In an interview with Manage HR, Jinhee Wilde, Founder and CEO of WA Law Group, tells us how the firm provides a hands-on, personable legal immigration service to its clients at every step of the way.
Can you give our readers an insight into your background and how you came up with the idea of WA Law Group?
I am an immigrant myself. In fact, all of my staff, including my partner and legal assistants, are immigrants. So, we have the first-hand experience of how complicated the immigration process can be.
I started my legal career as a prosecutor in Chicago. Later, I joined US Department of Agriculture in DC as an attorney adviser and special counsel and then as an Inspector General Designee. After leaving USDA, I became Of Counsel at a large, DC law firm doing multimillion-dollar international business transactions before becoming a partner in a small immigration law firm in 2000.
Initially, I learned immigration law by handling deportation (removal) cases. Handling these removal cases, I saw many immigrants were in that situation because their previous cases were not properly handled or made mistakes because they did not know the details of each step of their process and current status. I realized that because immigration law is forms-based practice, many immigrants think they could do things on their own and some lawyers dabble in the practice thinking they do not need to keep up with the nuances of the often-changing regulations and policies. That is when I realized I would like to have a law firm that truly focuses on immigration law only and would take the time to answer all the questions our clients have and handhold them throughout the years-long immigration process.
Hence, in our law firm—initially set up as Wilde and Associate, now WA Law Group—we respond to our clients within 24 hours of initial contact. All of our client's emails and calls are returned, within few hours. Many of our clients marvel at receiving emails at 2 am or later.
What are some of the most pressing issues in the immigration space that you see in your client’s faces?
Anti-immigration policies implemented by President Trump have slowed down the legal immigration process to a practical stand still. Previously, we received a filing receipt after 1-2 weeks of filing an application; now, the same receipt notices take more than 3 months to be issued. The actual application process, which earlier took 5-9 months at best would now take a couple of years. Although we are starting to see some improvement on these processing times within the last 2 months, this kind of inefficient processing times must be addressed post haste. Why would people want to go through the “legal” immigration process when it is so burdensome and takes so long while many of the Congressional representatives appear to focus on helping “illegal” immigrants? No applications for legal immigration should take 50-70+ months.
The employment-based immigration was not developed to displace US workers but hire foreign talents to supplement the U.S. workforce and contribute to the economic growth of the company and U.S. economy
The core expertise of WA Law Group is in employment-based immigration. 99% of our practice is based on providing clients with EB-1 to EB-5 visas (green card process). We also work on temporary work visas like H-1B, L-1, E-2, TN Visas, etc. We have clients all over the world from Europe to Asia to South America. We represent corporate clients who try to sponsor foreign workers to get them a valid work status and we help foreign workers to be able to come and work legally.
There are many firms similar to yours in the immigration space. Why should customers come to you instead of your competition? What makes WA Law Group unique?
Customer service level is what sets WA Law Group apart from other law firms. When one has hundreds of cases going on, it is easy to get overwhelmed and not have enough time to interact with clients. We handle such workloads very well and manage our clients’ need while completing such vast caseloads without missing any deadline.
During the legal immigration application process, the applicant is tense most of the time and has many questions that will only make them anxious if not answered. Answering those questions about their immigration process and promptly notifying them when there is any update is crucial for them and their family. This simple courtesy alleviates a lot of unnecessary anxiety and concern on their part. The immigration process is long and arduous enough for all parties involved without the lawyer adding to their concern because of sloppiness or discourteous or unprofessional behavior.
How has WA's journey been since its inception? What would you say are your long- and near-term goals?
I started WA Law Group with just myself and two assistants. Before Trump years, we had more than tripled in growth. Our clients have increased from about 200 in the initial days to more than a thousand today. Our growth came through word of mouth of satisfied customers recommending our firm's services to their acquaintances as we have never advertised on any communication media.
Several years ago, are porter told me that they went through the Labor Department’s foreign labor cases and found that the cases we filed had the highest approval rate and wanted to know our secret to success. My response was simple: “We understand why the rules were developed.” The US recruitment process is designed so that before one can sponsor any foreign worker, they need to hire US Workers first. In other words, the employment-based immigration was not developed to displace US workers but hire foreign talents to supplement the U.S. workforce and contribute to the economic growth of the company and U.S. economy. Following the rules as it was designed to work is why we are so successful.
Since I used to be a government lawyer, I have the government official’s mentality. I put myself in the shoes of an officer who reviews these cases and try to prepare the case in the spirit of the law, not just the letter of the law. By following that tenet, our law firm has become more successful in the approval track record, which is in the high 90 percentile.
What are your core priorities and focal points in the next 12 months? Where do you envision taking the company in that time?
In the next 12 months, with more immigrant friendly administration, we hope that the processing of the cases would return to quicker speed and the evidentiary standard of both USCIS, and the State Department would follow the law – Preponderance of Evidence standard. We hope to continue growing and expand our firm as we did before.