An Interview with an Expert on Immigration Laws
Leila Moulana, Attorney at Law
There are times when knowing about immigration laws can come in handy. It is even better when you know someone who focuses their practice on Immigration. This was just such at time because, I had the distinct pleasure of sitting down with one of Orange Counties finest immigration law attorneys, Leila Moulana.
My goal was to provide assistance to candidates and their families who have immigration related barriers to employment in the Unites States. For example, if you are being interviewed by a company interested in hiring you but there are concerns about the burdens on a company who hire foreign workers. You need to know the law and have your work status in the best place possible to minimize those concerns.
As a recruiter, I have come across a number of employers who feared the paperwork, the cost and the nightmare of dealing with the bureaucracy of the US Immigration and Nationalization Services. This makes getting a hired a much more difficult process if you have an immigration issue.
As a candidate you need to be in the best position possible and have the right facts to improve your chances for getting hired. The best way to do that is if you work with an attorney who focuses their practice on immigration laws and have them at your side so here’s my interview!
First let me say thank you for taking the time to sit down with me. As you know, my goal with this page is to provide candidates and their families with the information they need to help with their immigration issues. These candidates often have special circumstances that can scare away employers who might otherwise hire these top notch people to help their companies succeed and grow.
I’m certain there are candidates out there who need to know more about immigration laws in the US so they can help ease the concerns of companies who may be interested in their services but are worried about what burdens and responsibilities fall onto the employers who hire these foreign workers.
So with that said, let’s get started! Why don’t you start by introducing yourself and telling the readers what you do.
I would like to take this opportunity to tell you a little about my background. 1I am a British citizen and Iranian national. I am a graduate of the University of Leicester, England, where I earned my law degree in June of 1996. I am a certified attorney, licensed to practice law in the states of New York and California. 1 Having emigrated from Iran to England with my family at the age of 11 and again to the United States 15 years later, I have experienced U.S. immigration laws first hand. As such I have a true understanding of the system and empathy for my clients. As the sole practitioner I am able to offer my clients my personal attention on every case and the assurance that I can be reached directly as and when needed.
1My area of practice covers exclusively U.S. Immigration and Nationality Law including:
- Family petitions for immediate relatives of United States citizens and Lawful Permanent residents
- Fiance Visas
- Employment-Based Immigration including Labor Certificates
- Investor Visas: permanent and temporary
- Work Visas including H1B and L
- Naturalization and claims to U.S. Citizenship
- Asylum and Refugee Status
- Deportation Defense
- Administrative and Judicial Appeals and other United States immigration law issues.
Q: What are the basic steps in the immigration process and can an individual or an employer do it on their own without an immigration law attorney?
A: U.S. Immigration Law is extremely complex and rigid so I would never actually advise anyone to attempt to handle their immigration case themselves, but some do try! In fact the majority of my clients are those who have attempted unsuccessfully to represent themselves and then need me to salvage the case if at all possible.
Employment based cases are particularly sensitive in that you need to make sure the case is commenced correctly so that you do not encounter problems two or three years down the road which is how long some cases could take to be processed. The last thing the employer or the employee needs is to have to re-start a case after spending a considerable amount of time and money due to a small mistake which could have been avoided with expert help in the beginning.
Employment based cases whether temporary or permanent in nature involve dealing with the Department of Labor as well as the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Each of these agencies has their own requirements and procedures. The steps that need to be satisfied really depend of what kind of visa we are applying for and also the qualifications of the candidate for the job. I would strongly advise a consultation to determine the best option and best course of action on each case.
Q: It sounds like an individual would have a hard time dealing with immigration issues themselves, how do you make the process go quicker/easier?
A :I provide my clients with a one page questionnaire to complete at the initiation of a case. This provides me with all the information I need from them in order to complete the case. I will then obtain the necessary information from the employer. I prepare the case from start to finish which includes researching the job title to make sure it is acceptable by the USCIS and that the client is qualified for it, obtaining a prevailing wage from the Department of Labor, writing and placing the advertisements, preparing all the forms and job posting notices, sending the employer all the resumes which have come in for a particular case with a worksheet which will help them in evaluating the possible candidates, writing offer letters and requests on behalf the employer, and finally filing the application and keeping the employer and employee posted as to the progress of the case. Basically once I have started working in a case all the employer or employee has to do is review the paperwork and sign.
Q: For an individual, who may have work status issues and are currently living and working in the US?
A: There are many individuals currently residing and working illegally in the United States. There are very limited options available for such individuals. I would advise that they seek as consultation to evaluate their case to determine if they fall within the limited options. For example if a petition was filed for them prior to April 30, 2001 they may be able to obtain lawful residence even if currently out of status. An individual evaluation is the only way to determine this on a case by case basis.
Q: What about individuals who are here legally but might be in danger of losing their job but want to stay? What can do for them?
A: Unfortunately it is a reality that while in H1B status an employee may lose their job. This will of course put them out of status. Unlike students or people on a training visa there is no grace period for H1Bs. It is therefore of the utmost importance that the employee seek legal advise immediately after the notice of possible termination to consider all available options. These options vary depending on the individual’s case but could include and H1B transfer, change of status to a student or tourist or possible Adjustments of Status based on marriage tot eh U.S. citizen.
Q: What does it cost and what kind of time and documentation/paperwork does it take?
A: The cost of filing a case will depend on the type of work we are doing. I charge a flat rate fee which can be paid in installments. The USCIS has its own filing fees which differ for each application. These are increased fro time to time.
The types of documentation usually require from the employee include identification documents such as passport and birth certificates for the client and any accompanying relatives and evidence of their qualification in the form of resume, degrees and employment letters.
Q: How long does it take to get a Visa if I find someone who would hire me? How long does it take to get a Green Card?
A: The USCIS processing time vary case by case depending on the type of visa and category in a green card application. The most common type of green card is for anyone with a bachelor’s degree. This is currently taking five-year or so. If the employee has a Masters degree this is accomplished much faster. I would only be guessing if I stated a particular timeline since every case is different.
Q: What is involved in a sponsor transfer if I find a company that wants to hire me? What does it take to do this?
A:The best and fastest option for an employer right now is an H1B transfer. As soon as we obtain the Receipt Notice from the USCIS the employee can commence working for the employer. The case itself could take two to three months to be processed. The employer has the option of paying the premium processing fee of $1000.00 to the USCIS to process the case in two weeks, although this is not necessary in transfer cases.
The process is the same as obtaining a new H1B. However the employee is not subject to the numerical quota which means they are not placed in the lottery system which in recent times has prevented many qualified H1B candidates from obtaining their H1B status.
Q: Thank you Leila, is there any last thought you might want to leave with an individual with an immigration issue?
A: All I would like to add is that this is a complicated and rigid process. It is both time consuming and costly. I would advise seeking counsel to make sure the case is handled the best possible way and to ensure a successful outcome.
My consultation is free and I would be more than happy to meet with the employer or employee to evaluate a case and to give all the possible options. I have many satisfied clients who have stayed with me over the years. Once I have the client’s information in my system there is even less work to be done by them for future cases.
Contact the Expert
Our immigration law attorney, Leila Moulana, Attorney at Law, has been generous enough to provide her direct contact info.
She can be reached at (714)743-2175 or email
Please let her know how much we appreciate her help and I can not recommend her enough to individuals and companies that have immigration related issues!