Helen A. Sklar


Email: helen@sggimmigration.com

Helen A. Sklar

Certified Specialist

Helen A. Sklar has practiced exclusively in the field of immigration and nationality law since 1985. She has worked in non-profit community agencies, immigration law clinics, and volunteer programs.  She ran her own immigration practice from 1991 to 2009 during which she represented hundreds of non-citizens in deportation, removal, citizenship, naturalization, lawful permanent residence, consular processing, and rescission proceedings.  There are few benefits or defenses available under the Immigration and Nationality Act that Ms. Sklar has not analyzed and applied in the interest of assisting a noncitizen come to or remain in the U.S.

Prior to becoming a lawyer, Ms. Sklar was a social worker.  In that capacity she co-founded Dane County Advocates for Battered Women in Madison, Wisconsin, now known as Domestic Abuse Intervention Services.



  • Juris Doctorate, Golden Gate University School of Law, San Francisco, California (1985)
  • Master of Social Work, University of Wisconsin, Madison (1978)
  • Bachelor of Social Work, University of Wisconsin, Madison (1975)


Bar Membership

  • State Bar of California, admitted 1992 (active)
  • Pennsylvania State Bar, admitted 1985 (inactive)
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
  • United States District Court for the Central District of California
  • United States District Court for the Northern District of California
  • United States District Court for the Eastern District of California



Certified Specialist in Immigration and Nationality Law State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization, March 2000 – present


Organizational Affiliations

  • National Ethics Committee, American Immigration Lawyers Association  (2017-2018)
  • Member, Board of Directors of the Los Angeles Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild (2015-present)
  • Ethics Committee, American Immigration Lawyers Association  (2017-2018)
  • First Vice Chair, Los Angeles County Bar Association, Immigration Section (2017-2018)
  • Ethics Liaison, Los Angeles County Bar Association, Immigration Section (2017-2018)
  • Ethics Liaison, American Immigration Lawyers Association Southern California Chapter (2017-2018)
  • Member, Los Angeles County Bar Professional Responsibility and Ethics Committee (2010-2013)
  • Member, Board of Legal Specialization of the State Bar of California (2008-2010)
  • Member, Immigration and Nationality Law Advisory Commission State Bar of California (2004-2007)
  • National INS Asylum Liaison, American Immigration Lawyers Association (2000)
  • Volunteer, Iraqi Refugee Assistance Project (2010-2012)
  • Liaison, AILA Southern California/Los Angeles Asylum Office (1999)
  • Volunteer lawyer, Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Center (1998-2000)
  • Chair, Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights and Services (1987-1988)


Professional Experience

  • Attorney, Stone, Grzegorek & Gonzalez LLP (2009 – present)
  • Attorney, Law Offices of Helen A. Sklar (1991-2009)
  • Attorney, Law Office of Vera A. Weisz (1989-1990)
  • Attorney, Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law (formerly The National Center for Immigrant Rights, Inc.) (1988-1989)
  • Attorney, Immigrant Legal Resource Center, San Francisco and East Palo Alto (1985-1988)
  • Clinic Instructor, Stanford University Immigration Clinic/East Palo Alto Community Law Project (1986-1988)


Published Appellate Decisions

  • Calderon v. Sessions, http://cdn.ca9.uscourts.gov/datastore/opinions/2018/01/03/16-70225.pdf
  • (DHS’ failure to provide updated mental health information to the IJ and BIA).
  • Nai Yuan Jiang v. Holder, 611 F.3d 1086, 1097 (9th Cir. 2010)(Petitioner was entitled to refugee protection as any reasonable adjudicator would be compelled to conclude that he established past persecution for “other resistance” to the population control policy).
  • Mendiola–Sanchez v. Ashcroft, 381 F. 3rd 937 (9th Cir. 2004) (Stop-time rule applies in suspension of deportation cases because it is entitled “Transitional Rules with Regard to Suspension of Deportation” and it specifically refers to OSCs).
  • Castillo–Perez v. INS, 212 F.3d 518, 525 (9th Cir. 2000)(No need to comply with Lozadarequirement of notice on former counsel, or filing a bar complaint, when the record itself demonstrates the legitimacy of the ineffective assistance claim).


