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How to Find USA Jobs With Visa Sponsorship

An article for those who want to move to work in the USA. There are several good articles on Repafi about finding a job in America. Here I will try to add my own experience to them and share a few techniques that helped me get the long-awaited job offer.

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First, I’ll tell you about work visas, and then how and where to look for an employer.

Visas.

There are 4 main work visas: H-1B, O-1, J-1 and L-1. All these visas are issued by your employer. I will briefly describe each of them.

H-1B

Perhaps the most popular work visa. To obtain it, you need to have a specialized education or 12 years of work experience.
Pros:

  • The only work visa that you can transfer to another employer without having to get it again.

Minuses

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  • The biggest disadvantage of this visa is the presence of a quota. In total, 65,000 visas are issued per year + 20,000 visas for those who completed a master’s degree in the USA. At the same time , more than 200,000 applications for this visa are submitted every year . You can only submit an application for 1 week a year – from April 1 to April 7.
  • Even if you pass the lottery and get into the quota, you will not be able to enter the United States until October 1st.
  • Your wife/husband will receive an H-4 visa, which will prevent them from legally working in the US.
  • President Trump’s administration has begun making it more difficult to obtain and renew an H-1B visa.

O-1

“Visa for talented people.” To obtain an O-1 visa you must meet 3 of 8 criteria , here are some of them:

  • Speaking as a speaker at conferences.
  • Publications in specialized publications.
  • Availability of professional awards.

Pros:

  • The visa does not have a quota and can be obtained throughout the year.

Minuses

  • Visa with the highest requirements for the candidate.
  • If you want to change employer, you will have to re-apply for a visa.
  • Your wife/husband will receive an O-3 visa, which will prevent them from legally working in the United States.
    You can read the story of Alexander Kirov’s move on an O-1 visa.

J-1

Visa for internships and recent university graduates. Often companies will transport programmers on this visa and then transfer you to H-1B or O-1.
Pros:

  • The easiest visa to obtain.
  • Your wife/husband will receive a J-2 visa, which will allow them to legally work in the United States.

Minuses

  • The visa is issued for a maximum of one year.
  • If you want to change employer, you need to reapply for a visa.

Moving on a J-1 visa is described in detail in this article .

L-1

The visa is significantly different from the previous three. L-1 visa for internal transfer of an employee from another country to the United States within the same company. That is, you must work for at least a year in a company’s office in another country, after which the company can transfer you to its office in the USA.
Pros:

  • Your wife/husband will receive an L-2 visa, which will allow them to legally work in the United States.

Minuses

  • The visa does not imply a change of employer.

There is also a visa for F-1 students. There are many cheap universities in Silicon Valley and New York that will give you a work permit for about a year after 6 months of study. After training, you can work for another year and a half, during which time you will need to transfer to one of the work visas. The path is quite realistic, but since I personally did not move through an F-1 visa, I can provide a link to a company that helps in finding cheap universities in Silicon Valley.

You can read more about visas here or on the US Immigration Service website

Search for an employer.

Based on the visas that USCIS offers, there are several ways to move, and your search for an employer will be different for everyone.

Briefly about the L-1 visa. For this, you need to find an employer in Russia who has an office in the United States and will be willing to transport you. These are large product companies (for example, Microsoft) or large consulting companies (for example, EPAM).

In what follows, I will only look at employer searches for H-1B, O-1, and J-1 visas. I am considering them together, because the scenario for finding a job offer for these visas is the same: you need an employer in the USA who will be ready to transport you and sponsor your visa. In fact, there are many such companies, but it is important to know where and how to look for them.

If you have the opportunity, come to the United States and personally communicate with potential employers, but if you do not have a work permit, it is unlikely that such an undertaking will give you much of an advantage. There are companies that do not agree at all to interviews via Skype, but there are fewer and fewer of them. Large IT companies, if they need it, will bring you to their office in America for an interview. Therefore, you can easily look for your future employer while in Russia.

What to write in your resume?

