Canadian going to Law School in US inquiring about the process of getting a visa to work in the US after graduation

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hi45

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Canadian going to Law School in US inquiring about the process of getting a visa to work in the US after graduation

Postby hi45 » Sun Jul 10, 2016 1:00 am

I am a Canadian citizen and I am going to law school in the US. I know about the H1-B and the TN. I understand that they are really the only visas that would apply to my case. But I am wondering how things would work specifically. With the H1-B, am I tied to my employer on the application? When would I apply for the visas (i.e. in what year of law school)? Thanks for all your help. Any advice from anyone would be greatly appreciated especially a Canadian that has done this successfully.

NoLongerALurker

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Re: Canadian going to Law School in US inquiring about the process of getting a visa to work in the US after graduation

Postby NoLongerALurker » Sun Jul 10, 2016 1:22 am

1L summer if you stay in States you'll be on CPT.
2L summer when you stay in States you'll be on CPT.

CPT is a variation of your F1 student status, basically. You'll file some paperwork and be tied to your summer employer. Your summer employer needs to be related to your F1 degree (so, law...not very hard to a law student to fulfill that requirement). You'll need to be getting academic credit, which just means some prof is going to go through the formality of pretending to read a paper you write and you'll get some credit for it.

During 3L you'll file some paperwork for OPT. This is like CPT, but for post-graduation and you don't need to get any academic credit for it. It'll last a year after you graduate.

While working at the firm during the OPT time, you'll file paperwork for an H1B. If you get an H1B, you'll stay on the H1B as long as that status lasts. If you don't get the H1B, you'll just use TN and apply for H1B the following year. H1B is a lottery system so you just kinda put your name in and hope for the best.

Once your H1B expires, you'll just ride TN.

With H1B and TN you'll be tied to your employer. That means you'll need to make sure you have another job lined up before quitting any ongoing job, which you'd presumably be doing anyway.

With CPT you're tied to your employer.

With OPT, you're not really tied to your employer -- but you've best get one to settle with before that 1-year window ends so that you have someone for H1B and/or TN purposes.

NoLongerALurker

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Re: Canadian going to Law School in US inquiring about the process of getting a visa to work in the US after graduation

Postby NoLongerALurker » Sun Jul 10, 2016 1:29 am

Should add that most of the Canadians I talked to had no idea what they were doing when they started, but just followed the explicit instructions they'd receive from their school's international office whenever they had to file shit. They'd then file shit. Then end up in a firm, where they'd just sit back and wait until someone working for the firm emailed them to file shit. Then they'd file shit.

If you're happy to just sit back and take the normal law school -> law firm stream, you can approach everything the same as a domestic student day-to-day and every 8-10 months you'll get an email reminding you to file some form. The schools and the firms are good at watching out for you, and they each have plenty of experience and dedicated staff to work it out for you.

hi45

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Re: Canadian going to Law School in US inquiring about the process of getting a visa to work in the US after graduation

Postby hi45 » Sun Jul 10, 2016 1:37 am

I was also curious about how marriage impacts immigration status. If for example I got married to an American while in Law school, would I then automatically get permanent residency, and does permanent residency entitle me to work anywhere in the USA?

NoLongerALurker

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Re: Canadian going to Law School in US inquiring about the process of getting a visa to work in the US after graduation

Postby NoLongerALurker » Sun Jul 10, 2016 1:40 am

Yes. It's a bit of a bitch because they haul you in for an interview to prove that you're not sham marriaging it up (so...take a lot of photos of you relationship to prove it's the real deal, basically). But once that's done you're golden and your work authorization is basically like if you were a citizen, except you'll never be conscripted into the military and your global income won't be taxed if you decide to leave down the road.

layamaheshwari

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Re: Canadian going to Law School in US inquiring about the process of getting a visa to work in the US after graduation

Postby layamaheshwari » Sun Jul 10, 2016 1:41 am

NoLongerALurker wrote:The schools and the firms are good at watching out for you, and they each have plenty of experience and dedicated staff to work it out for you.


Thank you for this! As an international applying for a JD this fall I also had the same question, and your response helped clear a lot of things up. I'm not a Canadian citizen though, so the TN option (which sounds like a sweet deal) isn't open for me. However, it's nice to know that the process for an H1B is so well worn and both admissions offices and firms try to make it convenient for you.

NoLongerALurker

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Re: Canadian going to Law School in US inquiring about the process of getting a visa to work in the US after graduation

Postby NoLongerALurker » Sun Jul 10, 2016 1:43 am

The other path to permanent residency is to get a firm to sponsor you, but the common knowledge is that it's basically an entirely case-by-case thing at that point and basically only going to happen if you're partner track after 7-8 years of working.

It is sometimes easier if you're doing a STEM-related field because some firms will get you a green card under a more lenient category. Even then though you're talking mid-level to senior-level associate who is likely to make partner.

Most Canadians I know who stuck in States got married to an American. Some I know just stuck it out and got a green card after working for like a decade. Some others just ride the TN status indefinitely.

NoLongerALurker

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Re: Canadian going to Law School in US inquiring about the process of getting a visa to work in the US after graduation

Postby NoLongerALurker » Sun Jul 10, 2016 1:46 am

layamaheshwari wrote:
NoLongerALurker wrote:The schools and the firms are good at watching out for you, and they each have plenty of experience and dedicated staff to work it out for you.


Thank you for this! As an international applying for a JD this fall I also had the same question, and your response helped clear a lot of things up. I'm not a Canadian citizen though, so the TN option (which sounds like a sweet deal) isn't open for me. However, it's nice to know that the process for an H1B is so well worn and both admissions offices and firms try to make it convenient for you.


You're welcome! I've known some people who can't fall back on TN (so, non-Canadians and non-Mexicans) having some stress/headache as their OPT expires. It's a very real possibility that you'll end up with a headache, and the best way out of it is to make sure the firm you're working for is the sort of firm with international offices + the kind of firm that doesn't mind letting a lawyer work out of Office A even if they're hired in Office B. It's really not inconceivable that you'll spend some of your second associate year working in London or Toronto or something. Especially helpful if you're doing something like cap markets because international offices tend to do those, so its easier to just slot you in somewhere else. Make sure you look at the widely spread firms like Skadden and magic circle firms, for example. Every international student I know who wanted biglaw coming out of school performed exactly the same in terms of jobs and the like as their domestic counterparts (except for fed clerkships and federal gov't jobs, obviously).



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