Selected Attorneys & Staff


David M. Morris

David M. Morris manages the firm’s Washington-DC office and is a respected national lawyer in the business immigration field. He holds a particular emphasis in the representation of clients involved in the areas of investment, life sciences, and information technology. For more than 18 years, Mr. Morris has regularly represented domestic and multinational businesses, as well as professionals, in a wide range of immigration and visa matters.

He has been a regularly invited speaker on EB-5 investor visa law topics – including national conferences sponsored by the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) and Immigration Law Weekly (ILW) the leading immigration daily journal. His recent article on EB-5 law appeared in the October 2009 issue of Bender’s Immigration Bulletin published by LexisNexis.    

In general, his immigration insights have been noted on MSNBC television, DC 101 radio, and an array of professional journals and newspapers such as The Labor Lawyer, the American Bar Association's Labor and Employment Journal, the Immigration Advisor, a national journal for human resource managers, the Baltimore Sun, the Boston Herald, the Maryland Daily Record, the Washington Technology Journal, the Immigration Policy & Law Journal, and other publications. Mr. Morris frequently lectures on expedited visa sponsorship strategies, employer immigration compliance programs, and various other immigration related topics for a wide variety of public and private organizations. Prior to founding the firm of McNary, Morris & Smalley (later transformed into the Visa Law Group) Mr. Morris served as the leader of the Immigration Law Section at Baker & Hostetler, one of the largest law firms in the United States.

Sara Lindström

Ms. Lindström started her career as a Foreign Student Advisor and later Assistant Director at George Mason University in 1996, where she worked with all aspects of immigration matters for international students, scholars, and faculty. In addition to her expertise in immigration law as it applies to academe, she brings three years of experience in business immigration from one of the largest immigration practices in the nation.

At Visa Law Group, Ms. Lindström assists with strategizing visa solutions for clients and prepares petitions ranging through almost the entire alphabet of visa categories. Ms. Lindström is a native of Sweden and graduated from George Mason University with a Master’s degree in English. She is fluent in Swedish and has basic proficiency in French and Spanish.

Farah Sheriff Abbas, Esq.

Farah Abbas is an attorney at Visa Law Group. She attended New York University, where she obtained her undergraduate degree in Finance. After working for Merrill Lynch as an Analyst performing equity research, Ms. Abbas changed career paths to attend The George Washington University Law School. During this time, she served on the Mock Trial Board and dedicated her summers to various public and private entities in Washington, D.C.

Ms. Abbas is admitted to practice law in Virginia. At Visa Law Group, she advises clients on all facets of the immigration process, focusing most often on the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program and other immigrant visa petitions. You can reach Ms. Abbas at 202-265-7200 x307, or by e-mail at

Charles W. Pley

Charles Pley is an international immigration attorney who provides United States, Canadian, and international immigration legal services to professionals, businesses, and corporations. He is a former Canadian diplomat and overseas visa officer, and is dual-licensed as a lawyer in Ontario, Canada, and in New York, USA. He has lived and worked in Detroit, Singapore, Bonn (Germany), Taipei (Taiwan), Ottawa, Vancouver, Toronto and New York.

Mr. Pley possesses over 19 years of experience as an immigration attorney. He is frequently sought by the media to comment on immigration matters, has published a number of articles on immigration issues, and consults regularly with senior government officials in Canada on immigration policy. He was appointed to a Special Advisory Committee by the former Minister of Immigration and is on a blue-chip Immigration Certificate Program advisory panel to Seneca College in Toronto, and has lectured on Canadian Immigration Practice and Procedure at the College.

Mr. Pley is a past President of the Organization of Professional Immigration Consultants, and past Chair of the College of Immigration Practitioners of Canada, now the Canadian Association of Professional Immigration Consultants. He is a member of the Canadian Bar Association Citizenship and Immigration Section, the International Bar Association, and the American Immigration Lawyers Association. Mr. Pley and his staff offer immigration legal services in English, Mandarin, Cantonese, German, Spanish and French. He serves as an "Of Counsel" lawyer to Visa Law Group working from Toronto, Canada and in New York.

Joyce Gomez

Joyce T. Gomez, an associate in our firm brings with her a wealth of experience in business immigration having worked for law firms in California and Northern Virginia, where she managed all aspects of immigrant and nonimmigrant petitions, investor visa processing, labor certification and asylum applications.

A graduate of the University of Southern California Law School and the University of the Philippines, Ms. Gomez was a former law clerk to the current Chief Justice of the Philippine Supreme Court, a practicing corporate and tax lawyer and a legal aid attorney. She is admitted to the New York State Bar, Philippine Bar and a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association.

Philip D. Mervis

Philip Mervis has an extremely varied professional background. He gained significant litigation experience practicing with a regionally prominent firm that specialized in the defense of civil actions. His emphasis was in the areas of insurance law, bodily injury, and institutional liability. He administered a substantial trial caseload, making appellate arguments and conducting trials and arbitrations on a first and second chair basis.

