Michael Phulwani, The Loss of an US Immigration Icon (1936 to 2020)

By Dev Banad Viswanath, Esq.
The world lost a tremendous soul this pass weekend. A loss of epic proportions, by the departing from this mortal world of Mr. Michael Chanrai Phulwani, Attorney-At -Law. He was a very well respected and knowledgeable US Immigration and Consular attorney. He was an extremely successful and savvy businessman.
Michael (aka Mohanlal) Chainrai Phulwani, of Maywood NJ, peacefully passed away at age 84. He was an inspirational father, doting grandfather, beloved brother, caring cousin, kind friend and a renowned immigration attorney.
He was an advocate for Immigration Issues in the United States. It was not uncommon for him to write letters to US Senators and Congress people who were involved with committees related to Immigration and also to communicate with his thoughts on positions to our National and local chapters of the Immigration Bar (the American Immigration Lawyer’s Association).He was also a mentor, guiding hundreds of practitioners on consular practice issues. He was also a co-author of the Chapters on the US consulate and embassies in Pakistan, India, and Bangladesh for many years bringing useful information to thousands of attorneys and legal staff on how the consular posts functioned and best practices.
He practiced law for over 40 years and was the recipient of the Mahatma Gandhi Award, the Lifetime Achievement award from the Federation of Indian Associations, and the Professional Excellence Life Time Achievement Award by the NJ Law Journal.
If there is one thing about Michael Phulwani, it was that he knew Bollywood, and the Bollywood industry KNEW HIM! Any time the Hindi Film industry had a film shoot, or scouting to be done, or a Bollywood show tour in America, it was Michael Phulwani who they would reach out to for assistance. The Kapoor Family, Yash Chopra, Karan Johar all knew the attorney to call. His record and reputation for getting famous people visas was well known and well documented. If you were in Mumbai and needed a visa for anyone of Bollywood’s ‘A’ listers, all that was needed was a phone call or email to “Phulwaniji”, and he would get it done. He used his decades of experience, understanding of Immigration laws and deeply rooted connections that he developed over the years to make sure the job would get done!
He successfully handled many complex immigration cases with the Immigration and Naturalization Service and American Consulates. He frequently gave well attended lectures on U.S. Immigration Law nationwide in the U.S. and abroad, and was honored by several community organizations for his dedicated community service. His column on Immigration matter regularly published in many Indian publications including India Tribune.
He co-hosted a weekly television program “Immigration and You” with Attorney David Nachman, telecast on ITV.

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