F1 wanting to go into immigration law, worth it?

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ace25
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F1 wanting to go into immigration law, worth it?

Postby ace25 » Tue Jun 02, 2015 2:02 pm

So I've been lurking this forum quite a bit to do some research on my situation just figured I would need more help.
Right now I have a student visa going into my third year of undergrad. I am on my parents h1b and had to switch to the f1 because I'm turning 21, but I have been in the States since I was 6 years old. I want to practice immigration law since thats what I'm passionate about and am starting to study for my lsats but the problem is that I'm don't know if I'll be able to find a firm after graduating that will sponsor an h1b or a green card. Even if I went to a t14, a biglaw firm would possibly sponsor me bit but biglaw doesn't necessarily exist in the immigration field.
So is all the time and money spent even worth it if I can't find work in the States?

Thank you

buddhabelly
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Re: F1 wanting to go into immigration law, worth it?

Postby buddhabelly » Tue Jun 02, 2015 11:32 pm

Biglaw firms couldn't give less of a fuck about your immigration status, there's no need to even mention it before they give you an offer (and it's illegal for them to ask). After that, all they have to do is put in a call to the HR department, who will outsource the issue to whatever firm handles that stuff. There's a lot of misinformation flying around on TLS about this, so I thought I would clear it up.

Okay now on to your problem. If you're going to law school you have to deal with the fact that you're going to have to do things that suck. That's just the cruel nature of the world. In your case (and my case, and any international student's case) that means working in Biglaw for a few years. Yes I know you have goals and passions and whatever, we all do, but tough shit. You're a junior in college now, so that gives you like 1 year of college, 3 years of law school and then another 3 years of biglaw employment to figure out your next move. You never know what could happen, you could get married to a US citizen, immigration reform, green card lottery etc. Once you have an H1B (which could be pretty hard, depends on which way the wind blows now that the cap is being grossly exceeded yearly), it might even be easier to move into another company that may not want to deal with the initial nitty gritty.

Lastly, if youve been here since you were 6, how are you not eligible to apply for a greencard? I mean, I know US immigration laws are a bullshit pain in the ass crapfest, but surely you're eligible for something? I would look into it if you haven't already.

seemeseeyou
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Re: F1 wanting to go into immigration law, worth it?

Postby seemeseeyou » Sat Jun 13, 2015 4:26 pm

Just add on to his question, how is the market for immigration in the west coast? i am assuming that with the immigration reform it is like a hidden treasure for the market. any thoughts?

Just
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Re: F1 wanting to go into immigration law, worth it?

Postby Just » Sat Jun 13, 2015 6:23 pm

buddhabelly wrote:Biglaw firms couldn't give less of a fuck about your immigration status, there's no need to even mention it before they give you an offer (and it's illegal for them to ask).

Once you have an H1B (which could be pretty hard, depends on which way the wind blows now that the cap is being grossly exceeded yearly), it might even be easier to move into another company that may not want to deal with the initial nitty gritty.


The second line means that big laws now do consider your immigration status, which is different from a few years ago.
Also, it probably isn't illegal for them to ask. I was asked by a MNC and know people who were asked of that in cbs.

rilakkuma_nyc
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Re: F1 wanting to go into immigration law, worth it?

Postby rilakkuma_nyc » Sat Jun 13, 2015 9:07 pm

buddhabelly wrote:

Lastly, if youve been here since you were 6, how are you not eligible to apply for a greencard? I mean, I know US immigration laws are a bullshit pain in the ass crapfest, but surely you're eligible for something? I would look into it if you haven't already.


This is an extremely common misunderstanding--length of residence in the US, legal or otherwise, without more, does not lead oneself to a green card (or any other permanent immigration status).

Anonymous User
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Re: F1 wanting to go into immigration law, worth it?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Jun 13, 2015 10:46 pm

Just an FYI -- I have been on multiple F1s for the last ten years and am currently on OPT, but I didn't get an H1B so I'm getting ready to leave the U.S. in 2 months' time. I'm a first year in an NYC big law. I know for a fact that many firms are getting a large number of people who got stuck out during the H1B lottery this year.

The H1B visa process has become extremely crazy. This year there were 233,000 applications for 85,000 spots, and even with the advanced degree cap that comes with a J.D., the odds are only around 60%. It is only going to get worse unless Congress does something/there is another economic crisis.

