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Our Web Site: Alive And Well After 10 Years

by Carl Shusterman

It was in September 1995 when our web site went online.

At that time, we were strictly a local law firm. Most of our clients, corporate and individual, were located in California. Ten years later, most of our clients are out-of-state. Our largest corporate client is a management consulting firm located in New York. Our newest corporate client is a hospital in Mississippi. Most individuals for whom we obtain temporary visas and permanent residence schedule telephonic consultations, and we obtain benefits for clients everyday who we seldom meet in person.

Ten years ago, it was very difficult for non-attorneys to obtain information about U.S. immigration laws and procedures, much less forms and processing times, either online or in print.

We decided that after almost 20 years of writing articles about immigration in newspapers and professional journals that the web was the perfect medium for disseminating both existing and new immigration information to the public.

For starters, an article on the web was different from a newspaper article in that it remained available online permanently. Also, since our readers and clients are worldwide rather than in a specific locality, it was important that our articles remain available 24/7/365.

Who writes the articles on our web site and in our newsletter? I do. I often chuckle when I receive an e-mail message thanking "our staff" for writing this or that article. However, in the past few years, I have enlisted several members of our law firm to write selected articles for our newsletter. Our site is content-rich, which is a polite way of admitting that it is far from pretty. Obviously, it has been designed by me for ease of navigation, and not by a graphic artist. Still, it has aged fairly well. See prior versions of our web site on the "Way Back Machine" at
You can see the way our site looked as far back as December 23, 1997 and at various times since then.

As the immigration-related government pages have progressively improved, I save a lot of time by linking to information contained on official web sites. We link to every conceivable immigration form, processing time and changes to the laws, regulations and policies.

And even though sometimes I wish every one of our 10,000 daily readers would become our client, if this actually occurred, I would have to increase the staff at our law firm from 20 to over 200, leaving me little time to work on the web site.

In truth, at least 1,000 of our daily readers, and 6,000 of our subscribers to our newsletter, are attorneys and paralegals from other law firms. I am happy to share information with them, and they have rewarded me by referring thousands of new clients to our law firm.

Unfortunately, two or three times, other attorneys have copied our web site word-for-word, and tried to pass it off as their own. Each time, one of my colleagues in the immigration bar has notified me of the copyright violation. I have notified the offenders of their potential liability, and they have removed our content from their sites.

Over the years, we have broken many new immigration-related stories, the latest being the retrogression of EB priority dates in the October 2005 Visa Bulletin. With our easy-to-update news ticker, we can bring a story to the attention of our readers in a matter of seconds, far ahead of newspapers, magazines, radio and television. Many reporters get ideas for immigration stories by reading our newsletter and calling us.

It's been a rewarding 10 years for me, and also for my wife (even though she jokingly refers to herself as a "Web Widow") who often helps me with the site. Sample conversation between us: "Sweetie, I'm in the middle of a consultation at the office, and the new Visa Bulletin is out. Could you update the numbers on the site, and change the news ticker while you're at it?"

Last, but not least, thanks to you, our readers, for supplying me with thousands of news tips, informing me about broken links, and especially for using our site to immigrate to the United States, often without having to pay an attorney. It is you who reinvigorate our country, making the U.S.A. such a wonderful and diverse place in which to live!

About The Author

Carl Shusterman is a certified Specialist in Immigration Law, State Bar of California
Former U.S. Immigration & Naturalization Service Attorney (1976-82)
Board of Governors, American Immigration Lawyers Association (1988-97)
Phone: (213) 623-4592 Fax: (213) 623-3720
Law Offices of Carl Shusterman, 624 So. Grand Ave., Suite 1608
Los Angeles, California 90017

The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of ILW.COM.