Dan Baldwin 0000-00-00 00:00:00
Maria Jones Law Firm Seeing Immigration Issues from Both Sides Who could be more qualified to handle the complexities and emotional turmoil surrounding immigration issues than someone who is herself an immigrant to the U.S? Maria Jones, a founder and CEO of Maria Jones Law Firm, has that perspective and it gives her and her team a unique vision and corporate “edge” in handling immigration and related issues. The list of services is long and varied and includes immigrant visas for spouses and close family members, non-immigrant visas such as fiancée and tourist visas, adjustment of status (green card), consular process, waivers, bond hearings in immigration courts, cancellation of removal, voluntary departure, motion to reopen or reconsider, immigration appeals, arrests and detention, naturalization and citizenship, and other immigration issues. Ms. Jones emigrated from Moscow Russia at the age of 21. She has two law degrees – one earned in Russia and the other (LL.M.) from the University of Arizona and is admitted to practice U.S. immigration law in all 50 states. Members of her team are bilingual and speak Spanish, Portuguese, French, Haitian Creole, and Russian. The firm is available 24/7 to assist individuals and families in need. Maria Jones Law Firm guides its clients through the complex processes with passion and commitment and willingness to go the extra mile for each client and his or her family. Families are often torn apart by the immigration system and a long list of ever-increasing restrictive laws and regulations. The firm is dedicated to protecting the rights of foreign nationals and legal permanent residents who have been arrested, placed into immigration detention centers, or who face removal from the U.S. For example, a wrong plea in a criminal case (made without adequate legal representation) can have disastrous consequences in an immigration case and can even lead to eventual deportation and one can be prohibited to enter the U.S. for the rest of his or her life. Ms. Jones and her staff work to provide the best legal defense to prevent unnecessary removal, by such legal remedies as cancellation of removal, hardship waivers or other forms of relief allowing families and family members to remain in the U.S. In many cases such actions lead to permanent resident status and citizenship. The Law as Destiny Maria Jones was born into a family of lawyers in Russia. Her grandfather was a city prosecutor in a small town south of Moscow city and most of the members of her family have legal backgrounds. Law was never a question in her family, it was a fact! It was always assumed that she would follow the family tradition. “The law has been my passion. I enjoy it a lot and I am glad I chose to stay on this path,” she says. “I studied a completely different legal system and I think that experience helped me to open a different part of my brain which made me analyze the differences between the cultural/ legal system of both countries which helps me work within those differences a little bit better.” Times initially were tough as she experienced the expected challenges of adjusting to an entirely different culture. Although she spoke English, she spoke British English which has significant differences from the English spoken in the United States. Such challenges gave her a better perspective on immigration law and life as an immigrant. “Immigrants face a lot of challenges, things that people who were born in this beautiful country take for granted. Law school is tough enough already and then when these other challenges are added to that, you have to get tougher to get through it all and excel at achieving your goals,” she says. Ms. Jones adds that those experiences put her in the mindset of working and holding herself to higher standards and improving her skills as a lawyer and entrepreneur. Those challenges got her thinking about opening her own law firm and being her own boss. “I had a lot of ideas and a burning desire to create something amazing in the United States.” “I believe immigration law is my destiny,” Jones says. When she graduated from the LL.M. Masters program at U of A she had a master’s degree in international trade law. Opportunities in large firms specializing in international law were slim in Arizona so she looked for something she felt comfortable doing. “Things just fell in my lap. I thought, ‘I’m an immigrant. I know how it feels to be an immigrant in Arizona.’ It’s a beautiful state full of immigrants, so I decided to give it a try and it worked out perfectly.” Things were tough and she had to learn everything the hard way because the subject was so new. She started out just wanting to do a good job helping immigrants. “It has turned into a passion. It grew into something so much bigger. It grew into making a real difference in peoples’ lives. It makes me feel great because of what I have been through and what I can offer people in the community,” she says. Uniting families and making them legal in the United States brings enormous rewards. She is especially passionate about the kids born here of immigrant parents who don’t have legal status. Many of those children suffer from choices, some possibly unwise, made by their parents before the kids were born. “I firmly believe I was put on this path. I came all the way from Russia to practice immigration law in Arizona,” Jones says. An Unchanging Commitment in a World of Change The immigration laws are so chaotic that nothing is stable, says Jones. Every month the firm receives some new guidance or some new case law that must be followed and she sees the trends making the laws even tougher. “It’s like choking someone and not letting him have enough oxygen to breathe.” For example, she notes that people wanting to become permanent residents have to wait five, ten or even twenty years before they can even apply for citizenship status because the government does not have the resources to process that amount of applications. Her company philosophy is simple – to help everybody in need. Their goal is to provide exceptional customer service to every client and prospective client. Sadly, she says, some people come to her firm too late for any legal remedy. For example, if someone has been advised poorly by legal counsel or a public defender and has taken a bad plea, the system is set up to deport that individual. “Sometimes all we can do is say nothing can be done! Sometimes existing situations have tied our hands.” Her firm’s typical client doesn’t have legal status in the U.S., but someone has filed for him or her in the past and who has been through an adjustment period. A large segment of her firm’s client base is made up of people who may have been stopped by a police authority and who cannot prove legal U.S. status. They also have clients from all over the world who want to enter the U.S. and/or become U.S. citizens by following the government’s immigration process. Generally her firm’s clients face two big challenges. The first is someone charged with a crime and absolutely needs the advice of an experienced immigration attorney to make sure he or she will not lose the current immigration status. The second challenge is helping after someone has gotten poor advice from ill-informed attorneys or even non-attorneys. Sometimes people are a bit too trusting in individuals who do not deserve that trust. Sometimes people are trying to save a few dollars, she says. Ms. Jones says, “A lot of times such people come to me and, unfortunately, my hands are tied because the case has already been so fouled up that nothing can be fixed. I have the unfortunate duty of having to tell these people that because they acted on such poor advice, their lives are ruined at least as far as legal immigration. That is a heartbreaking thing for me to do.” She notes that this is the chief reason the initial consultations in her office are offered free to all prospective clients. “At least they have professional advice. They have a right to know the truth,” she says. Ms. Jones says, “My vision is why I am doing this. Immigration law is very close to my heart and I think I’m on a bigger mission than when I started my own practice. I’m not just another lawyer doing immigration law. I, and my staff, have a profound effect on the lives of people. I am an optimistic person and if I have to work extra hard to make a difference in this world I will.”
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