Skip to main content

W. Scott Railton

Attorney Profile

Top Rated Immigration Attorney in Bellingham, WA

Cascadia Cross-Border Law
1305 11th Street, Suite 301
Bellingham, WA 98225-7016
Phone: 360-671-5945
Fax: 360-676-5459
Selected to Super Lawyers: 2020 - 2022
Licensed in Washington Since: 1998
Practice Areas: Immigration: Business, Immigration: Consumer
Attorney Profile

W. Scott Railton is an attorney with Cascadia Cross-Border Law in Bellingham, Washington. Regarded as one of the country's leading attorneys for immigration and nationality law, Mr. Railton has more than 21 years of legal experience, and he provides exceptional representation and support to clients throughout Skagit and Whatcom counties and all northern Washington who have legal needs involving immigration law, admissibility and removal issues, humanitarian matters, and other related areas.

Due his proximity to the Canadian border, Mr. Railton has gained in-depth knowledge of cross-border processing and other admissibility matters between the U.S. and Canada. He is a recognized immigration law authority on business, science and health care immigration issues, and he routinely counsels with physician specialists, hospitals, clinics, research scientists and other professionals, including business executives. He also has written and spoke extensively on cannabis legalization and immigration. Moreover, he travels to Washington, D.C., regularly to advocate on behalf of immigration reform before various federal agencies.

As evidence of his leadership skills and advocacy for immigration reform, Mr. Railton has served as the Chair of the American Immigration Lawyers Association's Washington State Chapter, and regularly serves on several of the organization's committees. He has chaired liaison committees to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the Department of State, and Washington State government agencies. He is also a member of the International Medical Graduate Taskforce and the Society for Human Resource Management. 

Mr. Railton has published numerous articles and texts regarding cross-border immigration issues, cannabis legislation in relation to immigration, and other topics. He has also facilitated classes at Western Washington University on U.S. immigration law and policy, and he has conducted lectures and continuing legal education seminars across the country on a variety of legal topics.

After graduating with highest honors from Western Washington University in 1995, Mr. Railton attended the University of Washington School of Law, where he served as on the executive editorial board of the Pacific Rim Law & Policy Journal. He obtained his Juris Doctor in 1998, and he is admitted to practice before the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit.

Practice Areas
  • 80%Immigration: Business
  • 20%Immigration: Consumer


3 Years Super Lawyers
  • Super Lawyers: 2020 - 2022

About W. Scott Railton

First Admitted: 1998, Washington

Professional Webpage:


  • "Across The Line," a recurring column in the Whatcom County Bar Journal since 2003, provides immigration and cross-border updates to Whatcom County Bar Association members, to aid them in their legal practices. Recent topics have included border closures during the pandemic, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, and USCIS updates., Whatcom County Bar Journal, Whatcom County Bar Association

Educational Background

  • Western Washington University Bachelor of Science, Environmental Policy Magna Cum Laude with highest honors, 1995


  • “Super Lawyers is a rating service of outstanding lawyers from more than 70 practice areas who have attained a high-degree of peer recognition and professional achievement. This selection process includes independent research, peer nominations and peer evaluations.”  -Thomson Reuters, SuperLawyers (Washington State),, 2020
  • “Super Lawyers is a rating service of outstanding lawyers from more than 70 practice areas who have attained a high-degree of peer recognition and professional achievement. This selection process includes independent research, peer nominations and peer evaluations.” - Thomson Reuters, SuperLawyers (Washington State),, 2021
  • Honored to be selected to attend and participate in the inaugural Western District of Washington Litigation Academy. The Academy was hosted by the Federal Bar Association and the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington. Selection of fellows for the program was competitive., Fellow, Western District of Washington Litigation Academy,, 2020


  • Featured guest to KGMI's weekly radio broadcast on news impacting local communities and businesses. Discussion of immigration compliance issues for businesses, including I-9s, E-Verify, and agency audits., The Whatcom Report (KGMI Radio), Cross-border, Whatcom County Business, Trucking, Healthcare, Education, Legal, 2020
  • Invited guest to KGMI's Whatcom Report, a weekly radio show covering Whatcom County news and business. Discussion on the latest cross-border and immigration developments effecting Whatcom County listeners., The Whatcom Report (KGMI Radio), Cross-border, Healthcare, Trucking, Legal, 2020


  • Co-counsel for Plaintiff in Boule v. Egbert, 998 F.3d 370 (9th Cir. 2021), 980 F. 3d 1309 (9th Cir. 2020), published at  The Ninth Circuit panel of three judges ruled in Plaintiff's favor in 2020. The Ninth Circuit then voted en banc (all active judges) on whether to re-hear the case. The full court declined to do so, in Plaintiff's favor. An amended decision was issued, with dissents. "In the amended opinion, the panel reversed the district court’s summary judgment for defendants in an action brought pursuant to Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents of Federal Bureau of Narcotics,403 U.S. 388 (1971) by a United States citizen who alleged that a border patrol agent, acting on plaintiff’s property within the United States, violated plaintiff’s rights under the First and Fourth Amendments." The matter is now before the U.S. Supreme Court., 2021

