Attorney Gary Ilagan Named the 2024 Immigration Lawyer of the Year in Houston, Texas, by Best Lawyers in America

Houston, Texas – [8/18/2024] – Attorney Gary Ilagan has been honored as the 2024 Immigration Lawyer of the Year in Houston, Texas, by Best Lawyers in America, recognizing his exceptional dedication, expertise, and success in the field of immigration law. This prestigious award based totally on peer-review is the second time Attorney Ilagan has been recognized as the Lawyer of the Year. This award highlights his exceptional work with companies and the profound impact on the lives of individuals and families navigating complex immigration challenges.


With an illustrious career spanning over twenty-seven years, Attorney Ilagan has solidified his reputation as the “go to” attorney for clients in the healthcare industry. His remarkable ability to combine legal acumen with genuine compassion has not only achieved favorable outcomes for his clients but has also set a standard of excellence within the legal profession.


“I am truly humbled and honored to receive this recognition as the 2024 Immigration Lawyer of the Year,” said Attorney Ilagan. “Immigration law is not just a practice area for me – it’s a passion and a commitment to upholding the values of justice and equality. This award is a testament to the hard work of my dedicated team and the trust that our clients have placed in us.”


Attorney Ilagan’s dedication to immigration law goes beyond his client representation. He is a frequent speaker at legal conferences and Filipino community events, sharing his expertise and insights to help others better understand the intricacies of immigration law. His contributions have been instrumental in shaping public discourse and fostering a more informed and empathetic perspective on immigration matters.


Attorney Ilagan’s recognition as the 2024 Immigration Lawyer of the Year serves as a reminder of the vital role that legal professionals play in shaping the lives of immigrants and their families. His dedication to upholding the principles of justice, fairness, and equality makes him a true champion in the field of immigration law.


For more information about Attorney Gary Ilagan and his practice, please visit

About Attorney Gary Ilagan: Attorney Gary Ilagan is a seasoned immigration lawyer with over 27 years of experience representing individuals and families in navigating the intricate landscape of immigration law. His commitment to the field, coupled with his deep understanding of the legal system, has earned him a reputation of a trusted advocate.

An American flag painted on the ground in Houston.

The Journey to Citizenship: How a Naturalization Attorney Can Help

Are you an immigrant looking for citizenship in the United States? If so, seeking out a naturalization attorney to assist you in your journey is essential. We will explain the benefits of hiring a naturalization attorney and how they can help.


Fong Ilagan in Houston strives to be a dependable source of legal assistance. We will provide answers to any questions you may have to ensure you that we are here to help. If you need a naturalization attorney, give us a call at (713) 772-2300 or contact us online


The Benefits of Hiring a Naturalization Attorney

 Whether you’re immigrating for business or family purposes, hiring a naturalization attorney can benefit you in a multitude of ways. At Fong Ilagan, we believe we are defined by how we go about assisting our clients. Some of the benefits of working with a naturalization attorney are:


  • Peace of Mind- Going through the process of immigration can be a stressful experience for anyone. Hiring a naturalization attorney can take away a lot of the burden of the process and give you more confidence. 


  • Better Chance of Success- A small mistake in an immigration application can cause an immediate rejection. An attorney will ensure your application is correct and can increase your chances of approval.


  • Your Rights are Protected- Your Houston naturalization attorney is there to help YOU. They will make sure you are being treated fairly and protect you against any discrimination. 


  • Representation and Advocacy- At Fong Ilagan, we will represent you at all interviews. We will also communicate with all immigration authorities on your behalf. 


  • Assistance with the Procedures- The immigration process calls for a lot of paperwork and documentation, which can become stressful. A naturalization attorney in Houston will ensure your paperwork is submitted in order and on time. 


  • Personalized Guidance- We make sure to develop close-knit relationships with our clients to provide a more personalized experience. Each immigration case is different. Therefore, the methods need to be catered to the individual client. 


  • Legal Experts- It doesn’t help that immigration laws keep changing. A naturalization attorney is up to date on all the policy changes and regulations. We will apply our knowledge of the law to assist you properly. 

Naturalization Attorneys of Houston

Here at Fong Ilagan in Houston, we value the reward of aiding individuals and families through the immigration process. We have helped thousands of people seeking citizenship and don’t plan on stopping anytime soon. We are ready to help; call (713) 772-2300!

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What Is a Fiancé Visa?

How to Obtain a Fiancé Visa for Entry into the U.S.


