I spent much of the past two days immersed in the numbingly-detailed yet vitally-important world of visas, immigration, and global mobility at the American Council on International Personnel’s (ACIP) 2009 sympoisum. The aspect of the conference that struck me the most (other than realizing that the business of employment-related mobility and visas issues is big and incredibly complex) was that 90% of the people there were lawyers. Lawyers working on issues of immigration, global mobility, and visa regulation; lawyers working for nonprofits like ACIP, for subcommittees on the Hill (such as the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration, Refugees, and Border Security and the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship, Refugees, Border Security, and International Law), for corporations (like Intel, Walt Disney, Marriott, and Oracle, all of which rely heavily on skilled foreign workers, and thus rely on skilled lawyers to help get these workers into the country quickly and properly), and for law firms themselves. There were also a host of folks working for the government…
- The Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice
- The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency (otherwise referred to as, awesomely, ICE)
- U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
…as well as many working for universities across the country on visa and immigration related issues (i.e., the issues that surround bringing scholars and researchers from other countries to their schools).
The point of this post being three-fold: 1) to highlight the incredibly long names that many Hill and government offices have; 2) to highlight the areas of visas, immigration (and immigration reform), and global mobility as often overlooked but extremely robust areas in which one can engage in interesting international work; and 3) to point out that lawyers can use their law degrees to engage in meaningful work in the international arena. Certainly the skills obtained with a law degree can be used in any number of international jobs (example: a colleague in DC, formerly a divorce lawyer, now works as a lobbyist for the Armenian National Committee of America). But the incedibly complex, detailed, and legalistic nature of visas, immigration, and global mobility policy is tailor-made for a lawyer.