A seminar was held at the Opera Suite Hotel in Yerevan on September 3, 2022, during which immigration attorney Manvel Vasilyev-Airumian presented the various opportunities and existing procedures for obtaining US visas and Green Cards. The seminar, called “Immigration to the U.S.: How to Get Visas and Green Cards Without Family or Employer in the United States”, was specifically intended for attorneys, business owners and managers, artists, scientists, highly qualified professionals, athletes and more.
Mr. Airumian, who is of Armenian origin, has been working in the field for more than 20 years. He is the managing partner of US-based law firm InterlinkLaw and is specialized in US immigration matters such as citizenship and naturalization, permanent residency applications, work and business visas, and more. What brought him to Armenia? Panorama.am tried to find out through Mr. Airumian himself.
Question: Mr. Airumian, a seminar was held recently in Yerevan during which you talked about US immigration policies and the opportunities available to live and work in the United States. Could you tell us a bit more about your purpose? Why was it so important for you to be part of this event in Armenia?
Answer: Consultations and legal advice are part of my everyday practice as an immigration attorney. I am regularly invited to participate in similar seminars and conferences in different countries. When I was invited to speak in Armenia, my homeland, I couldn’t refuse of course. Unfortunately, Armenia is one of the many countries where citizens often aspire to move to the U.S. to secure a better future. The presence of a big Armenian community in the United States is an additional incentive for them to move to the U.S. in order to find employment, receive medical treatment, improve their professional skills or simply reside in the country. This is the current situation in Armenia and it's due to many objective and subjective reasons. Since I am Armenian myself, it is particularly difficult for me to see the situations in which my compatriots often find themselves, trying to improve their life while not being familiar enough with US immigration policies.
At InterlinkLaw, we often get consultation requests from people who are already in those difficult situations. Because of the experience I have working in this field, I can say that most of the problems these people face could be avoided if they followed the right immigration procedures in the first place. Unfortunately, many Armenian citizens choose to immigrate to the U.S. by taking “shortcuts”. By that, I mean illegal immigration which, of course, creates many problems for them later on. This is a common issue that can be avoided if everything is planned properly in advance, based on legal immigration procedures. I’m glad to see that the legal community in Armenia is also concerned by these issues.
During the seminar, I presented the opportunities, limitations and correct procedures provided by the US legislation in detail. I sincerely hope that this will guide the lawyers, managers and representatives of various companies, who were present at the seminar, and help them to avoid any problems if they, their clients or employees ever decide to move to the U.S.
Question: You mentioned that many Armenian citizens find themselves in difficult situations when they violate US immigration policies. At the same time, we know that emigration from Armenia to the U.S. continues at a high pace. How come? Does it mean that those problems are not impossible to solve most of the time?
Answer: In many cases, they are impossible to solve. I am sure that you are aware that many of those immigrants are deported at some point. This does not only apply to Armenian citizens, obviously, but to all immigrants entering the U.S. illegally. Of course, the cases in which these problems can be solved are not rare either. However, people who enter those situations often have to pay a very high price for it. They end up wasting a lot of money on lawyer fees, various intermediary organizations and on God knows what else. During my many years of practice, I met people who had literally sold all their property, cars and sometimes everything else they had in order to move to the U.S., and they did so without having a solid plan for obtaining a long term visa or a green card. I’m not sure how much of this can be justified. Perhaps some people have a good reason for it but why make such drastic sacrifices when you can simply do your research about the immigration system, assess the opportunities and the risks, then make a well-calculated decision?
The mission of our law firm, and mine as well, is exactly that: to help people avoid unnecessary problems, become more familiar with legal procedures and avoid wasting years of hard work on something as unsure as illegal immigration.
Question: Emigration is one of the biggest problems in Armenia today. Don’t you think that by familiarizing Armenian citizens with the different possibilities of moving to the U.S., living and working there, we are adding fuel to the fire?
Answer: Quite the opposite: my main goal is to prevent my compatriots from making hasty and illegal decisions. Unfortunately, experience has shown me that once some people decide to move to the U.S., they rarely let anything stop them. So, what we do instead as an immigration law firm is help our clients plan everything correctly. We make sure that they are aware of all the risks and consequences and that they follow the legal procedures before taking a step as important as moving to another country. This is extremely important.
Besides that, there’s also one important thing to remember: not every person who moves to the U.S. intends to actually stay there forever. Many people do it for health reasons, to get medical treatment for example. Others, young people mostly, want to study in the U.S. and then return to their home country to work. Many business owners look for opportunities in the U.S., which is not necessarily a bad thing for Armenia. In fact, when the business continues to operate in Armenia, it keeps benefiting the country and its people. So it’s really not a black-and-white situation.
But circling back to the topic of emigration in Armenia, it is indeed a worrying issue, to which I’m not indifferent. In fact, lately our team is working on a startup that enables people to have access to legal services through apps. One of the tools that we have recently developed is an app that allows people to prepare their Armenian Citizenship application online. The app allows people from anywhere in the world to easily fill out the form online and generate the required documents in order to apply for Armenian citizenship. What’s great about it is that people can complete the citizenship form in English, French or Russian and the app will automatically translate every document to Armenian. This means that it will no longer be necessary to fill out your application by hand. It also means that if you don’t speak Armenian, you can still fill it out in one of the three foreign languages available currently.
Question: So this is a new tool for applying for Armenian citizenship? What other services or apps does AmpiChap offer?
Answer: AmpiChap is a legal tech company. Legal services are very expensive in the U.S. Through AmpiChap, people can take care of many legal procedures independently, saving both their time and money. And because I care very much about Armenia and the Armenian people, I wanted to add an Armenian citizenship app to our services. I hope that our compatriots living abroad will take advantage of this opportunity and connect with their homeland with even stronger ties.