Important notice before reading this post. Nothing in this article is intended to be legal advice, and all information is for educational purposes only.
As a foreigner, you’ll need a U.S. work visa to live and work in the USA. Here is a step-by-step guide to getting your job and work visa in the USA.
How to get a work visa
To get a U.S. work visa, you’ll need to find a job at a US-based company willing to sponsor you for a work visa. Except if you fall into those exceptions:
- you are an American citizen;
- you hold a green card;
- you hold an EAD (Employment Authorization Document);
- you won the EDV Green Card lottery and will get the green card;
- one of your parent(s), spouse, child(s), or sibling(s)) is an American citizen or green card holder and is willing to sponsor you;
- your spouse got a non-immigrant visa such as H1B, E1, E2, J1, L1, or A2, and on the one, you can be added as a dependent and ask for work authorization then;
- you are a journalist, or you work for an independent production company and are sent to the U.S.A. by your current company;
- you are employed by a company at a management or expertise level and are sent to the U.S.A. by your current company;
- you have an extraordinary ability in the arts or athletics and want to work as an independent contractor;
- you have an extraordinary achievement in the motion picture or television industry and want to work as an independent contractor;
- you create your own company;
- you invest $800k+ in a business that will benefit the U.S. economy and create jobs.
If you fall into one of the four first exceptions above, you do not need any visa sponsorship. And our career advice below does not apply to you. We recommend you use general job boards such as Indeed, ZipRecruiter, or LinkedIn and their career advice section for finding your job.
If you fall into one of the other exceptions above: you might be able to get a work visa or work authorization without needing any visa sponsorship from a U.S.-based employer. In that case, we recommend you contact a lawyer in immigration law who will be able to help you with that.
If you do not fall into one of those exceptions above, you may need a visa sponsorship from a U.S.-based employer. And our career guide below can definitely help you!
Why it is so difficult to get a visa sponsorship
Here lies the big catch-22 for international professionals; your future U.S.-based employer is the one that has to sponsor you for a work visa. And here comes the issue.
Most common difficulties
Have you heard this from U.S. employers yet?
Come back to us when you have a work authorization.
We do not offer visa sponsorship.
Or have you simply been unable to connect with employers and get a reply from them?
This last situation is a little bit more challenging, as you actually have no idea where the issue comes from:
- is it because you need visa sponsorship?
- Or because of a lack of experience?
- Or because of your resume or cover letter?
It can be all of them!!
Here is why
Did you know?
Only 10% of U.S. entities offer visa sponsorship, and not in all departments and job categories.
Did you know?
75% of candidates’ applications are filtered out by the ATS (Applicant Tracking System) and are never seen by a person.
90% of sponsor entities in the USA use an ATS (Applicant Tracking System).
for visa sponsorship
seen by a person
use an ATS
The biggest mistake you can make is to apply for all job openings you see, and everywhere. Because 25% of 10% is not much, you should definitely find the perfect opportunity before applying. You may now wonder how and where to find the perfect opportunities. Luckily, we give you amazing solutions in this article that will save you tons of time in your job search. So you can focus on building your application for the perfect opportunities that pop up.
Now that you know the why let’s dive into the steps you need to follow to succeed in getting a job in the USA that will deliver you a work visa.
Steps to get a job and a work visa for the USA
As your future U.S.-based employer is the one that has to sponsor you for a work visa, the first step is to find your sponsor employer. It can be through a listed open job, or by using three (3) other strategies we will discuss in this article. Let’s start with the open jobs at sponsor companies.
Where to find open jobs open for visa sponsorship
As per the figures above, we recommend you focus on the job openings at companies that are open for visa sponsorship in your field (the 10% companies). This will definitely prevent you to hear “Come back to us when you have a work authorization” or “We do not offer visa sponsorship”.
The “Do It Yourself” Way
To find those jobs, you need to:
- find the companies that are open for visa sponsorship for people like you
- find the job openings at those companies that perfectly match your profile (education, certificate, experience, skills, achievements).
