Michael A. Harris, Board Certified Specialist
Immigration Lawyer Michael A. Harris has had a dynamic career in the field of immigration law since 2000. From small families to multinational companies with over 20,000 employees, Mr. Harris, based in Miami, Florida, has been successful in a wide variety of immigration matters.
Meet Award-winning lawyer and specialist, Michael A. Harris
Mr. Harris is a Board Certified Immigration Specialist, which means that the Florida Bar has determined that he is an expert in the field of Immigration & Nationality Law. He has earned an AV Preeminent Peer Rating, the highest rating available from Martindale-Hubbell, the leading independent attorney rating entity. Mr. Harris also has earned awards from Best Lawyers® as one of the best immigration lawyers in the America, and EB5 Investors Magazine. As an attorney practicing federal immigration law, Mr. Harris can represent immigration clients around the United States and world.
In addition to greatly enjoying the practice of Immigration law and living in South Florida, Mr. Harris has deep ties to the community. He has been a member of the board of directors of AILA South Florida, one of the largest associations of immigration lawyers in the U.S., and he currently serves as an executive officer of the local chapter. Mr. Harris is also a member of the Florida Bar Board Certification Committee in Immigration and Nationality Law, for which he is part of a select group of lawyers who write, grade and review other lawyers seeking board certification.
Mr. Harris grew up in Miami Beach as a 1st and 2nd generation American, and graduated high school from Ransom Everglades School in Coconut Grove, FL, one of the nation’s top private secondary schools. He is an active father to two young children, whom he is raising with his wife, a Realtor at one of South Florida’s top real estate sales groups. His mother was born in Lima, Peru, and his father was a World War II Air Force veteran whose parents were born in Eastern Europe in the late-1800s. After college at the University of Florida in Gainesville, FL, and during the midst of the Elian Gonzalez crisis, Mr. Harris began work as a paralegal for a board certified specialist in Immigration & Nationality Law. During this time he experienced the Post-9/11 overhaul of the legacy-INS into the Department of Homeland Security, as well as the problems created by the Patriot Act, Special Registration and the transition of immigration procedure into the BCIS (today known as the USCIS).
After several years of work and clerkship in the field of immigration law, Mr. Harris received his Juris Doctor degree from the Nova Southeastern University College of Law in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida in 2007. Prior to earning his law degree, he earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science and English from the University of Florida in 1999. Further, Mr. Harris studied Political Science for two years at The George Washington University in Washington, D.C. His studies in U.S. federal government and the American political system helped prepare Mr. Harris to work in highly distinguished immigration law firms where he was educated and trained by some of the country’s leading experts, authors and lawyers in the field of Immigration & Nationality Law.
Today, Mr. Harris is recognized as a Florida Bar Board Certified Specialist in Immigration & Nationality Law. Among all attorneys eligible by the Florida Bar, currently only 6% are board certified specialists. This is the highest level of evaluation by The Florida Bar of the competency and experience of attorneys in an area of expertise. Board certification is not required to practice immigration law, but it shows a level of commitment and expertise by lawyers. In fact, among over 96,000 attorneys currently licensed by the Bar, Mr. Harris is 1 of more than 70 attorneys (or less than 1%) who are board certified as experts in Immigration Law. Additionally, Mr. Harris is Of Counsel in Miami to Diaz Reus, an international law firm rated by the prestigious Chambers & Partners; the Legal 500; Best Lawyers®; Latinvex; South Florida Legal Guide; Martindale-Hubbel’s AV Preeminent Rating; and many others. Mr. Harris’ alliance with Diaz Reus extends his access to other board certified experts, specialists and law offices in the United States; Latin America; Europe; Middle East; Asia; Dubai, UAE; Moscow, Russia; Shanghai, China; and South Africa.
In support of his record of success, Mr. Harris has significant experience taking part in the representation of highly complex immigration matters, including:
- Business Immigration cases for investors, executives, acclaimed artists and athletes, academic professors, professionals, and multinational industry companies.
- EB-5 Developers for U.S. companies seeking to qualify under the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program, which allows companies to offer a foreign national an investment opportunity in order to apply for a green card based on minimum qualifying investment. Mr. Harris has represented EB-5 Regional Center clients and “exemplar” projects in industries such as assisted living; food hospitality; gold and silver mining; and hotel/office construction in all or parts of the states of Alabama, Alaska, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, New York, Pennsylvania, the State of Washington, Washington, D.C., as well as Florida. These EB-5 clients have sought to raise up to $250 million in EB-5 capital through the EB-5 Program. Mr. Harris also represents projects which are utilizing the Direct EB-5 program to pool multiple investors for non-Regional Center projects.
- EB-5 Investors who seek to invest through a USCIS-approved Regional Center, in EB-5 Direct Pooled Investments, or through direct standalone investments in their own U.S. business. Mr. Harris’ expertise in the practice of EB-5 law has been recognized through his invitation to write and speak on EB-5 matters for distinguished EB-5 seminars and online publications. Mr. Harris has been a member of IIUSA, a not-for-profit industry trade association for the EB-5 Regional Center Program, which he has served as a member of its technology committee. He has also been named one of the Top 25 EB-5 Lawyers in the U.S. by EB5 Investors Magazine.
- Family Immigration matters involving U.S. citizen petitioners and families in complex legalization, abused spouse cases, good faith marriage waivers, hardship cases, and other family immigration issues.
