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Master the Alphabet Soup of Work Visas To Help Win Your War For Talent with Tahmina Watson
Episode 1211th October 2022 • Lead at the Top of Your Game • Karan Ferrell-Rhodes and Shockingly Different Leadership
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The search for talent is at an all-time high for organizations. While this frenzy opens the hiring pool to a more diverse range of individuals, it also creates new challenges for employers that want to hire foreign nationals. Navigating the work authorization and visa processes can be complicated due to regulations and paperwork, but not all hope is lost. Organizations can still take advantage of this valuable talent pool by working closely with a knowledgeable Immigration attorney.

In this episode, Tahmina Watson, Chief Immigration Attorney at Watson Immigration Law, outlines the various types of work visas available, when to use them and how employers can avoid the common mistakes which could trigger an authorization denial.

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Full show notes, links to resources mentioned and other compelling episodes can be found at http://LeadYourGamePodcast.com. (Click magnifying icon at top right and type “Tahmina”)

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ABOUT TAHMINA WATSON:

Tahmina Watson, founder of Watson Immigration Law in 2009, has excelled as a U.S. immigration law specialist. She has worked with hundreds of businesses and families to help them achieve their goals of working and living in the United States.

Tahmina is a well-known lawyer in this complicated field of law, having immigrated to the United States from her birthplace in London, UK, where she received her education and initial training in law.

As a result, she possesses an understanding and empathy that makes her work as much a calling as a career. Tahmina represents the U.S. and multinational companies that need high-skilled workers from other countries, non-US businesses opening offices in this country, startups with founders from other countries, and investors expanding their businesses in the U.S.

WHAT TO LISTEN FOR:

  1. The importance of partnering with an experienced Immigration Attorney when hiring foreign nationals
  2. Why job descriptions that capture the complexity of the role are a crucial part of the Visa application process
  3. Tahmina's addition to the LATTOYG Playbook


FEATURED TIMESTAMPS:

[00:03:51] Learn about Tahmina’s childhood experiences and how her move to the United States fueled her compassion for helping others navigate U.S. immigration law.   

[00:05:59] Ever wished that you could get a bird's eye view of the Visa application process? Tahmina gives us an overview of the different work Visas and tips for understanding which one to apply for.      

[00:15:45] In 2022, almost 500K Visa applications were received, but the government selected only 85K through a lottery system. Learn how to increase your chances of being selected.

[00:23:12] Tahmina’s entry into the LATTOYG playbook:  Where employers should start the visa process, the costs associated and typical timelines for government approval.

[32:15] Signature Segment: Karen’s LATTOYG Tactic of Choice

[35:36] Signature Segment: Full Disclosure

[40:18] Signature Segment: Karan’s Take 

LINKS FOR TAHMINA WATSON:

PEOPLE &  RESOURCES MENTIONED:


ADDITIONAL RESOURCES FOR YOU:

Transcripts

Tahmina Watson:

What's really important to know is that this system is complicated, time-consuming, frustrating; policies can change depending on who's in the White House, and the waiting time depending on where you are born can really drastically differ.

Voiceover:

Welcome to the "Lead at the Top of Your Game" podcast, where we equip you to more effectively lead your seat at any employer, business, or industry in which you choose to play. Each week, we help you sharpen your leadership acumen by cracking open the playbooks of dynamic leaders who are doing big things in their professional endeavors. And now, your host, leadership tactics and organizational development expert, Karan Ferrell-Rhodes.

Karan Rhodes:

