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Man waiting on green card can practice law in California

In many ways, a victory for an individual struggling through the U.S. immigration system is a victory for all immigrants fighting a similar battle. With that in mind, Pennsylvania residents may be interested in the recent decision by California's Supreme Court to allow a man waiting on a green card to practice law in that state.

The 36-year-old's parents brought him from Mexico to California when he was a young child. Some years later, his parents took him back to Mexico, and he and his parents again relocated to California when he was 17 years old. His father got permanent resident status and filed a visa petition for his son, but after almost 20 years, the visa has not yet been granted.

The man still pursued his education, however, and in 2009 he earned a law degree and passed California's bar exam. He was a sworn-in attorney for a couple of weeks, but the state bar sent him a notice indicating that he was mistakenly admitted to the bar.

Through his determination and diligence, the matter was taken to the Supreme Court of California, which recently ruled that the man can legally practice law in the state. The Justice Department initially opposed giving the man a law license, claiming that federal law required that states draft legislation that specifically addresses the issue of an undocumented immigrant's right to practice law.

California passed such legislation, and the high court made its decision.

The ruling could serve as a precedent for other cases involving immigrants seeking professional licenses.

If Pennsylvania residents would like to learn more about permanent residency and immigrant worker petitions, our pages on employment-based immigration are a good place to start.

Source: CNN, "No green card? No problem -- undocumented immigrant can practice law, court says," Catherine E. Shoichet and Tom Watkins, Jan. 3, 2014

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