You can find all petitions filed each year in open data on the U.S. Department of Labor website. You will need to merge the petitions per company. Then, you’ll need to filter on companies that hired and sponsored people like you every year in the last three years by taking into account the visa denial rate, the willful violator flag, and the type of visa they sponsored (H-1B Transfer, H-1B1, E-3 or H-1B New).
Then, for each of those companies, search if they have current job openings that fit your profile (education, certificate, experience, skills, achievements), and that do not state “we do not offer sponsorship”.
The Quick & Efficient Way
We have done this work for you already. All of our job openings are at companies that are currently open for visa sponsorship for the concerned open job. The type of visa they sponsored, the willful violator flag, and the visa denial rate are taken into account. We even have more accurate data as some of the sponsor employers post directly their jobs on our website. See our visa jobs!
This will save tons of time and effort. You can see in one blink if there are visa jobs for you.
If you do not find any jobs, make sure we calculate all your eligible visas by fully completing your profile.
How my project is feasible & what strategy should I use
Now that you have a better idea of where to find the visa job openings, the question is: do I have any chance?
To answer this question, you must ask yourself:
- Can I practice my profession or the profession I want in the USA? – What position(s) should I target?
- Is there any visa and job (I qualify for) suitable to my expectations? – What are the terms and conditions of the job and visa related to (I qualify for)?
Let’s dive into this and answer all those questions!
- Translate into English, your current job title or the job title you want.
- Search on USponsorMe and see what jobs you have in return.
- Read the job description and make sure the position is the right fit for you.
- See what you should verify below.
Want To Know What Job Title(s) You Should Target?
If you are flexible or if you are open to any jobs, don’t think you can fill all jobs you see on USponsorMe. Let us help you find out what position(s) you can pretend by telling us more about yourself. It will automatically and instantly calculate the visa(s) you qualify for and for what position(s) / job fields. Once it’s done, I recommend you go through what you should verify below.
No Job Found?
If there is no job, try with other job title keywords, and your skills keywords.
If you still do not see any jobs, you might fall into one of those possibilities below. Your current occupation or the one you want might:
- not exist in the USA.
How to know: if you do not find any jobs on USponsorMe and on indeed.com, it means the position does not exist, unfortunately.
Example: the “notaire” profession in France does not exist in the USA. However, the French “notaire” responsibilities are split into several occupations in the USA such as Title Insurance Agent, Escrow Officer at a title company, or Estate Attorney.
Solutions: you will need to find out how your job duties, tasks, and responsibilities are handled in the USA, and define the closest position(s) that allow(s) you to transfer your skills.
- not open for visa sponsorship.
How to know: if you do not find any jobs on USponsorMe but you find some on indeed.com, it means foreign nationals are not needed for this position, and visa sponsorship is unfortunately not an option.
Example: you are a political writer in France, and even if this job exists in the USA, you cannot be a political writer in the USA if you are not fluent in American English and if you have no knowledge of U.S. politics.
Solutions: you will need to find out what is the closest position(s) open for visa sponsorship that matches the best your skills, job duties, tasks, and responsibilities.
If you still do not find any, your last option would be to search for jobs that do not ask for any experience, skills, or education on USponsorMe.
What you should verify
You should verify if your current occupation or the one you want:
- require equivalence, a certificate, license, or diploma in the USA in order for you to practice.
How to know: here is a list of concerned occupations (list non-exhaustive): Lawyer, Attorney, Pharmacist, Nurse, Registered Nurse, Physical Therapist, Real Estate Agent, Physician, Medical Technologist, Occupational Therapist, Pathologist, Chiropractor, Dentist, Optometrist, Podiatrist, Veterinarian, Surgeon, All other medical occupations.
Solutions: you must pass all the required exams as a student (under an F1 or M1 visa) or through a work practice/internship trainee program (under a J1 visa) or whatever other eligible visa you can get. Or you can define the closest position(s) that allow(s) you to transfer your skills and does not require any diploma, license, certificate, or equivalence. If you still do not find any, your last option would be to search for jobs that do not ask for any experience, skills, or education on USponsorMe.
- match your profile.