Bar/Professional Activity

  • AILA Washington Advocacy/Congressional Committee.  Member of professional committee of immigration attorneys, who host quarterly meetings with Congressional offices, attend advocacy days in Washington D.C., and maintain liaison relationships with Congressional staff.  I have been an active member of this committee for more than 15 years, and am a past chair., 2021
  • Conference Program Co-Chair (Business Track Program Chair) for the American Immigration Lawyers Association's 2022 Border Issues Virtual Conference, a national conference for immigration attorneys and professionals focused on border issues, including admissions to the U.S., work authorizations, and inadmissibility challenges. Description:2022 Border Issues Virtual Conference Immigration attorneys continue to face challenges when their clients cross the border or enter via a designated port of entry into the United States. Staying informed on the latest information regarding these issues is, therefore, more important than ever. To this end, the 2022 AILA Border Issues Virtual Conference, a comprehensive two-day event, will include two tracks: business and family-removal. Participants can attend intermediate- to advanced-level sessions in either track, and all sessions will be available OnDemand after the conference. Nationally recognized experts will lead panels designed to educate attendees on the most pressing border issues facing attorneys and provide essential tips and best practices for how to deal with them. If you are working with clients entering the United States through the border, then this conference should not be missed! Business Track: features sessions dedicated to the latest pandemic updates, specific business travel categories (B-1, TN, L), and strategies for overcoming inadmissibility. Family Removal Track: includes updates on the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), what to expect from rocket dockets, ethical considerations for asylum-related representation, and shifting burdens of proof along the extended border. Also includes sessions on redress for border delays, forms of lawful admission, the application of prosecutorial discretion to prior removal orders, obtaining release from detention, and assisting vulnerable populations seeking entry. March 8-9, 2022All Times Listed are Eastern Standard Time , 2022
  • AILA University Advisory Committee, Member. Invited in 2020 to serve on national committee for the American Immigration Lawyers Association, focused on the development of a comprehensive video learning platform for immigration professionals, launched in November 2019.  Invited to serve additional term in 2021.  Committee website:   AILA University website:  , 2021
  • AILA NW Regional Conference CLE Committee (Washington), Member.  Have helped plan three multi-day immigration law conferences for on-line attendance, since the start of pandemic. The first conference was hosted in Oregon. The second conference was a Basics/Fundamenals of Immigration Law conference. The upcoming conference will focus on more advanced topics., 2021
  • AILA NW Regional Conference CLE Committee (Oregon), Member, 2019
  • Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and the U.S. District Court for Western Washington
  • Member, Washington State Bar Association
  • Advocacy Committee Chair, American Immigration Lawyers Association - Washington Chapter (2015-16), 2015
  • Member, Society for Human Resource Management
  • Member, International Medical Graduate Taskforce.  This is a national group of immigration attorneys who have assist physicians and hospitals with immigration. The group advocates for U.S. immigration policies and laws which help improve medical care in the United States. I have been a member of this group for several years, and have served on committees associated with this group, formed for specific purposes., 2021
  • Chair, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Consular Affairs, and Consumer Protection
  • Washington State Government Committee Chair, American Immigration Lawyers Association - Washington State (2017-18), 2017
  • National Governor, American Immigration Lawyers Association, 2012
  • Chapter Chair, Washington State Chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, 2012
  • Department of State Liaison Chair, Washington State Chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, 2014

Pro bono/Community Service

  • Skagit Valley Hospital Foundation Trustee (appointed 2021 to 2024)., 2021
  • Western Washington University Alumni Association Board of Directors (2006-2012). Executive Board Member.