Hey there, superstars! This is Karan and welcome to today’s episode! In the war for talent, more and more American companies are seeking to hire highly skilled foreign nationals but are finding that navigating immigration law is complex and frustrating. On top if it, there are so many different kind of work visas—so many that it makes your head spin. They’re OPTs, EBs 1-3, H1-Bs, L’s, O’s and more! And not only is it tough for foreign nationals to get a work visa, but most business and HR leaders don’t know their critical role in the process and where even to start. To help us pull back the layers of the onion on this complex topic, our guest today is Tahmina Watson, Chief Principal of Watson Immigration Law. Please believe me when I say that Tahmina is not only an expert but she adds a high dose of empathy for both the foreign nationals and their corporations who are trying to wade through the red tape of U.S. Immigration law. So get out your notebook and get ready to learn some invaluable information that leaders absolutely must know. And these are facts that are rarely, rarely taught in college. Also, be sure to listen to her addition to our leadership execution playbook and my closing segment called “Karan’s Take”, where I share a tip on how to use insights from today’s episode to further sharpen your leadership acumen. And now, enjoy the show! Hello, superstars! This is Karan and welcome to today's episode of the "Lead at the Top of Your Game" podcast. I am super honored to bring a true treat and treasure on our show today. We have Miss Tahmina Watson of Watson Immigration Law. And for those of you who are leaders out there, you all know how important a diverse set of individuals in your organizations are. And we… a lot of… large part of our workforce includes those that are needing things like work authorizations and approvals to work in the US. And so we're so happy for her to open up her playbook a little bit and tell us some of the critical things that we, as leaders of organizations, should know a bit about immigration law. So welcome Tahmina to today's episode!

Tahmina Watson:

Thank you so much, Karan. I'm so honored to be here. Thank you.

Karan Rhodes:

We're so happy to have you. So are you ready to give us a sneak peek into your playbook?

Tahmina Watson:

Absolutely, absolutely!

Karan Rhodes:

Oh, fantastic! Well, before we get down to business… to start, you know, for as for as much as you feel comfortable, give us a brief peek into, you know, where you grew up, and a little bit about your personal and professional background.

Tahmina Watson:

Sure. Well, I was born and raised in London, UK. And then for a little bit of my life I lived in Bangladesh, which is a small country next to India–people might know of it because it's been in the news for the Rohingya refugee crisis–and when I came back to London at the age of 18, I went to university and law school. And eventually, I found the love of my life who is an American, and I moved to America in 2005. And then, in 2006, I started to practice law but, you know, I have to tell you that as a young teenager who was traveling from one country to another, I was pretty upset with my parents that they moved me around so much. But in my adult life, I feel as though that was the best education that I could ever have had. Living in different countries, learning about different cultures and languages, it enriched my life in a way that I could not have understood when I was so young. But now, as a professional in the world of immigration, that background is so incredibly invaluable that I can relate to anybody who's coming from anywhere, really. And even though there might be some language barriers sometimes, that cultural understanding helps me relate to them and understand them and get understood to be able to meet their desires. I now live in Seattle, Washington, which you are familiar with; it's a beautiful part of the world. I have two little girls who are 12 and 10. And my husband is amazing; he built this podcast room for me, from which I am speaking with you. And I practice law. That's my day job—being an immigration lawyer primarily with business immigration. That's the type that you might be interested in, where businesses are hiring people, you know. How do you find the right visa? How long do you keep them? What do you need to do to maintain their status? What do you do if they're laid off? You know, there are just so many things that come up. And so I feel very grateful to be in this profession at a time when I I am neededso much with the background that I have.

Karan Rhodes:

Oh, absolutely! And so, listeners, for the… hopefully, you'll jump on the YouTube version of this podcast to see Tahmina’s amazing podcast room… recording room, I should say. It… I told her I was so jealous of it. I would have to hit up my husband to find a spot and create one for me as well. Her sound studio, it is just too, you know, absolutely breathtaking. So… So, I put that on my list—my honey-do list.

Tahmina Watson:

(unintelligible) my husband know.

Karan Rhodes:

Well, let's… let’s get down into a bit about your work because I'd love to spend as much time as we can on this, because I'm sure there's so many questions. I was sharing with you before we started recording, I consult with a lot of organizations, and then previous to opening up my own consulting firm–you know, I worked for almost 14 years at Microsoft–and we had many, many workers that were under various stages of work authorizations and immigration status. And we still… you know, people still… companies have it to this day but it's not an area that we were taught about in business school, if you will. And it's an area that you… I know you have to be very precise. There's certain deadlines and certain requirements. So, let's start out by you sharing maybe a couple of the more common work authorizations that are out there, and maybe a little bit about when they should be used in different situations. Can we start there?

