Elizabeth S. Van Arkel

Elizabeth is a shareholder in the Immigration Department. She offers experience in several areas of immigration, family, and criminal law and can counsel clients in Spanish. 


Elizabeth’s passion is helping foreign nationals navigate the U.S. immigration system, whether coming to the U.S. for a visit, work opportunities, family-based immigration, or escape from domestic violence or dangerous conditions in their home countries. Elizabeth offers guidance in an often changing and complicated system and guides her clients through the entire immigration process, from preparing and submitting the forms and application, through consular processing and scheduling visa appointments at the consulate.


She relishes the opportunity to help bridge the cultural divide between U.S. employers and their foreign-born employees. Companies trust Elizabeth to manage their talent needs by assisting with the recruitment and hiring of foreign nationals through non-immigrant petitions for H-1B workers and H-4 dependents, R-1 (religious workers), and TN workers based on the trade agreement between the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. Elizabeth further counsels employers on worksite compliance, including I-9 compliance, navigating the F-1 student OPT and STEM OPT programs, J-1 visas and J-1 visa waivers, and employment authorization cards (EADs). 

Her work with companies continues as they navigate the process to keep vital members of their team in the U.S. for good. Elizabeth assists employers and foreign nationals with the permanent residence process including immigrant petitions for PERM labor certifications and immigrant worker petitions to provide a path to a green card. These processes include I-140 applications as well as specialized applications for physicians in the Physician National Interest Waiver (PNIW) I-140 application and I-360 applications for religious workers.

Individual and family-based

Individuals currently in the U.S. facing deportation rely on Elizabeth’s defense in U.S. Immigration Court as well as in Iowa criminal courts when a criminal conviction could impact immigration status. Elizabeth has successfully handled Cancellation of Removal cases in removal proceedings and has successfully closed deportation proceedings for those eligible to adjust status to lawful permanent residence.

Elizabeth also advises individuals present in the U.S. in their affirmative and defensive asylum applications and arrived refugees pursuing more permanent status. Also included are those seeking Fiancé Visas (K-1), Spousal Visas (K-3), Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS), Temporary Protected Status (TPS), Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), U-Visas for victims of violence, I-601A and I-601 Waivers, I-751 Removal of Conditions, J-1 Waivers, Change of Status to F-1 Student, I-539 Change of Status, consular processing, green card renewals (I-90), and N-400 Naturalization applications. 

Elizabeth has counseled numerous families bringing relatives to the U.S. through family-based immigration as well.

Criminal Law

Working at the intersection of immigration and criminal law, Elizabeth counsels clients and other attorneys on the effect of criminal charges and convictions on immigration. She negotiates plea agreements in an effort to avoid negative immigration consequences which could later affect her client’s immigration path in the U.S.

Family Law

Elizabeth has a passion for conflict resolution in divorce and custody matters. She understands tensions are high during family law conflicts and advocates for her client’s best interests, and if involved in the dispute, the best interest of the children. Elizabeth has litigated high-asset property cases, successfully advocated for parents to have more visitation with their children, a fairer custody settlement, appropriate child support guidelines, and equitable distribution of property and assets when dividing marital property. 

Elizabeth also has experience with adoption cases, including same-sex parent adoptions, stepparent adoptions, and name changes. She has successfully advocated for a custody reversal from one parent as the primary physical care custodian to the other parent, reduced child support guidelines based on changes in circumstance, protected assets, and acquired fair resolutions to other property disputes. 

Elizabeth is sensitive to those individuals from different countries and cultures when she is negotiating in the family law realm on behalf of her foreign national clients.

Publications, Speeches and Seminars

  • U.S. Asylum and Refugee Processes,” Holocaust and the Law course guest lecture, Case Western Reserve Law School
  • Update on Immigration for Corporate Counsel,” Corporate Counsel Section, Iowa State Bar Association 
  • Navigating the Executive Orders on Immigration,” Iowa State University
  • Representing Immigrant Clients,” Polk County Women Attorneys
  • Legal Considerations for Small Business Owners,” Mini-Immigrant Entrepreneurs Summit 
  • When Respondent Doesn’t Play or Doesn’t Play by the Rules,” Iowa State Bar Association Annual Meeting
  • Immigration Issues in Juvenile Court,” Polk County Juvenile Court Model Court Training Academy

Awards & Honors

  • Chambers USA, Immigration, Iowa Ranked “Up and Coming,” 2020.
  • The Best Lawyers in America©; 2021,­ Immigration Law.
  • 2020 Great Plains Super Lawyers Rising Stars, Immigration: Consumer. Liz was also recognized in 2017.
Best Lawyers Award Badge