A recognized leader in immigration and nationality law, Eleanor Pelta counsels clients on legal and strategic issues arising from the international movement of key personnel, from the individual transfer of high-ranking executives to high-volume transfers of expert staff. Her experience includes the use of blanket visa programs and the qualification of companies as “treaty investor” or “treaty trader” entities. Additionally, Eleanor counsels businesses on the immigration implications of corporate changes, such as mergers, acquisitions, downsizings, reductions in force, and salary-level changes.
A co-leader of the firm’s global immigration practice, Eleanor’s practice involves assisting employers of all sizes and in all industries in understanding and complying with the immigration laws relating to the hire and retention of foreign talent. This includes advising clients on, and supporting them with, temporary and permanent US immigration options for executive, business, artistic, scientific, and information technology (IT) personnel. In addition, the practice supports the global movement of client personnel. Eleanor counsels employers on the compliance aspects of US immigration laws, including employment eligibility verification and avoiding immigration-related unfair employment practices. She develops and performs nationwide I-9 compliance training for human resources personnel, and assists clients during immigration-related government audits. She frequently counsels tax and payroll managers regarding the US tax obligations of foreign nationals. Additionally, she helps clients think and work proactively by providing them with advice on immigration policy development and review, use of immigration-related technology, and internal immigration-related audits. As part of Morgan Lewis’s cross-practice global workforce team and in tandem with the firm’s labor, employment, and benefits lawyers, Eleanor provides integrated cross-border advice, counseling, and strategic planning on immigration issues.
Since 2006, Chambers has ranked Eleanor in Band 1, its highest honor. The publication calls her “the backbone” of the firm’s immigration practice and credits her with “really driving the practice forward.” Chambers also notes that clients appreciate that she “remembers every individual and knows their story” and praises her as “a tremendous resource, whose level of service is outstanding.” From 2011 until 2012, Eleanor served as the president of the national immigration bar, the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA). She continues to be a prolific author and sought-out speaker on immigration topics for AILA and other organizations. In 2014, AILA awarded Eleanor with one of the organization’s highest honors, the Edith Lowenstein Award for Excellence in Advancing the Practice of Immigration Law. Established by AILA in 1980 to recognize outstanding immigration law practitioners, the award honors the memory of Edith Lowenstein, a pioneer in the practice of immigration and nationality law and a former president of AILA.
Eleanor is a contributing author to Getting the Deal Through—Labour and Employment. This annual series of deskbooks provides international analysis in key areas of employment law and policy for corporate counsel, cross-border legal practitioners, and global team leaders. She also authored feature chapters in Getting the Deal Through—Labour and Employment from 2008 to 2010.
Harvard Law School, 1986, J.D., Cum Laude
Princeton University, 1982, A.B., Cum Laude
District of Columbia
U.S. Supreme Court
Awards and Affiliations
Member, Practice Group of the Year, Labor & Employment, Law360 (2017)
Band 1, Immigration, Nationwide, Chambers USA (2018, 2019)
Band 1, Immigration, District of Columbia, Chambers USA (2018, 2019)
Band 1, Immigration: Business, USA, Chambers Global (2018, 2019)
Ranked, Chambers USA: America's Leading Lawyers for Business (2006–2018)
Ranked, Chambers Global: The World's Leading Lawyers (2006–2017)
Leading Lawyer, Labor and employment: Immigration, The Legal 500 US (2018)
Recommended, Labor and employment - Immigration, The Legal 500 US (2014–2017)
Lawyer of the Year, Immigration Law, Washington, DC, The Best Lawyers in America (2019)
Recognized, Employment Law – Management, Washington, DC; Immigration Law, Washington, DC; Labor Law – Management, Washington, DC, The Best Lawyers in America (2007–2019)
Top Woman Lawyer, The Best Lawyers in America (2016, 2017)
Top Lawyer, Washingtonian magazine (2017)
Recommended, TheLegal 500 Hall of Fame (2017)
Recognized, Most Powerful Employment Attorneys, Human Resource Executive (2013–2015, 2017)
Recognized, Who’s Who Legal for Corporate Immigration (2013–2016, 2019)
Recognized, Top 10 Immigration Lawyers in Washington, DC, Legal Times (2006)
Winner, The National Law Journal’s Litigation Department of the Year – Labor and Employment (2014)
Recipient, American Immigration Lawyers Association’s (AILA) 2014 Edith Lowenstein Award for Excellence in Advancing the Practice of Immigration Law
Past President, AILA
Recipient, Award for Service Provided as a Trustee of the American Immigration Law Foundation (AILF)
Trustee, American Immigration Law Foundation, Chair, Immigration Curriculum Project
Invited Speaker, conferences sponsored by AILA, the Society for Human Resource Management, The American Payroll Association, The American Society for Payroll Management, the Practising Law Institute, the State Bar of Texas