Bettina Offer
Office:
Kobbachstr 3A
60433
City:
Frankfurt
Country:
Germany
Tel:
+49 69 9515313 0
Fax:
+49 69 9515313 66

Questions and Answers:

Who's Who Legal Thought Leaders Global Elite

Bettina is the founding partner of Offer & Mastmann, the German boutique firm for corporate immigration. She has more than 18 years’ experience advising corporate clients from all industries. Her firm successfully handles large-volume employee migration schemes, as well as the occasional immigration application of small and medium-sized enterprises. Bettina is an active lecturer and author, and participates in the public debate about a new German corporate immigration law.

What motivated you to pursue a career in corporate immigration?

When I changed from corporate law to immigration law in 2005, corporate immigration was non-existent in Germany. Since then, we have seen many changes and developments. Being one of the first practitioners to concentrate solely on corporate immigration provides the opportunity to help shape this new field of law – a lawyer’s dream come true! I enjoy the professional exchange with HR departments and consultations by lawmakers at a time when employee migration becomes an essential factor in a globalised economy. And it thrills me to keep the process as lean and simple for my clients as possible – circumnavigating administrative roadblocks.

How has the market changed since you first started practising?

Initially, immigration was, for my clients, an occasional case of a single CEO or specialist. During that time, clients wanted a detailed roadmap and were willing to pay hourly rates for a seven-page report. Of course, we still have that, but nowadays the larger clients maintain schemes that have several hundred employees coming to Germany every year. They want the operative support in the application process and expect service-level agreements covering legal as well as management aspects of the work. Billing is based on flat fees and the process of migration is highly structured. It is our aim to combine high-quality legal expertise – which guides the client on compliance – with present-day management tools. Client seminars are a welcome add-on.

What are some challenges currently facing corporate immigration lawyers in Germany?

We are experiencing an administration that never planned to cover the large numbers of immigration applications, and is in part so overstretched that it is nearly collapsing. Applications that were simple three years ago are now complicated and time-consuming, even though the law remains unchanged. We also see an upcoming relocation industry illegally providing legal advice of foul quality, with untrained personnel beating down the pricing and providing added stress for authorities. Clients can only tell the difference when it is too late. This is an unfortunate development.

There are some upcoming changes to the legislation governing corporate immigration in Germany. How do think it will affect the area?

Our government has promised a new corporate immigration law to be introduced within the next year; the first draft is expected before the end of 2018. We hope for fast-track changes in the allocation of competences between the different authorities, and new categories for employees without university education. It will aim to make corporate immigration easier in the long run, but we expect a lot of difficulties during the implementation phase. I think 2019 will be an interesting year.

What challenges did you face when setting up your own firm?

Coming from Baker & McKenzie and Ashurst with full-service support, it was a challenge to be responsible for everything – from installing IT to watering the office plants. Most of that I can now delegate, as our firm has grown. The current challenges are the development, implementation and maintenance of internal processes to answer the service-level demands of our clients on one side, and decreasing quality at authority-level due to an increase in refugees, which is putting extra strain on administrative resources.

How does Offer & Mastmann distinguish itself from competitors?

Offer & Mastmann provides high-quality legal advice in corporate immigration combined with the service levels required to deliver results for large corporate clients. We have a strong operations team, which enables us to handle large migration schemes but also represent our clients and their interests at the law-making authorities. Due to our numerous publications and seminars, Offer & Mastmann is renowned in Germany as specialist for corporate immigration. We want to help our clients get the permit to employ the foreign employee of their choice, as fast as possible and always in compliance with the law.

How do you see your practice developing over the next five years?

The German economy is growing and in good shape while qualified employees become scarce. In response, the German government has announced a complete renewal of the corporate immigration laws for 2019. Thus we expect growing demand from our clients during this time of uncertainty due to the multiple legal changes. We expect fees to reflect the increasing difficulties. Competitors who are unfamiliar with the new laws may run into compliance issues. All in all, we expect corporate immigration to become more important for our clients in the near future.

What developments are you seeing in how your clients approach immigration issues?

We see a lot of fluctuation among our clients when it comes to the departments responsible for corporate immigration issues. There seems to be a trend to outsource global mobility/HR and have procurement choose the immigration provider – often paying more attention to pricing than to quality (aka, compliance). Corporate immigration is not just about the visa – it is about the whole application process that needs to be compliant. Many clients underestimate the loss of valuable know-how due to outsourcing. In our daily work, we experience how important a good contact at the client is for the attorney-client relationship.

Biography:

Who's Who Legal Germany - Corporate Immigration

Bettina Offer is a founding partner of Offer & Mastmann, the first German law firm that exclusively specialises in corporate and business immigration law.

Ms Offer received her legal education with distinction at the Universities of Giessen (Germany) and Warwick (UK), and holds an LLM degree from the University of Wisconsin – Madison (USA). Called to the Bar in 2000, she acquired her understanding for complex business transactions as an associate with Baker & McKenzie and Ashurst. In 2005, she joined Gabriele Mastmann and specialised in Germany inbound business immigration law, becoming an acclaimed expert in the field. She is a member of the IBA, the AILA and the Alliance of Business Immigration Lawyers (ABIL).

In the past years, Ms Offer gained an exceptional expertise in the development and implementation of compliant immigration processes and strategies for clients with high-volume intra-company-transfer schemes. The majority of her clients are active in the automotive, chemical and IT industry, as well as relocation agencies.

Ms Offer also focuses at the legislative and political development of German immigration law and as such regularly lectures on the topic at national and international conferences and panels, such as the IBA’s biennial global immigration conferences; the German Confederation of German Employers' Associations (BDA); the kbW Berlin; Bertelsmannstiftung; and the Ministry of the Interior. She is initiator and co-editor of the Practitioners Guide on Corporate Immigration Law (Oxford University Press, 2012) and the first commentary on German corporate immigration law BeschV (CH Beck 2016). She recently contributed a chapter to the Handbook on Migration and Integration (CH Beck 2018). 

WWL says: Bettina Offer is recognised as one of the leading immigration lawyers in the country. She draws high praise from clients who note she is “always up to date with new legislation and on top of any changes”.

This biography is an extract from Who's Who Legal: Germany which can be purchased from our Shop.

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