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#MeetTheMember: Neena Dutta, Principal Attorney
Member news | July 13, 2020
Neena's immigration practice is primarily business, along with naturalization and family-based cases. She is currently a Director on the American Immigration Lawyer’s Association’s (AILA) Board of Governors, Co-Chair of the AILANY Advocacy Committee, National Sustainability Committee and Future of Immigration Law Task Force. She has previously been recognized as an attorney in the New York Metro Rising Stars, Super Lawyers and Top Women Attorneys and the SABANY Pro Bono Attorney of the Year and has appeared on numerous international news reports as an expert in immigration on channels such as NPR, WNYC, NY1, CGTV and I-24 News.
FACC-NY: Tell us about your journey to becoming an Immigration Lawyer?
My journey started long before I went to law school and, in all honesty, I tried to avoid immigration law! I was a J-1 exchange student in the 90s. Then an F-1 student, worked for Amazon.com in the 90s. Moved back to the UK with them. After I was with Amazon for a few years I decided to go back to school and go to law school. I came to the US again as a law student and was focused on entertainment law. I ended up falling more into green card applications, O-1s (for extraordinary ability and artist visas) and I ended up finding that it was my strength – so I went with it! Now I have a firm and our sole focus is immigration.
FACC-NY: Describe what your typical workday looks like. How has it changed amidst the current times?
These days there is nothing typical – previously my day was a combination of meeting with clients in person, calling and emailing. Now we do not meet with people in person but have switched almost exclusively to Zoom calls, and we are not physically in the office but communicate via Teams and work together collaborating throughout the day remotely. In addition, there have been numerous immigration announcements, many of which are very painful and navigating this has been challenging.
FACC-NY: What drives your passion to practice immigration law?
I am driven by these challenges I mentioned and wanting to help people. It has a definite amount of satisfaction to working with people and helping them achieve their goals -their “American Dream” if you will. It is also a lot of fun working with entrepreneurs and creative people who are excited to join the US economy.
FACC-NY: Immigration is a topic that generally gets a lot of news coverage. Can you tell us a little bit about the realities of practicing immigration law under the current administration and times?
The realities at the moment is a constant struggle. It is very hard to plan or strategically apply in advance when the rules change on a weekly and sometimes daily basis with no warning or notice. The hardest is seeing families separated due to these actions. It can be very disheartening, but it also is very comforting to know we have so many allies and people who are sympathetic. The benefit of this being in the news is that people are aware of what is happening.
FACC-NY: What advice do you have someone who is interested in working in in Immigration Law or to someone who is early in their career?
For people interested in working in immigration I highly encourage them to try to get an internship at an immigration law firm, volunteer at a clinic or work with a non-profit. For law students I strongly encourage them to become a student member of AILA (American Immigration Lawyers Association). I was a national board member for five years and I am still active. It is a great group of people and very supportive of each other.
FACC-NY: Tell us why you decided to join the FACC-NY community.
I joined FACC because I am a not so secret Francophile! Growing up in London it was always a wonderful school trip, to go to France. The “chunnel” was built during my lifetime and I enjoyed that connection between London and Paris. My work touches many countries, but I do have a particular affinity for France and FACC has been a lovely bonus while living in New York.
Interested in connecting with Neena? Log into the FACC Member Directory to send her a message.