Speaker's Bios

Peter Acker is the founding and managing partner of P.H. Acker & Associates. His areas of expertise include all aspects of Immigration law as well as International law. He is currently an active member of both the Immigration Law Section of the Georgia Bar and the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) where he comments on proposed and pending state immigration legislation in Georgia. Peter received his Bachelor’s degree from Emory University and his J.D. from John Marshall Law School in Atlanta. During law school Peter was a member of the John Marshall’s national moot court team and competed in two separate national competitions. He also received the Aspen award for highest honor in criminal procedure. In addition to his J.D., he also holds a special masters degree (LLM) in international law from Emory University.

Eric Adams is an associate immigration and criminal defense attorney at The Alemany Law Firm LLC in Roswell, Georgia. He graduated from Georgia State’s College of Law in 2014 and has past experience in family law, estate litigation, and personal injury, but now focuses exclusively on family-based immigration petitions and representing clients in removal proceedings. He is passionate about activism and advocacy, and has served on AILA’s GA-AL Chapter Advocacy Committee.

Zainab A. Alwan earned a Bachelor’s degree in Religion, with a minor in Biology, from the University of Rochester in 2008. She received her Juris Doctor degree from Case Western Reserve University School of Law in 2011. After graduating law school, Zainab joined Socheat Chea, P.C. and worked with our firm as an Associate Attorney. She then became the Lead Asylum Attorney for the Georgia Asylum & Immigration Network (GAIN), a nonprofit located in Atlanta, GA. Zainab also worked as an Associate Attorney with the Solano Law Firm in Birmingham, Alabama. Zainab then re-joined Socheat Chea, P.C. in 2020 and handles cases in all areas of immigration law including family based petitions, waivers, filings of T, U, and VAWA petitions, removal/deportation defense, and asylum. She has served as the GA/AL AILA liaison to the American Immgration Council and chaired the GA/AL AILA-USCIS Montgomery Field Office committee. Zainab is admitted to practice before the Supreme Court of Georgia and is a member of the State Bar of Georgia and the American Immigration Lawyers Association.

Carolina Antonini is a native of Venezuela.  She received her law degree from the Georgia State University College of Law, where she is currently an adjunct professor and teaches immigration law. She is a co-founding member of the Georgia Hispanic Bar Association has served on several boards including the Georgia-Alabama Chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association and the State Bar of Georgia’s Law Related Education.  Ms. Antonini has appeared in a variety of news programs such as CNN International, CNN Espanol, “Robin and Friends” and “From the Top”, NPR’s “Latin Beat,” GPB “The Layman’s Lawyer,” and “Leyes Cotidianas.”  She also hosts a Sunday morning immigration talk show “Hablando con Carolina”. She co-authored a high school textbook, Introduction to Georgia Law, used to teach youth and continuing education adults about the legal system. In 2001, Ms. Antonini was named Judge Pro Hac Vice for the City Court of Atlanta, becoming the first Latina judge to sit on the bench in Georgia’s history. Ms. Antonini is a partner in Antonini and Cohen Immigration Law Group and has a successful immigration practice focusing on deportation defense, detention, and asylum.

Eszter K. Bardi focuses her immigration practice on family-based visa applications and removal defense, specializing in family-based waivers and affirmative filings. Eszter is knowledgeable about the intricacies of the U.S. immigration system and particularly enjoys finding creative and honest solutions to her client’s legal needs.  Eszter is fluent in Spanish, Hungarian, and German. Eszter started her legal career as an insurance defense attorney in 2011, but quickly switched her focus to immigration law.

John Charles Bell has been practicing law since 1991. He served in the federal sector at the United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Alabama from 1992-2013. In 2014, Mr. Bell created a unique, customer service-based law firm in Homewood, Alabama, that focuses on immigration law, with additional practice areas such as criminal, traffic, and estate matters. With his decades of experience, Mr. Bell has the expertise to craft the best approach for each client who walks through our doors.

Dara Berger grew up in East Longmeadow, Massachusetts and graduated from Brandeis University in 1997 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Politics with a minor in Legal Studies. During her schooling she spent one semester at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Israel. She received her Juris Doctor from Georgia State University in 2001. Ms. Berger began working with an immigration firm in 2006 and became the Chair of the Immigration Bar. Ms. Berger formed what is now Berger Immigration Firm in 2009 and has been successfully assisting clients in the areas of estate planning (wills and trusts) and immigration ever since. She is licensed in the State and Federal Courts of Georgia.

Rachel Binstock is an attorney with Schwartz and Posel Immigration Law Group. She was born and raised in Atlanta and attended the University of Maryland, College Park, where she majored in Jewish Studies and Criminology. Rachel went on to study law at Hofstra University School of Law. Rachel’s interest in immigration law started when she moved to Australia with her husband for 15 months. Upon return she began pursuing American Immigration law and has worked in this field ever since. Rachel practices immigration law exclusively, specializing in removal defense and family-based immigration. She also has expertise with waivers, U and T visas, and VAWA petitions. Rachel has represented clients in immigration courts – detained and non-detained – throughout the country to obtain bond and relief from removal.

Matt Boles is a Direct Services Attorney for the Southeast Immigrant Freedom Initiative, a project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, at its office in Lumpkin, GA. He has been at the office in Lumpkin since April of 2018. Before that, he represented immigrants in removal proceedings, both detained and not detained, for a private firm in Louisiana. He graduated from the Paul M. Hebert Law Center at LSU.

Bruce E. Buchanan is the founding partner at Sebelist Buchanan Law PLLC with offices in Nashville and Atlanta, where he represents employers in immigration law, with a special emphasis on employer immigration compliance, and individuals seeking asylum, U visas, and family-based green cards. He is also Of Counsel to Siskind Susser for employer immigration matters. Mr. Buchanan received his law degree from the Vanderbilt University School of Law in 1982 and served as senior trial specialist for the NLRB for 20 years. Mr. Buchanan also served for 12 years as Adjunct Professor at William H. Bowen UALR School of Law. He entered private practice in 2003 and formed his own law firm in 2016. Mr. Buchanan is passionate about representing clients on I-9 compliance issues, such as ICE inspections and internal I-9 audits. He is the co-author of the book, I-9 and E- Verify Handbook, authors his own blog on employer immigration compliance located onTwitter at @buchananvisalaw and is a regular contributor to HR Professional Magazine. Mr. Buchanan is the editor of the 11 th Circuit summary published quarterly and two newsletters issued by the Tennessee Bar Association (TBA). He is a frequent speaker on employer immigration compliance at conferences for SHRM, AILA, American Payroll Association, Associated General Contractors (AGC), and TBA. Mr. Buchanan is admitted to practice in Tennessee, Georgia, Florida, and Arkansas as well as the following Circuit Court of Appeals: 5th, 6th, 8th, and D.C.

 Clayton Eugene Cartwright Jr., is the founding member of The Cartwright Law Firm, LLC, which specializes in the areas of international taxation and employee benefits. In the area of international taxation, he advises businesses, financial institutions, accountants and other financial professionals, and individuals on international taxation matters, emphasizing the intersection between immigration and taxation law. Such matters include expatriate taxation, cross-border employee transfers, withholding and reporting requirements, and permanent establishments. He currently is the Immediate Past Chair of the Steering Committee of AILA’s Global Migration Section, the Treasurer of the AILA Rome District Chapter-EMEA, and a Member of the AILA National Bylaws Committee.

 Renata Castro is the founding attorney of Castro Legal Group, a full service immigration firm in Pompano Beach, Florida. Renata’s insatiable desire to learn and curiosity make her an ace when it comes to designing effective strategies to help her clients live their American Dream.  Renata has the unique ability to connect to clients and understand the meaning of their immigration petitions in their everyday lives. Her compassion is only second to her boldness when it comes to representing clients in various settings – from Immigration Courts to Local Immigration Field Offices.

 Christina Champagne is an Atlanta-raised attorney dedicated to client-centered representation and just results. She became a Defender while a student at Emory Law School. Under Georgia’s Third-Year Practice Act, she interned at the Fulton and Gwinnett County District Attorney’s Offices. However, after a year working for two women who built a criminal defense firm after careers as public defenders, Christina quickly confirmed that her true passion is to defend the rights of the accused and protecting people from the insurmountable power of the Government. Christina has represented clients on hundreds felony and misdemeanor cases, including aggravated assault, theft, child molestation, drug charges, minor in possession of alcohol, DUI, and traffic offenses. She has conducted hearings and trials before the State and Superior Courts of Georgia, serving clients spanning from Macon to Columbus, Atlanta, Athens, and north Georgia.