If you are a fiancé(e) of a United States citizen, you may be able to apply for a K-1 nonimmigrant visa. The visa, commonly referred to as a fiancé visa, permits you to enter the U.S. in order to marry your future spouse within 90 days. There are several requirements that you must meet to obtain a fiancé visa. To ensure your eligibility, you should speak with a Houston immigration lawyer.


At Fong Ilagan, we have decades of experience helping individuals immigrate to the United States. We know how difficult the journey can be for some people, which is why we strive to make it as easy and convenient as possible. Our lawyers are well-versed in handling complex cases and will not rest until our clients receive the best possible outcome in their cases.


Contact us online or call (713) 772-2300 to learn more about applying for and receiving a fiancé visa for entrance to the United States.


What Is a Fiancé Visa?

A fiancé visa is a K-1 nonimmigrant visa available to foreign-citizen fiancé(e)s of United States citizens. The visa allows a foreign citizen fiancé(e) to enter the United States with the help of a sponsor (their intended U.S. citizen spouse). 


However, they must marry their future spouse within 90 days of arriving in the country. Once the foreign citizen is legally married to their spouse, they can apply for adjustment of status to permanent resident.


What Are the Requirements for a Fiancé Visa?

In order to qualify for a fiancé visa, both you and your U.S. citizen spouse “must have been legally free to marry at the time the petition was filed.” You must also remain free to marry, and the marriage must be legally possible under state law.


Additionally, you must have met your future spouse in person within the past two years. There are exceptions to this rule, including that you were unable to meet due to extreme hardship or cultural reasons. 


What Will Prevent Someone from Being Eligible for a Fiancé Visa?

According to the U.S. Department of State – Bureau of Consular Affairs, there are several conditions that may prevent you from being eligible for a fiancé visa.


Conditions that may prevent you from eligibility include but are not limited to:


  • Drug trafficking
  • Violating a prior visa 
  • Health-related grounds (i.e., having a communicable disease)
  • Committing a crime involving moral turpitude
  • Not having proper documentation
  • Submitting fraudulent identification or documents


If you believe that you will be denied a fiancé visa because of ineligibility, you may be able to submit a waiver. It is in your best interest to consult with an immigration lawyer about your rights prior to applying for a visa or waiver.


Should I Hire an Immigration Lawyer?

If you are hoping to immigrate to the United States via a fiancé visa, you need to speak to an immigration lawyer. Without the help of a lawyer, your application can be denied. A simple error in paperwork can cost you significant amounts of time and money. 


A Houston immigration lawyer can help ensure that the process goes as smoothly as possible. They can assist in making sure that your documents are filed promptly and that your rights are not violated. It is important to consult with a lawyer early to ensure that you do not waste your resources. 


Filing a Fiancé Visa? Contact Our Houston Office.

Are you hoping to file an application for a fiancé visa? Contact us online or call (713) 772-2300 to speak directly with a knowledgeable member of our legal team. We can help you understand the process and ensure that your documents and proof of eligibility are filed correctly. Do not wait. Call our office today to get started.

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How to Become a Naturalized Citizen in the U.S.

Understanding the Steps Necessary to Become a Citizen through Naturalization


There are two basic ways to become a citizen of the United States. You can become one at birth, which means that you were born here or born to a parent or parents who were citizens at the time of your birth, or you can become one through naturalization. Naturalization is the process individuals born outside of the U.S. use to become citizens. 


At Fong Ilagan, we are experienced naturalization attorneys. We work hard to ensure that our clients receive the best possible outcome in their cases. We know the naturalization process can be challenging, but we are here to help. 


If you or a loved one are seeking to become a naturalized citizen in the U.S., contact our office online or call (713) 772-2300 to schedule a confidential consultation. 


How Do I Know If I Am Eligible to Become a Naturalized Citizen?


The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) provides a 15-question eligibility worksheet to help individuals determine whether they should apply for naturalization.


To be eligible for naturalization, you must meet the following criteria:


  • Be at least 18 years old;
  • Be a Permanent Resident of the U.S. and have been issued a Permanent Resident Card;
  • Have been a permanent resident for at least three or five years (depending on which naturalization category you are applying under);
  • Have the ability to read, write, and speak basic English;
  • Know the fundamentals of U.S. history and government; and
  • Be of good moral character.

These are only a few of the requirements to be considered for naturalization. There are several things that may make you ineligible for naturalization, such as if you have deserted the Armed Forces, if you are unwilling to take an Oath of Allegiance to the United States, or if you have spent too much time outside of the United States since becoming a Permanent Resident. 


Because the path to citizenship can be difficult, it is important to discuss your case with a Houston naturalization attorney as early in the process as possible. 


What Are the Steps to Naturalization?


