Cyrus Mehta is a pre-eminent figure in the field and “absolutely superb” on matters of business immigration law. He is recognised by peers as “a terrific lawyer” and “a great resource for US immigration issues”.
Cyrus D Mehta, a graduate of Cambridge University and Columbia Law School, is the founder and managing partner of Cyrus D Mehta & Partners, PLLC, representing corporations and individuals in diverse immigration matters. He also advises lawyers on ethical issues. Based on 25 years of experience in immigration law, Mr Mehta is able to comprehend all kinds of problems and provide effective, ethical and strategic solutions to his clients. He is also an adjunct professor of law at Brooklyn Law School and is a prolific writer, blogger and speaker on contemporary immigration law topics. Mr Mehta is the 2018 recipient of AILA’s Edith Lowenstein award for advancing the practice of immigration law.
What do you enjoy most about practising corporate immigration law?
The thrill of winning cases for hundreds of people and making a difference in their lives is what I enjoy the most.
What inspired you to set up your own firm?
I already had many clients, and thought it would be best if I served them through my own firm. I also wanted to have a practice where I could cover the whole gamut of immigration law, freely express my views concerning immigration subjects and develop my own brand.
What are the main differences between advising corporations and families on immigration matters?
When advising a corporation, there’s a lot of strategy involved in finding the best alternative for each individual employee, especially when confronted with the annual H-1B visa limitation and the backlogs in the employment-based immigrant visa categories. In representing families there’s a lot of emotional involvement when two separated family members are eagerly waiting to be united. One also gets to interface directly with the family rather than through corporate HR or in-house legal counsel.
How has serving on various committees of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) enhanced your practice?
Serving on different AILA committees has truly been one of the best aspects of being an immigration lawyer. You get to interact with lawyers who have brilliant legal minds, and can advance the practice of immigration law. By chairing AILA’s ethics committee, for example, we introduced an ethics compendium for immigration lawyers that would guide them through various ethical conundrums that arise in immigration law practice. By serving on AILA’s administrative litigation committee, we help lawyers to challenge arbitrary and erroneous decisions in federal court.
What effect has the presidency of Donald Trump had on US immigration matters/law practices?
Trump’s presidency has posed unprecedented challenges for immigration lawyers. Routine cases that were hitherto easily approvable can now be denied. On each case, the immigration lawyer must develop a strategy to manage the client’s expectation and to overcome any resistance that the government may pose for the client. In the event there is an adverse decision, the lawyer must find effective strategies to overcome the denial and also be prepared to litigate in federal court.
How much of an impact is the Buy American Hire American (BAHA) executive order of 2017 continuing to have on the immigration market?
The BAHA executive order has unfortunately allowed immigration officials to interpret the law beyond what was intended by Congress or its plain meaning. Every adjudication involving a work visa under BAHA requires an implicit analysis of whether the foreign national’s entry into the US will undermine American jobs even if the statutory provision does not require the adjudicating official to consider the impact on American jobs. This has resulted in a lot of arbitrary decisions. When consular officers make negative decisions with BAHA at the back of their mind, it is very difficult to challenge their decisions due to the doctrine of consular non reviewability.
You have enjoyed a very distinguished career so far. What would you like to achieve that you have not yet accomplished?
I want to continue to ensure that the United States, and all countries of the world, develop fair, humane and rational immigration refugee policies despite trends to the contrary, and to further ensure that no one is denied competent representation. In this regard, I have only started and need to accomplish much more.
What has been the key to your success?
I love being an immigration lawyer and I speak my mind on immigration issues. Disseminating thoughts and ideas through teaching, speaking, writing and tweeting also keeps me ahead of the game.
Cyrus Mehta is “very well respected", and exalted as "the smartest immigration attorney out there".
Cyrus D Mehta is the managing partner of Cyrus D Mehta & Partners PLLC in New York City. Mr Mehta represents corporations and individuals from around the world in a variety of immigration matters, including business, employment, and entrepreneur and investor immigration. Based on over 25 years of experience in immigration law, he is able to comprehend all kinds of problems and provide effective, ethical and strategic solutions to his clients.
Mr Mehta is a member of AILA’s administrative litigation task force; AILA’s EB-5 committee; former chair of AILA’s ethics committee; special counsel on immigration matters to the departmental disciplinary committee, appellate division, first department, New York; board member of Volunteers for Legal Services and board member of New York Immigration Coalition. Mr Mehta is the former chair of the board of trustees of the American Immigration Council and former chair of the committee on immigration and nationality law of the New York City Bar Association.
He is a frequent speaker and writer on various immigration-related issues, including on ethics, and is also an adjunct professor of law at Brooklyn Law School, where he teaches a course entitled ‘Immigration and Work’. Mr Mehta received the AILA 2018 Edith Lowenstein Memorial Award for advancing the practice of immigration law and the AILA 2011 Michael Maggio Memorial Award for his outstanding efforts in providing pro bono representation in the immigration field. He has also received two AILA Presidential Commendations in 2010 and 2016.
Mr Mehta graduated with a BA degree from St Xavier's College, Bombay University, and subsequently obtained law degrees from Cambridge University, England (MA in Law), and Columbia Law School, New York (LLM). In his spare time, Mr Mehta plays the violin.