 Bhavya Chaudhary is the Founder and Managing Attorney at Bhavya Chaudhary and Associates Law Firm, located in Atlanta, GA with satellite offices in Chattanooga, Tennessee and Macon, Georgia. She practices U.S. Immigration and Nationality Law. Bhavya graduated from Delhi University School of Law with an L.L.B degree, and from Emory University, Atlanta, GA with Master of Laws degree. She is licensed to practice law in Tennessee, USA and in India. Ms. Chaudhary practices U.S. Immigration Law specializing in investment and employment based immigration including National Interest Waivers, EB-1/EB-2 petitions, and EB-5 visas, family-based immigration, removal defense, federal and appellate court litigation, and represents clients in Immigration Courts throughout the country to obtain relief from removal. She has expertise with representing victims of violence and abuse in VAWA, U, and T cases. Ms. Chaudhary does active pro bono work as well. She is a speaker and an active member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) and serves as a member of Liaison Committees of AILA Georgia-Alabama Chapter. Bhavya Chaudhary is fluent in English, Hindi, Urdu and several other Indian languages

 Danielle Claffey is a partner with Kuck Baxter Immigration LLC and practices in all areas of U.S. immigration and nationality law. She has more than 14 years of experience in business immigration matters including nonimmigrant visas and employment based immigrant petitions, extraordinary ability petitions and National Interest Waivers, family based immigration, affirmative asylum, consular processing and deferred action applications. Ms. Claffey also has extensive experience in removal and custody cases before the immigration courts, including asylum, cancellation, and all types of waivers, as well as federal court actions in the U.S. District Courts across the country.

 Johanna Cochran was born and raised in Veracruz, Mexico. She graduated from The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (magna cum laude), with a degree in Business Administration. She is a graduate of Emory University School of Law where she was a coach and competitor as an oralist and brief writer for the Emory Moot Court Society. Ms. Cochran has worked in the field of immigration since before law school and has represented individuals in matters involving waivers of inadmissibility, family-based and humanitarian petitions, detention and bond proceedings, and federal court litigation. She has also offered advice on several media outlets (including Telemundo Atlanta, Mundo Hispanico, Fordham University Radio, and CNN Español) and at several immigration forums and events throughout Georgia. Ms. Cochran is a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Associations (AILA) and the State Bar of Georgia. She is admitted to practice in the U.S. District Courts for the Northern and Middle Districts of Georgia and the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, where she has successfully litigated and delivered oral arguments on a pro bono asylum appeal.


Marshall Cohen is one of the founding principals of Antonini & Cohen. Admitted to the Georgia Bar in 1989, he has practiced immigration law exclusively for over 20 years. Mr. Cohen practices all areas of immigration law including family and employment cases, temporary and permanent visas, naturalization, deportation defense, and federal litigation. He has taught immigration law as an adjunct professor at the Georgia State University Law School. In addition, Mr. Cohen has served on the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) national liaison committee to the Executive Office for Immigration Review. He has also chaired the Georgia – Alabama AILA chapter’s liaison committee to the Atlanta immigration court, as well as chaired the chapter’s liaison committee to the Atlanta District CIS Office. He has served as the Georgia – Alabama AILA Chapter’s Secretary, Treasurer, First Vice Chair, and Second Vice Chair. He is currently serving as Chapter Chair.

 Cherie Elizabeth Cookorinis has more than twenty years of expertise as an attorney practicing exclusively in the field of immigration law. Her practice areas include employment based visas and permanent residency, naturalization, preservation of residency, consular visa assistance, and family immigration, including waivers of inadmissibility. Her approach is to evaluate cases thoroughly and honestly to give clients as many options as possible, using an “out of the box” approach. As the founder of the firm, Cherie is dedicated to the concept of providing customized immigration solutions for you, your employees, your business, and your family, and prides herself on producing results-oriented, professional work to achieve clients’ U.S. immigration goals: employment, study, permanent residency, citizenship, or merely visiting and enjoying the United States. Because of her background as a first generation U.S. born child of immigrants, Cherie fully understands how important the decision to immigrate to the USA is and what impact it has on a person’s family and career. Cherie received her BA (Russian, Spanish) from Emory University and her Juris Doctor from Georgia State University (cum laude), both in Atlanta. Her professional career has included working in non-profit, small firm and large firm settings prior to founding her own firm. She is fluent in Spanish, Greek, and English and also conversant in French and Portuguese.

 Emily Davis is a partner at Ross & Pines, LLC in Atlanta, GA. Ms. Davis’ practice focuses on removal defense and family-based petitions. She regularly appears before EOIR and USCIS, and has represented individuals in ICE detention facilities across the United States. Ms. Davis received her Juris Doctor degree with honors from Emory University, where she served as the president of the Emory Immigration Law Society. Prior to joining Ross & Pines, Ms. Davis clerked for the Department of Justice, Atlanta Immigration Court. She currently serves on the GA/AL AILA EOIR Committee.

 Layli Eskandari Deal is a Partner in the Labor & Employment National Practice Section at Freeman Mathis & Gary, LLP and focuses her practice on U.S. immigration and nationality law.  She concentrates her practice on business immigration, including temporary employment visas and permanent residence for professionals, international transfers, investors, researchers, and nurses. Ms. Deal also aids with global immigration issues for companies and advises companies on general immigration policies, planning, and I-9 compliance.  In addition to business immigration matters, Ms. Deal assists in uniting families through the immigration process. She regularly represents individuals who wish to sponsor relatives to immigrate to the United States such as fiancés, spouses, children, parents, and siblings.  Ms. Deal has been practicing immigration law since 2001.

 Giovanni Diaz is a native of Marietta. He graduated from Kennesaw State University. His college experience was less about the classroom and more about experiential learning through expeditions to countries such as Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, Bolivia, Peru, Venezuela, Colombia and Brazil. This “wandering” period allowed Giovanni to develop a unique and well-rounded world view by the time he obtained his law degree from Mississippi College School of Law in Jackson, Mississippi. As an attorney, Giovanni has handled hundreds of immigration deportation proceedings including master hearings, bond hearings, and Individual hearings. He has strong working relationships with immigration judges, ICE officers, and government attorneys which helps him get a favorable outcome for his clients.  Giovanni has been an AILA member since 2011

 Leslie Diaz earned a Bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Florida, and a Juris Doctor from Emory University School of Law in 2000.  Leslie served as a Staff Attorney for the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, where she learned firsthand how the federal courts analyze and decide immigration issues.  She has been practicing immigration law since 2005. Leslie practices immigration law exclusively, specializing in removal defense, family-based immigration, and federal and appellate court litigation.  She also has expertise with complex employment-based applications, including National Interest Waivers, EB-1 petitions, and O visas.  She has represented clients in Immigration Courts throughout the country to obtain relief from removal.  She represents detained clients in bond proceedings.  Additionally, she has extensive experience filing appeals to the Board of Immigration Appeals and federal Courts of Appeals.  Leslie frequently files lawsuits in federal courts to obtain immigration benefits for her clients.  She regularly appears before U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, and works on consular proceedings abroad, on behalf of foreign nationals seeking family- and business-based immigration benefits. Leslie is admitted to practice law in the state of Georgia.  She has been admitted to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, and the U.S. Courts of Appeals for the Second, Fourth, Ninth and Eleventh Circuits.  She is a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, where she is a mentor to local chapter members and has served on various committees as liaison with the different immigration agencies.  She regularly speaks on immigration topics publicly and at continuing legal education seminars.

 Iliana Dobrev was born in Bulgaria. After high school, she immigrated to the United States to study law. She graduated magna cum laude from Georgia State University with a Bachelor’s in political science concentrating on pre-law and minoring in Spanish. In 2015, she graduated from Georgia State University College of Law. While in law school, Iliana completed a Graduate Research Assistantship in Labor and Employment Law and Employment Discrimination and two externships in Immigration Law. As an immigrant herself, Iliana is passionate about advocating for and defending immigrants. She is delighted to help families stay together and pursue the American dream. Iliana is a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association and worked in both a fellowship and a firm specializing in immigration law. Iliana is fluent in Bulgarian and Spanish.

 Craig Dobson practices ethics and immigration law at his firm, Dobson Law LLC. He has a Bachelor of Arts in philosophy from Furman University and a Juris Doctor, cum laude, from New England School of Law. During law school, he received CALI awards in both the Law and Ethics of Lawyering and International Business Transactions and served as Editor-in-Chief of the New England Journal of International and Comparative Law. He previously served as Georgia UPL Liaison for the American Immigration Lawyers Association’s Georgia-Alabama Chapter and was appointed by the Supreme Court of Georgia to serve as Chairperson of the District 1 UPL Committee for the State Bar of Georgia from 2014 to 2017. He is currently Chair of the American Immigration Lawyers Association’s National Ethics Committee and also a member of the Association of Professional Responsibility’s Cross-Border Practice Subcommittee, which is working on proposed amendments to current ABA multi-jurisdictional practice rules. Additionally, he is a member of New York City Bar Association’s Mindfulness & Wellbeing Committee in Law Committee. In October 2017, he became one of the first National Board-Certified Health & Wellness Coaches.

