Goel & Anderson saves the jobs of 24 engineers and one panicked HR manager

1051panicked_manager.jpgWe could hear the anxiety in her voice.  The Human Resources Manager of a major software development firm in Silicon Valley had a problem with grave consequences for the company and a key group of highly skilled employees. 

The story began three years earlier when the company had won a long-term software development contract that was previously held by competitor.  To secure talent, and avoid an awkward transition period for their new client, the company had hired 24 software engineers that had worked for the competition.  Previously there on L-1B visas (as Intracompany Transferees), the software engineers needed H-1B visa petitions (as Specialty Occupation Workers) approved before they could be legally employed.  

The HR Manager and her team had internally prepared and filed many H-1B petitions in their time, and their H-1B petitions for the 24 engineers were approved without a hitch at the USCIS.  Or so they thought.  Instead of requesting a “Change of Status” from the L-1B category to the H-1B category, the HR Manager’s team had mistakenly marked these cases for “Consular Notification,”  which meant that the workers’ H-1B status would not be valid until they left the United States and returned with H-1B visas stamped in their passports.  That never happened, and no one at the company noticed the error.  Now, three years had passed, and when it was time to extend their H-1B visa status, the HR Manager suddenly realized the company had a very big problem. 

Faced with a desperate situation, the company retained Goel & Anderson.  We immediately saw the challenge facing the HR Manager.  Not only had her software engineers never actually held valid H-1B status, they had now been “out of status” for more than a full year so their status could not be changed or extended without skilled legal intervention.  Just as unfortunate, even if the company could obtain a new, approved H-1B petition for each employee, they would still need to leave the United States to obtain their visas.  The crisis lay in the length of time they were “out of status”—departing the U.S. would trigger an automatic, ten-year bar on their ability to re-enter the United States—and they would lose their jobs and have to uproot their families.  The prospects were equally troubling for the company—an exodus of their key engineers would destabilize the ongoing client project and cause a substantial loss of business -- not to mention the jobs of the many other workers who were also working on and supporting the project.  The HR Manager felt her head would soon be on the block.

Our solution was to literally turn the clock back.  Goel & Anderson prepared and filed nunc pro tunc H-1B cases for each of the software engineers.  We argued that they were only out-of-status due to "extraordinary circumstances" beyond their control, and we assembled compelling documentation of the hardships that each of them would face without an extension, while also detailing the catastrophic consequences for the company.

Goel & Anderson’s argument that fortunes were literally hanging in the balance proved to be a winner.  USCIS approved all of the H-1B petitions despite the extraordinary length of time the software engineers were out of status.  We managed to get each software engineer’s H-1B visa status reinstated as if no lapse had ever occurred.  The project, and 24 careers, moved forward without a hiccup.  

As for the HR Manager?  She got high marks from the company’s senior management for artfully averting a corporate crisis! 

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