Also, it is illegal to ask for your citizenship/immigration status, but it is perfectly legal to ask whether you have "employment authorization in the United States that doesn't require future sponsorship." Reason being green card holders aren't citizens but are allowed to work, people who get asylum aren't citizens but are allowed to work, Dreamers/Deferred Action recipients aren't citizens but are allowed to work (the last category basically have no legal immigration status). It used to be the case that law firms don't care much about immigration status, but recently more and more firms seem to ask (I would imagine this will come up a lot more during this year's OCI process, given that virtually every firm has seen a huge number of their first years not getting H1B this year).

I'm in a committed relationship with a non-citizen/non-green card holder. But otherwise I would get married to an American ASAP, if you really want to stay in this country. It's the trump card in U.S. immigration law and

PM me if you want.

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Re: F1 wanting to go into immigration law, worth it?

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Jun 13, 2015 11:22 pm

Sorry to highjack, but to the last poster: What are you going to do? Are you going back to your country or is your firm trying to find an alternative to keep you?

I graduated this May and will be at a NY big law firm on OPT. They applied for my H1B this year and I was also not selected in the lottery. I still have next year to try, but I'm wondering if there is any plan B that we can use.

ClubberLang
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Re: F1 wanting to go into immigration law, worth it?

Postby ClubberLang » Sun Jun 14, 2015 1:53 am

OP, seek out an American spouse. H-1B is a crapshoot and I wouldn't mortgage my future on it. Don't invest big money in a JD you may not be able to use.

Anonymous User
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Re: F1 wanting to go into immigration law, worth it?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Jun 14, 2015 4:07 am

Anonymous User wrote:Also, it is illegal to ask for your citizenship/immigration status, but it is perfectly legal to ask whether you have "employment authorization in the United States that doesn't require future sponsorship." Reason being green card holders aren't citizens but are allowed to work, people who get asylum aren't citizens but are allowed to work, Dreamers/Deferred Action recipients aren't citizens but are allowed to work (the last category basically have no legal immigration status). It used to be the case that law firms don't care much about immigration status, but recently more and more firms seem to ask (I would imagine this will come up a lot more during this year's OCI process, given that virtually every firm has seen a huge number of their first years not getting H1B this year).


I'm an F1 student who will be going through OCI soon and I'm concerned about this. Staying in America is my top priority, I have looked into both getting married to a citizen and 'buying' a greencard with an investment should my H1-B situation not work out.

My big concern right now is that firms won't hire me because of my status.

Is there anything I can do to mitigate their doubts? Obviously saying "i've got a friend of mine on the hook in case I need a green card marriage" is an odd thing to bring up in an interview, as is "I'm willing to liquidate the property I will be inheriting for a green card", but I would hate to be rejected just because they think there's a good shot I'll be leaving the country.

On a related note, did you find that firms would be willing to transfer you to an international office should such a situation arise? There are a few firms coming during my OCI that state that they are open to sending associates abroad after a couple years, so I feel like firms like that would be a good option for me.

Just
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Re: F1 wanting to go into immigration law, worth it?

Postby Just » Sun Jun 14, 2015 8:10 am

Could the posters above PM me for how to work for big laws on OPT? Do they commit to offer you positions abroad if the lottery doesn't work? Do you get paid the same during the OPT period? Thank you!

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BlueLotus
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Re: F1 wanting to go into immigration law, worth it?

Postby BlueLotus » Sun Jun 14, 2015 9:57 am

Desert Fox wrote:I'd rather be a stockboy at a grocery store than do immigration law. There is honor in the former.

And yes, I've done both.


What the hell is your problem with immigration law? You've repeatedly bashed it on these forums. I've volunteered doing U visas, SIJ, VAWA self-petitions and asylum and it's been the most rewarding work of my career. Clients are super grateful too.

OP, look up Fragomen Del Rey Bernsen and Loewy. There is such a thing as immigration Big Law. I don't think they start out at $160K, though.

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ft8fc
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Re: F1 wanting to go into immigration law, worth it?

Postby ft8fc » Sun Jun 14, 2015 10:05 am

In my T14 school, I know that one Class 2015 F1 student will join a U.S. law firm with OPT status. As for Class 2016, one F1 student had about ten CB's but no offer for all the U.S. positions and finally settled for one SA position in a foreign country. Another F1 student failed to get any offer through OCI and mass mailing. Both Class 2016 F1 students had above median 1L grades, which normally would have translated into an SA offer in Biglaw.

However, I do not know their levels of interview skills or whether the firms rejected them due to concerns about their legal status.