Scholarly Lectures/Writings

  • Employment-Based Permanent Residence and the Visa Bulletin, “Nailing Down the Basics – A Comprehensive Introduction to Immigration Law,” Washington State Chapter-American Immigration Lawyers Association, 2021.  This Continuing Legal Education seminar focused on the basics of employment based immigration, and was the first annual conference hosted by the Washington State AILA Chapter which was held on-line, due to COVID-19 restrictions. It was widely attended by attorneys and staff from throughout the U.S. The Panel's discussion topics included: Introduction to the Visa Bulletin; Employment Based Preference System and Qualifying Categories; Adjustment of Status v. Consular Processing, Speaker, Employment-Based Permanent Residence Categories and the Visa Bulletin, Nailing Down the Basics - A Comprehensive Introduction to Immigration Law, American Immigration Lawyers Association, 2021
  • A blog piece for the American Immigration Lawyers Association's Think Immigration site, discussing the "traps for the unwary" presented by state and foreign legalization of cannabis, in regards to noncitizens, their families, and employers. The piece was prepared in relation to AILA's 2022 Border Issues Virtual Conference, for which I was Business Track Chair, and was circulated via social media and AILA's daily update to membership., Author, "Wait, But Isn't Pot Legal?" - Immigration Law and Cannabis Present Traps For The Unwary, American Immigration Lawyers Association - Think Immigration Blog, Immigration, Legal, 2022
  • Discussion Facilitator for ethics breakout session at AILA NW Regional Immigration Law Conference. Discussion focused on rules of professional conduct in hypothetical situations, including scope of representation, duties to employers and employees during representation, dual representation, and conflicts of interest., Discussion Facilitator, Ethics - Who Do You Represent?, 2021 Northwest Immigration Immigration Law Conference: Yesterday's Lessons, Tomorrow's Strengths, Legal, 2021
  • Discussion Leader for a Panel of distinguished speakers for AILA National's 2021 Virtual Paralegal Conference.  The panel prepared a Powerpoint presentation and spoke on challenges for merits-based immigration for highly-skilled individuals. The presentation is available for purchase as part of AILA's conference materials for the two day conference. The panel description follows. HIGHLY SKILLED INDIVIDUALS: A DISCUSSION ON NONIMMIGRANT AND IMMIGRANT VISA PETITIONS FOR “TALENTED” FOREIGN NATIONALS This session will discuss the nonimmigrant and immigrant classifications for those that are highly skilled beyond the professional level qualifications. Panelists will discuss the eligibility and documentary requirements for each of these classifications and provide practical tips regarding the presenting of petition submissions and responses to Requests for Evidence. O-1 Extraordinary Ability • Competitive Athletes to Foreign Rock Bands. The P-1 Player or Performer Classification Eligibility and Whether Others May Tag Along Extraordinary Ability as an Immigrant Visa Petition Classification for the Green Card Outstanding Researchers/ Professors and Why Certain Members of This Category May Be Eligible to “Skip” the Labor Certification Requirement Multinational Manager/ Executive and the Importance of Documenting Past Management of Professionals/ Executive Activities National Interest Waiver of the Labor Certification Requirement (NIW Document Requirements, Strategies and NYSDOT and Related Cases)  , Discussion Leader, Highly Skilled Individuals: A Discussion on Nonimmigrant and Immigrant Petitions for "Talented" Foreign Nationals, American Immigration Lawyers Association Virtual Paralegal Conference (AILA National), Legal, Legal Support, Immigration, Corporate, 2021
  • Invited speaker/co-author for AILA National CLE. Description: TN professionals must maintain bona fide nonimmigrant intent. Under the United States–Mexico–Canada Agreement (formerly NAFTA) regulations, a TN applicant cannot intend to establish permanent residence in the United States and must satisfy the inspecting officer that the proposed stay is temporary and has a finite end. How, then, is a TN status holder able to apply for adjustment of status (AOS)? Or can they? Our panel of experts will discuss the pros and cons for TN status holders who seek to apply for AOS, and how to avoid a finding of fraud or "pre-conceived" intent., Co-Author, Speaker, TN Status Holders: Avoiding Preconceived Intent and Applying for LPR Status, American Immigration Lawyers Association - National Webinar, Immigration Attorneys; U.S., Canada And Mexico Businesses, 2020
  • I-9 Workshop: How to address I-9 basics, social security no-match letters, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) I-9 audits., Speaker, Presenter, I-9 Workshop, Belllingham Chamber of Commerce, Business, Human Resources, Cross-border, Health Care, Education, 2019
  • Immigration law update related to legalized cannabis, CBD and hemp; the green industry; investors, employment, and aiding/abetting; foreign legalization and travel. This Panel was part of the Employment Section of the Northwest Regional Conference for the American Immigration Lawyers Association., Speaker, Presenter, Legalized Cannabis, American Immigration Lawyers Assocation Northwest Regional Conference, Legal Services (immigration); Cannabis, 2020
  • Co-authored chapter of Immigration Practice Pointers, 2012 ed., published by the American Immigration Lawyers Association, for the annual conference of the association in Nashville, TN. The article and corresponding panel concerned admissibility challenges for visitors, TN professionals, and intracompany transfers. This article was republished in AILA's 2017 Midwinter Conference Handbook., Co-Author, Speaker, Border Blues: Current Issues & Trends at the Canadian Border, American Immigration Lawyers Association, 2012
