As the lead attorney of the Firm's Immigration Practice Group, David W. Gearhart specializes in counseling businesses and individuals with respect to immigration-related matters including temporary/permanent work visas; permanent residence based on family relationships; citizenship; J-1 visa waivers; securing student and visitor visas, maintenance of status issues, and U.S. entry issues. During Dave's more than 20-year tenure, Firm clients (and related workers) have experienced an astounding success rate exceeding 99% on immigration filings with USCIS and DOS and in successfully clearing U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) (including pursuing national interest waivers due to the COVID-19 pandemic). Because of this success, Dave is often asked to take over as counsel for difficult cases in the midst of responding to a request for evidence, notice of intent to deny, or even after a denial. He also regularly advises and trains employers with respect to work authorization compliance issues, I-9 audits, and investigations, and advises on immigration and employment aspects (including due diligence) of mergers, acquisitions, and other corporate restructurings.
Dave's employment law practice includes litigation of employment disputes, with a particular focus on wrongful termination, discrimination/retaliation, and employee benefit/ERISA litigation. He has handled successfully the defense of numerous complex individual and class action employment disputes in federal and state courts, and administrative agencies, across the country. The factual, demonstrable proof demanded in high-stakes employment litigation provides a valuable edge in documenting necessary immigration filings.
Dave also counsels employers on human resource matters on a daily basis, such as hiring, termination, harassment and discrimination, wage and hour laws, disability accommodations issues, employee leave rights, and non-compete disputes, among others (including new COVID-related employer obligations). This employment knowledge renders him uniquely effective in advising clients on the employment ramifications of immigration developments (for example, offer letters and employment contracts, agreements and reimbursement issues related to immigration fees, employee wage issues, and separations), thus saving clients the additional expense of consulting separate employment counsel when such issues arise.
Dave frequently speaks on immigration and employment topics and regularly writes articles on pertinent immigration and employment issues. He also published a book on the spousal immigration process. Additionally, Dave was selected for inclusion in Missouri & Kansas Super Lawyers® for 2016-2020 and in Missouri & Kansas Rising Stars® 2011-2014. Moreover, Dave was selected as one of the Top 100 Lawyers for Immigration by The National Advocates, an invitation-only professional organization composed of the top 100 attorneys from each state or region who exemplify superior qualifications of leadership, reputation, influence, and performance in their area of specialty. Finally, Dave was named to Missouri Lawyers Media's Power List for Immigration Law in 2024.
- Washington University in St. Louis School of Law (J.D., 2000)
- Washington University Law Quarterly
- Order of the Coif
- Emory University (B.A., 1996)
- International Studies and German
- Sigma Chi
- Summer associate, Lewis Rice LLC (1998, 1999)
- American Bar Association
- Bar Association of Metropolitan St. Louis
- American Immigration Lawyers Association
- U.S. Court of Appeals: Third, Sixth, Seventh, Eighth, and 11th Circuits
- U.S. District Courts, Eastern and Western Districts of Missouri, Southern and Central Districts of Illinois, Southern District of Indiana, District of Kansas
- Missouri Bar
- Illinois Bar
Charitable & Civic Activities
- Board of Directors, Shaw Avenue Children's Center (2004-2014)
- Regularly handles immigration cases pro bono on behalf of Legal Services of Eastern Missouri