How to relocate to the USA? How can I find a job in the USA? How can I get an employer to sponsor my move? What skills do I need to move to the USA?
As we documented our journey on how to relocate to the USA, these were the most commonly asked questions. Through our youtube channel we realised just how many people are looking for ways to relocate to the USA.
Is it easy? No, but it is definitely possible! You just need to figure out a plan depending on your circumstances.
This post will concentrate on some of the basics to understand, if you are considering relocating to the USA.
Before we get into it, we are not immigration experts. For advice based on your exact situation we would always recommend you consult an immigration lawyer.
First things first, you cannot just move to the USA you need a visa that allows you entry. Even for a holiday you need a tourist visa or an ESTA if your country is part of the ESTA waiver program.
Next, it is important to know that there are 2 main categories of Visa; Non-Immigrant and Immigrant.
- Non Immigrant = Temporary visa. Anything from tourism to temporary work (which can be up to a number of years).
- Immigrant = Permanent resident visas. This is where you hear about the highly prized green card. With immigrant visas, these are either family sponsored (relative or spouse), employment based, through the diversity lottery or for specialist work e.g work for US government.
Here are some examples of types of employment based visas that fit in to the above categories. We will not cover ALL as there are many.
Types of Non-Immigrant Work Visa’s:
Remember these are temporary so will have a cap on the number of years you can stay in the USA.
|L1||Intra-company Transferee||To work at a branch, parent, affiliate, or subsidiary of the current employer in a managerial or executive capacity (L1-A), or in a position requiring specialized knowledge (L1-B). Individual must have been employed by the same employer abroad continuously for 1 year within the three preceding years.|
|H1B||Person in Speciality Occupation||To work in a specialty occupation. Requires a higher education degree or its equivalent. Includes fashion models of distinguished merit and ability and government-to-government research and development, or co-production projects administered by the Department of Defense.|
|O||Individual with extraordinary ability or achievement||For persons with extraordinary ability or achievement in the sciences, arts, education, business, athletics, or extraordinary recognized achievements in the motion picture and television fields, demonstrated by sustained national or international acclaim, to work in their field of expertise. Includes persons providing essential services in support of the above individual|
Types of Immigrant Work Visa aka Green Card:
- EB-1 = Priority workers or those with extraordinary abilities
- EB-1A = Extraordinary Ability
- EB-1B = Professors and Researchers
- EB-1C = Executives or Managers
- EB-2 = Professionals with advanced degrees of exceptional abilities
- EB-3 = Skilled workers, professionals or other workers.
- EB-4 = Special Immigrant e.g religious workers, broadcasters, members of armed forces.
- EB-5 = Investors – must be able to invest $1.8M or $900000 in a high unemployment rural area.
When it comes to the employment-based immigrant visas they are divided into preference categories, from first (EB-1) to fifth (EB-5). The higher the preference the more favourable the green card is and more likely to be approved.
Visit the following website for a full list of all visa types under each category:
Remember each visa has its own requirements in terms of eligibility criteria and terms e.g education requirements, number of visa’s approved by the US government per year, length of stay (non- immigrant visa). The right visa for you will depend on your personal circumstance. If getting an employment-based visa, your employer is ultimately responsible for ensuring they get the correct visa for you. Also some visa’s do not allow spouses to work – so do check this!
Which visa do we have?
We were sponsored on an L1A visa to get to the USA. With the L1A, we can stay in the USA for up to a maximum of 7 years, assuming the extensions are approved. The initial visa approval is for 3 years. We will do a separate post on L1A visas, as there are things to consider when on this type of visa.
How do you get an employer to sponsor your visa?
We cannot tell you exactly how but here are some things to consider, to put you on the right path:
- You first need to be working for an international company with a presence in the US. International companies will want to pay to move their best employees to the USA (and other locations) if their skills are needed.
- There is also the possibility of working with a company that is wanting to expand to the USA too. I would say this is harder and less likely to predict over a company that already has a US base.
- This DOES NOT mean working in the apple store and expecting they will transfer you to the Apple store in New York.
- Network, network and network some more! Make good connections, be friendly, be helpful and assume there is opportunity with everyone you meet. As you never know when that seemingly pointless conversation with ol’Joe may benefit you further down the line.
- Show your value. Transferring an employee to the USA is not cheap for the company, so there has to be a reason why they want you over some one already living in the USA. Just being nice and a hard worker is not enough. What is your worth? What can you do to show and prove this?
- Look at the types of roles they are hiring for in the USA and contact the hiring manager. If you do not currently meet the requirements, find out what skills you need or how you can development to get a role in their team.
- Pick key leading industries to work in e.g MedTech, FinTech.
- Skills in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Medicine) are always much needed globally and in the USA.
- Whilst I say have skills in STEM, I am not saying this is the only way. I am true believer that you will excel in the things you truly enjoy, not the things you hate doing. So number one, always focus on a skill/vocation/role that you are passionate about.
The above covers employment based visa’s based on what we know so far. As mentioned, these are not the only ways to get to the USA. You can consider student visa’s if you are looking to study or even the diversity lottery if you are from a country that can apply.
Last note, if moving to the USA is something you truly want. It is definitely possible with some patience and planning. Good Luck!
Watch our Vlog for more information: How to relocate to the USA 2021