Rami D Fakhoury is the founder and managing director of Fakhoury Global Immigration, USA PC (FGI), one of the largest independently owned business-based immigration law firms in the US. He is a Fellow of the American Bar Association, and a leading lawyer and equity member of the Alliance of Business Immigration Lawyers (ABIL), as well as one of America’s Most Honoured Lawyers – Top 1% by the American Registry. FGI is an AV Preeminent-rated firm by Martindale Hubbell.
What has been your most interesting immigration case to date, and why?
It is difficult to identify an individual case, given FGI represents several Fortune 500 companies and processes a high volume of cases. We have assisted foreign nationals with extraordinary ability petitions in numerous fields that often involve fascinating cutting-edge technologies. These cases show the range of talents that immigrants bring to the US: we have also helped squash coaches and religious painters, as well as software engineers and business managers. Therefore, I would prefer to highlight the variety of ambitious and talented people that our firm has assisted rather than the particularities of one specific case.
What qualities are key for an immigration lawyer to have?
Effective immigration lawyers are passionate about helping others. Given the current US immigration landscape, they have to be continually up to date with ever-changing rules and regulations and be ready to work intensively with corporate clients to develop strategies that achieve talent mobility goals while ensuring full legal compliance. I would also say that immigration lawyers need to be resilient. The ongoing efforts by the Trump Administration to reshape immigration law and practice, and to reduce immigration to the US, have been very taxing to people in our profession. It is crucial, then, that immigration lawyers also cultivate their own inner strength and self-care so that they can focus on, and serve, their clients’ needs.
In what ways has covid-19 impacted clients and the work you do for them?
The single biggest impact that the coronavirus pandemic has had on our clients and our work has been the extensive travel and entry restrictions that national governments have implemented, and especially those of the current US administration. As of the time of writing, in September 2020, there are multiple US presidential proclamations in force that have – with certain exceptions – suspended the issuance of certain categories of non-immigrant and immigrant visas.
Therefore, our clients face many more obstacles when they want to bring talent to the US, and our attorneys have responded effectively. Like many other organisations, covid-19 has also forced us to alter our work practices, such as by increasing remote working, staggering work schedules, and adopting more automated processes. Consequently, we have been able to maintain our high level of service quality and to help clients receive visa approvals even during these challenging times.
In an increasingly uncertain world, what do you find most challenging about practising corporate immigration law today?
Immigration lawyers face many challenges in their practice such as the aforementioned travel restrictions, particularly to the US; changes to immigration rules and processes; and changes to case volume. Even so, we continue to help policymakers appreciate the economic benefits that immigrants can bring. Some of these challenges may change following the US presidential election in November. If Mr. Biden wins, we hope that the US government will take a more moderate stance on immigration and roll back many of these restrictions.
What advice do you give to individuals and organisations currently navigating the complex US immigration system?
Even in normal times, immigration law is very complex. More than ever, individuals and organisations should retain an experienced immigration attorney if they have not done so, and if they have, they need to follow their guidance rigorously. Having a firm understanding of the global mobility process and the current political and economic environment, and developing cultural awareness are also increasingly important.
What are some areas of increasing activity you have identified at your firm in terms of immigration?
Recently we have been increasing our publication output, and FGI attorneys have been publishing articles on multiple topics on different legal publishing platforms. We also continue to work with policymakers to develop effective immigration policies and initiatives such as when, some years ago, we assisted Michigan Governor Rick Snyder in creating a plan to provide 50,000 visas over five years to highly skilled immigrants who would move to the Detroit region.
What makes Fakhoury Global Immigration stand out from its competitors in the market?
We have been ahead of the curve when it comes to using lean technologies, automated processes, and an online case management system. Consequently, our firm has been better able to weather the coronavirus pandemic than competing firms, although we have had to make some adjustments too. We also continue to achieve consistently high rates of approval and have been able to retain our competitive flat-fee rates, which has helped to ensure client loyalty and to generate new client leads.
What advice would you give to younger practitioners hoping to one day be in your position?
Immigration law is a field that is continually in flux and, more than other branches of the law, is subject to the shifting currents of politics. You need to have the acumen of a businessperson, the ability to cultivate important relationships, and the passion to stay updated on legal and regulatory changes and developments. Leading a law firm requires a lot of energy and dexterity. It is a tough balance, but the rewards are there for those who persevere.