How to know: if you see a red word displayed on the job on USponsorMe, it means it’s a skill required by the employer that is missing in your USponsorMe resume. If you do have this skill, add it to your USponsorMe resume! If you do not, it means your profile does not match the job.
Example: you are a cook in India and know how to cook Indian food, you find a cook job on USponsorMe, but this job requires you to speak French and to know the European method of cooking. It means this job does not match your profile, unfortunately.
Solutions: simply target positions with your skills, and exclude positions with skills you do not have by using the advanced filters on USponsorMe. In our example above, you must filter out jobs on two mandatory skills: “French” and “European” that allow(s) you to filter out all jobs that require skills you do not have. Or you must filter jobs on the mandatory skill: “Indian” which allows you to filter all jobs that require skills you have. If you do not find jobs anymore, your last option would be to search for jobs that do not ask for any experience, skills, or education on USponsorMe.
Recommendations: In addition to the hard skills matching (languages, technical skills, methods, etc.), we recommend you narrow your search as much as you can on your experience level and industry if applicable. If you do not have any experience or a few, you should filter on “entry-level” to only get positions that do not require you to have experience. On the other end, if you do have significant experience, you should filter on ‘senior level”, because a company that does not want a senior won’t consider your application as they expect you to ask for more than their budget. If your profile is oriented to a specific industry, you should filter on this industry. On the contrary, if your profile can match multiple industries except for specific ones, you should filter out those. You have all those advanced filters you can use on USponsorMe to allow you to be very precise on the job matching.
- combine with a visa you do qualify.
How to know: on each job on USponsorMe, you see the visa you will get sponsored for this job if you are hired. If you do not know the visa and the job for the ones you qualify for, tell us more about yourself. It will automatically and instantly calculate those. And it will also display this information on the job.
Example: you see a software engineer job combined with the H-1B visa. However, you do not qualify for the H-1B as you do not have a bachelor’s degree or significant experience in software development. It means you unfortunately do not qualify for this job.
Solutions: simply filter on the visa you qualify for and search for jobs in the job field you qualify for by using the filters on USponsorMe. If you do not find jobs anymore, your last option would be to search for jobs that do not ask for any experience, skills, or education on USponsorMe.
- fit your expectations.
How to know: Here is the list of your preferences: desired duration in the USA, desired start/departure date, desired salary, if your spouse needs work authorization, desired location, desired company size, desired job type (contract, full-time, part-time, internship/traineeship), your maximum budget. Some preferences may be deal-breakers for you; those are your expectations. On each job, you see that information.
Example: you plan to move to the United States with your family (spouse and children), so you’ll need to have a decent salary in order to cover the expenses of your 3 bedrooms, the school’s tuition for your children, and the food you will put on the table for all of you. A job in Chicago, IL caught your interest. You calculate a 6k monthly minimum cash compensation salary for this location. However, the job offers a salary below the minimum cash compensation wage you can accept. It means the job does not fit your expectations, unfortunately.
Solutions: simply filter out all jobs that do not fit your expectations.
Please note that you might go back and forth through those three possibilities till you find a suitable position for you. E.g., if you are a “notaire”, and you find out you can be an Estate Attorney in the USA. But to become an Estate Attorney, you must pass a license in the USA, and you do not want to. You find out you can be a Legal Assistant of the Estate Attorney without needing any license, etc.
Once you have found ideal jobs by adjusting your filters on USponsorMe, it means you have your chance! I would recommend you save your search and set up your job alert to get notified when we have new jobs for you. You can also save jobs you select to easily find them when you come back. Those will appear in your tab “My Jobs”.
We know that position targeting can be challenging depending on your area of expertise. If you struggle doing it by following our instructions below, we offer to do it for you: order an Eligibility Check Verification. In addition, we will set up your job alert so you’ll get notified of ideal jobs that pass all the criteria defined above!