Tahmina Watson:

Yeah, sure! You know, I will… I will start off by showing this book, and people who are on YouTube, my book is called the “The Startup Visa”, and I'm actually writing a follow-up on this book. But the reason I mentioned this book is I talk about all the visa categories in a couple of the chapters, and while I talk about them in the context of “Why we need a startup visa? What's wrong with these visas from a startup perspective?”, these are the visas that companies have to use. And I want to give a little bit of background so people understand why, you know, when you hear about immigration in the news, they're always saying we don't have enough workers, we need immigration reform—why that's unnecessary. So in 1990, our immigration system was reformed, and we had these visa categories that we work with created at that time. And our visa system is essentially split into a, you know, three broad headings: family-based immigration, business immigration or employment immigration, and then, humanitarian immigration. So, if you're thinking about the Ukrainian folks and the Afghanistan folks, they’re coming on the humanitarian heading, if you like. People who are bringing their spouses and parents, they’re coming on the family heading, if you like. And then, the employment, which is where we are going to dive into a little bit, that's where most of the business immigration visas are, you know, situated. So, our visa system, particularly the employment ones, is sort of like an alphabet soup. You start from ‘A’ and you go all the way to ‘S’… No, to ‘U’ actually; you go to ‘U’.

Karan Rhodes:

To ‘U’? Wow!

Tahmina Watson:

(unintelligible) reform. And so, all of these, they have a letter and a number. So K1 is a fiancee visa, A is for diplomats. So, to answer your question, is… that the most popular visas that businesses use is called the H1B visa. That is for a skilled professional; that is for somebody who has a bachelor's degree at a minimum, and the job requires a bachelor's degree. So, that's the most popular one that's used, and it's industry, you know, agnostic. It can be an architect, it can be a software developer, it can be a teacher, you know, you name it. As long as you're a professional, the H1B could be used for that. But, you were at Microsoft, there are many companies who are, you know, bringing branches from different countries to the US to expand. The most popular visa for that is an L1 visa, and there are two types. There's the L1A if you're the manager or an executive, I deal with a lot of startups. If you're a startup owner, you know, you come over here on an L1A to start the new branch or the subsidiary, your venture, whatever that might look like. The L1B is for those people who have special knowledge of your business. Those who know the processes, the product. So, Microsoft will often bring people from different parts of the world to the US because they have that special knowledge of that software or, you know, the product that's been used. So, L1 is the most popular, as well as an H1B, and I'll throw in another one which is the O visa. Now, the O visa is the “genius visa”. That’s when people have reached the top of their profession, they are, you know, in the news all the time because they're so great. So, O1 is used a lot and the O1 visa was in the news a few years ago, and, you know, there were people in the administration who was saying there were models and models use this a lot. And so, H1B I'd say is the most popular, L, and, then, O. And there's one other visa I will throw out there just so listeners are aware of it. It's called an E1 visa. And you… Karan, you might come across people who say, “I am opening a business; I need a visa for myself and, then, I'm going to need visas for my employees. Often so that if you are from certain countries where there is a commercial treaty with the United States, they can qualify for an E1 or an E1. And the requirement for that is really that you're investing your own money to… for… in a for-profit company and you're going to do this for economic development, for your business, for yourself, for the country. And so, I'd say those are the four most popular ones, and we use them on a regular basis.

Karan Rhodes:

Oh, oh my gosh! That's so helpful to to know—all the different, more popular ones. Can I ask you one quick thing? Can we back off a second and talk about a typical career pathway with visas, if you will, and talk about how sometimes the first work authorization that individuals get, especially when they're in school and going through their master's programs, is that the OPT? Is that correct?

