PI job and international student (Visa issues)

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PI job and international student (Visa issues)

Postby to116 » Wed Jul 10, 2013 8:51 pm

I'm currently considering attending American law schools, t14 but hopefully t6, because I think I might want to practice/ live in the US permanently. However, I'm Canadian and I was educated at a Canadian university. So basically, my question is how difficult is it for international students, in the current legal market, to get work visas after graduating? The main problem being that I am mostly interested in PI work and am wary of the hours/ life-work balance issues of biglaw in NYC etc. I recently read an article written by a Harvard Law student which made it seem like the possibilities for getting a PI job, without a greencard, are very bleak. And I am aware that it is impossible for me to get almost any job at an American government agency. Moreover, putting PI-jobs aside, the article said that smaller-sized firms are not going to be willing to shell out the money/ deal with the hassle of securing me a visa, given the number of american law school graduates currently looking for a job. I was hoping you'd be able to give me some candid advice. Thanks!

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Re: PI job and international student (Visa issues)

Postby despina » Sun Jul 14, 2013 3:20 pm

Two big problems:

1. Most employment-based visas and green cards require the employer to pay most of the government fees, which can be hundreds or thousands of dollars, as well as the attorney fees. So non-profits, even if they want to hire you, may not be able to afford to do so.

2. To sponsor you for an employment-based green card, your employer will probably have to go through the PERM process, during which they will recruit for your job and need to show that no American is able and willing to do your job at the pay rate prevalent in your geographical area. For attorneys, this is highly unlikely, unless you have some insanely rare skill that's actually needed for the job. So even if the employer were able and willing to sponsor you for a green card, the process would likely fail.

(A third big problem for non-Canadians is that the main employment-based visa, the H-1B, is limited to 6 years total over your lifetime unless you have a green card application pending, so it's not a good way to stay in the US long-term. There's also a limit to the number of H-1B's each year, which often runs out very quickly, so if your employer isn't on the ball you might be out of luck. Luckily for you, Canadians can get TN visas, which I think are infinitely renewable and not numerically capped.)

Your best bet is to marry an American (for real, for love, obviously). Quick green card, and no fear that your immigration status is tied to the whims of an employer.

(***obvious disclaimer that this is just my opinion and not actual legal advice -- if you have real concerns you need to talk to an immigration lawyer, not just a university administrator, since the law is insanely complicated)

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