The Value of an Immigration Lawyer

What Really Matters to International Talent

As a recruitment firm, we search the globe to find candidates and help them navigate the process of moving to and staying in the country in which they are hired. We are facing an uncertain future; the prospect of layoffs is looming and the political landscape is ever-changing in the United States.  I want all foreign nationals working in the U.S.A. to heed a warning: now is the time to reach out to an immigration lawyer. You need someone you can turn to for guidance and who can properly advise you on what is possible and what may be possible, in different scenarios. Sometimes we don’t want to talk to an expert because we won’t like what we hear, but the sooner you know the better.

There may be a few roadblocks in your mind to doing this.

The cost may be a deterrent, but think of it like health insurance in that you are paying to minimize your risk, to give you some agency over your choices, and to ensure your quality of life.

You may feel like your firm’s attorney will help you, but remember, the bottom line is that they are representing the interests of your employer. Your own attorney can help you with your specific situation, and the legalities of your life outside of your job as well. That said, it is important to discuss with your current employer your concerns or issues if you were to be let go and ask if they can provide any additional support or services.

I often hear people relying on the advice of friends or colleagues in a similar situation. Soliciting information from others is valuable and can give you insights, but your friends are not lawyers, and each case can be different. I have seen on more than one occasion where creative teams with the same portfolio have different results in the visa process.

If you are laid off, speak with a lawyer about how much time you have to find a new position while on your current visa. For example, H-1Bs and O-1s may have 60 days to file a change of employer or change of status petition. The 60-day count could start on the last day of the last pay period if you need to buy more time, but it could also be more strictly interpreted as the last official day of work. The petition must be delivered to USCIS within 60 days.

In the event you do not find a position in that time, you should be aware and file a change of status to a tourist visa, which in many cases will grant you another 180 days. You can request a B1/B2 Visa which is a combination of visitor for business or pleasure and you are allowed to continue to interview.

Use this information to guide your discussions with YOUR attorney. I am only trying to encourage you to have that discussion, so you are prepared to fight for the future you want.

By Sasha Martens