Who We Are
Over the past 40 years, we’ve helped tens of thousands of wonderful people from our simple and classic white three-story office on Oak Street, in Hartford, Connecticut. What started as a simple solo practice founded by Maria Luisa de Castro Foden, has grown because of a reputation of honesty and quality work. We don’t advertise. We don’t have a P.R. campaign. Our campaign is to achieve our goal in each case - to serve each client with the highest level of integrity and diligence. We are highly regarded as reliable and effective specialists in the practice of immigration law by other attorneys, and while awards and accolades are nice, the affirmations we care about most come from our actual clients.
Attorney Maria Luisa de Castro Foden is the founder and heart and soul of our practice. Born in Chile, she immigrated to the United States 1967 as a foreign student to Douglas College, Rutgers University in New Jersey.
When she received her Juris Doctor, she was the first hispanic woman to graduate from the University of Connecticut School of Law. She hung her shingle at 107 Oak Street in Hartford Connecticut in June of 1980 as a general practice, with the idea of helping and advocating for people who could not do so themselves. Originally, her practice began with a little of everything. She had a wall of file cabinets - one cabinet for divorce, one for criminal, real estate, and one small drawer for immigration petitions. Slowly, but surely, that one drawer for immigration grew to a cabinet, then two cabinets, then three. Today, nearly 40 years later, immigration law is the focus and specialization of our practice.
Maria Luisa’s extensive experience, unparalleled knowledge of immigration law and tenacity is a driving force in our practice, and what draws people to seek our advice from all over the country. Maria Luisa is fluent in Spanish, Portuguese, French and English.
In 2019, the Connecticut Law Tribune recognized Maria Luisa de Castro Foden’s contributions as an immigration attorney with the Lifetime Achievement Award.
Attorney Mary Foden received her Bachelor's degree at Boston University, and her Juris Doctor from UCONN Law in 2005. As a young attorney, Mary worked at the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee in Washington D.C., where she worked to pass immigration and copyright legislation. She joined the practice in 2006 to further immigration advocacy and change through legal casework.
Mary leads litigation at De Castro Foden, and has extensive experience in cancellation of removal, waivers of inadmissibility, and adjustment of status. Mary is also responsible for our appellate practice, and is well known for her work before the Board of Immigration Appeals and Second Circuit Court of Appeals. Clients from all over the country come to seek our assistance in removal defense, and her advocacy, compassion and professionalism has established her as a preeminent attorney in immigration defense litigation. Mary has been rated by her peers as a Super Lawyer Rising Star since 2014, and as a “Top Attorney” by New England’s Outstanding Young Lawyers.
Mary is admitted to the Connecticut Bar, the New York Bar, the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, and the U.S. Supreme Court. She is fluent in Spanish.
Precedent Decision: Matter of Ferreira, 26 I&N 415 (BIA 2014). See also the Board’s important decision in Adela Nolasco Santiago, A205 497 497 (BIA May 3, 2017).
EDWIN D. COLON
Attorney Edwin Colon represent clients in all aspects of immigration law, including family immigration, citizenship, removal defense, consular processing, waivers of inadmissibility, and appeals.
Immediately before joining De Castro Foden, Edwin was an associate attorney in the Education Law Department of a mid-size regional law firm representing boards of education. In that role, Edwin engaged in all facets of litigation on behalf of boards of education including: special education, student discipline, discrimination, harassment, Section 504, ADA, Title IX investigations, restraint and seclusion, student data privacy and general education matters.