It is getting tough for F1 students in the legal job market. Better secure your green card first, then go to law school. Or marry a U.S. citizen during law school.

Anonymous User
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Re: F1 wanting to go into immigration law, worth it?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Jun 14, 2015 11:38 am

Anonymous User wrote:Just an FYI -- I have been on multiple F1s for the last ten years and am currently on OPT, but I didn't get an H1B so I'm getting ready to leave the U.S. in 2 months' time. I'm a first year in an NYC big law. I know for a fact that many firms are getting a large number of people who got stuck out during the H1B lottery this year.

The H1B visa process has become extremely crazy. This year there were 233,000 applications for 85,000 spots, and even with the advanced degree cap that comes with a J.D., the odds are only around 60%. It is only going to get worse unless Congress does something/there is another economic crisis.

Also, it is illegal to ask for your citizenship/immigration status, but it is perfectly legal to ask whether you have "employment authorization in the United States that doesn't require future sponsorship." Reason being green card holders aren't citizens but are allowed to work, people who get asylum aren't citizens but are allowed to work, Dreamers/Deferred Action recipients aren't citizens but are allowed to work (the last category basically have no legal immigration status). It used to be the case that law firms don't care much about immigration status, but recently more and more firms seem to ask (I would imagine this will come up a lot more during this year's OCI process, given that virtually every firm has seen a huge number of their first years not getting H1B this year).

I'm in a committed relationship with a non-citizen/non-green card holder. But otherwise I would get married to an American ASAP, if you really want to stay in this country. It's the trump card in U.S. immigration law and


I am this poster. So when I was doing OCI back in 2012, not a single question was asked about my immigration status/employment authorization throughout the whole process. (but mind you, since I've been here for so long, my resume doesn't scream "international"). I was in T6, median grades, and I got a handful of callbacks and 2 offers. So I think my statistics were along the lines of American classmates of my year. For me, not being a citizen was not an impediment at all.

Fast forward to now. This year the H1B process was a disaster, and I am going to predict that next year it's only going to get worse (if you want to know why, let me know and I can write another post to explain). I *personally* know at least 5 people who didn't get an H1B this year, all in NYC Big Law. My HR manager told me they used to consider it a "very minor risk" (it used to be the case that only 1 person would lose in the H1B lottery every 2 years or so), but they are definitely more aware of this going forward.

So, what do you do if you don't get an H1B/what does the firm do? It's very individualized. Advice on the internet is all over the place, but here is a very, very brief summary:

1. If you're Canadian, Mexican, Singaporean, Chilean, Australian, you're good. Your countries have special treaties with the US (either NAFTA or something else) that created a special class of work visa, so you can stay with that instead of the H1B.

2. Some firms offer to transfer you to a foreign office permanently if you happen to have the language skills/are in the right practice area

3. Some firms offer to transfer you to a foreign office and bring you back in a year on an L1B (Intra-company transfer) visa that is not subject to a cap. But the caveat is, to be eligible for an L1B, you need to convince the USCIS adjudicator you have acquired "specialized knowledge" in the foreign office, and they may or may not approve it. Also, your L1B is tied to your employer, so you can't change jobs even if you make it back to the U.S. after a year. (H1B does allow you to change jobs)

4. Some firms ask you to do something else and apply for the H1B lottery again next year.

5. Some firms say I'm sorry and fire you. (I don't personally know anyone who has been fired like this, but I've heard stories. And it is perfectly legal for them to do so, because ultimately it's the employee's responsibility to maintain employment authorization)

Bottom line is, it really varies, and you work it out between you and the firm. My firm offered to transfer me to a small European office for a year and apply for L1B for me next year. But as pointed out above, if I come back on an L1B, i'll be forever the slave of my firm. I am going to be a second year in 3 months, and by the time I come back to New York on an L1B (if at all), I will be a third year. Most people don't stay beyond the fourth or fifth year anyways, so even assuming I don't get fired in the interim, does it mean that I will be thinking about packing my bags and leaving again after only one year on L1B?

I'm still in the process of convincing my firm to enter the H1B lottery for me next year. If they're willing to do that, than I'd be fine with spending one year in Europe. (They are resisting, because basically they're thinking if you can come back on L1B (with no lottery), why bother filing an extra H1B app next year, which would also mean reducing the odds for next year's first years? But again for me, it's all about being able to change jobs in the U.S. Honestly, I was so sick of my job already even before this fiasco, and my original plan was to get out of big law ASAP with the H1B, but who knows what's going to happen now :?

