Meet Verna Polutan, Of Counsel at Garvish Immigration Law Group, LLC. Verna currently lives in Los Angeles, California with her husband and daughter. She was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania after her parents moved from the Philippines to participate in the exchange visitor program. Verna’s father was a resident at the University of Pennsylvania Graduate Hospital and her mother was placed at St. Luke’s Hospital, Philadelphia. With the help of an immigration attorney, they were able to remain in the U.S.

Growing up, Verna idolized all the older relatives in her family who were lawyers and always envisioned herself following in their footsteps. After attending Cornell University where she obtained her bachelor’s degree in Government, Verna attended New York Law School to obtain her Juris Doctor. When she started law school, she thought that she would end up practicing corporate law or perhaps intellectual property. It was during her second year of law school, after taking a course in immigration law and assisting her professor with an asylum case that she became interested in immigration.

“There is something so satisfying about this area of law especially in knowing that you are helping people and helping them achieve their goals. Immigration law appeals to me on a personal level given that my parents immigrated to the U.S. to seek better opportunities for themselves and their children.”

After graduating law school, Verna worked in private practice for an immigration law firm in New York City. She moved to Los Angeles in 1999 and worked as an associate at one of the largest immigration law firms in the West Coast. Verna eventually established her own law office in California in 2002, where she practices primarily in the areas of business and family immigration law, business law and entertainment law.

“It is hard to believe that I have practiced in this area of law for more than 20 years. It is an area of law that never gets boring and is always challenging. In my capacity as a lawyer and when dealing with clients I do my utmost to be professional and respectful. Also, it’s always important to be keep positive and optimistic.”

filipino style shabu-shabu hot pot, asian american heritage month blog

Verna with her family enjoying a filipino style Hot Pot meal at her birthday celebration.

Verna has served as Of Counsel at Garvish Immigration Law Group since its establishment, where she provides her expertise in obtaining O-1 visas for  individuals of Extraordinary Ability and Achievement, as well as P visas for Athletes, Artists, and Entertainers. Verna has advised and provided immigration services for companies such as Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders), Qantas Airways Limited, Columbia Artists Management, Inc., Disney and American Media Inc. She has also done legal work for multinational executives, former Olympic athletes, world-renowned artists, as well as entertainers in the recording and entertainment industry, which enabled them to obtain legal permanent residence as artists of extraordinary ability.

When asked what keeps her going, Verna replied:

“My family keeps me motivated each day despite all the challenges of the legal profession. I want to set an example for my daughter who has lately expressed an interest in what I do for a living. I am not sure if she will go into the legal profession, but I do want her to understand the type of work that I do as well as the history of immigration in this country.

I try to have a work/ life balance. I love to travel! I used to travel regularly to Asia where my husband and I have family members. In my free time, I like to visit museums, read, and go hiking. Living in Southern California, we spend a lot of time on the beach and generally enjoying the great outdoors.”

This monthly blog series on Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month is produced by our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee led by our Senior Attorney, Nadia Deans Kalata.

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