Practice and Industry Groups

Maria Fernanda Gandarez

Shareholder New York City

For more than 30 years, Maria has been practicing exclusively in the field of U.S. immigration law. During her many years of practice, Maria has maintained a commitment to excellence and service. Maria currently represents multinational corporate clients in numerous industries, including finance, food industry, law, energy, chemical, consumer goods/products, medical equipment manufacturing, flavor and fragrance development, fashion design, beverage, information technology, pharmaceutical, and biotechnology. Maria advises clients in the acquisition of temporary employment visas and permanent residence, employer sanctions, employment verification procedures, immigration-related discrimination practices and the consequences of Mergers & Acquisitions and other corporate restructurings.

At Rutgers, Maria was Managing Editor of the Women's Rights Law Reporter and Editor of The Record. During law school, Maria was a Judicial Law Clerk with U.S. District Court Judge Harold A. Ackerman. In addition to being admitted to several state bars, Maria is also admitted to the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey, the U.S. District Courts for the Southern and Eastern Districts of New York, and the District of Columbia Court of Appeals.

Maria is a strong supporter of pro bono and other volunteer efforts within the legal industry. Her own pro bono efforts include working with community outreach programs and churches to service the immigrant community. Currently, she provides pro-bono legal services to a global not-for-profit organization whose mission is to ensure the development of safe, effective, accessible preventive HIV vaccines for use throughout the world. Another is recognized as a “Best in America” charity providing guide dog training and a multitude of services to the legally blind.


Representative Experience

  • Advised a large, global firm on the immigration consequences of the divestiture and sale of its billion dollar consumer goods businesses and assisted the purchasing companies in regularizing the immigration status of hundreds of foreign nationals temporarily and permanently employed in the United States.
  • Successfully registered a large Spanish biopharmaceutical company for E Treaty status to help facilitate the transfer of employees and new hires to the company's U.S. operations.
  • Assisted several large multi-national corporations on compliance audits.
  • Assisted small to mid-size IT companies in the sale of their businesses including working with acquiring entity to facilitate immigration processing and continued work authorization for foreign national employee population.
  • Assisted with merger and acquisition due diligence in such areas as Public Access Files (PAF/PIF) and I-9 compliance and review, as well as supporting acquiring company in its understanding of overall immigration risks and liabilities.

Professional Activities and Speeches

Professional Activities:

  • New York State Bar Association
  • New Jersey State Bar Association (Immigration Law Section)
  • American Immigration Lawyers Association
  • District of Columbia Bar Association
  • Portuguese-American Chamber of Commerce (Member; Board of Directors)
  • British-American Chamber of Commerce
  • European American Chamber of Commerce
  • National Association of Professional Women ("NAPW")
  • National Employment Law Council ("NELC")
  • Society for Human Resource Management ("SHRM")
  • National Association for Women Lawyers ("NAWLS")


  • New York State Bar Association International Section Speaker - ''Global Labor and Immigration Challenges Amidst Political Uncertainty'' - Antigua - September 13, 2017
  • Ogletree Deakins Workplace Strategies Seminar - ''Keeping Your Workforce Engine Humming: Managing Key Business Immigration Challenges'' - San Diego - May 05, 2017
  • Managing a Workforce in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut - ''Onboarding Agita: Background Checks, I-9, Immigration, and Related Issues'' - New York City - March 10, 2017
  • New York State Bar Association International Section (Co-Chair) - ''The Intersection of Immigration and Labor: Minimizing Cross-Border Immigration Employment Challenges'' - Paris - October 20, 2016
  • Ogletree Deakins Workplace Strategies Moderator - ''Traversing a Tangled Web: Employment Law and Data Privacy Concerns with Global Mobility Assignments'' - Chicago - May 06, 2016
  • Ogletree Deakins Workplace Strategies Seminar Moderator - ''The Last Stand: The Crossroads Between Immigration Law and Employment Law'' - San Antonio - May 14, 2015
  • Ogletree Deakins Workplace Strategies Seminar - ''Playing the Odds With Global Mobility'' - Las Vegas - May 09, 2014

Published Works


Our Insights

New Guidance Imposes Finding of Misrepresentation for Conduct Inconsistent With Visa Within 90 Days of Entry

September 27, 2017

U.S. Suspends Nonimmigrant Visa Issuance in Russia

August 23, 2017

New Guidance in the Foreign Affairs Manual May Add Challenges to Visa Issuance at US Consular Posts Abroad

August 22, 2017

Trump Begins “Extreme” Visa Vetting, New Questionnaire Requests 15 Years of Information and Social Media Info

June 10, 2017

State Department Orders U.S. Embassies to Apply Extra Scrutiny Before Issuing Visas to Certain “Population Sets”

April 05, 2017

Mind the Gap: Automatic Work Authorization Extensions Help Foreign National Employees Stay Productive Following EAD Expiration

March 29, 2017

BREAKING: Hawaii District Court Applies the Brakes to Second Version of President Trump’s Immigration Travel Ban

March 16, 2017

You’ve Got Mail … if You’re an Employer: Seventh Circuit Rules Employees Are Not Entitled to Same Visa Revocation Notice

February 03, 2017

U.S. Consulate General in Vancouver Is Accepting Initial H-1B Visa Applications From Third Country Nationals

September 29, 2016

How to Respond When ACA Electronic Reporting Triggers Notification of an Incorrect TIN

September 26, 2016

U.S. Business Visitors Using the Visa Waiver Program May Soon Be Asked for Social Media Information

September 15, 2016

DHS Proposes Long-Awaited International Entrepreneur Rule

September 06, 2016

DUI Arrest Could Now Lead to Visa Revocation for Employees in U.S. Even Without a Conviction

August 23, 2016

STEM OPT 7-Month Extension Application Deadline Coming Up on Monday, August 8

August 02, 2016

Changes to Insurance Requirements for J-1 Visa Exchange Programs

May 20, 2015

New Policy May Provide Hope to Employers Frustrated by Historically High Denial Rates for High-Skilled Specialized Employee Transfers

March 31, 2015

State Department to Resume J-1 Visa Program Sponsor Site Visits

March 10, 2015

The Immigration State of the Union: Obama Declares “We’ve Got a System to Fix”

January 22, 2015

Bipartisan I-Squared Act Introduced to Reform Business Immigration System

January 22, 2015

Does the President Have the Power to Defer Deportation of Undocumented Immigrants?

November 17, 2014

I-94 Errors: How to Address Missing or Incorrect I-94 Cards

October 07, 2014

U.S. Diversity Visa Opens October 1, 2014, May Help Workers Obtain Residency More Quickly

September 30, 2014

Cap-Subject H-1Bs Will Be Effective October 1

September 15, 2014

J-1 Meet and Greets—A Precursor to Site Visits?

May 30, 2014

DOS to Begin Conducting Site Visits for J-1 Hosts and Participants

March 27, 2014


Media Quotes

April 04, 2017 - Law360 - "Summer Delays Likely as State Dept. Ups Visa Screening"
January 19, 2016 - Law360 - "Attys React To High Court Taking Up Immigration Action Case"
January 2016 - Acquisition International Magazine - "Fourth Quarter Update: A 2015 Year End Round-Up"