North Carolina Immigration Lawyers

Our Experienced Immigration Lawyers in North Carolina and California

Our experienced, award-winning team of personal injury and immigration attorneys in North Carolina and California has helped nearly 50,000 immigrants solve immigration problems from California to North Carolina. No matter where you are or what immigration challenge you’re facing, we are committed to our goal–to help immigrants like you.

Immigration Attorneys

Richard Diener North Carolina Immigration Lawyers

Richard “Bert” Diener


If, as some people seem to think, our profession is a constant battle, Bert comes to the fray particularly well-prepared. Serving four years in the United States Marine Corps, Bert’s travels included postings in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba; Okinawa, Japan; and Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. While earning his law degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, he was selected to be a member of the UNC National Trial Team. Both he and fellow attorney Russell Johnson were trial team partners in law school and over a decade later, have joined to fight for the under-served. Bert has proven himself willing to go above and beyond the call of duty in his efforts to help others. And when discussing his work, he often quotes the Texas attorney Joe Jamail, “if you are not emotionally involved, your client is not getting your best effort.”

Elaine Hartman North Carolina Immigration Lawyers

Elaine Hartman


Originally from Ohio, Elaine has lived in NC for more than a decade. While attending the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill she was inspired by an acquaintance’s immigration story and decided to attend Carolina Law. She worked as a Comments Editor on the North Carolina Law Review and participated in the Immigration Clinic. When not working as an immigration attorney at Diener Law, she enjoys spending time with friends and family and shopping at thrift stores.

Russell Johnson


Russell Johnson joined Diener Law in 2015 after spending more than a decade as one of the principal litigators at Howard, Stallings, where his practice was focused on serious injury cases and complex commercial litigation. Since then, he has become a Board Certified Specialist in Workers Compensation Law in North Carolina, while also being licensed in California, Arizona, and Texas.
Russell’s law degree is from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s School of Law, where he graduated with honors and was Executive Editor of the First Amendment Law Review as well as a selected member of the Broun National Trial Team. His undergraduate degree is from West Virginia University, where he graduated summa cum laude and was inducted into the Phi Beta Kappa and Phi Kappa Phi honors fraternities, as well as the Golden Key National Honor Society.


By selecting a lawyer who is board certified, you can guarantee that they possess expertise in the specific legal area you require assistance with. Board certification is a useful tool to distinguish lawyers with the qualifications to represent you effectively.

Board certification signifies that a lawyer has made a conscious effort to enhance the proficiency and quality of his legal services. To earn this certification from the North Carolina State Bar Board of Legal Specialization, the lawyer must meet stringent criteria, such as:

  • Completing ongoing education requirements
  • Devoting at least 25% of their practice to the specialized field
  • Receiving validation from their peers that they are qualified for board certification
  • Passing a comprehensive 6-hour exam in the specialty

To maintain their certification, the specialist must be recertified every five years and demonstrate they have satisfied the criteria for continuing education, substantial involvement, and peer review.

In contrast to self-promoting advertising, board certification provides a credible credential based on objective standards.

Italia Lima

Italia Lima


Italia Lima has spent her entire legal career handling matters exclusively in the area of U.S. Immigration and Nationality Law. Italia attended the University of California, Davis as a pre-law major, graduating Dean’s List in 2008 with a Bachelor of Arts degree. She received her Juris Doctor degree from University of Illinois, Chicago in 2015. While in law school, she served as a judicial extern to Honorable Judge Elizabeth Loredo (Ret.). Ms. Lima also helped inaugurate her law school’s first ever immigration clinic and served as President of the Latino Law Student Association.

Ms. Lima’s experience includes representing clients with family-based, asylee/refugee status,naturalization, and consular immigration matters. She has litigated in both detained and non-detained docket in immigration court. She has also tackled more complex immigration cases including motions to re-open and reconsider, appeals with the BIA, and petitions for appellate review in the Ninth Circuit District Court.

Notably, she has been selected as Super Lawyer’s Rising Star for two consecutive years 2022 and 2023,an honor bestowed to the top 2.5% of immigration lawyers in Southern California. She is the proud daughter of Mexican immigrants and is the first in her family to attend college and law school in the United States.

kathleen moscato

Kathleen Moscato.


Kathleen “Kat” Moscato was born and raised in Maryland. She attended Boston University for her undergraduate studies from 2007-2011, majoring in International Relations with a minor in Political Science. She went on to attend Elon University School of Law from 2011-2014. While at Elon Law, she fell in love with immigration law and spent her time externing at Church World Services, Catholic Charities, and the Charlotte Immigration Court. After graduation from law school in 2014, she began her legal career at an immigration law firm in Charlotte, NC practicing removal defense and U visa petitions. After the birth of her daughter in 2016, she switched career paths for the next seven years and worked as a Social Security Disability attorney representing clients before the Social Security Office of Hearing Operations. With her children all in school, she decided it was time to return to her true love and passion-immigration law. She joined Diener Law in 2023. In her free time, she loves spending her time as a “Dance Mom” to her three children- Millie, William, and Sloan. She also enjoys running on the treadmill at the gym and practicing yoga.

