How to Get a Job in the USA
Does a job in the USA remain a vain dream for you? Time to turn it into your goal! In our article, you will find a detailed plan for your country and professional level.
Does a job in the USA remain a vain dream for you? Time to turn it into your goal! In our article, you will find a detailed plan for your country and professional level.
Countless people all over the world dream of getting a job in America. Migrating from one country to another is always difficult. The USA is one of the most popular destinations for work and travel, but it has some very complex laws surrounding immigration. That said, with the right guide, it is possible to live and work in America as a foreigner, and even to migrate permanently.
Let’s start with some background information.
State of Immigration in the USA
Just looking at the surface, the USA seems like an economic powerhouse, capable of remarkable feats of productivity and innovation. It really is, but given its size and stature on the world stage, it could be doing even more. Its for-profit education and healthcare systems means that a lot of its workforce is left underdeveloped; according to the 2018 US census, only around a third of all Americans have a university education—much less than the rest of the western world—and the nation has the most expensive healthcare system on the globe according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operations and Development, spending much more per capita than other developed nations, with millions of its citizens uninsured.
To prevent better-educated, healthier workers from coming in and outcompeting the local population, the country has instituted regressive immigration laws to reduce the number of foreigners coming over and finding a job in the USA. It’s even more difficult to settle down, with some nationalities experiencing very long wait times to obtain lawful permanent residence. The USA still uses a nationality-based quota system, The Immigration and Naturalization Act, passed in 1965, where no country can contribute more than 7% of all visas allotted in any given year; this makes wait times for Indians, Chinese, and Mexican citizens excruciatingly long, as they contribute many more immigration applications than the rest of the world.
Even so, there are paths through these systems where you can find success and work in the United States. This article will teach you the best visas and jobs in the USA for foreigners, no matter where you are from or which stage you’re at in your career.
Getting Work in the USA with Visa or a Green Card
US immigration can be confusing, so let’s simplify it as much as possible. If you aren’t a US citizen, and your country isn’t in the Visa Waiver Program which allows US entry without visa, you need a visa to enter the country legally.
There are two kinds of visas for a foreigner seeking work: nonimmigrant visas and immigrant visas. A nonimmigrant visa can be easy to get, and can allow a foreigner to study or work in America for anywhere from 1 to 6 years. An immigrant visa is more difficult to obtain, but can grant you a “green card,” which allows you lawful permanent residence in the USA. Just know that application processing times can take up to several months, so you should always plan your journey and apply for your visa up to a year in advance.
Professions and Visas
This section will cover the visa requirements to work in the USA. Naturally, all information about fees are valid for 2020, according to the USCIS website, but are liable to change in the future.
Depending on where you are in your career, these are the visas which may provide you job opportunities in the USA.
|Highly-skilled Specialist||H-1B, EB-1, EB-2, & EB-3 Visas|
|Multinational Executive||L-1A, EB-1C Visas|
|Professor or Researcher||EB-1B Visa|
|Family of a US resident||J, H, EB Class Visas|
If you are accepted as a student of a US university, then you could be eligible for an F-1 visa. Just make sure that the schools you apply to can accept you as an international student. An F-class visa gives you the option to work on-campus while you study, as well as take practical training off-campus. You can even get a work permit in the USA on this visa, in the event of an unplanned economic hardship, like your supporting parent losing their job. It’s called an Employment Authorization Document, or an EAD, and would allow you to work part-time off-campus while you study. You can read more about that, and how to apply for it, later in the article.
For an F-1 visa, the application fee is $350, making it one of the most affordable visa options. There is no additional charge for your spouse or children. This makes it a good option for someone who wants their family to experience life in the USA while improving their education.
After graduation, a person who studied in the USA can have a better chance at securing an H-1B visa sponsorship, allowing you to secure a place in a high-paying, better job than you might get back home. Your chances are best if you studied IT or finished medical school in the US, as these are some of the most in-demand jobs in America.
You might not think that there would be much work in the USA for foreigners so early in their careers, with no qualifications, but there are opportunities. The US government allows a great many people to come in temporarily as part of their cultural exchange program.
The J-1 Visa
The J-1 visa allows you to improve your education and career skills for up to a year in the USA. According to the US State Department, this is one of the most commonly-issued visas, with over 300,000 issued every year. This makes them a good path into the country.
Depending on your career, this visa opens you up to a variety of potential options.
- If you are a university student or graduated in the last 12 months, it allows you to take an internship.
- If you are a professor or a researcher, it allows you to hold a temporary academic position.
- If you are a medical student or have recently graduated medical school, it allows you to learn advanced skills and pursue licensure in the USA.
- If you are a skilled worker, it allows you to take training in your field to advance your skill set.
- If you are a recognized expert in your home country, it allows you to hold a temporary teaching position.
The J-1 Visa requires you to find a company or program who will grant you a visa sponsorship. All you need to do is pay for the program and visa application fees. The cost of the program can vary wildly, but keep in mind that the sponsoring company is covering many of your expenses while you’re there; the cost of the administrative SEVIS fee is currently only $220, one of the cheapest visa options available. You can find more information, and potential sponsors, on the US State Department’s J-1 Visa website.