Tahmina Watson:

That's correct! And I'm going to answer that, and I'll give you a little background. I write a monthly column in a national legal publication called “Above The Law”. And in that, I share stories to show the journey. And one of the articles from my recollection is called ‘The Journey of An Entrepreneur”, or “The Immigration Journey”. It's sort of answering your question, in a story format, on what… what people have to go through. And that's from an L perspective, but I want your listeners, if they're interested, to go find that article. And there are many other useful articles in that publication in my column but the typical journey–you're right–is OPT. And so, the the OPT is sort of like the second step. So, somebody comes to the US as a student, they are on an F1 visa. (unintelligible) number one. And just so people know, their spouses can be here, their children can be here, and though they will be on an F2. But once they're on the F1 and they've graduated, they get time to be an intern, and that's optional practical training—OPT. That's typically for 12 months, but people who have a degree in a STEM field will get an additional 24 months. So, three years in total for people in a STEM field, and after that, you try to get an H1B visa. So, your job as a student or an intern is to really impress your… your employers to make sure that they want to continue to sponsor you. And from the employers perspective, they trained you, it takes a lot of time to… time to train people. They…. you know, nurturing your own growth, and I was just listening to your earlier podcast. The most recent one, you were talking about how do you grow your employees. Most businesses are trying to grow their employee so once you have them for three years, you don't want to lose them. So, the employer is invested in your growth but the key is it costs a lot of money and time, and that's why the employer’s making some very decisive moves about what to do. But you have three years to make that impression. But the H1B visa is a lottery system. There are 65… 65,000 visas given out for people who have a bachelor's degree, and that also includes people who have a master's degree from abroad. And those who have a master's degree from the United States are in a separate bucket, where it's only for people from a mas… with a master's degree in the US, and they get two bites at this cherry. So, the lottery happens once for everybody, and then there's a second lottery for people with a master's. So, people with a master's degree have a better chance of being selected. And so… but some of the systems have changed recently, and just recently, in April of 2022, the government received almost 500,000 applications for a total of 85,000 visas.

Karan Rhodes:

Wow!

Tahmina Watson:

I'm a lawyer, I don't do a lot of math, but all listeners will know that the chances are very slim. So those three years of being an intern on an OPT is invaluable. You want to be in the lottery each year, until (unintelligible).

Karan Rhodes:

That’s right. Can we stop for just a second there and just in my experience–and you correct me if I'm wrong Tahmina–it's not that anyone can just wait three years and on… 2 years and 11 months to try to, you know, get all this to happen. You… the students will need to work closely with their college universities, as well as with their employers, to file paperwork on time and to make sure your job descriptions are correct, and compensation is analyzed appropriately. Most… a lot of organizations do work with immigration lawyers; those who don't, they trust their HR person to try to research and find it. I encourage organizations to work with immigration attorneys, because they live and breathe this every day when we as HR professionals may not. But there's a… it's critical to plan for the time period and the filings that need to be done so that you don't miss the boat. Correct?

Tahmina Watson:

That is so insightful, Karan. Thank you so much for mentioning that! So first of all, there's a timeline; the government has a fiscal year sort of cycle for these visas. So these visas are given out annually. The 85,000, (unintelligible) I just mentioned, and the application timeline is mid-March. And every year they change the date but you have to file your application around March 20th. The lottery happens about April 1, and then, if you are lucky and the visa is approved, then the… you will start working October 1. But to file that application March 1, you are 100 percent right. There's so much planning that happens. For most of my clients, who are small to medium businesses, we will start talking October-November, and really dive into it, you know, no later than December, because the job description–and I hope your listeners pay attention tothis–is the starting point for any work visa…

Karan Rhodes:

Everything, that’s right.

Tahmina Watson:

Absolutely everything, and so that job description really has to be very closely matched to the codes that the Department of Labor has. Now, you know this better than me, Karan, that there are a zillion different types of computer jobs. Are you a computer architect? Are you a software developer? Are you a software engineer? You know, I'm a lawyer. I have to rely on you, Karan, and your colleagues to say “No, this is the job”. And I'll be like, “You know, from what I read, I think that these are five closely related codes. Can you pick me?” And then, once they pick on what they think it could be this or that, they narrowed it down to two, then, we have to narrow it down to one. Once we've done that, then we have to look at “Oh well, is the salary gonna match for this?” Because the Department of Labor has a website where they will list out what the prevailing wage is for that location. And you probably know this very, very well, Karan, because you have been, you know, in all sorts of parts of the country, as well as the world where, you know, it put in… And the wages are based on US wages but the wage in Seattle might be very different from Atlanta; it might be very different from Kansas City and New York. And so, that code defines what city… or it's as narrow as county. Which county do you live in? And then, we have to assess what's the level of experience the job requires. Do you need to supervise anybody? Are you entry level? And so, there's a lot of analysis that goes into this method, if you like, before we can even get to the point of filing in March. And in the past administration, the system was changed a little so you might be relieved, Karan, that you don't have to file the entire application in April. But to make sure that we do the due diligence, even if it's just submitting a name, we need to make sure that once that name is selected, we can run with it and make sure there are no shortcomings to that application. So you're totally right, and the other thing that is important that you mentioned is working with the school because oftentimes, at least for the first 12 months, the school needs to say, “Yes, you can go work.” In the second of… the second 24 months of an OPT, the school has to do a lot more rigorous work, both with the HR folks, as well as the school. The lawyer doesn't play much role in that, but when it comes to the H1B and the lawyer, you know, who stems their heads through this process, you know, the student has to continue to work with the school to say, “Hey, I'm doing this. Make sure your system is updated.” because the system, which is called Sevis, S-E-V for Victor-I-S, is closely working with ICE, and if something falls through, people are looking at deportation. So it's very, very important there's a triangular, close relationship with the school, the HR, and the lawyer.

Karan Rhodes:

Oh, wonderful! Oh, such great nuggets. And then, also, Tahmina, once… say, all the stars and moons are in alignment, and they give the H1B visa, then, at that point is when they should start talking about… to their employer about Green Card sponsorship. Correct?

Tahmina Watson:

Yes, and what's really important to know is that this system is complicated, time-consuming, frustrating; policies can change depending on who's in the White House, and the waiting time depending on where you are born can really drastically differ. And so, where do we even begin this conversation?

Karan Rhodes:

That will take about five podcasts, probably, but I think what people should never my… even my experience is that Tahmina’s right. It's a long process; I do recommend that you find an expert and immigration lawyer or attorney just similar to her… she or go directly to her because they need to handhold you through because as she said, things change, and you might have to refile information or go in a different direction or, you know, you have to address whatever nuances have… have come up at that point in time, and it can take years to get the actual green card.

Tahmina Watson:

That's right. So I want to just maybe paint a picture for people. The H1B is a non-immigrant visa. It has dual intent, meaning you can live here or not live here, but it's for a temporary period. So when you first get the H1B, it’s for three years, and you can extend it for another three years—a total of six years. It's a temporary visa. The process you go through to get that H1B is very different from the green card, which is an immigrant visa. Now, for most people, and you probably, you saw this daily, Karan, (unintelligible). People are anxious, the employees are anxious about what are you gonna do after the six years. Now, people can stay beyond six years, but the green card application which is a separate thing must have been filed for at least 365 days before they can extend. So that means this application for a green card must be filed before the fifth year, but the preparation to get to the filing stage can easily take 18 months. So the first three years, you know, maybe the employer’s sort of figuring out whether I'm going to do this or not, and for the employee, they need to know that it's a cost to the employer. Per application, it's about $15,000 at a minimum spread over time. But, Karan, you saw this, you were inundated with the work that needed to happen.

Karan Rhodes:

Yes.

Tahmina Watson:

Not the managers, not the executives, but you. And it’s hours and hours and hours of work. Is this job description just right, because it may or may not be exactly, you know, identical to the H1B?. So it's a time commitment; it’s a money commitment. And when that happens, you know, when you file for that green card for a specific job, and let's say at year five, you are now so experienced you need to move on to do different things with the employer, you may not actually be able to move.

Karan Rhodes:

That’s right.