 Audra Medders Doyle is the owner of Doyle Law. in Atlanta, Georgia.  She specializes in employment and family-based immigration with a focus on scientific researchers and clients with extraordinary ability.  Mrs. Doyle is a member of the Georgia Bar Association and the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA).  She has been recognized as an AILA Pro Bono Benefactor, is a National AILA Mentor for Naturalization and Citizenship issues, and is also an active member of the National Military Assistance Program.  Mrs. Doyle received the Pro Bono Champion Award.  She is currently the Chair of the Military Assistance Program Committee, which has an active relationship with several military bases in Georgia to help soldiers and their families with immigration issues.  Previously she served on the USCIS Committee and CBP Committee.  She is a past Board Member of the Atlanta Bar Association’s International Law and Immigration Section.  Mrs. Doyle has been a speaker at immigration-related seminars in Georgia and Alabama, including at business conferences, immigration conferences, Ft. Stewart, and Ft. Gordon.  Mrs. Doyle earned her law degree from the Georgia State University College of Law (J.D.) in 2007.  She also has a Bachelor’s Degree in Music Education – Instrumental Emphasis, magna cum laude, from Georgia Southern University (B.M. in 1999).

 Eli Aragorn Echols is a partner at Socheat Chea, P.C.  He earned a Bachelor’s degree in history from Bryn Athyn College of the New Church in 2000. He received his Juris Doctor degree from Boston University School of law, cum laude, in 2004. Following law school, Eli clerked for the Massachusetts Probate and Family Court and then worked as a staff attorney in the Eleventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in Atlanta. Eli handles cases in all areas of immigration law with a focus on removal/deportation defense. He is admitted to practice before all of the courts of Georgia as well as the Eleventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals. He is an active member of the State Bar of Georgia and of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA). He has served as the chair of the Executive Office for Immigration Review Liaison Committee for the Georgia-Alabama Chapter of AILA. He has spoken at conferences regarding asylum and the immigration consequences of criminal convictions.

 Erin Elliott (Ustaoglu), Esq. is the managing attorney for Elliott Immigration Law LLC.  She represents businesses and individuals in U.S. immigration law matters.  Ms. Elliott has been published in professional journals and is an active speaker and advocate of immigration law for various organizations, such as the Georgia Bar Association,  American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA),  Georgia Institute of Technology and the Turkish American Cultural Association.  Ms. Elliott currently serves as the Chair for the GA-AL Chapter of AILA USCIS liaison committee, is the former Chair of the New Members Division for the GA-AL Chapter of AILA and was recently selected to be a Rising Star for Super Lawyers.  She earned her JD from Loyola University New Orleans College of Law, her undergraduate degree from Agnes Scott College and is licensed to practice law in Georgia.

 Anna Erwin practices removal defense, family immigration, and criminal defense. She specializes in the intersection of criminal and immigration law and Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS) applications. She is fluent in Spanish and has begun learning Portuguese. Mrs. Erwin graduated with highest honors from the University of Georgia in 2008 with a B.A. in International Affairs and a minor in Arabic. While in college she studied abroad in Greece, Turkey, and Egypt, gaining an interest in immigration law. Mrs. Erwin attended Washington University in St. Louis School of Law and graduated cum laude in May of 2012. Mrs. Erwin was an editor for the Washington University Global Studies Law Review. During law school, Mrs. Erwin was an intern at the ACLU, a law clerk at a private immigration firm, and an intern at the Office of the Federal Public Defender in East St. Louis, Illinois. Mrs. Erwin was admitted to the State Bar of Georgia. She is also admitted to practice in the Supreme Court of Georgia, the Georgia Court of Appeals, the Eleventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, and the U.S. District Court Northern District of Georgia. Mrs. Erwin is a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA). Mrs. Erwin has been a speaker for AILA as well as the State Bar of Georgia on various immigration and criminal law topics.

 Maura Finn has been practicing immigration law in Atlanta since 2013 and is currently a Lead Attorney at the Southern Poverty Law Center. Throughout her career, her practice has focused on removal defense, asylum, and family-based immigration. Maura received her Juris doctorate from Emory University School of Law and her Bachelor’s in Political Science and Human Rights from Barnard College of Columbia University. She is a member of the State Bar of Georgia and the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA). Maura developed a passion for working in the areas of refugee rights and international protections for human trafficking survivors while working at Human Rights Law Network in New Delhi, India before deciding to enroll in law school. In her work during law school and since, she developed her passion for advocacy for refugees and immigrants.

 Elizabeth Garvish is the founding and managing member of Garvish Immigration Law Group, LLC. Ms. Garvish has dedicated her professional life to the practice of immigration law and is proud to be the granddaughter of immigrants from Hungary. She has been practicing exclusively in the area of immigration law since 1997, and has successfully handled all types of immigration matters for a diverse group of clients located around the country and across the globe. She assists U.S. corporations to obtain employment-based nonimmigrant and immigrant visas for essential alien employees working in the United States. Ms. Garvish’s work includes securing nonimmigrant visas for multinational executives/managers and multinational employees with essential specialized skills, persons in specialty professional occupations, foreign investors, entertainers, religious workers, temporary workers, and trainees, among others. Ms. Garvish is knowledgeable in the employment-based preference categories and the related vehicles to obtain permanent residence, including multinational executives/managers, national interest waivers, outstanding professors/researchers, persons of extraordinary ability, investors, and professionals and skilled workers through PERM labor certification. Ms. Garvish is able to aid employers with I-9 compliance issues, E-Verify issues, the development of compliance programs, and self-audits. She has significant experience communicating with State Department officials at U.S. embassies and consulates worldwide regarding issues involved with consular visa processing.

 Jorge Gavilanes is an attorney with Kuck Baxter Immigration in Atlanta, GA and currently serving as the Chapter Chair of the GA-AL AILA Chapter. He is also the lead attorney for the Emory Immigrant Legal Assistance Clinic with Emory Law School. Jorge is a graduate of Brigham Young University’s J. Reuben Clark Law School. He currently serves on the AILA National USCIS Field Operations Liaison Committee and Military Assistance Program Committee, and as the Georgia-Alabama Chapter’s USCIS Liaison Committee Vice Chair.


Hiba Ghalib is an immigration attorney and partner with Kuck Baxter Immigration, LLC. She has over a decade of experience in immigration law and enjoys a reputation as a leading immigration attorney in Atlanta, Georgia. A graduate of the University of Michigan and Wayne State University Law School, Ms. Ghalib guides families through the immigration process and assists with both consular processing and applications for family members already in the United States. Ms. Ghalib represents clients in deportation and removal defense. Ms. Ghalib also works with employers in leading them through the proper processing of hiring and employing foreign nationals. She routinely advises companies regarding compliance with regard to immigration laws and regulations, and works hand-in-hand with investors in navigating the complex EB-5 immigrant investor program. She works frequently with refugees from Syria, Iraq and other parts of the Middle East, assisting them in resettlement. She represents individuals in matters involving waivers of inadmissibility, detention and bond, and federal court litigation. Ms. Ghalib is a recognized expert on asylum and refugee matters, and has been featured on various news segments including the Washington Post, AJC, NBC, CNN, CBS, and NPR. Ms. Ghalib gives numerous presentations at seminars and presents at Continuing Legal Education (CLE) programs on immigration law throughout the country. She is a member of the Middle Eastern Interest Group (MEIG) and serves on the Board of Directors of the Islamic Speakers Bureau. Ms. Ghalib is a volunteer attorney for the International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP). She is a member of the Michigan Bar Association and is active in the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA). Ms. Ghalib is fluent in Arabic.

 John Gihon is Board Certified by the Florida Bar in Immigration and Nationality Law and has been practicing law for over 15 years. He focuses his practice on immigration and criminal defense. John has extensive experience as both an immigration attorney and a criminal attorney. John served as a Senior Attorney with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). As an ICE Attorney, John handled all forms of removal/deportation proceedings including those involving aggravated felonies, drug trafficking, national security and human rights issues, and more. John also handled cases involving all forms of deportation/removal relief including asylum, withholding of removal, cancellation of removal for lawful permanent residents and for those who are not lawful permanent residents, adjustment of status, 212(c) relief, and many others. As an ICE attorney, John obtained Top Secret Clearance and assisted federal and local law enforcement officers assigned to the Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF). During his six year tenure with ICE, John was promoted to Senior Attorney. In that position, he trained other government attorneys from ICE, Customs and Border Protection (CBP), United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and state prosecutors. John has also trained ICE officers and local law enforcement throughout Florida on a variety of issues including criminal grounds of removability/deportability, search and seizure law, citizenship, forms of relief from removal and many other immigration issues.


