employment immigration lawyer

About Us

green cards and nonimmigrant visas

The Benefits of our Focused Law Firm

At our Northern California firm, our friendly staff has experience in every area of employment-based immigration law. Attorney Kelly S. Wachs and her staff will personally handle every aspect of your employment immigration matter from start to finish, so nothing gets lost in the shuffle.


We understand how stressful the immigration process can be, so our staff is available to help make it as easy as possible. We work with you to determine which visa is appropriate for you, we help you gather the documentation you need, and we prepare and file your visa application with government agencies. We also help you prepare for your interviews and provide assistance with all correspondence about your visa application. Our goal is to eliminate the hassles of immigration paperwork and prepare you for approval of your work visa or green card.

We have a special emphasis on employment-based immigration law so we are experts in the ins-and-outs of obtaining work visas and green cards for businesses, individuals, and investors. Our Monterey Bay Area office staff provide customized services based on your particular needs, and we answer phone calls and emails promptly. And, we don’t bill you by the minute nor have hidden costs, so you aren’t surprised by unexpected fees at the end of our engagement.

Our clients

We specialize in helping businesses, universities, investors, and individuals obtain green cards for permanent residence or nonimmigrant work visas for temporary residence. Located in Santa Cruz County, our law office serves clients in Silicon Valley, the San Francisco Bay Area, nationwide, and globally.

Boggiato Produce logo
Custologix Logo
Remitly logo
MailShell logo
Minerva logo
Monterey Bay Aquarium logo
Objectivity Logo
Gelato Massimo
Ross Intelligence Logo
SSA logo
TruValue Labs logo
Verba Software

Client Testimonials

“The most remarkable thing about working with Kelly and her office is how personal they are. How much they care really comes through– I know I’m not just a case number to them. They can get busy, but when I have questions they make the time to hear them all out, understand me, and actually get to know me.

This is so important when it comes to immigration — where what you really want is an advocate who is invested in you and the outcome you seek, and will painstakingly craft every word of an application to maximize your chances.”

Read more ›

“Kelly S. Wachs has helped me for last 10 years (2007-2017) with all my immigration needs starting from h1b (from student visa) to green card to citizenship. Kelly is very knowledgeable, kind, sharp and professional with a touch of humanity which you rarely find in the field of law.

She is easily reachable over email, phone as well as in person. I don’t only feel good but do feel lucky that I found her. She has been part of my journey just as my family member.”

Read more ›

“Kelly and her office have handled visa, and later change of status to permanent residence for me and my wife. Both applications were complex and with a large stack of supporting material, and neither required any additional information from USCIS after the application was submitted before being approved.

Best of all, we knew that Kelly cared about our applications and made sure they were successful.”

Read more ›

immigration lawyer yelp reviews

Our Team

Kelly S. Wachs

Kelly S. Wachs, Attorney at Law

Kelly Wachs has been practicing employment-based immigration law since 1993. Her office (The Law Office of Kelly S. Wachs, a Professional Law Corporation), in Aptos, CA, in Santa Cruz County, specializes in employment-based immigration. Kelly has extensive experience representing start-ups, high-tech firms, hospitals, universities, entrepreneurs and investors. Her practice areas are H-1b’s (Cap Exempt and Cap Subject), O-1’s (Aliens of Extraordinary Ability in the Arts, Sciences, Athletics and Business), L-1’s (Intracompany Transferees) E-1/E-2’s (Treaty Trade/Treaty Investors), and TN’s under the Free Trade Agreement for both Canadians and Mexicans. She also handles employment-based green cards ranging from EB-1’s (Aliens of Extraordinary Ability), EB-1(B)(Outstanding Professors and Researchers), EB-2 (Aliens of Outstanding Ability), National Interest Waivers and EB-3’s along with J-1’s and waivers of the two-year foreign residency requirement.

Kelly received her Juris Doctorate from the University of Pacific, McGeorge School of Law in 1993. She was admitted to the California Bar in 1993. She holds a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Massachusetts where she earned her degree in History with a minor in East Asian Studies in 1985.

Prior to law school, from 1986 to 1990, Kelly worked for the Kornblum law firm in San Francisco, where she became licensed as a Private Investigator. During and after law school, Kelly worked for the prestigious immigration law firm Kanter, Lehman & Yun in Sacramento, CA.