Tahmina Watson:

Because the job description was for that job only. So there are many complexities involved in this, but what people should take away from this, as the employer, you should know, this is a long term commitment. And employee, you need to do the best that you can to make sure that you keeping your anxiety at check, because please know that your employer and HR and everybody around you is already anxious by the process in and of itself, and they're doing everything they can. The unknowns that come on are like COVID; something that used to take two months is now taking eight months, and that really has a ripple effect on this timeline. So for our clients, we create a timeline of what we need to do, and then we have to adjust. And sometimes, we can, sometimes we cannot, and you have to go with the flow.

Karan Rhodes:

Patience is key, Tahmina. So correct. And for those of you who are employers, you know, executives and companies, I do want to encourage you all to still consider supporting your employees during these processes, because yes, it is a bit of money and investment, but in the broad scheme of things, the amount it takes to re-recruit and find individuals with the particular skill sets and specialties, especially in the STEM fields, you know, it's easier to actually, you know, keep them and nurture them and keep them with your company. And I have found that those employees are very dedicated to the employers who took the time and money to support them, and they usually have a longer tenure on average than those who don't get that… go through the process so you should know that. And then, the other last thing, I just want to make sure people know, it… and you can ask your company, some companies do require you to… they sponsor your green card status, and you… you know, make it through, they do require or ask either like a 12- or 24-month work period. It's not mandated per se, but they usually do try to ask that as… so they can make sure they get a good return on their investment. I just wanted you know that that possibility is out there.

Tahmina Watson:

Totally! I think that's a really good advice. The other thing that I will encourage your listeners to know, particularly if they're employers is, and you know this better than me, Karan, it's a really tough market out there for employers to find employees. And it doesn't matter what industry you're in. Are you a nursing care home? Are you a grocery store? Are you a tech company? Are you a law firm? Are you an architect firm? You name it, particularly the medical industry, you name it, there's a shortage of workers. And one of the things that one client had mentioned to me, which I didn't really understand until he mentioned it to me is when you're recruiting, you can't always find the right people, but when you're taking somebody who's a foreign student, an international student, you're not paying a recruiter for a recruitment fee, as far as I understand. And even though you might have a cost incurred for the H1B, it all balances out in the end. And if you are running your business, right, hopefully you will get that in, you know, return on investment. And so it is… it's a time where Karan is absolutely right that these folks are generally more dedicated, more loyal, and they really perform because they want to perform. Immigrants are so hard working; no matter which industry, they want to succeed. They've left their home to really showcase what their life can be reached their potential. So I think it's a win-win not just for the business, but the consumer who is getting their products, as well as the country and the economy.

Karan Rhodes:

Oh my gosh, so many nuggets! I mean, we could talk for days on this topic, but I know you're gonna have to read it a little bit. So before we go, for you, you've done a lot of writing, research, and supporting, have a practice all around immigration law, what do you… what are some things that you do to stay on top of your game as a leader in your industry?

Tahmina Watson:

That's such a great question. I think immigration is a fast-moving area. While the law doesn't necessarily change, and we want it to change, policies and procedures change all the time. So as an immigration lawyer, I am part of an association for lawyer… immigration lawyers, so they make sure that we are updated on the latest. And so that's very, very important to me, but I keep up with the news making sure that I understand what's going on in the economy and how immigration can be part of the solution. So that's part of what I address in my column in “Above The Law”. So it's abovethelaw.com, and, you know, I learn for my clients, you know. What's happening? What's the trend? You know, at the moment, the trend is a lot of tech startups are laying off people, and what do you do? As a business owner, you need to know what your obligations are in that, but as an employee, you need to know what's happening there, too. So I do all of those things, but I find that it's… I find it's important for me to educate people. So I make sure that I do the best of my ability to educate and inform through my writings, my podcasts, my presentations, my speaking opportunities, because there is a huge misunderstanding about what immigration is, and what immigration means to America. And people like me who have the knowledge, and who is an American immigrant as well, you know, I am able to make sure that people can understand. So I take it upon myself to make sure I do the best of my job to make sure that other people can understand what I do and why they need people in this country.