  • Called to provide testimony on Canada's Bill C-45, a Canadian Act respecting cannabis and to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, the Criminal Code, and other Acts, insofar as it relates to Canada's border., Witness, Testimony Before Proceedings of Canada's Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defense (Canada's Parliament), Canada's Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defense , U.S.-Canada Border Related Businesses And Peoples, 2018
  • Discussion of immigration issues related to cannabis legalization, including CBP, USCIS, ICE, EOIR, and Department of State practices. Special focus on immigration implications of association with CBD and hemp related products. The AILA California conference is hosted by the four AILA California chapters, and its materials are published nationally by AILA., Co-Author, Speaker, Cannabis and Immigration, 32nd Annual American Immigration Lawyers Association California Chapters CLE Conference Handbook, Immigration For Businesses, 2019
  • Abstract: With the majority of its freshwater sources polluted, and the pursuant incurrence of significant economic losses, and substantial health risks, China has reached a critical stage in its water resource management. Past efforts to legislate for water quality protection, although promising in content, have been less than effective. Four modes of enforcement-administrative controls, economic incentives, legal responsibility, and campaigns-have achieved only moderate success. This Comment examines the statutory and regulatory framework for water pollution control in China and suggests that if China's water pollution controls are ever to be more than mere rhetoric, China must focus on eliminating conflicts of interest amongst regulators; taken absolutist rather than economic incentive-based approach to pollution control; and provide sufficient funding for remedial actions while limiting future costs through increased conservation and public participation in water resource protection, Author, The Rhetoric And Reality of Water Quality Protection in China, Washington International Law Journal (formerly Pacific Rim Law & Policy Journal), Law Journal, 1998
  • Authored article for bi-monthly Lexis periodical for immigration lawyers on a 9th Circuit inadmissibility exception for first-time minor narcotics offenders., Author, The Federal First Offender Act Exception, Bender's Immigration Bulletin, 2010
  • This article, published in the American Bar Association's Criminal Justice magazine, discusses the law as it pertains to marijuana and noncitizens, with an emphasis on the impact of state legalization. The article covers convictions, admissions to use, admissibility and removal, health-based prohibitions, and other timely topics. Criminal Justice magazine circulates to all members of the Criminal Law section of the ABA.  , Author, Marijuana and Immigration, American Bar Association, Criminal Defense/Immigration, 2017
  • Author and presenter for national teleconference concerning land border admissibility issues, sponsored by the American Immigration Lawyers Association. The program's description says: "...Nearly all immigration attorneys have represented clients who have encountered troubles at a land border. Wouldn't it be nice to have a better idea what the border is like before advising a potential border crosser? Join our panel of experts as they provide an overview of crossing a land border. Preparing Your Client for Border Inspection —Best Practices My Client Was Denied Entry: What Happened? Alternatives to Removal at the Border What Is Standard Processing for EWIs Caught at the Border? Credible Fear Interviews Detention Procedures.", Co-Author, Speaker, Advising Clients On Crossing A Land Border of the Northern United States, American Immigration Lawyers Association, 2014
  • Blog post for WSBA's NW Sidebar blog regarding immigration and the legalization of marijuana., Author, Immigration and the Legalization of Marijuana, Washington State Bar Association, 2014
  • Author of Chapter published in "Immigration Practice Pointers: Tips for Handling Complex Cases (AILA), 2014 ed."  Presented with co-panelist at an annual conference for American Immigration Lawyers Association in Boston, Ma. Subject matter certain complex adjustment of status issues related to a lawful admission for persons trying to become lawful permanent residents., Author, Speaker, What Do You Mean I Was Not Inspected?, American Immigration Lawyers Association, 2014
  • Authored article and presented at CLE entitled Fundamentals of Employment Law. Addressed the fundamentals of immigration law for employers, including employer compliance and immigration benefits., Author, Speaker, Immigration Law 101 For Employers, Sterling Education Services, Human Resources, 2014
  • Author and speaker for BC Law Society CLE entitled "Civil Law for Criminal Lawyers".  Focus of presentation was U.S. immigration law and inadmissibility issues., Author, Speaker, The Effect of a Canadian Criminal Proceeding on Ability to Enter the United States, Law Society of British Columbia, 2012
  • Authored Chapter 3 of "Visa Solutions for International Students, Scholars, and Sponsors."  Chapter focused on admissibility procedures and challenges for international students, and is entitled "Getting Admitted to the United States"., Chapter Author, Getting Admitted to the United States, Thomson Reuters, 2012

Industry Groups

  • Business
  • Cross-border
  • Health Care
  • Higher Education
  • Science
  • Technology
  • Timber
Show More
Office Location for W. Scott Railton

1305 11th Street, Suite 301
Bellingham, WA 98225-7016

Phone: 360-671-5945

Fax: 360-676-5459

Last Updated: 5/15/2022

Page Generated: 0.57133078575134 sec