Parisa (Kazemian) Karaahmet ’87 understands what it’s like to be an immigrant. Her father was an Iranian diplomat under the Shah and when his government fell in 1978, she, along with her two sisters and parents, found themselves stranded in America, isolated from their family. It wasn’t accidental, as her father read the landscape and made the decision to keep the family in the United States.
It was more than a decade before Karaahmet earned U.S. citizenship and in that time she attended and graduated from St. Andrew’s and Syracuse University, eventually going on to get her JD from Catholic University. Despite that background, she never intended to go into immigration law. But here she stands, more than 40 years after finding herself an immigrant, a senior partner at Fragomen, the largest immigration law firm in the world.
“My first offer (out of law school) was with an immigration firm,” Karaahmet said. “I could keep looking, but it was a tough job market so I thought I would give it a try. It was tough work but I learned a lot.”
One day a rival mentioned a job opening to Karaahmet and she soon found herself as a prosecutor in New York City. She stayed in that role for a few years before moving to the private sector with Fragomen which represents companies in their worldwide immigration needs. She also represents individuals with complex cases and has a sub-specialty in EB-5 investment visas, representing NHW foreign investors who make U.S. investments in order to create jobs.
“I think I’m in the minority of lawyers who enjoy what they do,” Karaahmet said. “I like what I do. I have no interest in shifting career paths. I feel like I haven’t stopped growing even after 18 years here. This field is so dynamic – even as a senior partner I can learn something new and be innovative.”
And as far as being an immigrant herself, that just makes Karaahmet a better lawyer.
“I think my background has given me the ability to ‘relate’ on a different level. It helps people to know you have a shared experience. Sometimes you just have to hold a client’s hand no matter what the area of law you are in.”
Parisa (Kazemian) Karaahmet is one of 12 alumni featured in the 40th anniversary magazine, published in May 2019. Learn more about the history of St. Andrew's and the impact our alumni are having around the world by reading our spring magazine.