- Deportation Defense matters for detained and non-detained clients. Mr. Harris has successfully obtained various forms of relief for his clients, including: Cancellation of Removal, Motions to Terminate, Motions to Reopen, and Release on Recognizance (without Bond) for client detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement. As well, in today’s “crimmigration” world, Mr. Harris has also advised criminal defense attorneys on the immigration consequences of certain crimes and plea deals, such as food mislabeling, theft, and controlled substances offenses.
Admissions, Awards & Certifications
- Admitted to Florida Bar, 2007
- Admitted to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, 2020
Awards & Certifications:
- Florida Bar Board Certified Specialist in Immigration & Nationality Law, 2013 to Present
- AV Preeminent Peer Rated by Martindale-Hubbell, 2014 to Present
- Top 25 EB-5 Immigration Attorneys by EB5 Investors Magazine, 2019 to Present
- Juris Doctor Degree, Nova Southeastern University, 2007
- Bachelor of Arts Degree in Political Science & English, University of Florida, 1999
Memberships & Professional Activities
- American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), Member, 2006 to Present.
- AILA South Florida Chapter, the regional chapter of nearly 1,000 lawyers representing clients in the Miami-Dade-Ft. Lauderdale Metropolitan Area, as well as many other counties in South Florida.
- AILA Latin American and Caribbean Chapter, which assists members whose work focuses on legal issues in Latin America and the Caribbean.
- AILA Rome District Chapter, which assists members in representative matters in Europe, Russia, Middle East and Africa.
- Invest In the USA (IIUSA), Member, 2014 to 2019
- Secretary; Member of Board of Directors, AILA South Florida Chapter, 2016 to Present.
- Member, Florida Bar Board Certification Committee on Immigration & Nationality Law, 2018 to Present.
- Committee Member, IIUSA Technology Committee, 2016 to 2017.
- Past Chair, Unlicensed Practice of Law (UPL) Committee, AILA South Florida Chapter, 2017 to Present; Committee Member, 2014 to 2017.
- Vice Chair, Congressional Committee, AILA South Florida Chapter, 2018 to Present; Member, 2016 to 2017;
- Committee Member, Continuing Legal Education (CLE) Annual Conference, AILA South Florida Chapter, 2015 to 2016; 2017 to 2020.
- Committee Member, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Committee, AILA South Florida Chapter, 2016 to 2017.
- Committee Member, CLE Luncheons, AILA South Florida Chapter, 2014 to 2016; 2017 to 2018.
- Co-Chair, New Member Division, AILA South Florida Chapter, 2013-2014.
- “The Show Must Go On – EB5”, discussion leader at the AILA South Florida, 41st Annual Immigration Law Update (February 2020).
- “Mr. Roboto: Tech issues”, discussion leader at the AILA South Florida, 41st Annual Immigration Law Update (February 2020).
- “Hot Topics on EB-5”, panel speaker at AILA South Florida Membership Luncheon, West Palm Beach, Florida (September 2019).
- “Technology to Improve Your Immigration Law Firm!”, panel speaker at AILA South Florida Membership Luncheon, West Palm Beach, Florida (September 2019).
- “I Will Survive – EB-5 Investor Perspectives”, discussion leader at the AILA South Florida, 40th Annual Immigration Law Update (February 2019).
- “EB-5 Program: Is This For You and Your Client?”, panel speaker for “Lazy Days of Summer” Interactive CLE Series (July 2018).
- “Million Dollar Baby: EB-5 at a Crossroads”, panel speaker at the AILA South Florida, 39th Annual Immigration Law Update (March 2018).
- “The Matrix: Tech Threats in the Legal World of Tomorrow”, panel speaker at the AILA South Florida, 39th Annual Immigration Law Update (March 2018).
- “Consular Processing and Preparing for Tricky Situations and Recent Changes”, panel speaker for “Lazy Days of Summer” Interactive CLE Series (July 2017).
- “Tax Consequences of Moving to the US for EB-5 Investors”, panel speaker on EB5Diligence.com’s Webinar Series (February 2017).
- “EB-5 Visas”, panel speaker for the Florida Association of Women Lawyers Miami-Dade Chapter’s Corporate Counsel Summit (February 2017).
- “Issues for Solo Practitioners and Small Business Owners”, panel speaker for AILA South Florida’s Brown Bag Interactive Lunch Series (November 2016).
- “L’s and EB1-3, Help Get My Petition Through”, panel presentation at “Lazy Days of Summer” CLE Series, Catholic Legal Services (August 2016).
- “Law Office Management and Marketing: Tips from the Pros”, panel speaker at the AILA South Florida, 37th Annual Immigration Law Update (February 2016).
- “Representing EB-5 Investors”, panel presentation at the AILA South Florida Membership Luncheon, Miami Beach, Florida (October 2015).
- “Technology & Law Practice”, panel speaker for AILA South Florida’s Roundtable Series (September 2015).
- “Alternatives to PERM”, panel presentation at “Lazy Days of Summer” CLE Series, Catholic Legal Services (September 2015).
- “EB-5 101”, panel presentation at the AILA South Florida Membership Luncheon, Miami Beach, Florida (September 2014).
- “EB-5 101”, panel presentation at The EB-5 SEC & FINRA COMPLIANCE SEMINAR, West Palm Beach, Florida, sponsored by The EB-5 Resource Group (August 2014).
- “Economist Issues: TEAs, Job Creation Models, Tenant Occupancy Issues”, panel presentation at the EB-5 Summit for Attorneys and Developers, Miami, Florida, sponsored by ILW.com (February 2013).