Deported from US due to H1B Visa Transfer Denial

iWanderWhy's picture
Rank: Monkey | 38

Basically I got a call from HR on a Thursday saying my work visa transfer got denied so I had to pack up and leave the US by Monday. Currently overseas sorting out my situation - my girlfriend and all my friends stateside, as well as my family here, are still in shock.

Background: I'm an analyst in the US office of a global investment bank. I had gotten my H1B visa at my first company doing investment banking out of college - I switched over to a new company last month, also doing investment banking. When applying for the H1B transfer (mainly done by the company's retained immigration law firm) I got RFE-ed and denied based on my new job not qualifying as a "Specialized Occupation" (in the denial letter somehow the US gov is convinced that investment banking analysts shouldn't be a job that requires a college degree?!). I reviewed the H1B transfer application and the job description seemed similar enough to my H1B application that was successful last year.

To non-US citizens working in investment banking:
I wanted to pick your brains on how to make my next H1B application not get denied. I understand the "any comments here shouldn't be taken as official legal advice... blah blah", but wondering if there were any specific key-words or attributes in the application (mainly the job description) that you had incorporated by suggestion of your lawyers or others? FYI my undergraduate degree was in Economics and a STEM-qualifying quantitative field.

Appreciate any help in advance!

Comments (30)

Aug 4, 2019

All I can say is that fucking sucks. Sorry

    • 5
Aug 4, 2019

Really sorry to hear what happened.

I know the situation very well. From what I have seen, the quality of the law firm advising your case really matters. I've had friends whose cases have been denied and their employer changed outside counsel and it changed the result next time around. However, I don't think that's a solution for you - but I am DOUBTING the quality of the legal advice got.

    • 2
Aug 4, 2019

Hey brother, I'm a rising junior, so I can't offer you much help. But I feel for you man. I'm also a non-US citizen, so this definitely sucks. I wish you all the best brother.

    • 10
Aug 10, 2019

Holy shit

Aug 4, 2019

Hope you can work this out man. Do you think a STEM extension makes banks more likely to hire internationals out of undergrad?

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Aug 4, 2019

I think banks are more likely to take a blanket approach to international students to be honest - but I'm a couple years out of the undergrad recruiting process so not absolutely sure

Aug 4, 2019

Go to the London office and then have your firm apply again for the h1b. Really common problem with most expats across tech and finance.

    • 3
Aug 4, 2019

Thanks! That's an option right now but need to wait for London work visa too in that case

Aug 5, 2019

London work visa is easy to obtain. They rarely hit the quotas. So even if you get rejected once the second application will probably be approved. So london is a safe bet.

    • 1
Aug 4, 2019

Going to have to second @RussianBot here, I gotta question the quality of the legal advice. First of all, who instructed you to just pack up and leave? Even at the worst you get a month to figure your sh!t out with H1B.

I lost my job while on H1B, and then my lawyers changed my status to B1 or something (basically tourist status) because he argued I needed time to sort out my affairs. This bought me six months to stay in New York, in that time I got a new job and transferred existing H1B to new job. And yes, first application got rejected there, second one was successful.

    • 2
Aug 4, 2019

Thanks, this is super helpful. You mentioned your first transfer app got rejected - do you remember on what grounds, and how you modified it to get your second one accepted? Also how long did you wait before trying a second time?

Aug 5, 2019

Applied again immediately, lawyers included a new note explaining how my education and work experience relates to the position.

Aug 4, 2019

hope it all works out brother.

if its the matter of quality of law firm like some have suggested, would working at a bigger firm help protect non-US citizens from a similar issue? this could be good color for current international students looking to apply for IB jobs in the US

Aug 4, 2019

Not sure, maybe? I think the quality of the lawyer probably matters more. For mine the transfer process was not ideal... paralegals would take an average of 1 week to respond to emails and no attorneys were on the email chain.

Most Helpful
Aug 4, 2019

Everyone reading this who's ever signed an RFE letter for someone (I've signed one that was written by a top law firm on behalf of a VP at a BB) should dig through their email, find the letter, remove identifying language, change around the boilerplate language a bit so it's not tied back to your letter, and then send it to OP via DM.

That's what I will be doing. OP, as I mentioned this was for a VP candidate but it was good enough to get him through the RFE and should at least be somewhat useful. Will be in your messages shortly.

    • 28
Aug 4, 2019

Received and appreciate it!

Aug 5, 2019

This was an incredibly kind gesture. You're a good dude.

    • 1
Aug 4, 2019

I might be new to the game, but I'm pretty sure the person that told you to pack up and leave the country was trying to cover their ass, rather than help you navigate the process.

    • 1
Aug 4, 2019

Good chance the "pack up and leave" advice, as others have commented, may have been some kind of ass-covering move. But also, maybe it was to prevent a potential issue later on in terms of an overstay.

I had a friend from Norway who was nearing the end of her tourist visa. She wanted to stay longer but figured she should fly back for a bit first. She was being casual about what day to fly back home, and a lawyer we know told us to make sure her flight is before the expiration and not a day later. She was surprised he was so serious about it, because people from those countries are treated lightly (recall Norway is the one country even Trump likes).