Published Administrative Decisions

Matter of Grijalva, 21 I&N 97 (BIA 1995)(on brief) (If personal service is not practicable, such notice must be given by certified mail to the respondent or to his counsel of record, if any, with the requirement that the certified mail receipt be signed by the respondent or a responsible person at the respondent’s address to accomplish personal service).


Partial List of Unpublished Decisions

  • Pinhas v. Holder, No. 0871955 (9th Cir. June 19, 2013 (BIA and the IJ erred by failing to “‘state [their] reasons and show proper consideration of all factors’” in denying Pinhas relief in the form of asylum as a matter of discretion).
  • Saidani v. Holder, 329, Fed.Appx. 90 (9th Cir. May 19, 2009) (IJ erred by permitting the adverse credibility determination to “wash over” Saidani’s CAT claim; upheld denial of asylum and withholding of removal).
  • Ruiz–Flores v. Gonzales, No. 05-72723 (9th Cir. July 16, 2007) (BIA abused its discretion when it required petitioners to demonstrate their eligibility for cancellation of removal, when they need only demonstrate that the deficient performance by counsel may have affected the outcome of proceedings).
  • Vu v. Gonzales, 219 Fed. Appx. 651 (9th Cir. January 22, 2007) (Because BIA committed an abuse of discretion in rejecting Vu’s first motion to reopen, Court granted the petition for review in one of three motions to reopen filed by Vu, and remand with instructions to grant the motion to reopen).


Administrative Defense

  • Waiver of the Joint Filing Requirement of the Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence
  • Application for Permission to Reapply for Admission into the United States After Removal
  • Asylum, Convention Against Torture, Withholding of Removal
  • Deferred Inspection
  • Reopening of proceedings:  exceptional, extraordinary and changed circumstances
  • Reopening of proceedings: ineffective assistance of counsel
  • Pre–plea advice to criminal defense counsel as to immigration consequences
  • Seizure of Assets
  • Non–permanent resident cancellation of removal
  • Permanent resident cancellation of removal
  • Defending targets of FDNS investigations
  • Challenging marriage fraud allegations


Family-Based and Employment-Based Permanent Residence

  • Consular Processing
  • Citizenship and naturalization
  • Visas based on extraordinary ability
  • Adjustment of status
  • Religious Worker Visas

Co-founder of Dane County Advocates for Battered Women, a 24-hour crisis line, safe house, legal advocacy, support group, information and referral program for women and their children, at the 30 Year Anniversary of the founding the program (now known as Domestic Abuse Intervention Services, Madison, Wisconsin)


Consultant/Expert Witness

  • Expert opinion requested in a medical malpractice case on behalf of plaintiff/non-citizen child who suffered a permanent spinal injury during surgery to correct heart abnormality.  Settled – 2011
  • Expert opinion requested in federal criminal prosecution for alleged marriage fraud.  Mistrial – 2010
  • Expert witness in divorce proceeding on the issue of marriage fraud.  Testified on behalf of petitioner – 2000
  • Expert on immigration consequences of federal and California convictions in a variety of cases