Karan Rhodes:

Wow, you're such a treasure. Such a treasure, and I hope you continue to do and live and help in your passion because it is so needed. Before we go, as you know, I wrote a book on leadership execution of what some of the top leaders do, and there were seven tactics that the research really brought out that… Well, there were more than seven, there were about 52, but they were the top seven that was a real clear demarcation line that if you did these seven, the chances for you excelling in a leadership effort really dramatically increase. And so I was curious if one of those seven kind of popped out for you by chance.

Tahmina Watson:

You know, I think a… and I think your book is so important, and I… I'm going to take a picture of it with you…

Karan Rhodes:

Okay!

Tahmina Watson:

…and send it to you. Courageous agility, I think is very important, and I think in the immigration world, people will know what happened in the last few years, courage was everything. Courage was everything about showing up at the airport, showing up at the border to make sure that baby that, you know, was taken away from the mother, that mother is… has been, you know, given some representation, and everything in between. Courage is everything, but courage can be in that big way, but courage can also be what happened in COVID. How do you help your client? One of the things that we saw in immigration is these are all unprecedented. Green Card holders being stuck outside the country when they're not allowed to be, you know, be so. People who are in the US that shouldn't be here longer than six months stuck here. It's all nuanced, new, unprecedented things, and people didn't have answers, but you can't just sit there and say, “Well, there isn't an answer.” You've got to find a solution. I have a client that got stuck outside the country, couldn't get on a plane, and their case was denied in the US. I went to so many lawyers, well, second opinions and helping. What do I do? This is unjust. There wasn't a single answer. So I had to say to my clients, “Look, this will not work; maybe will work. I don't know, but this is the only thing we can try.” And that courage to say, “Look, client, I may not be able to do this and win this, but this is the only thing I need to do, I can do. Please, please hang in there.” That becomes a team effort because they are anxious, their lives are torn apart. And it's, you know, hanging in the balance, that takes courage. Courage to be able to deal with that anxiety, courage to try something new. So courage I think is so important, and I think… I love that you put the two words together, “Courageous Agility”, because agility is everything. If you are so rigid, and it's the same old, same old “This is the way we do it”, you can never move ahead in what the new, you know, situation requires. And so agility was very important from the airport situation to separation of parents to COVID, all of those things. So that would be my favorite takeaway. Although, everything that you've written is is golden.

Karan Rhodes:

Oh, thank you so much for those kind words! And thank you for sharing that, because I… and I definitely understand how that's extremely important just in general in life, but also in the work you do. And the final question I'll ask you, Tahmina, because I know your type of work can be very stressful because you're dealing with individuals who, like you said, their lives have been turned over and they're waiting and they're anxious, I'm curious, what do you do to decompress to center yourself in your downtime?

Tahmina Watson:

I'm so glad you asked that question, because it's one of my favorites now. You know, I… I think it took a long time to figure out how I bring sanity to my soul. You know, I think until somebody gets to complete burnout, they don't even think they need help.

Karan Rhodes:

Very true.

Tahmina Watson:

And yet, it's really a breaking point where you're like, “Okay, I really need to do something.” Up until that, you think you're Superwoman or Superman.

Karan Rhodes:

Yes!

Tahmina Watson:

And so to me, the breaking point really was a year into all the airport lawyer stuff. So I… I started to meditate, I took meditation classes. My favorite app is Insight Timer, I started to use that, but when I realized… Yeah, I recommend it to everybody. I love that.

Karan Rhodes:

I’ll add it to the show notes.

Tahmina Watson:

There are many out there, but that's the one that I felt very comfortable using, and it's very intuitive. You can say, “Oh, I've only got two minutes.” You can find a two minute one. “I just want to listen to music.” I've got that. “I want a guided meditation.” But what happened in COVID is that I couldn't find a quiet space anymore. We have two law firms and two schools happening, and so I started to take solace in our backyard. And that's the beginning of what my next era will be. I started to take notice of birds and started to take photographs of birds. And now, I'm a nature photographer. I accept that, I've embraced it, I love it. And I take bird pictures, and my camera is now really long, you know, it's very heavy, and I've written about that, too, in my column, “Above The Law”, how birding made me a better immigration lawyer. I hope people will read it, but I'd love people to check out my photos. It's at tahmina-watson.pixels.com, orr just Google Tahmina Watson Photography. And I just love it. I love seeing the spans of the wings of birds. I love the colors and the shapes of the beaks and, you know, the different poses they make as they take off the land. It brings me so much joy.

