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Do I have to be a US citizen to practice law?

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simonh:
Dear all,

I am not an American and I  just found out that my law degree makes me eligible to take the bar exams in NYC.

I wonder if being a NYC Bar member is enough to lawfully practice law in NYC or there is a need to have a visa or citizenship.

Thanks in advance,

Simon

Maintain FL 350:
You should contact INS (Immigration and Naturalization Service) and ask them. On an issue like this you  really need to get the right information, not just what some anonymous poster tells you. If you get admitted to the NY bar, but are not authorized to work in the US, I imagine that you could jeopardize your bar membership by illegally working. Contact INS. 

simonh:
Thank you.

john4040:

--- Quote from: simonh on May 16, 2012, 04:46:59 AM ---I am not an American. . . I wonder if being a NYC Bar member is enough to lawfully practice law in NYC or there is a need to have a visa or citizenship.

--- End quote ---

No, it's not enough.  All non-US citizens must have a work visa or green card to take up "gainful employment" in the US.  The Visa Waiver Program does allow citizens of specific countries to travel to the United States for tourism or business for up to 90 days, however, it generally applies only to short-term meetings and conferences in relation to the alien's profession/line of business/employer in their home country, not to most forms of "gainful employment".

If you aren't eligible for the Visa Waiver Program (i.e., you intend to be gainfully employed in the US), you will need an H-1B visa, which requires sponsorship by the company/firm you plan to work for.

Good luck finding legal employment in the US in this economy, and good luck finding a legal employer willing to go through the hassle of sponsoring you.

SoCalLawGuy:
If you're really good, someone might hire you in no time, it's just that the employer need to deal with a lot of paperwork and stress to make you a "legal employee" so to say :)

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