Just like the F-class visa, the J-1 visa allows you to bring your spouse with you. They can even apply for an Employment Authorization Document, allowing them to work while they’re in the country.
The H-1B Visa
The H-1B visa allows you to live and work a full-time job in the USA for 3 years, with the potential to extend your stay up to 6 years. This is most common for those working advanced tech jobs in the computer software industry. This visa is rarely issued, with only around 33,000 issued each year, according to the US State Department, which means applicants need to be at the absolute peak of their careers, with highly advanced skills.
This visa limits you to working only with the company who sponsors your visa, and it can be very difficult to get these sponsorships. The most common sponsors are big technology companies like Google, Facebook, Amazon, and Microsoft. There are also large multinational companies from India, such as Infosys and Tata Steel, who have a large presence in the USA, which have provided thousands of sponsorships for citizens of their home country.
Don’t send applications to companies who have no history of visa sponsorship. You can easily find companies’ sponsorship histories with some searches online. While large companies can provide thousands of visas a year all on their own, smaller tech companies or consulting firms can also be good options, particularly ones who have only begun expanding recently into visa sponsorships. Just make sure to do your research onto any company which offers to sponsor you, and don’t ever take any offer which has you covering company expenses.
The H-1B visa allows you to bring your spouse and children with you to the USA. The H-4 Visa allows your spouse to live and work with you in the USA. You can read more about how to go about that later in the article.
If you are a highly-skilled career professional, you may be able to fully immigrate to the USA by obtaining an Employment-Based visa, known as EB-1, EB-2, or EB-3. These visas can lead to a green card and lawful permanent residence in the country and don’t require a sponsorship. It costs $700 to file your application. They are very difficult to obtain, and applicants need to make the absolutely best case possible to win. You may want to employ a reputable immigration lawyer in the USA to help you put your best foot forward, but there are many criteria which can improve your chances to win your visa.
- Excellent English communication skills. Possessing an IELTS or TOEFL certification is recommended, even if you come from a country where English is a commonly-spoken second language.
- An advanced level of education, such as a master’s degree or a doctorate. In particularly in-demand fields, a bachelor’s degree or even work experience may be enough, but you will need other strong qualities to complement them.
- Membership in professional associations with national recognition in your home country, or even international recognition, will serve you well. Associations which have a reputation for excellence in their members are even better.
- If you can show that your expertise commands a high salary, such as paychecks, contract receipts, or even job offers that you would potentially be eligible for once you arrived in the US, would serve as very strong evidence for your case.
You can find more information on the US Customs and Immigrations Services website.
If you are a manager, business executive, or specialist in a corporation in your home country who has business in the USA, you may be eligible for either an L-class nonimmigrant visa or an EB-1C immigrant visa. Here’s what you need to know.
If your company does not have a branch in the United States and would like to open one, you could be eligible for an L-class nonimmigrant visa to support the startup of business operations abroad.
- This visa requires sponsorship from your employer.
- It allows you to stay for up to one year to assist in the startup of business operations.
- The visa can be extended, in increments up to two years, to a maximum stay of 7 years.
- This visa allows you to bring your family with you to the United States.
If your company already has a branch in the United States, you could be eligible for an L-class visa, but your initial stay can be up to three years long, as opposed to one year.
To secure an EB-1C visa, the conditions are the same, but instead you can obtain lawful permanent residence in the US. The success rate for these visas is high compared to other paths of immigration to the United States. Many who initially enter the US on an L-class visa successfully transition to an EB-1C.
Professor or Researcher
If you are a professor or a researcher, you could be able to come over to work in an American university or in the very lucrative field of research in the private sector. There are a number of potential paths into the United States for people of this level. Hiring a US immigration lawyer would be the best way for you to maximize your chances of success, but here are some key criteria to help you win an EB-1B Visa.
- Published work in well-respected and internationally known scientific journals.
- Evidence of having received prizes or awards in recognition of your contributions to your field.
- Evidence of published material about you or your work in recognized industry publications.
- Evidence of membership in scientific associations, particularly ones which have a reputation for excellence in their members.
Citizen of a NAFTA Country
If you are a citizen of a NAFTA country, like Canada or Mexico, you may be eligible to enter the US on a TN Visa. This visa works similar to H-1B, but bypasses the quota system and is far easier to acquire, due to the trade agreement between the three countries.
A Canadian needs to bring the following to a Canadian Border Patrol station at a crossing with the United States:
- Proof of their Canadian citizenship.
- A letter detailing a job offer from a US employer, including your job duties and qualifications.
- A credentials evaluation, if applicable to your position(e.g. nurse, physician).
That’s it. Alternatively, you or your employer can file Form I-129 to apply for your visa in advance to ensure there are no issues once you’re at the border.
If you are a citizen of Mexico, you need to have your employer file Form I-129. The process is usually quick, but everything must be cleared in advance.
As a citizen of Australia, if you’re considering moving to another English-speaking country, there is a specialty visa which might have the US edge out competitors like the UK and Canada.