Desiree de Jesus

Desiree De Jesus-Roman


Desiree holds a bachelor’s in communications from the University of Puerto Rico and a Juris Doctor from the University of Puerto Rico School of Law. She began her legal career in 2014 working as a Hearing Officer for a government agency in Puerto Rico. She also managed a boutique law firm in Puerto Rico.

After hurricane Maria’s devastation in Puerto Rico in September 2017, Desiree felt obliged to close her legal practice and relocated to the greater Washington, D.C. area where she started practicing immigration law. Her struggles after hurricane Maria and the need to reinvent herself were motivations for her to develop a passion for helping others to achieve their American dream.

Desiree has worked as an Immigration Attorney for the private and non-profit sectors. She has successfully represented many individuals for defensive and affirmative asylum, and applicants for adjustment of status and naturalization. Desiree is native in Spanish and is barred in Puerto Rico.

Zoe Ji Wilson


Ms. Wilson, Graduated from the University of Sheffield, a top 15 Russell Group University in the United Kingdom, in 2015 with a Bachelor of Laws with Honours degree. After finishing her Undergraduate degree, Ms. Wilson pursued a Postgraduate Diploma in Legal Practice, finishing all of her educational requirements to become a qualified solicitor in the United Kingdom. She then returned to the United States to sit for and pass the New York State Bar.

Trained in New York City, she is an analytical, strategic, attorney with a passion for helping immigrants navigate the complex American immigration legal system. Ms. Wilson prides herself in her individualized representation and dedication to all of her clients. She has successfully represented clients in all stages of contested proceedings and claims in Immigration Court and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Ms. Wilson is experienced in a wide range of visas, Asylum and Withholding of Removal, Cancellation of Removal, Waivers of Inadmissibility, and U-visas. She has also successfully represented clients in family matters such as uncontested divorces and guardianship proceedings.

Fluent in spoken Mandarin Chinese, conversational Wenzhou dialect.

Gabriela Jacob


Gabriela “Gabi” Jacob started her professional career back in her home country, Brazil, where she worked as a corporate lawyer. In 2015 Gabi moved to the U.S to study English. She decided she wanted to continue her legal career in the U.S. and obtained her LL.M degree in U.S. Law with honors magna cum laude in 2019. Gabi has been admitted to the Washington Bar in 2020. Prior to joining Diener Law, Gabi was an attorney at a non-profit organization where she successfully represented several individuals and their families for defensive asylum. Gabi is native in Portuguese and is barred in Brazil. She lives with her husband Brian, their son Yago, their dog Murph, and two cats, Capi and Mocha. In her free time, she enjoys reading horror and suspense novels, hiking, cross-country skiing, and spending time with her family.

Immigration & Legal Professionals

Margaret McLaurin North Carolina Immigration Lawyers

Margaret McLaurin

NC Certified Paralegal

As a paralegal, Margaret handles all of our worker’s compensation cases assisting the attorney, Russell Johnson.  Margaret received an AA Degree from Louisburg College and was certified by the North Carolina State Bar in 2005 as a certified paralegal.  She has been handling worker’s compensation cases since 2002.  She joined Diener Law on February 15, 2015.  She was born and raised in Clayton, North Carolina where she still lives.  She has 2 grown daughters Bethany and Candace and has 3 grandchildren, Brantley (age 8), Macey (age 7), and Madison (age 4).  She loves reading, DIY projects and cooking.

Scott Brown North Carolina Immigration Lawyers

Scott Brown

Litigation Coordinator

As the Litigation Coordinator, Scott manages the firm’s civil caseload and personal injury cases and assists with the firm’s workers’ compensation cases, as well as with many administrative tasks for the firm. A native of Raleigh, North Carolina, Scott received an A.B. cum laude in Comparative Literature from Harvard College and a J.D. from UNC Law in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Scott then practiced law for a number of years in Atlanta, working as Law Clerk to two U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judges, then as Director of Court Services at the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, and later as Assistant Regional Counsel for the Social Security Administration. Scott joined Diener Law in November 2009. Scott worked extensively with a non-profit group that assists homeless veterans and served on the Advisory Board of Directors for NC FIELD, Inc., a local non-profit group that promotes “justice and equality by increasing access to opportunities for farm-working communities in North Carolina.” Scott met the love of his life, David, in 2015, and they got married the following year.  In his free time, Scott enjoys reading, cooking, dinner parties with friends, and exploring interesting places all around the globe with his husband David.

