Florida Bar committee members and more than 100 Florida attorneys are supporting an undocumented immigrant who wishes to practice law in the State. The immigrant, Jose Godinez-Samperio, graduated from law school and passed the bar, and now has only the following legal challenges potentially standing in his way:
- Godinez-Samperio first came to the United States with his parents at age nine on a tourist visa from Mexico, according to The Tampa Tribune. The family never left.
- He graduated from the Florida State University College of Law and received a waiver from the Board of Bar Examiners to take the bar exam.
- Since passing the bar, he petitioned to amend the Bar rules so that no one may be disqualified from membership on the basis that they are not a U.S. citizen.
- The Florida Supreme Court is now considering the issue, but the Bar’s Board of Governors stated they support the idea. In addition, 106 Florida lawyers have signed the petition, including three former Supreme Court justices, two former appellate judges, a former governor, two former American Bar Association presidents and five former Florida Bar presidents.
The U.S. Department of Justice insists that federal law bars undocumented immigrants from obtaining professional licenses. While his case is decided, Godinez-Samperio remains in the U.S. under a “deferred action” work permit. He is one of 140,000 people who obtain employment-based immigrant visas in the United States each fiscal year. There are five preference categories for work-based visas. First preference is for priority workers who have extraordinary abilities, who are outstanding professors and researchers and who are multinational managers or executives. Professionals holding advanced degrees, such as Godinez-Samperio, and people of exceptional ability are given second preference.
Obtaining a work-based visa is not an easy task, but a skilled Florida immigration lawyer can help you and your family obtain the visas you need to keep your employment and acquire U.S. residency.