The E-3 Visa
The E-3 Visa is just for Australians. It functions similarly to the H-1B visa, but bypasses the quota system. There is one special thing that sets it apart, though. An employer must demonstrate they are going to pay you on the higher end of the salary scale for your profession to qualify, which might result in you making more money than taking a similar role in another country.
How to Apply for a Work Permit in the USA as a Spouse
On many of these visas, we’ve talked about the possibility of a spouse being able to work in the USA, but most of these visas don’t automatically grant permission to work. If your spouse is moving to the United States to work, you might be finding yourself asking “can I work, too?”
You are allowed to work if your spouse has any one of these visas:
- J-1 Visa
- H-1B Visa
- L-1A Visa
- L-1B Visa
- EB-class Visa
- E-3 Visa
If your spouse has or is going to enter the USA on one of these visas and you will be joining them with the appropriate spousal visa, you may be eligible to work in the United States by filing Form I-765. Filing this form will cost $410 and its approval will grant you an Employment Authorization Document, verifying you have the ability to work in the United States. You can find more information on the USCIS website.
Other Difficulties When Applying for a Job
If you’re wanting to make it into the United States, you’re going to need to make sure that you are presenting the best possible version of yourself. If you’re wondering how to get a job offer in the USA, here are the things you absolutely must shore up to even have a chance, especially if you need to land a sponsorship:
- Education. If you don’t have a master’s degree, you should pursue one to outcompete the American workforce. If that’s not an option, then you need proven practical experience.
- Work experience. Education goes a long way, but solid work experience on top of that shows that you aren’t just booksmart, but can apply that in a valuable way.
- Targeting. Don’t just send a basic resume to every single company that might sponsor your visa. You need to do your research, learn the company, their products, and their culture, and target your resume and cover letter specifically to whichever of their vacancies you’re pursuing. It can’t be overstated how powerful a strong cover letter can be. For getting the best cover letter for your position, check out the GetCoverLetter builder.
- English skills. You need to demonstrate English skills at the highest level if you want to outcompete others seeking to migrate to the US.
If you feel like you still have room to improve in any of these areas, you should develop all of them until you feel confident. Your applications sent to the US will most likely be logged forever, and you shouldn’t send weak attempts if you can avoid it.
Where to Search for a Job in America
While there are opportunities for foreigners available on typical job search websites, like Career Advisor and Monster, most jobs there won’t be able to provide you with a visa sponsorship; if you already have a visa, there may be specific conditions which don’t allow you to take these jobs. Only a green card or Employment Authorization Document allows you to freely search for jobs on these domestic US websites.
So, where are you supposed to look for work, then? Try some of these options:
- Websites which specialize in jobs for expats, like Expatjobseeker, Xpatjobs, and the Expat sections on Indeed and Glassdoor.
- Private recruiting agencies can sometimes specialize in finding positions for expats, and may even help expats which need special training or licensure get what they need to work in the USA.
- Employment agencies may help you get seasonal agricultural work on a specialized H-2 Visa. Some might even be able to help you get a visa sponsorship.
- Try looking for a Summer Work Travel program. Many of them can provide you with a sponsorship for a J-1 Exchange visa, allowing you into the country for up to a year.
- If you’re already in the USA on a student visa, you can inquire with your university’s careers office for on-campus work, or to look for jobs in your local area which might be willing to provide you with a visa sponsorship.
What it’s Like to Work in the USA
If you’ve made it this far, you may be wondering if it’s worth going through all of the trouble to work in the USA. An immigrant talented enough to make it through the US immigration system can likely get into almost any other country they please. Is working in the US worth it?
Honestly, the answer is largely based on who you are and where you are. The United States is a massive country, and the differences between, say, California and Mississippi can be huge. There are parts of the country with serious issues with crime and discrimination. Cost of living can also be an issue, especially in cities with a big tech sector, so be sure to research the cities you might like to live in.
If you plan your journey, it’s most likely you will live a safe, happy, and rewarding life in the US. If you have a developed enough skill set to get into the country, you can most likely land a very rewarding position in a 1st or 2nd tier American city without much trouble. You can make a lot of money, work in a top tier office with every amenity you can imagine, live in an amazing home, and drive the car of your dreams everyday. You will want for nothing. So, what do you have to do to earn that?
Well, Americans work hard, sometimes with very long hours. Their jobs also typically provide fewer vacation days than nations at an equivalent level of development, according to a study from the Center for Economic and Policy Research. They may not have the same ideas of work-life balance to which you’re accustomed. On top of that, American companies typically have a traditional social hierarchy built on respect and deference to authority.
How do you avoid those pitfalls? Well, again, if you’re talented enough to secure a visa, then you can bargain for better conditions, hours, and vacation days. You might even come to enjoy the American corporate hierarchy, as the boss.
If you’ve weighed the pros and cons and decided that a life in the USA is what you want, then make sure to use this guide to the absolute fullest. Find the best visa for your life and skill set, make use of the many potential job opportunities available for foreigners, hone your targeting skills, get a great cover letter from GetCoverLetter, and wow interviewers with your English. Soon, you might be looking out over a cityscape from your 20th-story office window, enjoying the financial success that skilled work in the USA can provide.
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