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Visa Crackdown Boosts Job Market for Immigration Lawyers

Gayle Cinquegrani BNA.COM

The job market for immigration lawyers is heating up as employers turn to law firms for help navigating the increasingly tricky process of bringing in foreign workers, several lawyers and legal recruiters told Bloomberg Law.

“Securing work visas for highly-skilled workers is much harder than it was two years ago,” according to Ian R. Macdonald, co-chair of Greenberg Traurig’s business immigration practice. A growth in immigration-related legal work is “an unforeseen benefit of the Trump administration,” he told Bloomberg Law.

Tough immigration enforcement was one of President Donald Trump’s most notable campaign promises.

“The government is requiring employers to submit evidence with greater specificity than ever encountered before. This has slowed the process. It has increased the cost,” Henry “Buzz” Burwell, co-leader of the international practice group at Nelson Mullins, told Bloomberg Law. “The net of it is that law firms are struggling to find immigration lawyers with experience.”

Big Law Firms Get Involved

The type of law firms searching for immigration attorneys also may be expanding. Boutique law firms often handle immigration matters, but more of the bigger law firms are looking to create this practice or expand it “as an added service to their already-existing client base,” Shannon Murphy told Bloomberg Law. Murphy is a managing director for legal recruiter Major, Lindsey & Africa in Chicago.

As the work piles up, some law firms are turning to paralegals to fill the gap, Murphy said. “Some of these firms have developed proprietary software” that assists their staff in processing visa applications, she said.

“You don’t need the cost of an attorney when there are technological advances that can help with these practices,” Murphy said.

The government’s increasing scrutiny of H-1B visas ensures a continuing need for immigration lawyers, however.

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