In 1994, Kelly opened her own law practice in Sacramento and shortly thereafter, moved to Santa Cruz where she has practiced ever since. Her boutique firms consists of two Attorneys, two Associates (one pending admission to the California Bar), and an Office Administrator. Additionally, Ann Lipson, Esq. formerly of Lipson & Pretorius, serves as “Of Counsel” to the Law Office of Kelly Wachs, a Professional Law Corporation.

Kelly is a member of the American Immigration Law Association (AILA), the American Immigration Law Foundation, and the Northern California Division of the AILA.

Admitted to The State Bar of California and the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

LinkedIn ›

Ali Dunleavy

Alison Dunleavy, Attorney at Law

Alison has been working in family and employment-based immigration for nearly ten years. She obtained her J.D. from Monterey College of Law in 2016 and she holds a Bachelor’s degree in American Studies from the University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC), which she received in 2008. Prior to completing her undergrad, she attended the University of Essex to pursue American Studies courses in the United Kingdom for a semester. Alison also holds an Advanced Paralegal Certificate through the University of California extension program.

Since 2008, Alison has worked for several renowned immigration attorneys in the Santa Cruz & San Jose areas, including working with Ann L. Lipson (formerly of Lipson & Pretorius LLP) for nearly six years. During her intensive training under Ms. Lipson, Alison gained extensive experience in immigrant and non-immigrant case types, including: EB-1(A) Aliens of Extraordinary Ability, EB-1(B) Outstanding Researchers and Professors; EB-2 National Interest Waivers; O-1(A) Extraordinary Ability in Science, Education, Business or Athletics; E-2 Treaty Investor Visa; H-1B (Cap-Exempt and Cap-Subject) Specialty Occupation Visas; Family-Based permanent residence (both Adjustment of Status and Consular Processing), as well as J-1 Waivers of the 212(e) Home-Residence Requirement.

Alison has a keen eye for detail and provides high quality immigration assistance with an emphasis on maintaining a close working relationship with all of her clients.


B.A., University of California, Santa Cruz
J.D., Monterey College of Law

Admitted to The State Bar of California

LinkedIn ›

Suki Spencer, Senior Paralegal

Suki has over 14 years of experience in academic and employment based visas. Prior to joining the Law Office of Kelly Wachs, she was the Assistant Director for the International Student and Scholar Services at the University of California, Merced (UC Merced) where she advised on F-1, J-1, H-1B, TN, O-1, and PR based visas. She was a Principal Designated School Official for the Department of Homeland Security SEVIS system for UC Merced and was the campus subject matter expert on student, scholar and faculty visa matters. She brings a wealth of knowledge and experience in handling cases involving transitions from academic to employment based visa status.

Suki holds a Bachelor’s degree in Business Information Systems and a Master’s degree in International Relations, both from the California State University, Fresno.

Suki was born and raised in Sri Lanka and came to the United States as an F-1 International Student in 2001. She speaks fluent Sinhalese and moderate Tamil. She lives with her husband and three kids in California’s central valley where she spends her days working, homeschooling, and gardening.


B.A., Business Information Systems, California State University, Fresno
M.A., International Relations, California State University, Fresno

kevin quintanilla

Kevin Quintanilla, Lead Paralegal

Kevin Quintanilla is passionate about immigration law. He has a strong attachment to the field of immigration due to his personal background, family, and experience growing up in his community. He is a DACA recipient and has been fortunate to successfully renew his DACA since 2013. In 2017, Kevin became the first person in his family to graduate from a four-year university. He obtained his bachelor’s degree from the University of California Merced.

Kevin lives in Merced, California. He and his wife are parents to a happy and very affectionate Yorkie named Louie. He is a fitness enthusiast; he enjoys working out in his spare time and playing sports. Kevin competed in the NPC physique category in 2019. He became obsessed with fitness and decided to launch his own clothing brand named “TORR FIT.” The most exciting part of this process was sketching and vectorizing his logo. The most rewarding part of the process was having his family and friends supporting his brand. Kevin enjoys the outdoors and is always willing to take on the next hiking adventure.

Ana Pritsker

Ana Pritsker, Paralegal

Ana has over seven years of experience in corporate immigration, working with a variety of clients. She is currently handling all stages of the process for non-immigrant and immigrant visa petitions. Ana is bilingual in English and Spanish.

When she is not working on immigration matters she enjoys the company of her husband, her baby, her Corgi, gardening and baking.