  • Panelist, Ethical Challenges of Engagement Agreements and Fees, AILA Annual Conference June, 2017
  • Panelist/Moderator, You Can’t Go Wrong! Ethics+Competence+Elimination of Bias: A Program for the Immigration Bar, February 25, 2017
  • Panelist, When a Conditional Resident Has to Leave the Marriage Due to Domestic Violence, AILA Annual Conference June 2016
  • Panelist, AILA Los Angeles, Chapter, Ethics in the Social Media Age, 2015
  • Panelist, AILA Southern California Chapters Conference, Asylum; Social Group Update, 2015
  • Panelist, Planner, LACBA Immigration Section, Don’t Cross That Line!  Legal Ethics & Immigration Practice, December 12, 2013
  • Dealing with a Difficult Immigration Judge, 2014
  • Ethics-The Unauthorized Practice of Law, LAPA 37th Annual October Conference, 2013
  • Avoiding Ethics Violations & Immigrants as Victims of UPL: A Report from Law Enforcement
  • AILA Annual Conference, Developing and Preserving Issues in Convention Against Torture Claims, 2013
  • AILA Annual Conference How to Demonstrate Harm in Asylum Applications, June-July, 2010
  • California Lawyers for the Arts, Visas for Entertainment Industry Workers,” December 10, 2010
  • Your Legal Rights, KALW, “An Update on Immigration & Nationality Law Issues,” December 15, 2010
  • AILA, The Evidence Needed to Win, Winning Asylum Cases, Strategies for the Practitioner, Los Angeles
  • Our Undeclared Wars in Latin America,” at the 17th Latin American Encuentro, Pasadena, California, Selected Asylum Issues, National Immigration Project Membership Meeting, Boston, Massachusetts, 2000
  • Recent Legislation on Immigrants” at conference entitled 10th Annual Creating Change Conference Asylum Based on Sexual Orientation, Identity & HIV
  • Avoiding Ethics Violations & Immigrants as Victims of UPL: A Report from Law Enforcement,” Southern California Chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, January 19, 2011
  • American Immigration Lawyers Association, on a topic entitled, “How to Demonstrate Harm in Asylum Cases,” Gaylord National Hotel, National Harbor, Maryland, June 30-July 3, 2010
  • ILW National Asylum Conference, September 2009
  • Speaker, Conference on Immigration Practice before the Ninth Circuit, Los Angeles, California, January 2008
  • Speaker, Court Clergy Conference, Immigration Issues in Court Proceedings, Northridge, California, October 2007
  • Practicing Law Institute’s 38th Anniversary Immigration and Naturalization Seminar, Asylum Law Update, November 17, 2005
  • Annual Conference; American Immigration Lawyers Association, Social Group Persecution Claims: The impossible Dream,” New Orleans, Louisiana, June 18-22, 2003


Pro Bono

  • Friends of St. Lawrence-Watts Youth Center, Legal Assistance Day, November 20, 2010
  • Friends of St. Lawrence-Watts Youth Center, Presentations on the President’s Executive Actions (DAPA/DACA), Consumer Protection, 2012-2015



Spanish (speaking, reading, writing, and comprehension)



  • AILA Ethics Compendium – LIVE, Three Dimensional Conflicts: ABA Model Rules 1.18, 1.7, and 1.9
  • Meghan Moore, Kenneth Craig Dobson, Helen Sklar, and Alan Goldfarb June 2018
  • Ethical Challenges of Engagement Agreements and Fees
  • Melissa Chavin, Robert Juceam, Ruby Powers, Helen Sklar June 2017
  • AILA 2010 Immigration and Nationality Law Handbook, How to Win Asylum in the Absence of Physical Harm, co–authored with David L. Cleveland and Mark Von Sternberg, American Immigration Lawyers Association (June 2010)
  • Legal Specialization Digest, “Learning Objectives for MCLE:  Why Are They Needed?” Issue 1, June, 2010
  • Los Angeles Daily Journal, “Reforming our immigration courts,” March 18, 2010
  • Legal Specialization Digest, “Tough Economic Times and Immigration Law: View from a Specialist,” Issue 2, 2009
  • 14th Annual AILA California Chapters Conference Handbook: “An Immigration Odyssey,”American Immigration Lawyers Association, 2001 (contributor)
  • Immigration Act of 1990 Handbook, Complete Practice Guide to the 1990 Act, Folinsky, Sklar (West Group, Washington, DC, 1991)
  • Preparing Late Amnesty Cases, published by National Center for Immigrants’ Rights, Inc., Los Angeles, 1989
  • Legalization: The Advocate‘s Guide to the New Immigration Law, Hing, Lydon, Sklar, Brady & Silverman (ILRC Publications 1987)
  • A Practitioner‘s Guide to Representing Clients in Deportation Proceedings, Sklar, Hing & Silverman (ILRC Publications 1985)
  • Mexican Suspension Cases: Using Conditions in Mexico to Establish Extreme Hardship, Silverman, Sklar, Hing.
  • Urban Rock “n” Roll and O-1 Visas