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Gary Healy Photo by: Handout

In Focus: Gary Healy - New York immigration lawyer and Irish dance teacher

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Gary Healy Photo by: Handout

Background: Healy is an immigration attorney, an Irish dance teacher and adjudicator based in New York. He also toured with Riverdance for many years.

When did you move to the U.S.? 

“I moved in 1998 as a dancer with Riverdance – The Show.  I toured the U.S., Canada, Mexico and Europe for three years, retiring when the Broadway run closed at the Gershwin Theater in 2002.”

Do you have any Irish roots? 

“Yes. Though I was born and raised in Birmingham, England, my father is from Loughrea, Co. Galway, and my mother from Claudy, Co. Derry. Both have retired back to Loughrea.  Birmingham has a huge Irish community, and my siblings and I grew up doing Irish dancing, Gaelic football and hurling, and playing Irish music with the Comhaltas.  As an Irish dancer I won every title on numerous occasions on the competitive forum. These included the regional, Great Britain, British National, All-Scotland, All-Ireland and World Championships.

“Today, I co-direct one of America’s most successful Irish dance schools, The Mullane Healy Godley Irish Dance Academy.  To date we have produced numerous American-born champion Irish dancers who have won myriad awards, including the regional, national and world titles.”

How did you end up practicing immigration law?  

“Before joining Riverdance I graduated from the University of Glasgow, School of Law, specializing in the law of the European Union.  After hanging up my dance shoes on Broadway, I joined the law firm of McMahon, Martine & Gallagher, LLP as a plaintiff attorney.  I then moved to Chicago and joined the national defense counsel team at Swanson Martin & Bell representing a number of defendants in the asbestos litigation. 

“I opened my own law firm in 2011 and to date we have represented many actors, dancers, performers, companies and individuals in an array of immigration matters, from immigrant visas, non-immigrant visas, family based visas, student and exchange visitors and deportation procedures.”

Do you think the contribution of immigrants in the U.S. is undervalued?  

“Yes without a doubt. I am a true believer that the American dream is still alive and well. Mine is a perfect example.”

Do you think comprehensive reform is likely to pass this year? 

“I believe over the next 24 months we will indeed see reform. I hope to see the federal recognition of same sex marriage, an amnesty for some illegal aliens and an overhaul of the high-tech specialized occupations in order to keep the U.S. competitive with other nations.”

What is your advice to someone who is thinking about immigrating to the U.S?  

“Even if you are not seriously thinking about it, you should talk to an immigration attorney so you know all your options, cut-off dates, evidence and qualifications needed as the process can be lengthy and arduous.  Never overstay – even without reform there are options available to everybody.”

Interview by Molly Muldoon

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