Category Archives: Visa Info

Information about all types of US Visas and the best ways to obtain one

How Do You Convince a US Employer to Hire You and Sponsor Your Work Visa?

Foreigners both when beginning their job search and through the midst of applying to jobs and interviewing invariably ask themselves the question about how they can overcome the hurdle of broaching the visa sponsorship conversation. It is clear that whether this conversation is early or late in the hiring process or whether it is with an HR person or the person trying to hire you it is more often than not an awkward topic.

Ultimately it is topic that you can make less of an issue by not only understanding US Immigration better but also what different employers will more positively respond too and how you can fit in within their timelines. This differs across many factors;

  • Eligible for the H-1B or E-3 visa
  • The industry you are in and your job type
  • The size of the company
  • The demographic makeup of the workforce
  • Whether the company is likely to employ outside legal help
  • Education background
  • The level of your salary
  • How long the position has been open

H-1B or E-3 Visa
The H-1B visa is open to all nationalities and is generally applicable to most professional jobs (as well as fashion modeling) and it is for 3 years and is renewable once. Application season opens at April 1 each year and is limited to 85,000 visas each year and is currently in a high demand period so runs out quickly. There are also fees applicable for the application process. The E-3 visa is similarly for professional jobs but is only for Australian citizens. It is for 2 years and renewable indefinitely. It can be applied for at any time of they year and has no specific fees for the application process. There is a annual quota of 10,500 that has never been reached.

Industry & Job Type
Sectors like technology, consulting, finance, bio-tech and higher education are the biggest sectors for hiring foreign workers. They general have procedures for foreigners and many of the hiring and HR folks are aware of the general parameters. However few people are aware of the specifics so ensuring you are able to start in a reasonable period given the visa you are eligible for and any travel you may have to do to get it. Roles like Software Engineers and major experience working at big name management consultants, Big 4 accounting firms or major investment houses tend to be very valuable for larger companies in the traditional sectors to overcome the hurdle of being a foreigner. Usually it is harder for entry level roles as well given it is cheaper and more expedient to hire a local.

Company Size
Smaller companies especially in sectors like technology while shorter in funds and HR processes for hiring foreigners can often be a great place because hiring people like engineers can be difficult when competing with the likes of Google, etc. Larger companies with HR folks and possibly immigration lawyers on retainer may be more ready to hire foreigners, however a hiring person may from past experience have seen the extra time it takes to hire a foreigner vs. a local US resident. If companies small or large explicitly say we don’t sponsor or local candidates only, then your only real chance is if you know someone personally who brings you into the fold.

Demographics
If a company, especially at the management and executive levels has a multi-cultural makeup where certain people are clearly foreign citizens, then your chances will generally be higher. However if that person is from the same country as you and they are interviewing you, they may hold you to a higher standard than the average candidate. If you want to know if your company has ever sponsored foreigners before then you can either look at our top employer sponsor lists or the macro US database.

Use of Immigration Lawyers
Larger companies tend to have immigration lawyers on hand, smaller to mid tier companies may have ones they have used ad hoc in past or aware of from past associations. More likely with smaller and early stage companies and others who have never sponsored a foreigner they won’t have a known legal help but if they really want you will likely want to make use of one for their peace of mind. Be aware that doing the H-1B or E-3 visa process can be done by you if your company wants you to save funds as long as you are aware of the various steps.

Education Background
US employers are in general unaware of almost all foreign universities save for well known ones like Oxford, Cambridge, London School of Economics or maybe Sorbonne. If you have a US education let alone an Ivy League, Seven sisters or other well known schools like Stanford you will be at a huge advantage, especially if this is a graduate degree. An unknown university and unknown company brand experience can be a tough hurdle to overcome unless you are applying for a very high demand position like Software Engineering.

Salary Level
For both the H-1B and E-3 visas, the foreigner must be paid a minimum of the prevailing wage is basically the average level a US worker is paid for doing the same job in the same locale. This is checked against official databases like ONET and is part of your Labor Certification Application with Department of Labor. Ultimately this is generally a case that the higher your salary level and thus your value and your title in the organization, the more likely an employer will sponsor you.

Open Positions
If you notice in your job search that a position has been open for a long period of time it can be worth trying to directly reach out, applying from a different email if you have applied before with no contact or find someone that can introduce you to the company. Vacant roles that are continually being advertised means a critical need for the company and a more willing need to expand beyond narrow hiring parameters like local candidates only. This can also help with salary negotiations in your favor.

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H-1B & E-3 Visa Holders Applying at US Consulates in Canada

In the last 12 months we have been inundated with questions from rightly apprehensive foreigners who seemingly have secured their dream to live and work in the US only to be faced with a new sense of fear, actually getting the US work visa itself.

