Atlanta law firm Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart P.C.’s new partnership with global business immigration consultancy Emigra Group LLC can help Georgia companies staff research and development centers overseas if they are having trouble obtaining visas to bring foreign workers here.

Since there are not enough highly skilled worker visas, or H1-B visas, available in the United States, companies are increasingly looking to open research and development facilities abroad and place workers there, according to Robert Johnson, attorney with Ogletree Deakins’ business immigration practice group.

Ogletree Deakins’ partnership with Emigra, begun this year, allows the Atlanta firm to now serve American clients sending employees abroad. The partnership, called Emigra Ogletree Worldwide, also offers Emigra clients Ogletree Deakins’ expertise in U.S. immigration law.

“So many of our multinational clients with global operations were requesting our help with outbound immigration that partnering with Emigra was a critical strategic move to provide our clients with this service,” Mr. Johnson said.

“It’s interesting that the H1-B cap has really turned companies’ focus from bringing people in to establishing operations abroad, since they can’t physically bring them here,” he said.

Ogletree Deakins and Emigra had clients in common, so this made for a “natural alliance,” he added.

Emigra has offices in Australia, Belgium, China, Germany, Hong Kong, Singapore, Spain, the United Kingdom and the U.S., while Ogeltree Deakins has 25 offices, all in the U.S.

“With our broad reach of clients and companies globally that utilize our employment and labor services, the partnership became a business necessity,” Mr. Johnson said of Emigra Ogletree Worldwide.

While American companies operating in other countries do not have to deal with H1-B visa quotas, per se, Emigra Ogletree’s clients are faced with similar regulatory challenges for getting work visas and work permits, especially in countries like Brazil and France, which have strict immigration laws, he said.

The partnership helps to ease the difficulty of “jumping through the regulatory hoops” in various countries, some of which have even stricter immigration laws than the U.S., he noted.

Ogletree Deakins also pushes for immigration reform in the U.S., said Mr. Johnson, who is a member of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Immigration Committee. The committee and Ogletree Deakins’ governmental affairs office in Washington work closely with industry trade groups to lobby Congress for pro-business immigration reform.

Mr. Johnson is going to Washington in a couple weeks to keep pressure on Congress to amend regulations on H1-B visas and other issues. Applications for H1-Bs were more than double the number available for 2008, so he is hopeful Congress “gets the message loud and clear.”

There is “huge pent-up demand” for the work visas, Mr. Johnson said. He gave as an example some of the 300 Japanese companies in Georgia that utilize the H1-B category to hire locally supplied Japanese workers graduating from U.S. universities and cannot get visas for them, even though they might be perfect fits for the companies.

Story Contacts, Links and Related Stories
Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart P.C. –
Robert Johnson (404) 870-1712

Emigra Group LLC