Category Archives: Editorial

Sharma-Crawford Attorneys at Law Announces New Focus on National Interest Waivers (NIW)

In addition to its other practice areas, Kansas City-based firm also will concentrate on clients who contribute to the national interest and may be eligible for permanent residence in the EB-2 immigrant visa preference category. 

Kansas City, MO (September 21, 2016)  Sharma-Crawford Attorneys at Law announces they have added a new focus to their immigration law practice. In addition to other areas, the firm also will concentrate on clients who may fall under the EB-2 immigrant visa preference category for U.S. employment-based permanent residency. The firm is well recognized for litigating complicated immigration cases, and often takes cases in which clients’ have unique situations and life stories. Given the heightened standards faced by those seeking residency through the National Interest Waiver process, the firm’s expertise in litigating complex cases places them in an unrivaled position to handle these cases.

“As trial lawyers, we’re different. We believe legal cases are about understanding people’s stories. We believe that decision makers need to understand the caliber of our clients, what they do to benefit the greater good, and how the law supports their cases,” explains Rekha Sharma-Crawford a principal in Sharma-Crawford Attorneys at Law, LLC.

The EB-2 immigrant visa preference category includes “members of the professions holding advanced degrees or their equivalent and individuals who because of their exceptional ability in the sciences, arts, or business will substantially benefit prospectively the national economy, cultural or educational interests, or welfare of the United States, and whose services in the sciences, arts, professions, or business are sought by an employer in the United States,” as created by congress with the Immigration Act of 1990. EB-2 categories usually require the Labor Certification application followed by the employer-filed I-140.

The NIW petition, however, waives EB-2’s Labor Certification requirement, but a person must fulfill three requirements that demonstrate permanent residency is in the nation’s best interest: work in the U.S. has “substantial intrinsic merit,” is “national in scope,” and “waiving the labor certification requirement would benefit the national interests of the United States.” The term “national interest” does not have a statutory or regulatory definition, which is where it becomes essential to be able to help explain, in plain language, what it is that the person does and its wider impact.

There are many ways that an individual’s contributions can further a national interest. For example, does the work that the individual performs help the American economy? Does it improve health care? Are they on the verge of a cutting edge discovery that has the potential to change or even create an industry? Other possibilities may include things like:

  • Will it create affordable housing for the poor, elderly and children?
  • Will the environment and natural resources usage improve?
  • Will it unlock a medical mystery and help change the way medical matters are approached or handled in a particular field?

“When we began to think about expanding our services, we realized that we had a passion for innovation. We use it in the way we litigate and we understand the way creative thought can lead to profound change. Thus, visa cases for members of the professions holding advanced degrees or their equivalent and individuals with exceptional ability in the sciences, arts, or business and whose services in the sciences, arts, professions, or business are sought by an employer in the U.S. became our new passion. These cases appeal to our curiosity and unwavering need to understand and tell their stories in a way only trial lawyers can,” states Sharma-Crawford.

About Sharma-Crawford Attorneys at Law

Sharma-Crawford, Attorneys at Law is a nationally recognized firm specializing in the complexities of immigration litigation. Practice specialties include criminal or civil litigation in state, federal or immigration court. The attorneys of Sharma-Crawford also speak and educate peers and the community on issues pertaining to the complexities of immigration and immigration litigation. The firm is located on the border of Kansas City’s Westside and the Crossroads Arts District.


National Immigration Law Center Sues to Force Kansas to Disclose Information about Discriminatory Treatment of Refugees

KANSAS City, MO. & LOS ANGELES, CA., (April 5, 2016) – Kansas may not keep its unlawful discrimination against Syrian refugees a secret, according to a lawsuit filed by the National Immigration Law Center (NILC) and co-counsel Sharma-Crawford Attorneys at Law, LLC, under the Kansas Open Records Act. The suit, filed after more than two months of requests and appeals, seeks to learn more about how officials are implementing Gov. Sam Brownback’s unconstitutional instruction to state agencies not to assist in the resettlement of certain individuals designated by the federal government as refugees.

Last November, Brownback issued an executive order instructing state officials to engage in discriminatory practices to make it difficult for Syrian refugees to begin new lives in Kansas. He has since issued a more ambiguous order that could have the same pernicious effect.

“Syrian refugees have fled unspeakable violence, undergone years of background checks and want nothing more than to begin their lives anew in America,” said Melissa Keaney, attorney for the NILC. “Through his order, Gov. Brownback may be pushing his state agencies to make their new lives in America even more difficult, if not impossible—and he has done so in secret. We filed this lawsuit today because the public has a right to know if the state is engaging in discriminatory, unconstitutional behavior.”

