"Carl is a very fine lawyer, with a great depth of knowledge and experience. He has strong analytical skills and strategic knowledge of how Consular Affairs works."
Chambers 2023


Carl Risch is a partner in Mayer Brown's Washington DC office, a member of the Global Mobility & Migration practice and a highly regarded immigration, nationality, and visa lawyer. He is the former Assistant Secretary of State for Consular Affairs, where he managed the worldwide visa and passport function for the United States government, domestically and at its embassies and consulates abroad.

The Bureau of Consular Affairs is the public face of the Department of State for millions of people around the world, and Carl led the bureau during the worldwide repatriation of American citizens during the COVID-19 pandemic. He was also instrumental in establishing and administering the national interest exception process for travel to the United States from COVID-19 effected countries. As Assistant Secretary, he led bilateral talks on consular issues with dozens of countries, focusing on the safety and security of Americans abroad and US visa policy, especially US employment and student/exchange visitor visas. Notably, he played a key role in the release of numerous American prisoners overseas, including personally traveling to North Korea in 2018 to help facilitate the release of three hostages. Finally, as Assistant Secretary, he was responsible for managing the State Department’s 4-tiered travel advisory system, administering the US intercountry adoption system for orphans, spearheading the addition of the Bureau’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion leadership tenet, and was a lead official for the US government on international parental child abduction.

Carl joined the firm from the US Department of Justice, where he served as Deputy Director of the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR), the nation's immigration court system. As Deputy Director, he oversaw the Board of Immigration Appeals, Office of the Chief Immigration Judge, and Office of the Chief Administrative Hearing Officer. Carl led EOIR’s efforts to comply with President Biden’s Executive Orders on the immigration system, including conducting a full regulatory and policy review, and to reestablish EOIR’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion programming.

Earlier in his career, Carl worked for over a decade at US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), most recently serving in 2017 as the acting chief of staff for the agency. At USCIS, he gained hands-on adjudicatory experience in all aspects of the US immigration system, including employment-based immigrant and nonimmigrant visa petitions, family-based immigration, asylum and refugee law, and naturalization. He worked at the Administrative Appeals Office, focusing primarily on multinational transferee employment-based categories, and served abroad at the USCIS field offices in the Philippines and South Korea, where he managed the military naturalization program in Asia. He began his public service as a Foreign Service Officer with the Department of State, serving at the US Consulate General in the Netherlands.


  • Néerlandais
  • Anglais


Bloomsburg University, BA, summa cum laude

The Dickinson School of Law, JD, cum laude

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  • District of Columbia