Remember, the main purpose of a resume is to arouse HR’s interest. I will list a few points that helped my resume pass through the filters of American HR:

  • You should not download your resume from hh.ru and LinkedIn. You need to create everything yourself from scratch.
  • There is no need to write down all the companies you have worked for. Even if they are all specialized. The last three are enough. Well, or the three biggest and most interesting ones. This is necessary in order to fit your resume onto two pages, ideally one. You can tell about the rest of your experience at interviews, but the main task at this stage is to get an invitation to an interview.
  • For each company/project you must add at least 4-5 points of your personal achievements. Show what technologies you worked with. If you wrote unit tests in all companies, you don’t need to write about it three times. It’s better to remember something else.
  • If you know some other technologies (at least watched a couple of tutorials and can reproduce them) and this is not included in the description of your projects, write about them separately. The more points that match the job description from HR, the greater the chance of receiving the coveted call.
  • What contact information should I add to my resume? I tried different combinations of Skype, email and US phone number. A US phone number can be purchased on Skype for $20 for 3 months. But the phone number didn’t give me any special advantages, because in the end it all came down to the lack of a work permit. As a result, I removed it from my resume and left only Skype and email. Try different options until you figure out which one works for you.
  • There is no need to add information about gender, age, and especially a photograph. HR in the US will not review resumes with this information. The thing is that employers do not want their refusal to be in any way connected with discrimination.

To all these tips I would add my own life hack. It is important to show your future employer your international (preferably American) experience. But how to do this if you have never even been to the USA? In fact, almost anyone can do this. Think back to the projects you’ve worked on. Most likely they were used not only in Russia. Then in your resume you can indicate not only Russia, but also the country where your project is popular.

Your company may also have an office in another country. Even if there is only one sales person sitting there, the company gets 1 client every 5 years from him. Be sure to write this in your resume: MyCompanyName, New York, USA / Moscow, Russia. This technique will allow you to significantly increase the number of responses.

Link to my final resume , which helped me find a job.

Do you need a cover letter?

Everyone says it is necessary, but I personally did without it. First, I wrote a long cover letter and tried to adapt it to each vacancy. But in the end, I composed the following email, which turned out to be more effective and convenient than a cover letter, and used it.

Dear Google Hiring Team,

I am Software Developer with 5 years of iOS experience. I am very interested in applying for the iOS Developer Position, which I found at your company careers website. My qualifications and experience match your specifications almost exactly.

Please take a moment to review my attached Up-To-Date Resume.

Also, you can look at my last projects:
// two or three links to your strongest projects

It would be a sincere pleasure to hear back from you soon to discuss this exciting opportunity.

Regards,
Eugene Trapeznikov
//your Skype, email, links to LinkedIn and GitHub.

Where to look for vacancies.

Get ready to be more flexible and try to get a job not only in the top 5 companies. Without a work permit, you need to be prepared for a longer search for a company willing to sponsor your work visa. Most likely, at the first stage, for 50 resumes sent, you will receive only 1-2 telephone interviews with HR. Try changing your resume and cover letter/email. Look at the conversion rate of different resume options and send the one that HR responds to more. It is also important to identify as many places as possible where your potential employers are located. Below is a list of those resources that worked best in my case.

Personal list of companies
The first and most obvious option is to write to all the companies you like. There are a lot of IT giants in the USA that are on everyone’s lips. They have beautiful offices and many interesting tasks. And all of them can easily transport you to the USA. Write to everyone: Airbnb, Foursquare, Instacart, Lyft, Uber, Google, Facebook, Square, Dropbox, Amazon…

LinkedIn
The most popular networking site in the United States. Here you can find vacancies for companies of any size – LinkedIn Job Search . But there is no separate filter for companies that provide work visas, so finding a potential employer here will be a little more difficult. But there is no way to bypass this site. Anyone looking for a job in the states should actively use LinkedIn because HR and all your future colleagues use it.

A small life hack for filling out your LinkedIn profile. Try placing it in the location: San Jose, California or New York, New York. This should increase the number of incoming messages from HR.

AngelList
Perhaps now this is one of the most popular sites for posting vacancies in startups – AngelList Startup Jobs . Be sure to create and fill out an account there as much as possible. Why the site is useful for you: in the search, under the Job Type filter, you can indicate companies that are ready to sponsor visas. In the Location filter, you can also select companies that are ready to work with you remotely. When both companies run out, write to everyone else. More resumes sent means more chances to get a job offer and even more interview experience.