“Gov. Brownback’s latest executive order leaves out way more than it includes,” said Justin Cox, cooperating attorney with the NILC. “Nowhere does it explain the circumstances under which the state would conclude that a particular refugee is a security risk, who within the state would make that determination or if it has already been made. For all that’s known publicly, Kansas could be barring refugees from the state solely because of their religion or country of birth.”

More than ten weeks ago, NILC requested information under the Kansas Open Records Act from the governor’s office and two agencies involved in administering federally funded benefits to refugees: the Kansas Department for Women and Children and the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. Under the law, state officials have three business days to act on a request for public records.

“This lawsuit demonstrates what is all too common: public officials routinely violate the Kansas Open Records Act, making a mockery of the law’s promise of governmental transparency,” said Rekha Sharma-Crawford, who is serving as co-counsel on the case. “Usually the public officials get away with ignoring the law, but not this time.”

NILC and Sharma-Crawford Attorneys hope that the lawsuit will compel the state to provide more information about how it is implementing the executive order in order to shine a public light on the state’s potentially unconstitutional, discriminatory actions.

The petition for declaratory and injunctive relief is available at

About Sharma-Crawford Attorneys At Law
Sharma-Crawford, Attorneys at Law specializes in the complexities of immigration litigation. Practice specialties include criminal or civil litigation in state, federal or immigration court. The attorneys of Sharma-Crawford also speak and educate peers and the community on issues pertaining to the complexities of immigration and immigration litigation. The firm is located on the border of Kansas City’s Westside and the Crossroads Arts District.



Legal Representation Crucial for Refugee Children

The stories below are based off real client experiences. However, all names and specific details have been altered as a matter of privacy and confidentiality.

Juana was 11 years old when she came to the U.S. from Honduras. She lived with her grandparents, but they could not protect her from the violence engulfing their country. A cousin helped her make the treacherous journey from Honduras to the U.S. She got across the southern border in to Texas, but she was quickly apprehended by border patrol officers. The border patrol officers explained her rights to her including her right to make a phone call, her right to be represented by an attorney and her right to see an immigration judge. The problem was that the officer read these rights to her in English. She only spoke Spanish. She unwittingly nodded her head, and she was transferred to a facility with other children who came into the U.S. without their parents. She was ultimately released to her mother in Kansas.

Unknown to her, and her mother, she also was placed in immigration proceedings and given an immigration hearing. She had no idea how the immigration legal system worked and neither did her mom. Juana was just excited to be reunited with her mother. Unfortunately, neither understood Juana’s obligation to go to court to see an immigration judge. Juana did not attend her hearing and was ordered deported from the U.S. She now faces the daunting task of trying to reopen her case and see if she is eligible for some sort of relief or get deported to the violent country she fled. At this point, the difference between having an attorney and not having an attorney could be the difference between protection in the U.S. or potential persecution or death in Honduras.

For the past two years, women and children refugees from three Central American countries, Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador, have come to the U.S. in record numbers due to significant violence and failing police systems in their countries. Many of the women and children who come to the U.S. are eligible for asylum. According to the Asylum Office, part of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, close to 90% of families who have come to the U.S. have shown a credible fear of persecution or torture. Legally, this means that the Asylum Office has determined that they have a significant possibility to be granted asylum in the U.S.

Unfortunately, just having shown a credible fear of persecution does not protect all of these refugees. After these refugees are found to have a credible fear they are placed in immigration court before and immigration judge. If the refugees are unaccompanied minors, they do not have to show a credible fear of persecution at the border. However, they are still placed in immigration court. For both groups of refugees, the presence of an attorney can be the difference between getting asylum in the U.S. and getting deported to the country they fled.

According to the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) at Syracuse University, almost 50 percent of unaccompanied children are unrepresented at immigration proceedings. Of all the deportation orders issued by immigration judges against children in 2014 and 2015, almost 90 percent of them were unrepresented. The number of deportation orders against children for failing to appear in court (also called in absentia orders) were even higher at almost 97 percent. These numbers were similar for families. 86 percent of families ordered removed were unrepresented and almost 97 percent of families order deported in absentia were unrepresented.

These striking numbers show the absolute necessity for representation of these refugees. When they come to the U.S., they have no idea how to navigate the treacherous maze of immigration law, they do not speak the language, and often they have limited education and little money. For unaccompanied children, particularly younger children, they have no ability to speak for or defend themselves in court or the asylum office, if they even make it to court or the asylum office.