If you are in the US as either legally as a tourist or another visa like the F-1 student visa, that would be the logical time to apply to US employers, attend interviews and hopefully secure a position. However because of the absurdity of the US Immigration system, this means you either initially have to leave the US to get a visa stamp in your passport at a US Consulate before you can start working for your new US employer. Alternatively in certain cases if you are transferring from an unexpired non-immigrant visa or status at the time of application (so not tourist visa waiver ESTA) you can potentially start employment, however as soon as you travel outside the US for work or pleasure you have to attend a US Consulate as well for an interview to get a visa stamp.

The reason why the situations above are absurd is because in any prior non-immigrant visa case the person would have already attended a US Consulate to get their initial US visa. So they largely go through the same process again just this time with the assessment of the US employer and job. Given that the US employer and job have already been assessed as part of the process by the Department of Labor in all cases and by the USCIS (United States Custom & Immigration Service) as well in all work visa transfer cases and any H-1B visa case, it is just redundant waste and further cost to foreigners, US employers and ultimately the US economy as a whole.

This whole process can take weeks and sometimes many months and cost thousands of dollars in application fees, legal fees, travel costs and that doesn’t factor in lost earning to the employee or the business. Given the H-1B visa period always commences on or after October 1 in any given year this tends to produce high demand for interview slots between May and October each year when the application begin to be approved after the annual April 1 filing opening.

In the case of E-3 visas where the application season is year round and the demand is nowhere near as high the same issues that arise for the H-1B work visa applicants and their employers also apply. However additional “guidelines” around which US Consulates are applicable depending on whether its a new visa (E-3 visa) or renewal version of the visa (E-3R) add further confusion.

firsttimee3visa

The above guideline posted on the US Embassy official website for Australia causes more angst than any other for people who have actually secured an E-3 visa. Given the cost for a round trip to Australia at the best of times might be around $2,000 when booked in advance, it is not a cheap option to go back just to get a visa. Often as well getting an appointment may take many weeks at one of the 3 Australian located US Consulates in Perth, Sydney or Melbourne.

Often people would love to go to Canada and namely a place like Toronto. Below is a further cause of angst on the official US Consulate website for Toronto regarding the E-3 visa.

Q. I am an Australian citizen applying for an E3 visa. What do I need to do?

A. Applicants for E-3 visas are seen in Toronto in the same manner as all other non E-visa applicants, by appointment made online at http://canada.usvisa-info.com/ or by calling 647-955-3736(calling from Toronto area), 1-877-341-2441 (calling from elsewhere in Canada or from the U.S). Information about E-3 visas is available at U.S. Embassy in Canberra. Appointments are booked many weeks in advance. There is no special consideration given to E-3 visa applicants.

We urge all visa applicants who are not landed immigrants or long-term residents of Canada to apply at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate in their home country. Applicants who come to Toronto from the U.S., having entered the U.S. as a visitor, are likely to be found ineligible here and unable to return to the U.S. even as a visitor.

The above statement contradicts itself by saying it will process E-3 visas as normal in the first paragraph and then warning against doing it in the second paragraph unless long term residents of Canada (or potentially non-immigrant visa holders in the US as opposed to just tourists). It should be noted none of the above two US Consulate guidelines are given for H-1B visa applicants.

The bottom line is we have got a lot of feedback on this from people over the years who have actually gone through the first time visa process and the visa renewals, talked to the largely unhelpful customer service at the USCIS, Department of State and US Consulates themselves as well a lot of first hand knowledge. These are the best guidelines we can give (I stress these are definitely guidelines because there are no facts around this and people have had conflicting experiences and it seems like facts change a lot)

  • First time and renewal H-1B visa holders can apply at any US Consulate around the world. If you are a first time H-1B visa applicant with a foreign degree to the US or the country you are applying within, then would highly recommend getting your degrees assessed as equivalent to a US degree by an organization (many Universities or affiliated organizations do this service for a fee and many US employers who employ legal counsel do this as part of the process)
  • First time E-3 visa holders who have never held a US non-immigrant visa like F-1, J-1, H-1B, etc. are only in the US on the ESTA visa waiver, I would highly recommend doing your application in Australia or at the very least not in Canada.
  • First time E-3 visa holders if you came on the non-immigrant B-1/B-2 visa but as a tourist, I would highly recommend the above as well
  • If you are a first time E-3 visa holder and have been on a non-immigrant visa, I would ideally avoid Canada and use Mexico, the Bahamas, Dominican Republic or UK if you want somewhere closer. However if you are going to do Canada maybe avoid Toronto (& Montreal) and do it in Vancouver or Halifax
  • Renewal E-3 visa cases seem to be fine at any US Consulate including Canadian ones
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