Ilona Bray


Ilona Bray, J.D. is an award-winning author and legal editor at Nolo, specializing in real estate, immigration law and nonprofit fundraising. 

Educational background. Ilona received her law degree and a Master's degree in East Asian (Chinese) Studies from the University of Washington. She is a member of the Washington State Bar. Her undergraduate degree is from Bryn Mawr College, where she majored in philosophy. She actually viewed law school as an extension of her philosophy studies, with its focus on ethics, fundamental rights, and how people can get along in society—of particular concern to her as the daughter of a WWII refugee. 

Working background. Ilona has practiced law in corporate and nonprofit settings as well as in solo practice, where she represented immigrant clients seeking asylum, family-based visas, and more. She has also volunteered extensively, including a six-month fellowship at Northwest Immigrant Rights Project in Seattle and a six-month internship at Amnesty International in London. She is a member of the American Immigration Lawyers' Association (AILA), the National Association of Real Estate Editors (NAREE), and the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP). 

Working at Nolo. Ilona started at Nolo in 2000 as a legal editor. Since then, she has not only continued to edit other writers' books and online articles, but also has taken an active role in planning and authoring new Nolo books. Many of these have become consistent Nolo bestsellers and award-winners, among them Effective Fundraising for NonprofitsNolo's Essential Guide to Buying Your First Home, and Selling Your House.  Ilona particularly enjoys interviewing people and weaving their stories into her books. She also won the 2012 "Best Blog" award from the National Association of Real Estate Editors (NAREE). 

Spare time. (What spare time?) Ilona enjoys swimming, gardening (though she's still looking for a vegetable the squirrels won't eat every last morsel of), cooking gluten- and sugar-free meals, and writing children's books.

Articles By Ilona Bray

Biden Administration's First Changes to U.S. Immigration Policy
February 2, 2021 President Biden's initial actions concerning immigration address DACA, the border wall, enforcement and deportation priorities, Liberian DED, and more.
Filling Out Immigration Form DS-5540 Public Charge Questionnaire
Line-by-line analysis of how to fill out the DOS's public charge questionnaire and hopefully avoid inadmissibility as someone likely to receive public benefits.
Do Lottery Visa Winners Need Affidavit of Support With Green Card Application?
The public charge ground of inadmissibility does apply to winners of the diversity visa lottery, but they need not have an I-864 filled out on their behalf.
Winning a Green Card Through the Diversity Visa Lottery
A green card lottery was created by the Immigration Act of 1990 to benefit people from countries that in recent years have sent the fewest numbers of immigrants to the United States. You can enter the lottery if you are a native of one of those countries and meet certain other requirements.
What's Better for Children: Abused Parent Applies for VAWA, U Visa, or Asylum?
Taking children's interests into account when deciding, as a non-citizen victim of domestic violence in the U.S., which option to choose for escaping the trap and finding safety.
USCIS Cancels Change to 128-Question Naturalization Exam Developed in 2020
February 22, 2021 Applicants for naturalized U.S. citizenship who had been studying for the 2020 version of the civics and history exam that USCIS announced it would begin using in 2021 can stop, and study for older, easier version!
Advise USCIS of Dates You WON’T Be Available for Naturalization Oath Ceremony
If you are a U.S. green card holder applying for U.S. citizenship, you probably know the basics of the application process, or are learning it from Nolo's book, Becoming a U.S. Citizen. The process involves submitting a Form N-400 to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), attending an interview,
What Address Should College Student Put on Citizen Application Form N-400?
I'm in college in New York state, but my parents live in California, and I live with them during the summers. I have a green card now, and am ready to apply for U.S. citizenship. In filling out the Form N-400, what should I put for my residence address?
No Need to Provide Photographs With Your N-400 Citizenship Application Any More (If You Live in the U.S.)
October 10, 2016 USCIS drops photo requirement from naturalization application; photos will be done at biometrics appointment.
On probation: Can I get U.S. citizenship?
I have a green card, have been in the U.S. for six years, and speak English pretty well. However, I am on probation for a crime. Should I apply for citizenship, or will it be denied?