StackOverflow
The most popular website for programmers also has a section for finding jobs – https://stackoverflow.com/jobs . And similarly, with AngelList you can separately find companies that are willing to transport you to the USA. In the search filters, you need to open the Perks section and select all three options in Location Options: Offers remote, Visa sponsor, Offers relocation. All jobs on StackOverflow filtered by these criteria – Remote Developer Jobs Offering Visa Sponsorship Offering Relocation in United States – Stack Overflow

Companies that have already filed for H1B.
The website immihelp.com has a section with companies that have previously sponsored H1B visas – H1B Sponsors – Database of Companies that have sponsored H1B or LCAs in the past . All these companies will not have a very important barrier for us – they are ready to hire employees from outside the United States. You need to select the year you applied for your visa and enter the desired vacancy in the Job Title field: iOS, Android, Frontend, Backend… Here, for example, are all the companies that sponsored H1B visas in 2017 for backend developers .

I took each company, found its website and looked to see if there were currently open positions. But even if there were no open vacancies on the site, I still wrote to HR.

Search by recommendation.
At big companies like Google, it’s almost impossible for your resume to get through without an internal recommendation. And in smaller companies, resumes based on recommendations will be considered much faster and more thoroughly. In addition, almost every company has bonuses for employees for hiring a new employee based on their recommendation. Pick up your address book, open your contacts on your phone and look for everyone who has already moved or is/was working for a company with an office in the USA.

And one more small comment. There is no need to look for vacancies that perfectly match your resume. If you can check the box next to 50% of the requirements, feel free to send your resume. If you have more than 90%, most likely HR will consider that you are already of too high a level for the vacancy, you will be bored with your work and it is unlikely that you will be invited for an interview.

Where I couldn’t find vacancies

There are several resources that everyone recommends, but I personally have not received a single useful contact from them. I tried adapting my resume and it didn’t work, but maybe you can do it.

Bulletin boards
In the USA there are several resources that work 1 in 1 like hh.ru. The biggest ones are Dice , Monster , Indeed and CareerBuilder . Now ZipRecruiter is gaining popularity . I created accounts on all these sites and actively looked for vacancies myself.

Craigslist
This is the main message board in the USA (like Avito in Russia). There is also a section for job search. A special feature of the site is that you need to create a separate resume for each city. I have created resumes for all major cities: New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston, Seattle, Dallas, Austin.
This is where you need to look for vacancies – New York software/qa/dba/etc – craigslist .
And here your resume will appear – New York resumes – craigslist .

Hacker News
Every month, on the 1st, two entries are published on Hacker News: Who is hiring? and Who wants to be hired . In the first you need to look for potential employers, in the second you need to post your resume.

There are companies in which I would not recommend even trying to look for a job – Indian body shops. These are companies that resell you to others, taking 30% of your salary. There are big companies – Infosys and Wepro, and there are hundreds of small companies. Most likely, as soon as you post your resume somewhere, hundreds of representatives of such companies will start writing/calling you. Remember, they are looking for people on short-term contracts and almost never sponsor visas.

What to do now?

  • Prepare a resume.
  • Fill out accounts on all possible job search sites.
  • Send out 50 resumes every day.

I kept a spreadsheet of all the companies I sent my resume to. I also took notes in it after each stage of the interview. This will help you keep your finger on the pulse, track the effectiveness of different sources for finding an employer, and also understand what exactly you need to improve (resume, communication with HR or the technical component).

While you are waiting for an invitation to an interview:

  • Prepare for a technical interview. I have often seen that after the telephone screening and before the interview, they give you a couple of problems to solve on Hacker Rank . I advise you to solve at least 2-3 problems in your programming language to get familiar with the interface. Ideally, solve a couple of problems every day for Hacker Rank.
  • Improve your English. It is often recommended to watch TV series in English. I would also advise connecting to podcasts, they will allow you to better understand speech without pictures. You will often have to communicate via Skype via phone call, and this is much more difficult than with video (at least at the very beginning).
  • Start communicating NOT with the companies you want to get into the most. Get practice first by interviewing those who are less of a priority to you personally.

useful links

  • Another good article about finding a job in the USA is Moving a Developer to the USA: Finding a Job, Getting a Visa and Cost of Living .
  • Be sure to read all posts from progblog on Habré .
  • Remote job search service – weworkremotely .

I’m waiting in the comments for more links to services where you were able to find the employer who sponsored your visa.

Tags:

  • career in the usa
  • work abroad
  • personal experience
  • relocation
  • h1b
  • USA

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