Karan Rhodes:

Oh, listeners, so you gotta check this out. I'll have it in the show notes to check out her photography and her birds, and it's similar to you, Tahmina. During the COVID, I am… I love to garden, and so, you know, because we were all, you know, sequestered, it was a way for us to bond with nature in a safe space. So… and we have bird feeders and all kinds of things as well. So, we have a mutual appreciation.

Tahmina Watson:

Love it! Well, I have never appreciated nature more. I love it!

Karan Rhodes:

Me, too. I can't believe we are at the end of the show to me, but I just want to take the time to thank you for the gift of your time and your knowledge. These nuggets have been tremendous. Listeners, definitely, definitely take… check out the show notes. There'll be a ton of resources and links for you to learn more and to reach out to Tahmina and learn more about her practice in case you all need that guidance and help. And just thank you so much Tahmina for your time. We're so appreciative of you!

Tahmina Watson:

Well, Karan, I'm grateful. First of all, it's so nice to meet somebody who knows so much about immigration to pull out the nuggets that are necessary for people here. And I'm just so glad that you're doing this. You know, I think HR is such an important issue right this moment, you know, and people like you are able to guide employers. So thank you for doing what you do, and thank you for giving me the honor of being on your show.

Karan Rhodes:

No, thank you! Well, thank you again and have a wonderful rest of your day!

Tahmina Watson:

You, too.

Karan Rhodes:

I hope you enjoyed our conversation today with Tahmina Watson, Chief Principal of Watson Immigration Law. Links to her bio, her entry into our Leadership Playbook, and additional resources can be found in the show notes, on both your favorite podcast platform and on the website LeadYourGamePodcast.com. And now, for "Karan's Take" on today’s topic of immigration law. You know, to be honest, I can’t top the fantastic nuggets that Tahmina shared with us, but I can share a few tips on how Business and HR leaders can prepare for their role in the process. So my first piece of advice is start by retaining an immigrational law attorney. The investment is well worth it 5 times over. They live and breathe this work, and you likely don’t have time to stay on top of all the policy changes that occur, actually, daily. And I know that one misstep can cause you and your employee to have to start the process all over from scratch or they may place your application at the bottom of the pile, and we definitely don’t want that. The second tip I wanted to give you is to be thoughtful and comprehensive when writing the job description that the employee is in. Don’t cut and paste one off the web. Really think through and capture the full complexity and comprehensive nature of their role. Also, think about if you expect the employee’s role to expand at some point. Your immigration law attorney will need to know this in order to plan accordingly while not putting the visa application in jeopardy. And, then, my third and last tip is to set aside a budget for the visa process. Ask your attorney for an estimated cost and immediately seek approval from your CEO or CFO or whoever is your company decision maker. You usually don’t have to pay for all the fees upfront, but you should be ready to cut a check whenever your attorney advises. Not paying filing fees on time can definitely jeopardize the application process. So, if you enjoyed this topic, everyone, more information on developing stronger leadership acumen can be found on our website at shockinglydifferent.com. Thanks for listening and see you next week!

Voiceover:

And that's our show for today. Thank you for listening to the “Lead at the Top of Your Game” podcast where we help you lead your seats at any employer, business, or industry in which you choose to play. You can check out the show notes, additional episodes, bonus resources, and also submit guest recommendations on our website at leadyourgamepodcast.com. You can follow me on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn by searching for the name Karan Rhodes with Karan being spelled K-a-r-a-n. And if you liked the show, the greatest gift you can give would be to subscribe and leave a rating on your podcast platform of choice. This podcast has been a production of Shockingly Different Leadership, a global consultancy which helps organizations execute their people, talent development, and organizational effectiveness initiatives on an on-demand project or contract basis. Huge thanks to our production and editing team for a job well done. Bye for now!

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