27 Aug 2014

Candidates requiring a work visa for the United States

27 Aug 2014

The Melanie Andersen Agency gets approached by a lot of candidates from overseas who would like to work in the US. I don’t blame them, as I was one of those people myself in the past. However, unfortunately it is quite difficult for a search firm to work with candidates who don’t currently hold a work visa.

The notice period in the United States is two weeks, unlike one to three months in most parts of the world. So this means that the recruitment moves at quite a fast pace. Often this is when a company will work with a search firm, as they don’t have the luxury of time to search for the perfect candidate themselves, and they need to see the resumes of qualified candidates ASAP. They know, that when they work with a specialized consultancy like The Melanie Andersen Agency, we will only send the resumes of the best candidates in the industry, who meet their brief, and who will be a good fit for the company culture. When we take the job brief we always ask, “Are you open to sponsoring candidates who need a visa?” and nine times out of ten the answer is always no. Generally this is because they need an immediate replacement, they want to see resumes and interview candidates this week, make a decision as soon as possible and have the appointed candidate resign, give their two weeks and start with them in the new role. This isn’t limited to candidates requiring full sponsorship either, often candidates who currently hold a visa and just need a visa transfer will not be considered in our experience. This is because when a company hires a candidate, they hope that this individual will stay with them for a long time. The reality is that if a candidate needs to get a renewal in a years’ time, the above process needs to be repeated which is not an ideal situation for them to be in.

Often, they don’t have the budget to pay for lawyer fees to acquire a visa for candidate who needs sponsorship. Smaller and independently owned companies often don’t have the experience in the immigration process and its overwhelming for them. More often than not it’s not a money issue, they simply don’t have the time to wait to secure a new visa for a candidate. The most common visa category in the US is a H1B visa, these visas are released twice a year on a first application first issued basis and often there is a waiting list just to put in the application, and then the visa processing time on top of that. Compared to the candidate who just needs to give their two weeks’ notice, it’s only in a situation where a very specific skill set is required, and the company is willing to wait where they will consider a candidate who needs a visa.

Creative talent like Creative Director and Artists fall into a different category and can be eligible for an O1 visa (extraordinary talent), but the majority of business professionals need a H1B. If you are wondering why there have been an influx of Australians to the US in the past few years, well, we are lucky, as there is a special visa category for us called the E3. It was established in 2005 as a trade agreement between Australia and the US when Australia supported Present Bush and sent troops to Iraq. It is jokingly referred to as the “Iraq Visa”, because of this. We are extremely lucky, if a company wants to hire us, as long as we have a college degree, we just need to visit a US embassy overseas with some paper work, and within days we have a two year work visa for us and our spouse.

For all other people reading this and who still want to live the “American Dream” my advice would be –

Apply for the Green card lottery! I am continually surprised how many people I meet who have won a green card. Each year the U.S. government makes available 50,000 permanent residence visas for this program so give it a shot!

If that doesn’t work, consider all of my points above. Don’t keep applying for roles in the hope that a company will sponsor you, as it is likely going to be through networking or through your personal connections where you will have more of a chance. And I always suggest that a candidate should take responsibility of all lawyer fees themselves, or at least offer. That way you are not more expensive than the other candidates. Often a company will factor in the visa costs anyway out of a visa candidates salary so that the company is not out of pocket.

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