Emily Gilbert is a seasoned criminal defense attorney.  She has over 18 years of criminal defense practice under her belt, with 11 years exclusively representing clients facing the death penalty throughout Georgia. A graduate of Emory University and Georgia State University College of Law, she brings depth of experience representing people facing the full spectrum of charges – from misdemeanors to serious, complex felonies. She believes in providing comprehensive, up-to-date legal guidance and assertive, principled defense centered around her client’s individual needs and goals. She is guided by the personal philosophies that no person is defined by a misstep they may have made and that everyone deserves to have their story told by a committed advocate. She is strongly convinced that we do best in the United States when we welcome people from as many different backgrounds, cultures, and traditions as possible.

 Laura Glass-Hess provides knowledgeable, committed and compassionate representation in immigration and criminal defense matters throughout the metro Atlanta area. For her entire legal career, Laura has worked passionately to protect the rights of the accused and vulnerable. She spent 8 years in Arizona, representing farmworkers on the U.S.-Mexico border and serving as a public defender in Phoenix, where she consistently maintained a winning trial record. Through living and working in a county known for anti-immigrant policies, Laura saw the direct impact of brutal criminal laws and harsh immigration enforcement on families and communities. Laura has traveled extensively throughout Latin America and is committed to justice internationally. She studied Spanish in Guatemala, worked in Peru with a non-profit that represents child victims of sexual violence, and trained Mexican attorneys in trial advocacy through a joint program of the Mexican government and the US Department of Justice.

 Kerri-Ann Griggs is an associate with Alston & Bird’s Labor & Employment Group. Kerri advises clients on various aspects of corporate immigration law, including immigrant and non-immigrant visa options and related legal issues. Her knowledge includes B, H-1B, L-1A, L-1B, and TN visas, labor certification applications/PERM process, I-140 petitions, adjustment of status to LPR, investment visa options, corporate compliance, employment verification, maintenance of immigration status, and other compliance matters associated with global people issues. She has represented clients in appeals before the Administrative Appeals Office (AAO) and responds to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services requests for evidence (RFEs), notices of intent to deny (NOIDs), and notices of intent to revoke (NOIRs).  Kerri also has significant experience with family-based immigration matters. She has represented individual clients in family-based immigration petitions and removal and deportation defense. She has helped individuals obtain permanent residency, employment authorization, citizenship, waivers, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), and humanitarian visas (VAWA or U Visas). Kerri has been an immigration attorney for nearly a decade. She also served as an intern for the Honorable Clarence Cooper of the U.S. District Court of the Northern District of Georgia. She received her J.D. from Harvard Law School, where she interned with Harvard’s Immigration and Refugee Clinical Program, representing asylum and VAWA applicants, and received her B.A. from Yale University.

 Amy Fairchild Haer has served as the Senior Program Director of Catholic Charities Atlanta’s Immigration Legal Services program since 2017. Haer also worked for Catholic Charities Atlanta from 2008-2012 as a Staff Attorney. In between her time in Atlanta, Haer served as the Associate Director for Immigration and Refugee Services at Catholic Community Services of Southern Arizona. Haer is responsible for the day-to-day leadership of CCA’s immigration legal services program, which provides comprehensive immigration legal services to help eligible individuals and families obtain their permanent legal status, assists clients with the naturalization process, and provides legal representation during removal proceedings. The program also specializes in assisting survivors of domestic violence, abandoned or neglected foreign children, detained clients, and victims of trafficking and crimes. Haer has a B.S. in International Affairs and Modern Language from The Georgia Institute of Technology and her law degree from The George Washington University School of Law. She is a member of the State Bar of Georgia.

 Janora Hawkins is a Partner in the Atlanta office of Fragomen, Del Rey, Bernsen & Loewy, LLP, and has a wide and extensive array of experience in corporate and family-based immigration. Focusing on compliance and maximizing efficiency, she provides strategic legal counsel to clients across all industries and cross-sectors in connection with corporate immigration to include corporate restructuring, I-9 compliance, lawful permanent residence, naturalization, nonimmigrant visas, and consular processes. Janora initially joined Fragomen as a Summer Associate with the firm’s New York office and after graduating law school, joined as an Associate. Janora provided pro bono assistance to unaccompanied minors and their families at the detention center in Dilley, Texas.

 Fernanda Hottle is a native of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. At age 23, she obtained her first Juris Doctor degree from the Universidade Federal Fluminense in Rio. While in law school in Brazil, she did an internship with the Public Defender’s office and worked as a paralegal for a real estate company. Upon graduating and obtaining her license to practice law, she worked as a solo practitioner. She also worked at the local Bar’s Superior School of Law (Escola Superior de Advocacia) teaching Professional Responsibility and Ethics to candidates to the Bar Exam. After meeting her husband, an American citizen, Ms. Hottle moved to the United States and decided to attend law school again at Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School. It was at John Marshall where Ms. Hottle had a more in-depth contact with Immigration and Naturalization Law. Of course, as a native of Brazil and married to an American, she has gone through the steps of obtaining legal permanent residence, and later becoming a proud American citizen. Law school gave her the opportunity of learning about the process through a different perspective, and she fell in love with it. While in law school in the U.S., Ms. Hottle worked as a legal assistant in the areas of Workers’ Compensation and Social Security Disability, and as a paralegal in the area of Immigration and Naturalization Law. After graduating from John Marshall, passing the Georgia Bar Exam and working for a couple of years as an associate attorney, Ms. Hottle made the decision of starting her own practice. That is when The Hottle Law Firm, LLC was born. Now with her own practice, Ms. Hottle strives to provide her clients with a personable experience. Her motto is “Treat each client as if they were your only client.” Even with a busy practice, she makes herself available to talk directly to her clients whenever they need her.

 Kathleen Hoyos is a Partner at Antonini and Cohen.  She began her work in immigration law as a paralegal and then received her law degree from Georgia State University in 2016. She has worked at Antonini and Cohen since 2010. Kathleen is fluent in Spanish, English, French and Italian. Her practice with Antonini & Cohen includes all areas of immigration law.


Jama Ibrahim is a founding and co-managing partner of Ibrahim & Rao LLP. Mr. Ibrahim practices all aspects of U.S. Immigration and Nationality Law. He assists individuals and families in deportation cases, green cards applications, temporary visas and naturalization/citizenship matters. Mr. Ibrahim is an expert in asylum law and represents clients with humanitarian applications, including U and S visas, as well as applications under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). Mr. Ibrahim also assists employers and corporate clients with employment based visas including H1B, H2B, L, E, P, R1 visas, as well as with employment based labor certifications and applications for permanent residence, including EB-1, EB-2 and EB-5 applications.conducted hearings and trials before the State and Superior Courts of Georgia, serving clients spanning from Macon to Columbus, Atlanta, Athens, and north Georgia.

 Nisha K. Karnani is a Partner at Antonini & Cohen Immigration Law Group. She has practiced immigration exclusively since being admitted to the bar in 2001.  Ms. Karnani represents clients in employment, family and humanitarian immigration matters. In 2017, Ms. Karnani received the Raksha, Inc. Seeds of Change Award for her advocacy and pro bono efforts on behalf of H-4 survivors of domestic violence. In 2014, Ms. Karnani was recognized as Immigration Attorney of the Year – Georgia in Acquisition International’s Global Mobility and Immigration Awards. She was also named to the Lawyers of Color 2014 Hotlist. In 2007, Ms. Karnani was a recipient of the Justice Robert Benham Award for Community Service.  Ms. Karnani currently serves as a Trustee on the South Asian Bar Association of North America Foundation.  She has been an active volunteer for Raksha, Inc., a Georgia-based nonprofit organization for the South Asian Community, since 2002. Ms. Karnani presently serves on Raksha’s Advisory Board and also served on Raksha’s Board of Directors from 2003 to 2005. She was also a founding member of the South Asian Bar Association of Georgia, serving on the Board of Directors from 2003-2005 and 2013 to 2015. Ms. Karnani received a B.A. with Honors in Economics from the University of North Carolina in 1998 and a J.D. degree from the University of North Carolina School of Law in 2001.

 Sarah Katz is a senior attorney at Kids in Need of Defense (KIND). Sarah has worked for many years as an immigrant advocate, beginning as a paralegal with Ayuda Legal Aid in 1999, when she assisted hundreds of Central American clients gain permanent residency through the NACARA program. Most recently, Sarah served as an interim staff attorney with the KIND DC-VA office where she mentored pro bono attorneys to prepare asylum applications and custody petitions for unaccompanied immigrant children. Sarah lives in Decatur, GA with her husband and their three sons. She enjoys yoga, biking, and walks with friends.


Tracie Klinke has established herself as a tireless advocate for her clients, as well as becoming the type of attorney other attorneys turn to for advice. Finding solutions for immigrant victims of crime, particularly domestic violence and human trafficking, quickly became her area of expertise. Tracie also developed a strong waivers practice, allowing countless families to be reunited. In addition, Tracie has attended hundreds of green card and naturalization interviews throughout the United States.

