People from Greece have been pursuing and living the American dream for more than 120 years, but despite the fact that they are now at the top of every profession and contribute to society from coast to coast as community and civic leaders, it is still a struggle from them to obtain visas and Green cards.
Konstantinos Zinas is an attorney working for the Sarkissian Law Group since October 2020, focusing on commercial and real estate litigation, complex business, and contract disputes – but getting a work visa was a challenge.
The National Herald: How hard was it to obtain a working visa?
Konstantinos Zinas: It was a tough time for me; I am not going to lie! The USCIS is very strict, and the requirements that it sets are almost impossible to be reached. As an international student, you are entitled to work for one year under the condition that an American employer will sponsor you by providing the minimum salary that the working visa requires, which is objectively a high amount taking into consideration the average salary the market sets and that the student just graduated from law school.
In case an employer is willing to offer you the said amount, then you must pass the working visa lottery, which is a mandatory requirement as well.
I had my cousin, Vicky, by my side to support me daily during those hard times, and I am so blessed for that. It was a perfect combination of hard work and luck!
TNH: Tell us about your childhood.
KZ: I was eight years old when my parents officially filed for a divorce, so I can undoubtedly say that this personally affected me for several years in many aspects of my life. However, I am blessed because I have two good parents, and especially a father, Ioannis, who is always by my side, encourages me to pursue my goals and feel confident with any choice I make in life.
Given that my family is active in business, I had never considered studying law until I met a great attorney, Christos Stathis, currently mayor of Mandra, Attica, who inspired me to follow this path.
Studying law was the only option for me, considering that I have a younger brother, Christos, who is a highly talented, skilled, and hard-working individual who currently runs all the family businesses in Greece at the age of 22.
TNH: Your career had a unique beginning.
KZ: I graduated from the European University of Cyprus School of Law in 2017. The university, due to my academic performance, gave me a scholarship in the form of an internship for a Non-Profit-Organization named Hope for Children, whose aim is to establish the standards and principles of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Children and European Union Law. It was an honor for me to work pro bono for a humanitarian institution with a primary goal of supporting vulnerable minors. Working there taught me that we should be grateful for everything we have in life, including health, happiness, and people who genuinely love us.
TNH: Tell us about your law firm and your plans.
KZ: Areg Allen Sarkissian believed in me and gave me multiple opportunities to step up and prove that I had what it takes to be a member of the legal world.
At Sarkissian Law Group, I represent a wide range of clients on protecting and enforcing their rights in any legal matter relevant to real estate, contract, and unlawful detainer matters in the civil law field. At the same time, I represent a group of legally blind individuals for the Americans with Disability Act (ADA). I reached several ADA settlement agreements in their favor regarding violations of the required legal standards that federal law sets.
TNH: What are your plans, and where do you see yourself in the future?
KZ: My goal is to keep learning and gaining new experiences within my field and to contribute to the firm’s expansion and name, and I hope to create my own law firm in the future.
TNH: What differentiates you from the others in your field?
KZ: I am a person who loves to learn from my mistakes. I always listen to people who are more experienced than me in the legal field, and after thorough research, I can conclude whether their advice will be helpful or not.
What differentiates me from others is that I do whatever it takes to keep my clients happy. I always keep them posted regarding their case, do additional work to be entirely prepared for upcoming hearings or trials, and most importantly, I try to settle any existing legal dispute in their favor, preferably in an early stage of the litigation, to avoid further attorney fees and costs.
I proved through my hard work and dedication, even though it is my first year practicing law, that I am competent enough to appear before great judges of California’s trial courts and the Court of Appeals.
TNH: For what you are grateful? Do you have a mentor?
KZ: I could easily say that I would not have been the man I am today if my father, Ioannis Zinas, did not raise me in such a way to be confident, optimistic, and motivated to pursue my goals. He also taught me how to be humble, respectful, and to always support our family. He was always by my side throughout my entire life, especially during periods when I did not believe in myself.
My grandfather, Konstantinos Zinas, who unfortunately passed away recently, is our role model, and we must adopt his principles: “Always honor, love, and support your family no matter what.
I met my mentor, Father Alex Karloutsos, who believed in me, in August 2017, when I came for the first time to the United States. I went to New York, to attend one of the most prominent Greek events in the United States, the Blue Dream charitable gala in the Hamptons.
Father Alex inspired me to apply for my master’s degree and pursue a career in the United States. I will never forget his first words to me – publicly – when we met each other: “Look at him! He is a great kid with a pure soul, and he should pursue his dreams!”
Father Alex motivated me to fight hard for my goals, follow my dreams, and be supportive to all individuals, whether they need our help or not.
He is a warm, wise, and mindful human being who tries every single day to keep our community strongly connected in the United States.
We all – especially the young generation – should follow Father Alex’s example and support each other without seeking anything in return. Prudence, dignity, altruism, and selflessness are those principles that Father Alex taught me, and I am truly grateful from the bottom of my heart for him being my mentor!