Our lawyer friend's quote was something like, it probably doesn't matter but if you don't cross your t's, you run a risk of bureacratic hell. So she flew back just before the expiration. When she returned to the US a couple months later under a new Visa, they still gave her some shit at customs about barely cutting it last time, and returning so soon. And during the conversation with customs, she said something like "well its a good thing I left in time at least" and they basically told her she's lucky she did, and they'd send her back if she'd have overstayed last time.

No doubt some ball-busting on the part of the customs folks, but if a blonde Norwegian chick gets that kind of treatment on a tourist visa, then imagine how much harder it could get for an analyst looking to work.

    • 2
Aug 4, 2019

I don't blame my company for this at all - its definitely safer to make sure I didn't overstay, and my team needs me to continue working while overseas as it is very lean, so I wouldn't be able to do so if I were on a non-working visa in the US.

Aug 5, 2019

Did you figure out how you are getting paid? Since it's now illegal for your employer to pay you in your US bank account...

Aug 5, 2019

only smaller firms would engage in such "ass-covering" type of behavior right? it doesn't make sense for this to happen at a BB that is known to sponsor internationals...

Aug 5, 2019

Get a quality immigration lawyer, stat. This stuff is too complex and important to wing it.

Aug 5, 2019

I would highly suggest getting a solid attorney that can help out. The idea behind cases going to Immigration court/in front of an immigration judge is to "present" a perfect package so you have a higher chance of being approved for application purposes.

You would want to discuss how you came here to learn, stay, and grow here in the US for arguments sake.

Good luck!

No pain no game.

    • 1
Aug 5, 2019

Would second the comment about finding a quality immigration lawyer ASAP. There's just too much information and minutiae to undergo this process by yourself; I'm shocked that your firm barely gave you any notice, and it seemed like they just quit on the process. Regardless, what's done is done.

I know absolutely nothing about the visa process, but I've heard from many of my international friends that you should emphasize the STEM aspect of your education and possibly tie it into the documents. Many of our associates and even analysts have been relocated to London and Asia Pacific, and the ones that were able to return studied something outside of traditional finance and accounting. Those are just my two cents.

Good Luck! Hope everything works out.

Aug 5, 2019

While everyone in this thread is very sympathetic to your situation, I'm not sure everyone is giving you the right advice.

TLDR - Hiring a personal immigration lawyer, even a very good one will not help in your case. That is because this is not a personal immigration case - your underlying immigration petition is based on the merits of your relationship with your employer, hence the quality of the legal counsel retained by your employer is what matters.

I don't think I need to give you a longer version. Personal immigration lawyers can only solve personal immigration issues. This is, for the lack of a better word, a "corporate immigration" issue. That's why I said earlier there is not much control you have over the issue. You can't choose which law firm your employer uses. (What I have seen is an employer firing a law firm and hiring another, which resulted in a higher % of accepts in H1 and Green Card apps).

Here is what you can do though (and some people in this thread are already pointing you towards that direction). You can work with your employer's law firm's contact to make sure your case is airtight. You can nudge those stupid lawyers towards preparing a better application.

Aug 9, 2019

A little late to the draw here, but I'd recommend a law firm:
Cummings and Partners
They specialize in Immigration law. Primarily from a Canadian perspective (that's their focus), but because of the volume of Canadian cases, they've gotten very good at handling these issues in general.

They run a session every year for CANY (Canadian Association of New York) which is usually sold out. They are also currently doing some immigration work for me also (more than satisfactory).

https://canada-usa.com
The "get out of the country" advice wasn't totally ass covering. I got similar advice when I was once in a similar situation, and was told to leave and come back on B1 visa (visitor) or something else. Basically, you don't want to accrue "out of status days". Because you're H1B has expired, technically you would be here without a visa which is not great. At best, you should leave and come back under B (or change status or something).

FYI - for technical reasons I don't fully understand, I was told it would be easy to transfer my H1B within a month or two of leaving my last employer, but after that it become a bit more complicated. Beyond that time frame, you can still do the transfer (no cap limitations), but you basically have to be reapproved (and have some exposure to RFE as you learned the hard way).

DM me if you have any specific questions for your situation.

  • I'm not a lawyer (insert usual disclaimer)
    • 3
Aug 10, 2019

I don't know much about H1B, but I did manage to get my wife a green card.

It took forever, but I'd recommend both hiring a good lawyer and doing a ton of research directly.

i was able to find books online that explained how to navigate the greencard process.

I presume there may be similar books for H1B.

Having the knowledge yourself, rather than depending on a lawyer, can be very helpful.

My lawyer was spread thin, juggling dozens or maybe hundreds of cases in parallel, which means even though I was a paying client, I wasn't always getting her full attention.

Sadly, much of the work we still had to do ourselves.

You may be finding that the process is similar for yourself, and I recommend you take as much of the process in-hand yourself -- if nothing else, to keep the lawyer honest (if such a thing is even possible).

    • 1
Aug 10, 2019
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Aug 10, 2019
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