American Immigration & Mediation Services
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committed to providing you with affordable
top notch legal support,
approaching every client with a focus on unparalleled
integrity, advocacy, and understanding.

We fight for you!

Sylvia Ontaneda-Bernales
Managing Attorney

Ms. Ontaneda-Bernales earned her J.D. Degree from the George Washington University Law School in 2002. She soon joined an e-discovery team working with Department of Justice attorneys on the Racketeering case brought by the Federal government against the tobacco industry. After two successful years, Ms. Ontaneda-Bernales joined Ober|Kaler, a Baltimore firm, where she focused on immigration law, complex civil litigation involving health law issues and pharmaceutical pricing, construction cases concerning contract disputes; trademark matters; non-profit formation; landlord-tenant disputes and creditor’s rights. 
    She has been admitted to the  Maryland Court of Appeals, the District of Columbia Court of Appeals, to the United States District Court for the District of Maryland, and to the United States Supreme Court.
    As an immigration attorney, Ms. Ontaneda-Bernales has obtained visas for foreign workers and their immediate family, helped clients acquire naturalization and citizenship status, and has successfully represented individuals in removal proceedings as well as asylum seekers.  She  has authored several articles on immigration law, including employment verification requirements related to the I-9 form.
    In addition, Ms. Ontaneda-Bernales has extensive experience as a Mediator, having handled a variety of cases since 2004 -- from landlord-tenant disputes to misdemeanor matters. She is an effective litigator, who manages each client's case with exceptional care and attention. She treats every client with respect and integrity. 
    Ms. Ontaneda-Bernales believes that she can fully realize her passion for helping people at all levels of litigation and protection as a sole practitioner. To be more effective in helping clients deal with a variety of legal issues she founded the Law Office of Sylvia Ontaneda-Bernales, a fully bilingual firm in Baltimore City.
    Ms. Ontaneda-Bernales is active in a number of professional organizations in Maryland and Washington, D.C. She is an Alternative Dispute Resolution volunteer mediator for the District Court of Maryland, a Spanish language court interpreter, and a mentor to elementary, high school, and law students. Ms. Ontaneda-Bernales is also an active member in various Bar Associations. She served as President  of the Maryland Hispanic Bar Association (2009-2010) and currently sits on the Board of the United Cerebral Palsy of Central Maryland.
    Ms. Ontaneda-Bernales is rated Superb (10.0) by AVVO, an online legal directory that focuses specifically on consumer guidance, and was selected as one of Maryland's Rising Stars for 2011 and 2012 by SuperLaywers Magazine, a publication that names the top up-and-coming attorneys in each state who received the highest point totals, as chosen by their peers and through independent research.
    The Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service recognized her with the Educator of 2007 award, and the Maryland Hispanic Bar Association honored her with their 2007 Public Service Award for Outstanding Contribution by an Individual.  In 2008, The Daily Record, a legal news daily, named Ms. Ontaneda-Bernales as one of Maryland's Top 100 Women.
    Governor O'Malley appointed Ms. Ontaneda-Bernales to the Maryland 

Selected To

Maryland Rising Stars 2012
Sylvia E. Ontaneda-BernalesSuper Lawyers

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Health Care Commission in 2007 and to the Governor‘s Commission to Study the Impact of Immigrants in Maryland in 2010. Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake has appointed her to serve on the Baltimore City Wage Commission
    Ms. Ontaneda-Bernales earned a Dual B.A. in Journalism and Social Psychology with High Distinction, from the University of Nevada at Reno, and a M.A. in Journalism from the same Nevada institution. She also completed Journalism studies at the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Lima in Peru, South America. Her journalistic career encompasses both the print and broadcast media and includes work as freelance feature writer, book and newsletter editor, literary translator, television producer, documentary producer/director, and media consultant.
    Sylvia is a published poet and jungle explorer. A few landmarks in her personal achievements are the discovery of lost ancient pre-Inca ruins in the Peruvian jungle, producing and hosting the PBS/Reno Public Affairs show “To the Point,” and producing/directing several PBS documentaries, including “Making a Difference: A Celebration of Women in Politics,” in commemoration of the 75th Anniversary of Women’s  Suffrage. 
    Originally from Peru, Ms. Ontaneda-Bernales is highly proficient in spoken and written Spanish and her personal knowledge and broad understanding of cultural, ethnic, and legal nuances in Latin America enhances her legal work. She has taught Spanish at all levels of basic and college education, and privately. The American Council on the Testing of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) has accorded her a Superior rating in Spanish.   
    A Maryland resident since 2003, she makes her home in Baltimore City.


Ms. Ontaneda-Bernales is a sought-after public speaker.  Her speeches and literary readings have been called encouraging, motivational and inspirational. From the West Coast to the Mid-Atlantic, she has appeared before professional associations, women's groups, conferences, high-school assemblies, college societies, private clubs, volunteer organizations, cultural centers, and church congregations, to name a few venues. Whatever the topic  -- her native Peru, the Latino culture, immigration matters, social issues, her jungle explorations or other rich personal experiences -- she approaches her audiences in an easy conversational style, creating an intimate living-room atmosphere for each participant.


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(410) 764-0258
(775) 636-8038


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