Immediately before that, Edwin was an attorney at the Center for Children’s Advocacy (“CCA”) a non-profit law firm affiliated with the University of Connecticut School of Law. At CCA, he served as the inaugural Director of the Immigrant Children’s Justice Project, directed the School Based Legal Clinic at Harding High School in Bridgeport, and worked as an attorney in the Team-Child Juvenile Justice Project. Edwin was successful in representing dozens of undocumented minors who fled abuse and neglect in their home countries and obtained special findings that allowed them to apply for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (“SIJS”) which allowed them to remain lawfully in the United States. As a result of this work, Edwin collaborated with the Connecticut Probate Court Administration in drafting and securing passage of Conn. Gen. Stat. § 45a-608n, which codified the federal SIJS language into Connecticut law and established path for residency to countless immigrant minors. In addition, Edwin established training seminars and supervised over 100 pro-bono attorneys and immigration practitioners from major law firms to solo practitioners throughout Connecticut on Special Immigrant Juvenile Cases.
Edwin has received numerous accolades for his contributions to the legal profession: James W. Cooper Fellow, CT Bar Foundation, 2018, Distinguished Leader in the Law, CT Law Tribune, 2017, Top 50 Latino Leaders in Connecticut, LUPA, 2014 and 2015, New Leaders in the Law, CT Law Tribune, 2013, and Recognition as a Social Work Educator, National Association of Social Workers, CT-Chapter, 2009. In addition to his legal work, Edwin has held teaching positions in at the University of Saint Joseph, Capital Community College, and the University of Connecticut, School of Social Work.
Edwin is admitted to the Connecticut Bar, the New York Bar, and the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut. He is fluent in Spanish.
SHAYNA T. WILLIAMS
Attorney Shayna Williams leads our practice in pursuing waivers of inadmissibility. An Indiana state native with Cuban roots, Shayna obtained her Bachelor’s degree at Indiana University and her law degree from DePaul University in Chicago in 2005. After law school, she began practicing in criminal defense and divorce, but was called toward the practice of immigration, which fulfilled her purpose of social advocacy. Shayna joined De Castro Foden in 2014, and has extensive experience in adjustment of status, naturalization, and special immigrant juvenile status.
Following the promulgation of the provisional waiver of unlawful presence and its expansion in 2016, Shayna has become highly specialized in the provisional waiver of unlawful presence, Form I-601A, and focuses on this important waiver as her expertise in the practice of immigration law today. Shayna has successfully achieved more than 1000 approvals of this unique waiver of inadmissibility, which ensures and protects the unity of families of undocumented people who have spouses or parents who are residents or U.S. Citizens.
A zealous and compassionate attorney with a social advocate twist, Shayna dives deeply into the lives of our clients to present a fulsome record of the equities that USCIS should consider in each case. Shayna’s passion and commitment to families is an inspiration to her colleagues and new attorneys joining this honorable profession and a credit to our clients and practice.
Shayna is admitted to the Illinois bar and speaks Spanish fluently.
KAREN L. SANTANA
Attorney Karen Santana is experienced in adjustment of status, naturalization, special immigrant juvenile status, and labor certification. An alumna of The Ethel Walker School in Simsbury, Connecticut, Karen obtained her Bachelor’s degree in History and Political Science from Rutgers University in 2012, and her law degree from Western New England University in 2015. After law school, Karen clerked for the Connecticut Superior Court and joined De Castro Foden as an associate attorney in 2016.
Karen has quickly established a reputation as a zealous and compassionate advocate for her clients. Her work representing unaccompanied immigrant children, who have experienced abuse and neglect and may qualify for a special form of immigration relief called Special Immigrant Juvenile Status, is exemplary and demonstrative of her compassion and advocacy. When new legislation went into effect in 2018 providing relief for youth up to 21, Karen went above and beyond with community outreach to inform the public of this important change.
Karen also heads De Castro Foden’s naturalization practice, and has helped countless lawful permanent residents become U.S. Citizens by a bi-monthly citizenship class at our law firm to assist applicants prepare for their naturalization interview. Karen notes that there is no greater satisfaction as a lawyer than to see the pride that new citizens experience when they have successfully approved their test for citizenship with great hope and honor for the rights and responsibilities they can now enjoy as Americans. Karen’s passion and commitment to her clients is an inspiration to her colleagues and new attorneys joining this honorable profession.
Karen is admitted to the Connecticut bar and is fluent in Spanish.