When I tell acquaintances unfamiliar with immigration law that immigrants, even child refugees from Central America, are not appointed attorneys, many are shocked. Criminal defendants are required to have representation because of the implication of prison time or other deprivation of liberty. Despite the grave consequences of immigration proceedings, particularly for these refugees, immigration cases are considered civil. There is no requirement for appointment of counsel.

However, Senator Harry Reid recently introduced a bill to require appointment of counsel, even at the cost of the government if necessary, for unaccompanied children, disabled individuals, and victims of abuse, torture or violence. The bill would also permit the immigration court to appoint attorneys for any person in immigration court, although it is not required. This is a step in the right direction. Although there is little hope it will pass as a bill, the importance of representation must be acknowledged, as highlighted by the statistics from TRAC. No refugee or child should be ordered deported without representation from competent attorneys.


DISCLAIMER: Nothing in this blog should be construed as legal advice. If you are in removal proceedings or need legal advice on your immigration case, please contact an immigration attorney.

Infosys. Is it a Sea of Change for Businesses?

On October 30, 2013, Infosys, the Indian multinational provider of business consulting, information technology, software engineering and outsourcing services, agreed to pay $34 million in fines for I-9 violations. What makes this remarkable is the detailed 13-page settlement agreement that lays out in excruciating detail the company’s long use of B-1 visa holders to supplement their work force.

The federal investigation was instigated by private civil lawsuit, which had been filed by a former manager who was alleging discrimination and breach of contract. That manager, Jay Palmer, alleged that he was retaliated against when he questioned the firm’s potential violations of U.S. immigration laws.

Infosys was using engineers who were B-1 visa holders to enter the U.S. and write code and do other “work” that the DHS held was not allowed under that visa class. Evidence included detailed statements and internal Infosys documents that coached those engineers on what to say when entering the U.S. Infosys, has not admitted to any wrong doing and settled only to avoid protracted litigation.

This raises the question that if the evidence of those violations was so strong, why was the settlement only for I-9 violations? That answer lies in the complex nature of immigration law. Consider this statement in the Wall Street Journal by the lead government prosecutor, Shamoil Shipchandler:

“It’s not 100% clear what someone who holds a B-1 visa can actually do,” he said. For example, placing someone within a company for six months to do in-house tech support is an improper use of a B-1 visa. But if a consultant helps refine software during a meeting with a client, as part of a larger project, that could be seen as an appropriate use of a visitor visa, Mr. Shipchandler said. “It’s a murky area, but for our purposes they misled consular officials.”1

Thus, it becomes clear that what the government was actually concerned about was the “coaching” of employees when they applied for visas or entered the U.S. on their B-1 visas. This will likely translate into those businesses, especially in the IT industry, facing greater scrutiny when applying for business-based visas.

The Wal-Mart settlement over sub-contracted labor changed the way in which businesses track the I-9’s of their subcontractors.2 Following the Infosys settlement, the future of business immigration may again be influenced; causing business to re-evaluate the processes by which apply for and document foreign workers.

Savvy business owners are using the Infosys settlement as an opportunity to review their practices and invest in preventative measures. By seeking out affirmative review of their business immigration practices, including I-9 compliance and proper creation and maintenance of H-1B, H1B1 and E-2 status Public Access Files, businesses are hoping to avoid the same fate, or worse, as Infosys. Review of current practices is particularly important in the current political climate, which seems to suggest a stronger shift to employer sanctions and compliance as part of any comprehensive immigration reform legislation.

Sharma-Crawford Attorneys at Law is a Kansas City, Missouri, firm deeply experienced in the complexities of immigration litigation. Whether you are facing criminal or civil litigation in state, federal or immigration court, in Kansas or Missouri – the caring professionals at Sharma-Crawford can help you navigate through the complex legal system. Sharma-Crawford now also offers a full range of business related immigration services. For more information, please call (816) 994-2300 or visit The choice of a lawyer is an important decision and should not be based solely on advertisements. The information contained in this article is general information and should not be considered legal counsel.

17th “This is my Mexico” Children´s Drawing Contest

This is MexicoIn celebration of the Institute for Mexicans Abroad’s 10th anniversary, the IME is sponsoring important events throughout 2013, including the prestigious Children’s Drawing Contest.

For the first time, the contest will have an artist mentor – the world-famous Mexican artist, Jorge Marín, who specializes in painting and sculpting. Using his exhibit, “Wings of Mexico,” as inspiration, the IME has chosen Uniendo fronteras (bringing borders together) as the theme of this year’s contest.

For more details including contest and registration information, please visit the links below:
17th “This is my Mexico” Children´s Drawing Contest
17º Concurso de  Dibujo Infantil: “Éste es mi  México”