 Charles H. (“Chuck”) Kuck is the Managing Attorney of Kuck Baxter Immigration LLC in Atlanta, Georgia.  Chuck served as the National President of the American Immigration Lawyers Association from 2008-2009.  He also served as President of the Alliance of Business Immigration Lawyers from 2010-2014, and has been an Adjunct Professor of Law at Emory and the University of Georgia’s Law Schools for the last 18 years.    He was named one of the top 5 business immigration attorneys in the world by Chambers & Partners again in 2018, the “Best Lawyer-Immigration” in Georgia by Best Lawyers in 2018 and was previously named one of the “100 Most Influential Georgians” by Georgia Trend magazine.  He has practiced immigration law for 29 years, has spoken to numerous legal and business conferences on all types of immigration related topics, has testified in Congress on various aspects of Immigration Law and Immigration Reform, is frequently quoted in the national press, and appears regularly on national and local television and cable news outlets.

 Edivette Lopez-Benn focuses her solo practice in family-based immigration, consular processing, humanitarian relief and removal defense.  She founded her own law practice in the area of immigration law in 2006 until the present. Prior to starting her own practice, she worked in the non-profit arena as staff attorney for AYUDA in Washington, D.C. and as a staff attorney for the Latin American Association.  Ms. Lopez-Benn is an active member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (“AILA”), where she currently serves as a volunteer in the USCIS Committee and the MAP Committee and has served as Chair of AILA Liaison Committee for the Executive Office of Immigration Review. Ms. Lopez-Benn earned a Bachelor’s degree in Accounting with honors from The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. in 1994.  She later received her Juris Doctor from The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. in 1997.  Ms. Lopez-Benn is an active member of the State Bar of New Jersey.

 Eddie Lopez-Lugo graduated from the University of Puerto Rico School of Law and obtained his Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Economics from Emory University.  He is a member of the State Bar of Georgia, the Puerto Rico Bar, and the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA). While in law school, Eddie developed his interest in immigration law by being a part of the University of Puerto Rico School of Law Immigration Clinic, where he assisted people with their immigration needs. After law school, Eddie worked as an immigration attorney in the non-profit and private sectors, representing clients in family-based petitions, removal defense, and humanitarian remedies. Eddie was born and raised in Puerto Rico

 Jeremy B. Love is the Founder and Managing Attorney of the Love Law Firm, LLC in Birmingham, AL. His practice focuses on serving clients in family-based immigration matters, naturalization, and humanitarian options including U Visa and VAWA. Prior to starting the firm, he was the Legal Services Director at the Hispanic Interest Coalition of Alabama.  For his work in the immigrant community, he received a Certificate of Commendation from the US Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division for “outstanding performance and invaluable assistance.”  Mr. Love frequently speaks on immigration to communities across the state of Alabama.  He has also been a speaker at conferences held by the American Bar Association, Birmingham Bar Association, and the Alabama Judges’ Conference.  Mr. Love graduated with a B.A. in Spanish from the University of Tennessee and a J.D. from Roger Williams University School of Law.  He’s fluent in English and Spanish and is a member of the Alabama and Georgia state bars.

 Lucy Lu is the Founder and Global Managing Partner of Lucy Lu & Associates and leads the firm’s general practice, expansion and executive management. Ms. Lu’s practice encompasses all aspects of business immigration, corporate, transactions, federal investigation, franchise, and China practice. Under Ms. Lu’s visionary leadership, the firm has expanded its practices to best suit our clients’ growth. Ms. Lu built up a highly efficient and competent legal and support team with the goal of helping our clients to succeed, providing necessary resources, and growing with our clients through a long-term healthy relationship with mutual benefits. Ms. Lu has followed her entrepreneurial vision of creating a legal practice model that actually provides quality legal services to clients while maintaining an affordable service fee range. As a successful business woman herself, she offers the firm’s clients not only excellent legal services but also the visions and resources to help our clients to succeed. Ms. Lu is a first generation immigrant from mainland China. She was born in a poor rural village in Jiangxi Province, China. She graduated from the Law School of Tsinghua University in Beijing China before she came to the United States. She further graduated from Chicago-Kent College of Law with a LL.M degree in 2004 and completed an executive program in Law Firm Leadership from Harvard Law School in 2017. From an average girl, to an experienced lawyer, and then to a successful business woman, Ms. Lu’s story is truly about fulfilling the American Dream through constant hard work while maintaining high integrity. It came as a nature that the firm serves the clientele of international talents and international companies with a global vision.

 Hannah MacNorlin is a partner at Owings MacNorlin Immigration Law in Atlanta. She previously worked at Catholic Charities Atlanta as a staff attorney from 2012 until 2015, handling a variety of affirmative as well as removal cases.  At the Latin American Association from 2015 until 2018, she focused on affirmative filings with USCIS.  Prior to attending law school, Hannah was a Bilingual Victim’s Advocate in the Fulton County Solicitor’s Office and a Victim’s Advocate in a domestic violence shelter with Partnership Against Domestic Violence.  She is a graduate of the Georgia State University College of Law.

 Elizabeth Hildebrand Matherne completed her undergraduate degree in International Trade with a Minor in Spanish Language at Georgia Southern University (B.S. in 2001).  She studied abroad in Segovia, Spain. Mrs. Matherne received her law degree from St. Thomas University, School of Law, in Miami Gardens, Florida in 2007 (J.D., 2007).    During Law school, she interned for the Honorable Judge David M. Gersten, Florida Third District Court of Appeals and was a certified legal intern for Miami-Dade Public Defender’s Office. She proudly served as an Assistant Public Defender after graduation in Orlando, Florida where she learned all aspects of criminal defense.  Upon the release of ground-breaking U.S. Supreme Court decision in Padilla v. Kentucky, Mrs. Matherne was guided by her passions for defense litigation and keeping families together towards the fascinating intersection between Criminal Law and Immigration Law.  Her background in Criminal Defense gives Mrs. Matherne a unique understanding and perspective in representing immigration clients with criminal arrests or convictions. Now, Mrs. Matherne focuses her practice as senior counsel at Kuck Baxter Immigration on Removal/Deportation Defense, Collateral Relief of Immigration Consequences, and Family Based Petitions.  She is a member of the Florida (2008) and Georgia (2010) State Bar Associations, American Immigration Lawyers Association, Alabama-Georgia Chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, Forsyth County Bar Association.  She is also an active member of the Alabama-Georgia Chapter of American Immigration Lawyers Association where she holds the Vice-Chair position on the Executive Office of Immigration Review (EOIR) Committee and a Committee Member of Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO).

 Marco Mazzeschi is the founder of Mazzeschi Srl and has 30 years of experience in corporate immigration and commercial law. He is “an absolute top name” who stands out as “the most prominent attorney in Italy” in the area according to Who’s who legal’s Corporate Immigration 2019: Analysis, he is also the most highly recommended immigration lawyer in Italy in the WWL 2018’s research. He is a graduate of the University of Siena, law faculty (1985). He obtained a postgraduate diploma in administrative law at the Academy of Public Administration (1995), took summer courses on international law at The Hague Academy of International Law (1984). Mr. Mazzeschi served as an officer in the Italian Fiscal Police (1986–1987). Mr. Mazzeschi is admitted to the Bar Associations of Milan (1988) and Taipei (2016), admitted arbitrator with the Chinese Arbitration Association (Taipei, 2016), member of the editorial board of the scientific journal Asian Business Research. He is also visiting lecturer at the School of Law of Shandong University of Finance and Economics (Jinan) and the Chinese Culture University (Taipei)

 Fatemeh Mehrabi is a Staff Attorney at the KIND Atlanta Field Office. She has provided direct legal representation for immigrants and asylum seekers since 2012, when she began working for a small immigration firm in Maryland. Since 2014, Fatemeh has specialized in federal immigration litigation with a special focus on asylum issues impacting women. She has written briefs for cases before the First, Second, Third, Fourth, Seventh, Ninth, Tenth, and Eleventh circuits and has had her briefs orally argued in four different circuits in 2019 alone (including a successful appeal before the Ninth Circuit). She was drawn to KIND’s mission to help unaccompanied minors specifically. Fatemeh graduated with her Juris Doctorate degree from The George Washington University Law School. She is fluent in Farsi.

 Kevin Miner is a Partner in the Atlanta office of Fragomen, Del Rey, Bernsen & Loewy, LLP, and works with employers throughout the U.S. on business immigration processes. He has worked closely with the U.S. House and Senate Judiciary Committees to draft key provisions of immigration legislation. Mr. Miner is a co-author of Business Immigration: Law & Practice, 2nd Edition, which is a leading treatise on business immigration matters.  He is an elected director on the AILA Board of Governors, and serves as a member of the AILA DOL Liaison Committee and the AILA Business Immigration Response Team. Mr. Miner speaks regularly around the country on topics relating to high-skilled immigration.

