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Attorney here helps foreign workers get employment across country

By DENNIS GRUBAUGH

Tiffany Baldwin has been helping businesses meet employee needs for more than two decades.

The Fairview Heights-based attorney owns Compass Immigration Law, which specializes in employment-based immigration law, finding ways to provide things like H-1B temporary visas and employment-based green cards for foreign workers who need them in the states. While she serves a number of professions, she primarily works with doctors.

“There is not a general practice immigration attorney that I know of. Everyone subspecializes. Within the employment category I’m primarily focused on physicians,” she said. “We have a physician shortage across the country, particularly in Southern Illinois where it’s expected to get really high, really soon.”

She works with other professionals, like those in IT and engineering, “but the doctors are the bulk of it. I enjoy the aspect of them going into areas that have a need. It’s kind of a win-win situation.”

Even if a physician has worked for two decades as a doctor in his home country, he must go through a residency or a fellowship in the United States to get licensed.

Immigration is federal law and Baldwin said she has clients all over, including Southern Illinois.

“Cases come into this office and they go out to immigration service centers, which are remote. Most of the time we don’t have to go to Immigration. Generally, I can be in Fairview Heights and do work for clients in places like Florida, Hawaii or Washington state.”

Foreign physicians are increasingly going into rural areas and more are going into specialties that American doctors do not, like hospitalists, or inpatient physicians, who work seven on, seven off/12-hour shifts that are hard to fill.

Baldwin works on behalf of both companies and individuals. She is typically approached by a hospital, practice group or company that manages emergency rooms or in-patient services for hospitals. That involves doing work on behalf of doctors, nurses, medical technologists and physical therapists. There is an increasing shortage in those fields because of retirements and an aging population.

Baldwin’s background was tailormade. As an undergrad at The American University in Washington, D.C., she was an international relations major. Things having to do with visas and immigration piqued her interest which continued while in law school at Washington University.

“I happened to take an immigration law class in law school, and the professor actually wrote the first casebook on immigration law for law schools. Near the end, there was an opening for a part-time law clerk at a firm, in their immigration department. I applied for that and got in. Their main attorney I worked for was one of the first immigration attorneys to focus on physician issues. It just kind of clicked.”

Baldwin grew up in Fairview Heights. She worked for Greensfelder, Hemker and Gale for about eight years before going out on her own.

In her 22-year career, she’s only practiced immigration law, which was unique at the start and less so now as more attorneys go to school for an immigration specialty.

She and her husband, Lew Thomasino, have a son, Silas, a high school junior, and a daughter Gemma, a seventh-grader. Right now, they are hosting an exchange student from Armenia.

This story appears in the December issue of the Illinois Business Journal. Other stories can be found online at ibjonline.com

 

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