There are multiple steps to naturalization. Foremost, you need to determine if you are already a U.S. citizen. Next, you will need to see if you are eligible for naturalization. If you are eligible, you can prepare and submit your application for naturalization (N-400), but you need to pay your fees.


In most cases, you will need to go for a biometric screening before completing a formal interview. The interview is the final step in your naturalization process before a decision is made. It is important that you prepare for your interview to increase the chances that your request is granted.


If your N-400 is granted, you will receive a notice of where and when to take your Oath of Allegiance. The Oath of Allegiance will take place at a naturalization ceremony. You are not considered a U.S. citizen until you have taken the oath, turned in your Permanent Resident Card, and received your Certificate of Naturalization. Naturalization attorneys are here to assist with this process.


Do I Need a Naturalization Attorney?


It is strongly recommended that you consult with a naturalization attorney before submitting an application for naturalization. Even a simple error in the paperwork can result in lengthy delays or a denial of your application. An attorney can help ensure that all deadlines are met and that your request is filed timely following the right procedures.


Hoping to Become a U.S. Citizen? Contact Our Office Today.


If you are hoping to become a U.S. citizen through naturalization, contact our office online or call (713) 772-2300 to schedule a no-obligation consultation. All immigration case evaluations are confidential. 

Your path to citizenship begins here. At Fong Ilagan, we can help you understand your rights and ensure that your naturalization application is filed on time and in the right jurisdiction. Call now to get started.




A white piece of paper that reads “U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services” in gold in Houston.

What You Need to Know About Family-Based Immigration

Rights and Requirements Related to Family Immigration to the U.S. 

People often seek to live permanently in the United States through family-based immigration. Family-based immigration is based on a relative sponsor who will provide an Affidavit of Support verifying that they have the financial means to support you after you immigrate. Only certain individuals may become sponsors, so it is important to know your rights if you are seeking family-based immigration for a family member.

At Fong Ilagan, our Houston immigration lawyers will fight to ensure your rights are represented. We are experienced attorneys that understand the unique challenges immigrants and their families face. If you are interested in seeking family-based immigration, contact us online or call (713) 772-2300 to schedule a consultation.

What Is Family-Based Immigration?

There are multiple ways to petition to live permanently in the United States, one of them being through family-based immigration. To achieve this, you must secure an immigrant visa or, if eligible, apply for adjustment to status to Permanant Resident in the United States. To apply for an immigrant visa or adjustment of status, you will need to be sponsored by a U.S. Citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident relative who is 21 years of age or older. 

Family-based immigrant visas can generally be achieved in one of two ways:

  • Immediate relatives – Individuals who hold an immediate “close family relationship” with a U.S. Citizen. U.S. Citizens may file immigrant petitions for a spouse, parents, or minor, unmarried children under the age of 21.
  • Family-sponsored preferences – U.S. Citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents may sponsor other relatives under the family-sponsored preference system to live permanently in the United States. U.S. Citizens may file a preference petition for their unmarried sons and daughters 21 years of age or older, child, parent, married sons and daughters, and their siblings. Lawful Permanent Residents may only submit a petition on behalf of their minor children under the age of 21 or unmarried sons and daughters 21 years of age or older. 

Family-based immigration begins with the filing of a Petition for Alien Relative. Once the petition is filed, the case is submitted for National Visa Center (NVC) processing, and the beneficiary appears at a U.S. Embassy/Consulate for the immigrant visa interview. Or, if the beneficiary is eligible and an immigrant visa number is available, the beneficiary can apply for an adjustment of status to Permanent Resident in the United States. Immigrant visa numbers are always available to immediate relatives of U.S. citizens. Wait times for immigrant visa numbers under the family preference categories vary widely and are controlled by the Visa Bulletin. Immediate relatives of U.S. Citizens who entered the U.S. lawfully may apply for adjustment of status in the U.S. An experienced Houston immigration lawyer can help you throughout the complicated process to ensure your rights are represented. 

Filing an Affidavit of Support

After paying the processing fees, your sponsor must file an Affidavit of Support. The Affidavit of Support must indicate that your relative sponsor has the financial means to support you when you arrive in the United States. They will have to provide financial documents to prove their income. For those who apply for adjustment of status in the U.S., the Affidavit of Support is typically submitted with the adjustment of status application.

What Financial Requirements Does a Sponsor Need to Meet?

A sponsor must show that they make equal to or higher than 125% of the Federal poverty level. The only exception is if a sponsor is on active duty in the armed forces and is petitioning for their spouse or child. In that case, the sponsor must only show that they make equal to or over 100% of the U.S. poverty line. The income level requirements are based on your household size.