 Julio E. Moreno was born to Colombian parents in Maracaibo, Venezuela. The family immigrated to Atlanta, Georgia in 1991 where he has been an active participant of the Latino Community. After earning a bachelor’s degree from Emory University, Mr. Moreno worked as a Child Advocate in the Juvenile Court of Dekalb County. While completing his Juris Doctorate degree at John Marshall Law School-Atlanta, Mr. Moreno worked at a law firm in Atlanta that represented injured individuals in worker’s compensation and personal injury cases. In 2008, Mr. Moreno worked at the Dekalb County Juvenile Court using the Third Year Practice Act under the supervision of the Dekalb County Public Defender’s office and represented clients in court for a number of criminal proceedings. Mr. Moreno has also practiced criminal law in Gwinnett County, GA, representing individuals on a wide array of criminal matters, including cases with immigration issues. Prior to founding The Moreno Law Firm, LLC, Mr. Moreno worked at a large immigration law firm focusing primarily on removal defense and family based petitions. He is a member of the State Bar of Georgia, with admission to the Georgia Supreme Court, all lower Georgia courts and the United States District Court, Northern District of Georgia. He has represented clients in immigration courts throughout the United States and is an active member of the American Immigration Lawyer’s Association and the Georgia Hispanic Bar Association. He is a native Spanish speaker.

 Matt Ohm is a German and U.S. lawyer, holding a US Masters of Law (LL.M.) from the University of Georgia School of Law. He obtained both his German and his US law license (NY) in 2015. In 2019, Matt was also sworn into the Georgia Bar. Matt focuses his legal services on supporting foreign-owned business entities and individuals investing in the US in the areas of immigration, corporate, and employment law. He supports companies’ global immigration needs through both US immigration and nonimmigration visa processing for business and families (temporary work visas and green cards). Matt was elected as a Board Member of the Stonewall Bar Association of Georgia, Inc. (“Stonewall”). Stonewall is a professional association of attorneys, judges, law students, paralegals and other legal professionals who support the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, and who oppose discrimination based upon sexual orientation or gender identity. Matt is also the new Chair of the Atlanta-Nuremberg Sister Cities Commission. The City of Atlanta fosters 17 sister city relationships with communities across the globe. The Atlanta Sister Cities Commission has continued to expand its programming by promoting mutually beneficial cultural, educational, economic, and community development exchanges. Under Mayor Kasim Reed’s leadership, the Commission has positioned itself to enhance its efforts through increased marketing, a charitable foundation and increased staff support from the Mayor’s Office of International Affairs.

 Sarah Owings is a partner at Owings MacNorlin, LLC. She attended the College of Law at Georgia State University, where she earned a Juris Doctor degree in 2007, and she has practiced immigration law exclusively since that time. Sarah has experience in removal defense, family-based immigration, humanitarian forms of relief, and asylum proceedings. She is frequently asked to speak at continuing legal education programs and to provide commentary to the media on the rapidly changing immigration landscape. In 2017, Sarah was elected to the Board of Governors of AILA National, and she currently serves as an Elected Director. Sarah is also vice-chair of the AILA National EOIR Liaison Committee.  She served on the executive committee of the Georgia-Alabama Chapter of AILA from 2012 until 2018 and she has chaired various local liaison committees for AILA Georgia-Alabama throughout her legal career. Sarah has been a board member of the Georgia Asylum and Immigration Network and is currently a board member of Immigrant’s List.  Sarah resides in Atlanta, Georgia, and is a member in good standing of the Georgia Bar.

 Jessica Palumbo holds an A.B. in sociology from Wellesley College and a juris doctor from Pace Law School. She holds active licenses to practice law in the states of New York and Georgia and is admitted to the Second Circuit Court of Appeal, Fourth Circuit Court of Appeal, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeal, the Federal District Court for the Southern District of New York, the Federal District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, and the Georgia Supreme Court. Jessica currently focuses her practice exclusively on immigration law, a nationwide federal administrative law practice. She directly represents foreign nationals seeking review before the Second, Fourth, and Eleventh Circuit Courts of Appeal and in seeking immigration benefits from the US. She also supports and mentors other immigration lawyers nationwide in removal defense issues, the intersection of criminal and immigration law, and appellate practice before US Immigration agencies. Jessica has worked in immigration law since 2007, first as a student attorney in her law school’s immigration justice clinic where she was lucky to discover one of her core passions: immigration law, practice, and procedure. Since 2009, she has practiced as a barred attorney, gaining crucial experience in refugee resettlement and small firms.

 Helen Parsonage believes in providing caring, thoughtful and thorough representation for each and every person. In particular, Helen focuses on helping individuals navigate the maze of rules, procedures and processes created by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services and those facing criminal charges or deportation.  She represents clients facing criminal charges in both state and federal court. She is a member of the Criminal Justice Act panel of attorneys in the Middle District of North Carolina, and is admitted to practice before the Eastern, Middle and Western District Federal Courts as well as the Fourth and Eleventh Circuit Courts of Appeal.

 Pamela Peynado is a Partner at Lee & Peynado Immigration Law Group and was recently appointed as an Atlanta Municipal Court Judge.  Pamela attended Georgia State University (GSU), where she was named GSU’s Faculty Scholar for academic achievement. In 2006, while a student at GSU, she began working as a receptionist for attorney George E. Lee. It was under his supervision that she developed a passion for immigration law. Pamela went on to obtain a law degree from Georgia State University College of Law.

 Laine Posel is a partner with Schwartz Posel Immigration Law Group.  She handles cases in all areas of U.S. immigration law, including employment-based immigration (both immigrant and nonimmigrant applications), family immigration (both in the United States and consular processing at the U.S. Embassies), and naturalization applications. Laine represents clients both big and small before the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the Department of Labor (DOL), the Department of State (DOS), and the Administrative Appeals Office (AAO).  Laine was an assistant adjunct professor of immigration law at Emory University School of Law and is an active member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), where she served on the USCIS liaison committee from 2010-2011. Laine is also an active member of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), which combats hatred and discrimination in our society. Prior to joining Schwartz Posel Immigration Law Group, Laine worked as an attorney in the labor and employment section for the Washington, D.C., office of Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, LLP.

 Sam Radin is an attorney at Schwartz Posel Immigration Law Group in Atlanta.  Sam handles cases in all areas of U.S. immigration law, including employment-based immigration, family-based immigration, naturalization and removal defense.  Sam currently serves on the Executive Committee of the Georgia-Alabama Chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) as theFirst Vice Chair, and previously chaired the Chapter’s USCIS liaison committee.  Sam has been a regular contributor to the Georgia-Alabama Chapter Conference and will be speaking at the AILA Annual Conference in 2019.  Sam has also presented on immigration law at the Utility Supply Management Alliance (USMA) Annual Educational Conference.

 Ariana Reeseman practices immigration law exclusively, specializing in business and employment-based immigration and family-based immigration needs. She appears before U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and has extensive experience with complex Requests for Evidence, Notices of Intent to Deny, and Motions to Reopen or Reconsider for both non-immigrant and immigrant visa categories. She spent the early part of her career working closely with extraordinary ability individuals and those eligible for national interest waivers, and since has expanded her expertise to meet global mobility needs for corporate and large-scale clients, including Fortune 500 companies. She additionally works on I-130 petitions, adjustments of status, and naturalization cases on behalf of foreign nationals seeking family-based immigration benefits. Ariana is dedicated to zealously representing her clients and providing personalized service to each individual or company to maximize positive results and client satisfaction.

 Joy Smith Rich practices family based immigration and criminal defense. She is passionate about helping families remain together and reviewing every option available to them. Joy speaks Spanish and has represented dozens of persons in immigration and state court on cases such as bond, asylum, cancellation of removal, driving without a license, DUI, and other misdemeanor offenses. She is also experienced outside the courtroom and has represented numerous clients applying for citizenship and residency. Joy is dedicated to her clients. Because she understands criminal and immigration law, she is well-equipped to zealously fight for the best outcome of their case. Joy earned a Bachelor of Arts degree at Berry College in Rome, GA. She received her Juris Doctor degree from Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School in 2013. Joy has served as a panelist on asylum and immigration programs presented by the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), the Stonewall Bar Association, and Project Equality at Mercer Law School. She assisted in planning the 2018 GA-AL AILA Conference. She has also volunteered with the Transgender Name Change Project presented by Atlanta Legal Aid and the Stonewall Bar Association.

 Lino Rodriguez Jr. is the managing partner/owner of Rodriguez Immigration Firm. Mr. Rodriguez earned his JD from Georgia State University’s College of Law in 2006. Rodriguez Immigration Firm opened in October 2011. The firm does 100% immigration work; focusing on family-based immigration and removal defense. Prior to opening his practice Mr. Rodriguez worked as an associate attorney in the nonprofit sector with Catholic Charities and in the private sector with Kuck Immigration Partners. Mr. Rodriguez has served on the Executive Committee, as well as various other committees, for the GA-AL AILA chapter.

