Paul Virtue

Adjunct Instructor


Paul Virtue is a partner in the Employment & Benefits group focusing on global immigration and mobility issues. He is based in Mayer Brown’s Washington DC office where he represents clients on a broad range of employment-related immigration and compliance issues. He has more than 30 years of experience in immigration law and related policy, regulatory, and legislative areas. He advises clients on a full range of employment-related immigration, worksite compliance and policy issues.

Prior to entering private practice, Paul served as general counsel of the US Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS). As general counsel, Paul was the agency’s chief legal officer supervising a nationwide litigation staff of more than 600 lawyers and providing legal and policy advice to the INS Commissioner and senior officials, the Attorney General, the White House, and other federal agencies on issues under INS jurisdiction.

Paul held other high-level positions in the United States government during his 16 years of public service, including executive associate commissioner for programs and deputy general counsel. As executive associate commissioner, he authored more than two dozen memoranda setting forth agency guidance, including an outline for applying a new measure on "good faith" compliance enacted by Congress. The guidance, known eponymously as "The Virtue Memorandum," continues to form the basis for worksite enforcement investigations today. Paul also represented the United States on the International Air Transport Association (IATA) Control Authority Working Group, a forum for ongoing dialogue between the airlines and immigration officials from the member states in respect of the control of illegal migration. In 1997, he received the Attorney General’s Award for Distinguished Service for his leadership role in implementing the 1996 Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act.

Paul has testified before Congress on more than a dozen occasions as a senior level government official and more recently as an expert on immigration and compliance issues. His experience in providing advice and counsel to leaders at the highest levels of the federal government on compliance issues and immigration reform is a valuable resource for clients.

Paul has consistently been recognized by Chambers USA, Chambers Global, Washingtonian Magazine and Legal 500 as a leading lawyer in immigration law. He was recognized in 2019 as an “Immigration Trailblazer” by The National Law Journal. He regularly speaks and writes about immigration practice and policy and has contributed to major news agencies and publications, including MSNBC, CNN, the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal.