Q + A
As the daughter of immigrants, Fatima Khan is passionate about her work as an immigration attorney and is inspired to help those seeking to immigrate to the U.S. In this Q + A, Fatima delves into how she helps her clients and what makes this work so meaningful.
What do you like most about being an immigration attorney?
My favorite part about being an immigration attorney is that I get to make a difference in peoples’ lives and help them achieve the American dream. To deliver the news that someone’s green card (permanent residency) has been approved is so rewarding. It’s a very personal area of practice, and I enjoy building relationships with my clients. We work with employers, the foreign national, and their family members, so there are multiple parties with something at stake. It’s incredibly fulfilling and can also be quite challenging.
What is one of the biggest challenges your immigration clients are facing today?
The single biggest issue in the lives of our clients is the uncertainty they face about their future. Our clients are not able to lay down roots, plan long term, or make big-picture decisions like buying a home or planning for their children’s future without knowing whether they will be able to live and work in the U.S. We work with our clients to find the best approach to each unique situation, including alternative plans so they never give up hope.
What is one of the proudest moments of your career?
Early in my career, I dove straight into asylum and deportation defense, and I worked with a number of people from the local Bosnian community who were fleeing the war in former Yugoslavia. Specifically, I helped them successfully apply for and obtain asylum status based on persecution. To me it was form of justice being delivered, in a different kind of way—I was helping them carve a new path and a new beginning for themselves in America. Although that path was certainly filled with its own challenges, it was also filled with incredible opportunities not only for themselves, but also for their future generations.
Who inspires you and why?
When I transitioned to the business side of immigration law, I fell in love with the work because I am making a difference in peoples’ lives based on their educational and professional achievements. It reminds me of my parents, who are my inspiration. They are both immigrants from Pakistan who came to the U.S. in the 1960’s shortly after Partition, when British India was split into India and Pakistan, displacing millions of people along religious lines. They were both the first in their respective families to come to the U.S. to pursue higher education and career opportunities. Throughout my upbringing, they sponsored other family members to come to the U.S. and get settled, become successful, and give back to their community. Because of their determination and hard work, I have been entrenched in the immigration world for as long as I can remember.
How do you balance your professional and personal lives?
When I first went back to work after being a stay-at-home mom for a few years, I was worried about how it would impact my two young daughters. I began talking to them about my work and presented it in terms of helping people come to and stay in America so that they can have a good life like we do. When I come home from work, I tell them about how I’m trying to help people. My daughters are proud of the work I do, and it feels good as a mother and as an immigration attorney to know that my kids not only understand how I help people, but also that they, at a young age, developed a sense of responsibility to help others.