Should I Hire an Immigration Lawyer?

Immigration is a complex legal process that requires extensive knowledge of federal law. Without a Houston immigration lawyer, you could waste significant time and money only to end up nowhere. A skilled lawyer will guide you through the process, ensuring you understand your responsibilities and are prepared for any obstacles you may encounter. 

Considering Family Immigration? Contact Our Office Today. 

Are you considering family immigration into the United States? Contact us online or call (713) 772-2300 to schedule a consultation. Our dedicated lawyers and other hardworking team members will review your case and help determine the best course of action to follow. We are an experienced, dedicated legal team that fights for our clients. We proudly serve families in Houston and throughout the surrounding communities. Call today to speak directly with a member of our firm. 

At Fong Ilagan, we work hand-in-hand with our clients to ensure they receive the best outcome possible on their cases. Our lawyers are fluent in several languages to ensure our clients feel comfortable and fully informed about their rights. Get the legal advice you need to make informed decisions. 

A person’s hand on top of a United States permanent resident card, on top of two small American flags, in Houston, Texas.

Is It Possible to Get a US Work Visa Without Sponsorship?

How to Get an Employment-Based, Non-Sponsored Visa


Many people hope to come to the United States to further their careers or to seek opportunities for growth. While some individuals are able to obtain an employer-sponsored visa, some do not have that ability. Fortunately, there are options for certain highly-qualified or high-net-worth people hoping to work or invest in the U.S. despite not having sponsorship from an employer. It is important to discuss your case with an immigration lawyer to determine the best path forward.


At Fong Ilagan in Houston, Texas, we represent individuals hoping to work in the United States. Whether you are seeking to immigrate permanently and work full-time or just need employment on a temporary basis our lawyers can help. Contact our office online or call (713) 772-2300 to discuss your rights. Call now to schedule a consultation.

What Are Non-Employer Sponsored Permanent Work Visas?

Individuals hoping to work or invest in the United States have three options for employment-based permanent visas: non-employer-sponsored (self-petitions) or investor visas. If you do not have an employer that will sponsor you for permanent residency, you will need to seek a self-petition. Or, if you are wealthy and meet the required capital investment threshold, you could file an immigrant investor petition for yourself.


Self-petition and investor petition (non-employer-sponsored) visa options include:


    • EB-1A Visa: Individuals of “extraordinary ability” in the sciences, arts, education, business or athletics may be eligible for an “employment-based, first preference” visa. To demonstrate extraordinary ability, you must meet certain criteria or provide evidence of a major internationally-recognized award. Individuals are not required to provide proof of an offer of employment or a labor certification.
  • EB-2 Visa: Individuals with advanced degrees or exceptional ability may apply for an EB-2 visa without employer sponsorship if they can meet the requirements for a national interest waiver.

  • EB-5 Visa: The final employment-based visa for which a non-citizen can apply without employer sponsorship is an EB-5 Investor Immigrant visa. The EB-5 program enables investors who meet certain criteria to seek permanent residence.

Employment-based visas are generally faster to obtain than most family-based visas, but the process can be complicated. It is important to discuss your legal options with a skilled business immigration lawyer. An attorney can help to determine your eligibility for a non-sponsored employment visa.

Are There Non-Immigrant Self-Petition Work Visas?

No, generally, there are not. However, foreign nationals from a treaty country seeking to do substantial trade in the United States may apply for an E-1 trader visa, and those from a treaty country with a substantial amount of capital to invest in a U.S. enterprise may apply for an E-2 treaty investor visa.

Do I Need an Immigration Attorney?

In general, it is in your best interest to consult with an attorney any time you are seeking immigration to the United States. The legal process can be difficult and complex. Employment-based visas require a significant amount of documentation. 


Without the help of a Houston business immigration lawyer, you may not meet all the requirements causing delays or even a denial of your application. A lawyer can help you understand the legal process and the best course of action to achieve your goals. 

Hiring a Business Immigration Lawyer

If you need to seek an employment-based visa in the United States, contact our office online or call (713) 772-2300 to schedule an appointment. Whether you are looking to work in the U.S. temporarily or are seeking permanent residence, we may be able to help. We offer cost-effective solutions for all of your legal needs. Do not wait until it is too late. 


At Fong Ilagan, our Houston lawyers understand the importance of compassionate representation throughout the immigration process. We have a team of dedicated business immigration lawyers with the resources you need to get the best possible outcome in your case. Let us help you get the results you deserve. We pride ourselves on client communication and Texas-friendly service. Call our office today to get started. 

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