 Rebecca Rojas received her J.D. from the University of Tennessee College of Law in 2009.  She is the founder of The Rojas Firm where she practices family and removal defense.  Prior to founding The Rojas Firm, Ms. Rojas worked with various Southeastern law firms where she gained valuable experience in all in all areas of U.S. immigration and nationality law.

 Jay Ruby advises international and domestic business clients on the development and management of innovative, cost-effective, and compliant immigration strategies and programs for foreign national employees. Jay represents businesses of all sizes before the U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS), Department of Labor (DOL), and Department of State (DOS) regarding applications and petitions for nonimmigrant and immigrant work visas and permanent resident status. He also advises employers on immigration compliance and strategies related to corporate restructurings, mergers, acquisitions, spin-offs, and downsizing. Jay has wide-ranging experience developing H-2B visa strategies for seasonal and peak-load employers in the hospitality, landscaping, and construction industries, and representing H-1B and H-2B employers before the DOL’s Wage and Hour Division. He also regularly handles applications for O-1 and O-2 visas for entertainment employers and agents, as well as outstanding researchers and professors. Jay advises companies in a range of industries, including entertainment and motion pictures, construction, hospitality, health care, biomedical, technology, petroleum and energy, higher education, financial services, and banking.

 Justin Russo is an Associate in Fragomen, Del Rey, Bernsen, & Loewy’s Atlanta office, where he provides strategic legal counsel and corporate immigration services, including I-9 compliance, lawful permanent residence, naturalization, nonimmigrant visas, and consular processes to clients across a wide variety of industries. He specializes in the areas of H-1B and LCA compliance, assisting employers respond to DOL investigations and USCIS FDNS inquiries, as well as in formulating efficient RFE strategies for high-volume clients. He has also served on the AILA-GA chapter’s CBP Liaison, Citizenship Day, and New Members Division committees.

 Sonal R. Shah is a senior attorney at Antonini and Cohen. She is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where she obtained her Juris Doctorate and Bachelor of Arts Degree in Political Science and International Studies. Sonal is a member of the State Bar of Georgia, State Bar of Florida, and the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA). She currently serves on the AILA United States and Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Liaison Committee. Sonal developed her passion for human rights through her experiences working abroad in remote and rural areas throughout the world including Malawi, South Africa, Thailand, and India. Her desire to advocate for immigrant rights deepened when she interned with the Immigrant Women’s Program at Legal Momentum in Washington, D.C. and the North Carolina Justice Center. Sonal practiced immigration law for over a decade, representing clients in a variety of matters including family-based petitions, removal defense, and humanitarian remedies.

 Rachel Effron Sharma is an immigration attorney at Effron Sharma Immigration in Atlanta. She is also a supervisory attorney at GAIN (Georgia Asylum and Immigration Network). Her practice areas include business and family immigration as well as appeals to the board of immigration appeals, asylum and U visas.  Rachel has been practicing immigration law since 2003, and has had her own practice since 2007.  She worked for Kuck Immigration Partners in Atlanta, GA from 2005 to 2007, and for Dyer Immigration Law Group in Richmond, VA from 2004 to 2005. She is currently the vice chair of the AILA GA-AL asylum committee and a member of the AILA national asylum and refugee committee. She is admitted to the state bar of Georgia and graduated from Ohio State University Law School in 2003.   Ms. Effron  Sharma is very interested in fitness and wellness and holds certificates in herbalism and public health and is a reiki master.

 Kristen E. Shepherd is the staff attorney for the Community Health Law Partnership (Community HeLP) Clinic at the University of Georgia School of Law. In this role, she supervises students providing legal representation to low-income clients in the Athens area. Her work furthers the clinic’s goal to help underserved community members by addressing health-harming legal needs, focusing on immigration and federal litigation. Ms. Shepherd has represented noncitizens in immigration proceedings since 2013. Most recently, Shepherd was an associate attorney at the law firm Socheat Chea, where she represented clients in affirmative, defensive, detained, and appellate immigration matters. She has also worked as a staff attorney at nonprofit organizations, including the nationally recognized Northwest Immigrant Rights Project in Seattle, Washington. In 2019, she traveled to Tijuana, Mexico to volunteer with the nonprofit organization Al Otro Lado and advise asylum seekers stranded by the “Remain in Mexico” policy.  She earned her undergraduate degree from Arizona State University and her Juris Doctor from William Mitchell College of Law, where she received the Minnesota Justice Foundation’s Achievement in Public Service Award for completing over 600 hours of community service. Shepherd speaks Spanish and has studied abroad in Spain and Mexico.

 Greg Siskind is a founding partner of Siskind Susser, PC – Immigration Lawyers, and has been practicing law since 1990. Mr Siskind has been named by Who’s Who in Corporate Immigration Law on its list of the ten most distinguished lawyers in the world and by Chambers and Partners as one of the top 25 immigration lawyers in the US. In 1994, Mr Siskind created www.visalaw.com, the first immigration law firm website in the world. He is the editor of Siskind’s Immigration Bulletin, a newsletter that is distributed to more than 40,000 subscribers each week. Mr Siskind is also the proprietor of one of the most popular lawyer blogs. Mr Siskind is regularly interviewed by the media. He has written several books on immigration and related topics, is the author of a number of immigration related pieces of legislation and has testified as an expert in front of the US House of Representatives Immigration Subcommittee. Mr Siskind is one of the founders of Visalaw International.

 Zaira Solano earned a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Georgia College & State University. While earning her degree, she worked in the office of a solo practitioner in the metro Atlanta area. She gained valuable, hands-on experience in family law, criminal law, and worker’s compensation law prior to her legal education. Zaira worked for several firms throughout the Atlanta area while earning her law degree at Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School.  Zaira discovered her passion for immigration during law school. Later in her training, she clerked at an immigration firm in Atlanta, Georgia. Zaira also worked in the Fulton County Public Defender’s Office in the Complex Case Division. In 2011, Zaira founded Solano Law Firm with a focus on immigration law to serve the Latino community. She believes in providing honest representation and educating clients throughout the process.

 Jessica Stern is a bright, spirited courtroom lawyer and a champion for justice. Blending years of experience as a public defender and an attorney with a well-respected federal criminal defense firm, Jessica founded STERN Law, LLC in 2013. Jessica and her carefully-selected team focus completely on the defense of non-U.S. citizens throughout an entire criminal case with protection from deportation consequences, fight against deportation in Immigration Court, and diligently pursue lawful status through applications for immigration benefits nationwide. Jessica is not afraid to push the envelope and challenge common practices in order to uphold and protect one’s constitutional rights and the basic principles of fairness. Jessica values her courtroom experience, where she has litigated well over a thousand felony cases and complicated deportation trials. She has built skill through careful investigation and methodical research, strategic negotiations with the government, effective client communication, hundreds of motions arguments before various judges, and the willingness to force the government to prove its case at a jury trial. Jessica not only views success in the trials and motions she has won, but also in the dismissals and charge reductions, in arguments that change a judge’s view on a sentencing statute or evidentiary law, and most importantly in the overall satisfaction of the people she has represented. Jessica is extremely knowledgeable about post-conviction relief options and enjoys counseling criminal defense attorneys through the Padilla Immigration.

 Massiel Silva Tadeo is a partner and owner at The Tadeo & Silva Law Firm. She specializes in removal (deportation) defense, family immigration, and hardship waivers. Mrs. Silva Tadeo was born in the Dominican Republic and she personally recognizes the challenges of our immigration laws. Mrs. Silva Tadeo graduated from Emory University School of Law and Georgia State University. She is a member of the State Bar of Georgia, the American Immigration Lawyers Association, and the Georgia Hispanic Bar Association. While in law school at Emory, Massiel was the Vice- President of the National Hispanic Bar Association Law School Division of the Georgia-Alabama-Mississippi region. She was also the Vice-President of the Latin American Law Student Association and a member of the Immigration Law Practice Society. During college, Mrs. Silva Tadeo worked for close to two years at the Latin American Association, where she found her passion for advocacy for the immigrant community.


Peter A. Tadeo is the founder and owner of The Tadeo & Silva Law Firm. He handles a variety of matters in U.S. Immigration and Nationality Law. Mr. Tadeo understands the importance of having superb representation when it comes to immigration matters. Mr. Tadeo, the son of Mexican/Italian immigrants, was born in Fresno, California. Having lived in Atlanta since 1995, Mr. Tadeo has seen the city become a place where people and businesses from all over the world look for opportunities. Mr. Tadeo earned his Bachelor’s Degree from Georgia State University (GSU). He then attended the Walter F. George School of Law at Mercer University, where he earned his Juris Doctorate. While at Mercer Law, Mr. Tadeo re-established the Hispanic Law Student Association (HLSA) and was elected President. Mr. Tadeo was a summer intern for the Georgia Asylum Immigration Network (GAIN) where he worked on complex Asylum, U-Visa, and T-Visa applications. Additionally, Mr. Tadeo worked for the Georgia Legal Services Program (GLSP) in Macon, Georgia, under the third-year practice act, representing indigent families throughout Middle Georgia with various legal issues. After becoming a member of the State Bar of Georgia, Mr. Tadeo focused his practice entirely on Immigration Law, helping dozens of families stay together, and contributing to the fight for immigrant rights. Mr. Tadeo is a member in good standing of the Georgia State Bar Association, The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) and treasurer of the Georgia Hispanic Bar Association.