Hector R. Cora, Jr. North Carolina Immigration Lawyers

Hector R. Cora, Jr.

Case Manager

Hector began his association with Diener Law as a legal assistant in 2010. Today, Hector is a felony and DMV Fraud case manager and assists with the scheduling of the firm’s numerous criminal cases in the surrounding counties. He always has a smile for clients and co-workers alike. Although born in Brooklyn, NY, Hector lived in Puerto Rico for ten years. He attended Mount Olive College and is a baseball coach for the Wayne County Arsenal travel team on which his sons play. He is a loving husband to his beautiful wife and the proud father of three children, Isaac, Isaiah and Sara Elyse. On the weekend, you may find Hector playing softball, swinging a club on the golf course or fishing nearby.

Raul Fuentes North Carolina Immigration Lawyers

Raul Fuentes

Case Manager

Raul was born in Mexico but was raised in Seven Springs, NC. He has worked at Diener Law since the spring of 2013, helping clients in worker’s compensation and personal injury. Being fluent in English and Spanish, Raul thrives on working with clients to find the most efficient way to get the help they need. He is a volunteer firefighter and likes attending church, working out and spending time with family. His favorite quote is by Saint Francis of Assisi, “Start by doing what’s necessary, then do what’s possible and suddenly you are doing the impossible.”

Vicente Marin North Carolina Immigration Lawyers

Vicente Marin-Luna

Case Manager

Vicente began working for Diener Law in June of 2011 as a legal assistant. Fluent in Spanish and English, Vicente brings a special mix of compassion and dedication to his work with the firm’s sales/marketing/billing department, and his work ethic is inspiring. Vicente has a gift for identifying with clients and their problems and finding creative ways to help them. He is Mexican-American and comes from a big family with huge values. Vicente has a Business Administration Degree and also a Management Applications & Principles Certificate. Before joining the firm, Vicente was employed by a mentoring company for three years, primarily working with Hispanic youth. Vicente works hard to achieve all his goals at work and in his personal life because he does not like giving up!

Lizzet Montoya North Carolina Immigration Lawyers

Lizzet Montoya

Immigration Professional

Lizzet, a legal professional in the Mount Olive office, is eager to help people. She was born in Guanajuato, Mexico, but moved to the U.S. at two years old. She was raised in North Carolina and is now a recipient of DACA. Lizzet understands the struggle to achieve the American Dream as an immigrant. In her free time, Lizzet likes to spend time with family, be outdoors and visiting new places. Her future includes college and becoming a social worker for neglected and abused children.

Mayra Montoya North Carolina Immigration Lawyers

Mayra Montoya

Case Manager

Originally from Guanajuato, Mexico, Mayra was mostly raised in North Carolina and currently lives in the small, rural town of Pikeville. As an immigrant and DACA recipient, she knows the struggle of coming to the U.S. achieving the American dream. Although it can be hard, Mayra encourages everyone to keep trying and never give up. As she says, “There is light at the end of the tunnel!” Mayra is married to a wonderful husband and mother to a daughter, Jennifer, and another daughter, Stephany, who is expected to be here by the end of the summer, 2017.

Estela Ruiz North Carolina Immigration Lawyers

Estela Ruiz

Case Manager

Estela started working for Diener Law in October 2011. Fluent in Spanish and English, Estela translates in court and assists with answering telephone calls. Having lived in the United States for 27 years, Estela says she could not ask for a better place to live. She is currently enrolled at Pitt Community College, where she will soon graduate with a degree in Human Services. Estela is the proud mother of two wonderful boys, Carmelo and Emilio. She is also part of a big family consisting of her mother and father, four sisters and two brothers, all of whom she loves very much. Estela and her family like spending time outside, and in the summer, they enjoy visiting beaches and parks, fishing, and cooking out. Estela loves helping people and looks forward to growing with the firm.


North Carolina Immigration Lawyers

Stephanie Diener

General Manager

Stephanie, who is Bert Diener’s wife, has been with Diener law since its inception. She serves as the firm’s General Manager. In this capacity, she manages all aspects of the steadily growing firm’s day-to-day operations, as well as the trust account and the firm’s billing. Stephanie received a Bachelor of Science degree, summa cum laude, in Elementary Education from East Carolina University. She taught second grade for several years before starting to work for the firm. Stephanie and Bert have three beautiful children, Sarah Hope, Grace, and Alex, who are growing up much too quickly. The oldest child, Sarah Hope, is already in college, and the younger two children are not far behind. Stephanie enjoys cooking, playing tennis, exercising, and trips to Europe and to Mexico.

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