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Apr 14, 2020

How Immigration & Coronavirus Connect: An Interview with Attorney Ayla Adomat

Fulbrighter Focus



The world before COVID-19 was full of travel between different cultures and places. Some looking just to visit and others looking to build something new. How does all that look now in the midst of the pandemic? How will it be afterward? To put the current world in a better perspective, we asked US immigration attorney, and Fulbright Germany Alumna, Ayla Kremen Adomat for her insights. Read her interview below to find out more about the interconnections between the global coronavirus response and the impact on exchange and immigration, from the details like new communication methods to the larger impacts of policy and politics.

A Short Introduction to Ayla Adomat: Fulbright ETA to Top Attorney

In 2011, Ms. Adomat was already thinking and living cross-culturally. As an English Teaching Assistant in Berlin-Kreuzberg, she saw first-hand the immigration experiences of Turkish and Arabic students in Germany and observed the similarities of these to American immigration stories. Fast-forward to 2020 and Ayla Adomat has her own law firm in Berlin and, with 5 years of experience from top immigration law offices in the US and Germany, is at the top of her field.

Her experience and vantage point, uniquely positioned between the US and Germany, gives her a valuable perspective in the times of the coronavirus and the new challenges to immigration and global exchange. These types of perspectives are even more valuable to everyone in the global community as the COVID-19 response reverberates through not only daily routines but international decisions.

Interview with Ayla Kremen Adomat

How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected you personally?

COVID-19 has affected me and my law firm significantly. We have many more clients reaching out with questions regarding their US immigration status and travel plans. Given the suspension of visa and consular services at US embassies and consulates worldwide, there is a lot of uncertainty regarding these services and when clients will be able to obtain their visa stamps and travel again. As such, we are doing our best to help clients plan and prepare given this unique situation.

We have also altered our operations in order to assist clients remotely. Until the pandemic clears, we have stopped offering in-office consultations and meetings and instead meet with clients via Skype, Zoom, Facetime or telephone. We miss seeing our clients face-to-face, but we are trying to do our part to flatten the curve.

On a personal level, my husband and I also had to cut our family visit in the US short and rearrange our travel plans when the corona pandemic first broke out. After the President announced that all flights from the European Union would be suspended, we quickly booked flights back to Germany two weeks earlier than planned out of fear that the borders would soon close.

How have you been active during the global COVID-19 event?

As an immigration attorney, it is my responsibility to keep my clients apprised of all COVID-19 related updates that could affect the processing of their visa and green card applications or change their travel plans. Adomat Immigration has been active in monitoring USCIS and US State Department updates, as well as any changes that affect the US Embassies and Consulates worldwide.

We have been providing updates to our clients on these changes and how they affect them on our immigration blog and on Adomat Immigration’s Facebook and LinkedIn pages.

What effects have you seen from the virus and the global response on immigration and global cultural exchange?

As expected, the coronavirus pandemic has caused a global slowdown on immigration worldwide. People are rightfully staying in their home countries and are doing their part to stay home and prevent further spreading the virus.

However, I have also seen a global outpouring of support from individuals around the world and a growing global sense of community. This devastating pandemic will without question be one of the defining events in our lifetimes. It has been moving to see individuals and communities banding together – despite social distancing – to support one another.

What can Fulbrighters and the Fulbright community do to offer support and promote a more global future in the times of COVID-19 (while still #flatteningthecurve and maintaining #socialdistance)?

Increase their outreach and be creative! There are so many fantastic digital tools available that allow us to connect and develop community without being physically present. I have no doubt that Fulbrighters will keep promoting the organization’s mission – quarantined or not!

How do you see the future of global exchange and cooperation after the pandemic?

Fulbright’s mission of promoting intercultural relationships and understanding is a timeless one. More than ever, we are living in a truly international world, where people, ideas and information are quickly transported on a global level.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, we have been able to witness both the best and worst examples of international partnerships and exchange. While we have seen countries support and learn from each other during this historic time, we have also seen xenophobic fears grow like never before. After the pandemic, it is crucial that Fulbrighters continue to promote and foster international exchange and understanding between the US and their home or host countries. As human faces representing their home countries, Fulbrighters are in a unique and powerful position to make significant change and foster a global sense of community.

Has a more global perspective provided you any insights that helped you prepare or better react to the corona pandemic personally or professionally?

My Fulbright experience has had a significant impact on my life, both personally and professionally.

While teaching in Berlin-Kreuzberg, I was able to fully immerse myself in German culture and to see the integration of children with immigrant backgrounds into the German school system. You can study and read countless books about this topic, but nothing compares to actually seeing this experience first-hand. The children I worked with were incredible – many of them and I have stayed in touch and it has been an absolute pleasure watching them grow up into remarkable young men and women. It was incredibly humbling to be let into these childrens’ lives and for them to share their experiences with me. As a daughter and wife of an immigrant, immigration is something that has touched my life and shaped me immensely, both personally and professionally. Gaining perspective into this unique community’s experiences was life-changing and I have taken the lessons I learned from this with me both professionally and personally.

In my practice as a US immigration attorney, my Fulbright experience has made me into a more culturally understanding person and lawyer. Immigrating – no matter your circumstances or your home country – is an incredibly personal and often difficult journey. Now, during the Coronavirus pandemic, immigration worries are often amplified given the amount of uncertainty moving forward. As someone on the other side of the desk, many practitioners easily forget how deeply and personally immigration issues are and the deep effect they have on their client and their family’s life. My Fulbright experience gave me both a global and deeply human perspective on these issues, which has helped me both in my day-to-day work but also in handling crisis situations like we are currently experiencing with the coronavirus pandemic.

If you want to keep up to date on immigration developments, check out Ayla Adomat's blog here.

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