Strategy for a permanent immigration
If you plan to move to the United States permanently, you may be tempted to filter on jobs that offer EB or H-1B visas (that leads to a Green Card, the permanent residency). The thing is; you might not have any jobs combined with those visas, and here is why:
If you have a budget of 40k+ to pay for the visa fees, it might work for an EB visa (you see jobs). If you are in a specialty occupation and your industry is experiencing a labor shortage, it may work for an H1B visa (you see jobs). Otherwise, this is extremely rare that employers sponsor the EB or the H-1B (for non-cap-exempt companies) to someone who never worked for them (especially if you are not a U.S. master’s graduate or Chilean / Singaporean with an H-1B, or have to go through the PERM process with the EB)! The only reason this happens (you see jobs) is because you are a “Painite” (extremely rare gemstone) in your job field.
But, you should know that you can accumulate multiple visas. And to do that, you’ll need to be extra careful because in some conditions with some visas, you can not switch to some other visas without a strong waiver request and so on. Again, the types of positions you qualify for are related to the visa you qualify for. You will definitely need to draft a career plan. We offer a 1/2-hour career planning coaching with the Eligibility Check Verification you can order it here.
Now that you have set up your job alert with your desired job(s), the next step is to craft a strong resume and cover letter.
American ATS-friendly resume and cover letter
90% of sponsor companies use an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) which is software that filters the resume and only shows the recruiters, the ones that better match the job. And 75% of candidates’ applications are filtered out by the ATS (Applicant Tracking System) and are never seen by a recruiter.
Every year, more than 100 million people are looking for a job in the USA. 20% of jobs are posted online, and 75% of candidates apply online. For each job ad, the company receives an average of 250 applications. That’s why the ATS (Applicant Tracking System) exists, to help treat all those applications and filter out the irrelevant ones, the candidates who do not qualify.
You should have a resume that will allow you to:
- appear in the top 10 candidates
- land interviews
For that, your resume should meet the American standard, be ATS-friendly on the form, and in the content, and be result-oriented written. Your USponsorMe resume meets the American standard, is ATS-friendly on the form, and is formatted following your experience level and industry. You can download it anytime from here. By crafting your USponsorMe resume, you can also use our 400+ pre-written phrases that are all result-oriented samples that look professional.
For your resume to be ATS-friendly in content, you should make sure it meets all the requirements of your desired job(s). We also call this “keywords-optimized”. On each USponsorMe job, if you see your skills in red. It means your USponsorMe resume is not ATS-friendly in the content for the concerned job. Add those missing skills to your USponsorMe resume, and it will fully be ATS-friendly! To make sure your resume is good to go, return to your saved search and see. none of your skills should appear in red.
To make sure your American resume is good to go, we also offer a manual resume review service included in all USponsorMe+ plans.
Your Cover Letter
Your cover letter should connect the dots between your resume and the job. It’s a great way to:
- express your interest in the company,
- explain what you are looking for and how you can help them,
- and your interest to learn the required skills that are missing in your resume (the ones in red).
We offer a cover letter e-course and cover letter examples adapted to the U.S. market in all USponsorMe+ plans.
Note that you will need to have a LinkedIn profile that aligns with your resume and cover letter. You just need to copy and paste your resume content to your LinkedIn profile and write your bio/summary with your interest in terms of company, industry, job duties, and skills you want to learn (from your cover letter).
Also, make sure nothing wrong appears on Google search when you type your full name. On the contrary, if you have relevant work achievements that appear on Google Search, that is awesome!
Now that you have set up your job alert with your desired job(s), and have your resume, cover letter, and beyond ready, the next step is to apply and follow up.
Apply for jobs & follow up with recruiters
This is true that you must adjust your resume and cover letter for each job you apply to. However, this should not take more than 5 minutes.
For that, I would recommend you have one resume with everything on it (even if it’s more than the number of pages recommended), and one cover letter that expresses your interest in the industries and types of companies you are interested in, and the skills you want to learn. Then, for each job you want to apply for, you just need to:
- remove the parts on your resume and cover letter that are not relevant to the job till you get back to the number of pages recommended,
- and update your resume title with the job title, that’s all!
You are now ready to apply, let’s do it!
After you apply for a job, we strongly recommend you follow up with the recruiter by email:
- 3 days after,
- and again 7 days after your first follow-up email.
