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Melissa O. Nonaka

Immigration Attorney

Melissa Nonaka represents corporate clients and other US employers as well as individuals and their family members on a wide range of employment-based and family-based immigration matters, naturalization, and other immigration-related benefits before the US Citizenship and Immigration Services, the US Department of Labor, and the US Department of State. Specifically, Melissa counsels public and private companies, multinational corporations, start-ups and nonprofit organizations on both short and long-term options for hiring and retaining foreign national employees through sponsorship for temporary nonimmigrant visas such as H, L, E, TN, and O, as well as for immigrant visas/permanent residence based on Extraordinary Ability, Multinational Executive/Manager, Outstanding Researcher, National Interest Waivers, and PERM Labor Certifications. She also advises clients on the immigration implications of corporate restructuring including mergers, acquisitions, carve-outs/divestitures, and spin-offs.

  • Experience

    Prior to joining Lawler & Lawler, Melissa practiced immigration law at a multi-disciplinary international law firm as well as a boutique immigration law firm, both located in Washington, DC. While in law school, she was a Legal Extern for the US Department of Labor's Office of Administrative Law Judges, where she drafted appellate-level decisions for the Board of Alien Labor Certification Appeals (BALCA); served as a Student Attorney in the Families and the Law Clinic at Columbus Community Legal Services, where she represented victims of domestic violence in securing civil protection orders and immigration benefits under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA); and volunteered at the Asian Pacific American Legal Resource Center (APALRC). As a practicing attorney, Melissa continues to be dedicated to pro bono service and assists in staffing the DC Bar Pro Bono Center’s Immigration Legal Advice & Referral Clinic and serving as an expert mentor. Melissa was born and raised in San Diego, CA and is fluent in Japanese.

  • Credentials & Professional Associations
    • JD and Certificate in Comparative and International Law, The Catholic University of America, Columbus School of Law
    • BA, Psychology with minor in Hispanic Studies, Boston College

    Bar Admissions
    • Washington, D.C.
    • Maryland

    Professional Associations
    • Assistant VP of Community Affairs, Board of Directors, Asian Pacific American Bar Association of the Greater Washington, DC Area (APABA-DC)
    • Member, American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA)
  • Publications & Speaking Engagements
    • Moderator, “The Legacy of the Vietnamese Fishermen's Association v. The Knights of the Ku Klux Klan,” Asian Pacific American Bar Association of DC, Virtual Panel, July 2020.
    • Panelist and Discussion Leader, "Mind the Cap: BAHA-era H-1B Requests for Evidence," American Immigration Lawyers Association DC Chapter Fall Conference, Rockville, MD, November 2019.
    • Melissa Nonaka, Enough is Enough: India's Fight Against Seizures of Lawful Generic Medicines, 16 MSU Journal of Medicine and Law 37 (2011).