Mr. Mervis has also enjoyed a wide array of roles in the electronic research industry. At the international headquarters for Lexis-Nexis, he consulted with the largest law firms in the United States to customize online legal research platforms for their use and educate them regarding complex online applications. In recognition of this expertise, Mr. Mervis was asked to spend one year in Australia and New Zealand lecturing at and consulting with the largest corporations, law firms, law schools, and universities in the Asia-Pacific region. After returning to the United States, he worked to help establish the fledgling eBook industry. In this role, Mr. Mervis had the opportunity to assist university research libraries with the implementation of new research platforms as well as providing lectures to professors and library professionals at universities throughout the Northeast, including Columbia University, Harvard University, Cornell University, and Dartmouth College. Mr. Mervis also served in the eBook industry as a Director of Publishing, negotiating with major commercial, academic and trade presses for electronic content.

Currently residing in Colorado, Mr. Mervis has spent several years within the resort industry there. He has also returned to the practice of law, working with the Fifth Judicial District in Summit County, Colorado. He has been admitted to practice in Colorado and Ohio. He serves as an "Of Counsel" to Visa Law Group from offices in Silverthorne, Colorado.

Sheryl Winarick, Esq.

Of Counsel – Sheryl serves as an "Of Counsel" lawyer to the Visa Law Group working from the Washington, D.C. office. She has over 10 years of experience providing legal advice and representation to individuals and businesses in all areas of immigration law, including: family and employment-based immigration, naturalization, asylum, and deportation and removal proceedings. Her practice is limited to immigration and naturalization law. She represents individuals from all regions of the world, and she works with clients located in all parts of the United States.

Ms. Winarick has successfully represented clients before the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), U.S. immigration courts, U.S consulates abroad, the Board of Immigration Appeals, and the asylum office. She is an active member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), the Capital Area Immigrant Rights Coalition (CAIR), and the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS). Before starting her private practice in immigration law, Ms. Winarick was Supervising Attorney for the Justice For Our Neighbors immigration program of the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR). Previously, she worked as Staff Attorney for Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC). She began her legal career as an Associate with a small immigration law firm in Washington, D.C.

Ms. Winarick is admitted to practice law in Maryland. She earned her law degree from The George Washington University, and her Bachelor's degree from Texas A&M University. She has traveled extensively throughout Europe, Latin America, the Caribbean, Israel and Morocco, and she lived for brief periods in Spain, Guatemala, and England. She speaks English and Spanish.

Colleen Snyder

Colleen Snyder graduated from American University with a M.A. in Literature and Language and a Certificate in Teaching English as a Second Language. She brings to Visa Law Group more than 30 years of writing experience and 26 years of teaching basic writing skills to adult learners, both native and non-native, in a variety of learning environments. She is currently active in supporting the disabled in her community and has been asked to speak at numerous community events regarding her experiences in advocating in the educational and medical systems.

Colleen serves as a writer with Visa Law Group, assisting staff with immigrant petitions under the direct supervision of the firm's lawyers. She brings strong management ability to our law firm, specializing in writing projects that require accuracy and attention to detail and excellent research and collaboration skills.

Lee Allen

Lee Allen is a paralegal at Visa Law Group. He attended George Washington University in Washington D.C., where he obtained his undergraduate degree in International Affairs with a concentration in International Development Studies. Prior to working at Visa Law Group, Mr. Allen served as a Legal Assistant Intern at the Law Offices of Becki L. Young, where he focused on non-immigrant petitions for the hospitality industry.

At Visa Law Group, Mr. Allen assists our attorneys in drafting and preparing visa filings, in addition to performing various administrative duties. He is also involved with our EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program and other immigrant visa petitions. You can reach Mr. Allen at 202-265-7200 x302, or by e-mail at

Sylvia Fichtl

Sylvia Fichtl, working from Toronto and Montreal, has been engaged in Canadian and United States immigration consulting since 1989. She is accredited by the Canadian Society of Immigration Consultants (CSIC), a statutory self-regulating body established by the Government of Canada.  She is also a member of the Canadian Association of Professional Immigration Consultants (CAPIC) and, from 1990 to 2004, had been a member of its predecessor, the Organization of Professional Immigration Consultants (OPIC).  She served on the Education Committee of the latter group, organizing conferences and training for other immigration professionals.

Sylvia’s focus is corporate immigration originating from Europe, which is not surprising given her strong European connections. In fact, she is a native of Austria and is fluent in German, as well as English, and she commands an exception understanding of European business practices and culture. Her clients include global leaders in the veneer, cement/building materials, hospitality and automotive sectors.  Sylvia works closely with the lawyers and staff at Visa Law Group on matters of United States immigration law.