For that, on each job you applied for here, you’ll see a button “Message Recruiters”. Click it, and you will get the recruiter’s contact info such as full name, title, LinkedIn profile, and email. Send him/her your follow-up email! We provide follow-up email templates in all USponsorMe+ plan.
The 3 other job search strategies you should use
In addition to job application, here are three other job search strategies you can use:
- Be visible to sponsor employers – you polish your USponsorMe profile in order to be visible to sponsor employers
- Spontaneous Application – you send your application to recruiters at sponsor companies with no current open jobs
- Through Your Network – you ask your network for introductions / you are recommended by someone you know
By being on LinkedIn, you won’t be visible to U.S. employers who search for people like you on LinkedIn (by typing skills, job title, etc.) if you do not live in the USA, because your target location on LinkedIn is not a location in the U.S.A. The only way a recruiter can find your profile on LinkedIn is by typing your name. And this will be following an application or an introduction from your network.
Now, for you to be visible by U.S. sponsor employers who search for people like you (by typing skills, job title, etc.), it’s not on LinkedIn, but on a specific website where they can find international candidates open for a U.S. opportunity and ready to be relocated in the U.S.A. This specific website is called USponsorMe.
Our candidates’ database is searchable. As you do to find jobs, we do the same to find your profile on the other side. It means that with your USponsorMe resume, you also have the benefits to be visible to our sponsor-hiring employers that are searching for international candidates.
As your LinkedIn, make sure your USponsorMe resume is fully completed here and contains all your skills, experience, education, and achievements for the position you target. Our system will tell you if your USponsorMe needs improvements, and what improvements it needs.
Keep in mind that 80% of open jobs in the USA are never posted on job boards. Along with applying to open jobs, I recommend that you send spontaneous applications to companies that use to hire and sponsor people like you every year. The advantage is that you have no direct competitors at all!
Here is how to do it:
- Search for companies that use to hire and sponsor people like you every year for the visa you qualify for.
- For each company, search for internal contacts: HR / Talent Acquisition Specialist / Recruiter OR your decision maker.
- Send an email to those with your cover letter in the body of your email, and your resume attached to your email.
- Follow up at least 2 times with your contact.
Through Your Network
I will go over the importance of networking in the US and how to take advantage of your own network.
Even if you think you don’t have any network in the USA currently, please read the post on how to use your network. It happens a lot with my clients when I say “network.” Each time, all of them tell me they don’t have one in the USA. Each time we go through the exercise some of them get great opportunities with this strategy. Let’s give it a try before jumping to a conclusion!
Networking starts with a mindset and an intention to discover, explore, and be open to what you may encounter. It’s about helping others and helping yourself. Furthermore, it’s not about trying to reach as many strangers as possible, even if they are in your contacts. This is almost as ineffective as applying directly to a job posting that doesn’t fit you. Networking is about meeting people you do know who can both vouch for your past performance and will recommend you to others. So, it’s not only about the people who know you personally; it’s also about the people you know who can refer you to what matters. They might even be able to help you secure an interview for an open job in the USA for foreigners.
Without a doubt, one of the most effective, and underutilized, methods of obtaining employment is personal networking. The network is a critical factor, especially in American culture.
When you find a job you want to apply for, or a sponsor company you want to send your unsolicited application to, I would recommend you check first:
- if you have a direct or second-degree HR, DM, or LH contact at this company. And if yes, contact the person (if direct contact) or ask for an introduction (if second contact).
- if a decision maker (DM) in your field at this company went to the same school or worked at the same company/location/Department/Project as you. It’s even better if this person has a second-level connection with you. And if yes, contact the person (if direct contact) or ask for an introduction (if second contact).
To accelerate your network building, a good way is to physically meet people at meetups, events, conferences, fairs, etc. Again you’ll need to target the right events, as you target your job or company. The best would be an event about your industry/vertical for international people or people from your country/culture/language.
Your goal is to know the biggest challenges of the company in your field, and by demonstrating that you can help, you’ll be introduced to HR for going further in the recruitment process.
Check out the following helpful resources:
List of the Top French Companies in the USA that Hire and Sponsor for Visa
Use Your Network (part 1): One of the 4 strategies to find a job
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