 Carrie Toth Carrie Toth is the managing attorney for Elliott Immigration Law. She earned her Juris Doctorate from the University of Tulsa and now has over 20 years of experience working in the immigration legal field.  Carrie has volunteered at numerous local AILA events and has been a frequent speaker at Georgia-Alabama AILA chapter conferences.  She has served on the chapter conference planning committee for the past three years and is the current Co-Chair of the Conference and Chapter Chair for the USCIS Liaison Committee. She is a member of the Georgia Bar Association, the American Bar Association and the American Immigration Lawyers Association. Carrie focuses on family-based immigration including naturalization, adjustment of status in the United States, consular processing at embassies abroad, and waivers of inadmissibility. She has attended numerous interviews at USCIS offices from Seattle to New York.  In addition, she is highly experienced in I-601 and I-601A waivers of inadmissibility.  

 Emily Torstveit Ngara is an assistant clinical professor and director of the Immigration Clinic at Georgia State University College of Law. Before joining the Georgia State faculty, Emily directed the Deportation Defense Clinic at the Maurice A. Deane School of Law at Hofstra University which provides direct representation for individuals at imminent risk of deportation as well as impact litigation and community education on Long Island. Emily also served as a Clinical Fellow in the Immigrant Rights Clinic at the University of Baltimore School of Law and the Immigration and Human Rights Clinic at the University of the District of Columbia David A. Clarke School of Law. Emily received her JD from the University of Pennsylvania and her LL.M. in Clinical Teaching from the University of the District of Columbia.

 Michael Urbina was born and raised in Guaynabo, Puerto Rico. He moved to Georgia in the summer of 1999. Mr. Urbina holds a B.S. in Managerial Science from Georgia State University. He received his J.D. from John Marshall Law School, where he graduated amongst the top of his class in 2011. During his third year of law school, Mr. Urbina interned at the Office of the Principal Legal Advisor (OPLA) for the Department of Homeland Security. Under the supervision of OPLA attorneys, he represented the government in bond hearings and cancellation of removal hearings, second-chaired numerous types of hearings, conducted legal research, and drafted documents to assist the OPLA attorneys with their immigration cases. After working as a law clerk and associate attorney at a local immigration firm, he founded The Urbina Law Firm, LLC in 2013. The firm focuses on family immigration and removal defense representing Clients in multiple states throughout the nation. In addition, the firm also has criminal and business law practice areas. Mr. Urbina has served the local chapter as a volunteer and previous EOIR Liaison Committee

 Karla Verma is an Associate Attorney at the Urbina Law Firm, LLC, focusing on immigration and criminal law. Mrs. Verma received her undergraduate degree at the University of Georgia. Later, she earned her J.D. from the Charleston School of Law in 2016, where she served as Senior Research Editor to the school’s flagship law journal, the Charleston Law Review and also served as President of the Latino/a Law Students Association.  Mrs. Verma is an active member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) and the Georgia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (GHCC). 


Bradley J. Watson is a partner at Watson & Watson and is also the founding partner of the firm. Bradley has focused his practice in the areas of criminal law, family law, automobile accidents and personal injury, probate law, immigration law, civil law, home defect, and insect damage cases, general litigation, trials, and appeals. Bradley is a native of Albertville and is an active member of the Marshall County Bar. In 2013, Bradley was awarded an Indigent Criminal Defense contract for Marshall County, and he served in that capacity until October of 2017. To date, he has handled more than 3,000 felony and misdemeanor cases. During his time as Indigent Contract Counsel, Bradley handled just about every type of felony case imaginable and has extensive experience in Criminal Defense. In October of 2017, Bradley decided to let the criminal contract lapse and not reapply so he could focus on other areas of practice in addition to Criminal Defense. Bradley takes cases in most north Alabama venues, at both the municipal and state level

 Gabriela Watson is a Marshall County Alabama native. Ms. Watson received a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy from the University of Alabama.  She  graduated from Faulkner University Thomas Goode Jones School of Law in December of 2010 and joined the firm of Watson & Watson, Attorneys at Law. Gabriela is admitted to practice in all Alabama state courts, the United States District Court for the Northern District of Alabama, and all Immigration courts. Gabriela is a member of The American Bar Association, The American Immigration Lawyers Association, The Alabama State Bar, The Alabama Civil Justice Foundation, The Young Lawyers Section of the Alabama State Bar, and The Marshall County Bar Association. Gabriela served as the Marshall County Bar Association President in 2012 and 2013, and during that time she was awarded the Alabama State Bar Award of Achievement for the Marshall County Bar Association Outstanding Accomplishments. Gabriela has also served as a board member of The Court Appointed Juvenile Advocates (CAJA) of Marshall County. Presently, Gabriela serves as a board member of the Marshall County Indigent Defense Advisory Board, and is a member of The Marshall County Bar Association Scholarship committee and The Marshall Women’s Guild in Marshall County, Alabama. Gabriela has focused her law career in representing clients with regards to Immigration Law, Civil Litigation/Vehicle Accidents, Probate Law, and Domestic Law. Gabriela has served as speaker for the Alabama State Bar Annual Meeting during the Immigration Law updates, and has served as a speaker with regards to Immigration Law updates for various companies in Alabama.

 Nicole Weitnauer was first exposed to the US’ immigration laws while teaching English as a Second Language in college. She saw from her students the potentially devastating effects US immigration laws can have on families. When she shadowed an immigration attorney at Catholic Charities, she saw an opportunity to help others and fight for justice. While attending Georgia State University College of Law, she interned at Atlanta’s Executive Office for Immigration Review, the Southern Poverty Law Center–Immigrant Justice Project, Catholic Charities–Atlanta, and the Latin American Association. In 2012, Nicole was one of approximately 50 people across the country to be named as an Equal Justice Works Fellow. She completed her fellowship at Catholic Charities–Atlanta where she provided legal representation to immigrant victims of crime, trafficking, and domestic violence. As part of her fellowship, she provided training to local law enforcement officers on the U visa certification. She also spoke at the Georgia Bar about immigration relief available to victims.


Mark Yurachek: I have been practicing law since 2000. When I was in law school and first starting in my own practice, I had the opportunity to work with and learn from the best trial lawyers in Atlanta and have added to that my own extensive experience representing clients in appeals and post-conviction actions all over the country. I am bar licensed in both Virginia and Georgia and am a member of all appellate courts in both states. I am also a member of the United States Supreme Court, the United States District Courts for the Northern District of Georgia, the Eastern District of Virginia and the Middle District of Georgia, as well as the United States Courts of Appeal for the Eleventh, Fourth and Sixth Circuits. I have served as counsel in appeals involving defendants convicted in multi-million dollar fraud cases, as well as numerous appellate and post-conviction actions involving convictions ranging from shoplifting to multiple murders, and virtually everything in between. In all, I have been counsel in approximately sixty reported appeals since 2000, as well as dozens of unreported habeas actions. I have represented clients in many high-profile cases and been counsel in several notable appellate court decisions where convictions were either vacated or reversed altogether. The best lawyers are often tasked with the most difficult cases, and while I have certainly not won every case I have ever handled, in every year since 2003, I have been counsel in at least one case that either reversed or vacated a lower court decision in either a criminal or civil action. Not only clients, but other attorneys from all over the country have retained me for my expertise in criminal law, particularly appellate and post-conviction practice because they know my work to be painstakingly thorough and respected in every court where I have ever practiced, thus giving the client the best shot possible for a favorable outcome.


Shirley Zambrano is a partner at Zambrano & Ruiz, LLC and practices in all areas of immigration law. Ms. Zambrano is known for handling complex immigration cases, specializing in family petitions, removal defense, federal litigation, and employment visas for prominent Latin music recording artists. Ms. Zambrano is originally from Ecuador, and as an immigrant herself, she has a deep and personal understanding of the difficult challenges presented to immigrants by our country’s complex—and at times ruthless—immigration system.  Ms. Zambrano graduated from Florida Coastal School of law, where she earned her J.D. and graduated in the top five percent of her class, obtaining magna cum laude honors.  While in law school, Ms. Zambrano served as a clerk for the U.S. District Court and the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Florida. She also served as an intern for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Florida where she helped prosecute high-profile cases in federal court.