The silver lining for me is that my SO is on H1B, and if he successfully convinces his employer to file a green card petition for him, then we'll get married and I'll come back on a H4 visa. (This is a bit complicated: the spouse of an H1B gets an H4 and is allowed to stay in the US, but with no employment authorization. But if the H1B spouse has an approved green card petition and is only waiting for the process to finalize, which can take months to years depending on the H1B's citizenship, then the H4 gets to work -- this is new, part of Obama's executive action package.) My two cents: you should familiarize yourself with all the US immigration laws, because employers don't really know a lot and they rely heavily on their immigration lawyer (who don't exactly know your personal circumstances). There are tons of immigration law blogs out there, but be mindful that all lot of the info out there is inaccurate. But in any case, if you go to a good enough law school and land a big law job, you should be intelligent enough to filter thru the information.

Also, just an FYI - you're on your own throughout this process. I think my firm "cares" enough that they're willing to give me an option, but do NOT expect they will be willing to sit down for hours and figure out what might work for you. I also had somehow built a rapport with this one partner who kind of likes me, and I think he made a few phone calls for me (which was very helpful), but that's it. At the end of the day, you're just a first year and the new first years are coming in two months. Remember the negotiating dynamic: they can live without you but you can't live without them!

Therefore, my advice: if I could do it again, I would have married an American ASAP.

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Re: F1 wanting to go into immigration law, worth it?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Jun 14, 2015 12:34 pm

To the above poster, thanks a ton for this!

The L visa is not ideal, as you said, but it's something right?

I'm already married to another international, so marrying a USC is not an option. Also, I don't think I would have the balls to do that. I know a lot of people do it, but the consequences if you get caught... Idk, it just scares me a lot.

Any chance your firm will apply for an EB3?

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Re: F1 wanting to go into immigration law, worth it?

Postby BlueLotus » Sun Jun 14, 2015 12:52 pm

Desert Fox wrote:
BlueLotus wrote:
Desert Fox wrote:I'd rather be a stockboy at a grocery store than do immigration law. There is honor in the former.

And yes, I've done both.


What the hell is your problem with immigration law? You've repeatedly bashed it on these forums. I've volunteered doing U visas, SIJ, VAWA self-petitions and asylum and it's been the most rewarding work of my career. Clients are super grateful too.

OP, look up Fragomen Del Rey Bernsen and Loewy. There is such a thing as immigration Big Law. I don't think they start out at $160K, though.


Have you ever been to a immigration court hearing. The practitioners are unmitigated retards almost without exception.


Your comments are not helping OP. You should go away and bash immigration law elsewhere.

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Re: F1 wanting to go into immigration law, worth it?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Jun 14, 2015 12:55 pm

Anonymous User wrote:To the above poster, thanks a ton for this!

The L visa is not ideal, as you said, but it's something right?

I'm already married to another international, so marrying a USC is not an option. Also, I don't think I would have the balls to do that. I know a lot of people do it, but the consequences if you get caught... Idk, it just scares me a lot.

Any chance your firm will apply for an EB3?


The L is something, but given that I'm already sick of my firm, I don't think it's realistic for me.

I think you're thinking about the EB2 (advance degree), and the answer is no.

I think the general NYC big law market practice is that firms won't apply for a green card for you unless you're a senior associate and are on partnership track. There are two reasons: 1. cost; 2. in order to qualify for a green card, you need PERM certification, which takes 8-9 months even if everything is in order. You also need to show that no American can take your job (which is hard as a junior associate, once you get to mid-level/senior and acquired specialized knowledge in a specific field, it's a lot easier to make the case).

ClubberLang
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Re: F1 wanting to go into immigration law, worth it?

Postby ClubberLang » Sun Jun 14, 2015 6:21 pm

Isn't H-1b tied to an employer too? I know you can apply for a green card while on it, but as just an H-1b I was pretty sure you couldn't switch jobs.

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Re: F1 wanting to go into immigration law, worth it?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Jun 14, 2015 7:28 pm

ClubberLang wrote:Isn't H-1b tied to an employer too? I know you can apply for a green card while on it, but as just an H-1b I was pretty sure you couldn't switch jobs.


Here is why US immigration law is tricky. Yes, H1B is tied to an employer, but once you've won the H1B lottery once, it's easy to switch jobs. Together with the fact that we will likely be having H1B lotteries for the foreseeable future, this is important.

