not have known to explain the ability to apply for adjustment of status to a legal permanent resident from within the US, allowing her to stay with her wife to support her while the application is pending. Knowing the law and being smart is not enough. A good attorney must hear the client’s full story and understand their needs and goals. This is the only way to ensure that your efforts are truly a benefit. An immigration attorney does not have a magical wand to wave over the process, but they can fluidly meet the client’s goals within the parameters of the system while reducing anxiety and stress.