The H1B is a two-step process (generalization): first, your employer files a Form I-129, "Petition for a Non-Immigrant Worker" during the first week of April, then assuming you get picked, you'd have to wait for USCIS to adjudicate your application (being picked in the H1B lottery doesn't mean you're approved, it only means they will LOOK AT your application). After your I-129 gets approved (for big law jobs, the chances are good), then you take the approval receipt to a US embassy to apply for the H1B visa.

Remember, I-129's are filed during the first five business days of April, but you can't start work until Oct 1. There is a cap gap relieve for OPT students, meaning if your H1B is picked in the lottery, your OPT is automatically extended until Oct 1. (Since most students graduate in May/June, so most OPTs will finish in the next May/June/July.)

But the above only applies to people who are subject to "cap," i.e. the lottery.

An H1B lottery win is "valid" for 6 years, meaning as long as you have won the lottery during the last 6 years, all subsequent employers who want to hire you are not subject to the lottery, so therefore instead of filing during the first week of April, they can file any time there is need (e.g., when they decide to hire you). There's no 6 month wait between the April filing dates and the October start date. If they pay for expedited service, USCIS guarantees that your I-129 gets adjudicated in 15 days. If the new I-129 is approved, you can technically work for the new employer the following day.

Basically, if you have already won the H1B lottery once and are currently on H1B, you are relatively free to switch jobs (as long as the new employer is willing to file a new I-129 petition, which costs like nothing, if you're looking for biglaw/other corporate jobs that pay similar amounts)

Which is also why the first H1B lottery when you're on OPT is so important. Who else on earth would agree to hire someone in March and spend all the money, do all the paperwork, only to wait until October 1 for the new employee to start?

This is why I urge all of you to read up on US immigration laws. Nothing is as simple as it seems.

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Re: F1 wanting to go into immigration law, worth it?

Postby hellerskeller » Sun Jun 14, 2015 7:35 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:To the above poster, thanks a ton for this!

The L visa is not ideal, as you said, but it's something right?

I'm already married to another international, so marrying a USC is not an option. Also, I don't think I would have the balls to do that. I know a lot of people do it, but the consequences if you get caught... Idk, it just scares me a lot.

Any chance your firm will apply for an EB3?


The L is something, but given that I'm already sick of my firm, I don't think it's realistic for me.

I think you're thinking about the EB2 (advance degree), and the answer is no.

I think the general NYC big law market practice is that firms won't apply for a green card for you unless you're a senior associate and are on partnership track. There are two reasons: 1. cost; 2. in order to qualify for a green card, you need PERM certification, which takes 8-9 months even if everything is in order. You also need to show that no American can take your job (which is hard as a junior associate, once you get to mid-level/senior and acquired specialized knowledge in a specific field, it's a lot easier to make the case).


Does this mean that if you've somehow slugged it out in biglaw for 5+ years and possibly on track for a partnership, you'll most likely get a green card? Like, if you've made it far enough with a firm without getting fired, youre set for citizenship?

ClubberLang
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Re: F1 wanting to go into immigration law, worth it?

Postby ClubberLang » Sun Jun 14, 2015 7:50 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
This is why I urge all of you to read up on US immigration laws. Nothing is as simple as it seems.


The time would be better spend on online dating sites trying to find an American to marry. Shoot for women over 30 who are more likely to be desperate (if you are a man). New law grads are fungible and in oversupply, I'm honestly surprised that any firms go through with h-1b, but equally surprised that non-residents would attend an American law school without an immigration plan.

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Re: F1 wanting to go into immigration law, worth it?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Jun 14, 2015 8:17 pm

ClubberLang wrote:The time would be better spend [sic] on online dating sites trying to find an American to marry.


I don't disagree.


ClubberLang wrote: but equally surprised that non-residents would attend an American law school without an immigration plan.


You wouldn't be surprised if you learn more about the demand for top notch US qualified associates with first class resumes (top notch UG, top notch law school, fluent English, fluent local language) in Europe or Asia.

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Re: F1 wanting to go into immigration law, worth it?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Jun 14, 2015 9:09 pm

Don't know about Europe but the competition in Asia is always much more cutthroat than the U.S.

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Re: F1 wanting to go into immigration law, worth it?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Jun 14, 2015 10:50 pm

Would you please elaborate more on the competition in Asia? Also, thanks to anons above for very useful information on H1B visa.




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