Jobs that get you US visas (NEWS.COM.AU)


By Tara Weiss

WHAT is the easiest way to legally enter the US? Love. Fall in love with an American citizen, get married and you’re in. Unfortunately, not everyone can rely on romance. Only select few like Australians can breeze into the country.

Most people have to work their way into the US. But to do that, you need to find a job, a company willing to sponsor you and then apply for one of the country’s precious H1B visas.

With up to 100,000 applications filed each year (that’s where the US Government cuts it off), getting one of the 65,000 H1Bs given out annually is a bit like winning the lottery.

The same is true for other highly coveted visas like the L1 work visa, which enable multinational firms to transfer employees and executives to the US. For would-be immigrants, such visas can often lead to the ultimate golden ticket: a US green card, 140,000 of which are available each year.

 Clearly, there just aren’t enough visas or green cards to go around. “Those caps are both backed up,” says Crystal Williams, deputy director for programs at the American Immigration Lawyers Association. That means it can take years to legally enter the US workforce.

That is unless you happen to be a university professor, nurse, physical therapist or work in any one of several professions that are in such great demand you’re practically guaranteed a US visa. It also helps if your home nation has signed a free trade agreement with the US.

“(But) need is the very first step,” says Chris Bentley, a spokesperson with US Citizenship and Immigration Services.

“We’re looking for people that have some type of skill and whose job is in demand here in the US.”
In the late 1990s, software engineers and other IT specialists were in demand. Now, immigration lawyers say, they’re a dime a dozen and aren’t usually successful getting into the country.

Topping America’s most wanted list these days: academics. Bentley says that someone petitioning to teach Medieval History is more likely to get approved than an accountant because the professor position is specialised and more difficult to fill.

“With other professions, employers have to test the labour market to see if someone else is qualified and willing to do the job that’s offered,” says Elizabeth Kirberger an immigration attorney who practices in New York.

“With a college professor, the standard is different. Employers get to pick the most highly qualified, but there’s no particular standard for that. You flesh out (the argument for that) in the application.” That’s because there aren’t enough American professors to fill the available jobs.

The same goes for nurses and physical therapists. According to The American Hospital Association, the country will need 2.8 million nurses by 2020, but only 2 million will be available.

Still, foreign nurses should be mindful of a few caveats. According to Greg Siskind , founding partner of the immigration law firm Siskind Susser, nurses aren’t eligible for temporary work visas. They can only enter the country as green card applicants; a process that can take two years. While that may sound like an eternity, foreign nurses have a relatively easy time finding hospitals and companies willing to sponsor them.

“As an employer, hiring two years ahead of time is not ideal. But because of the shortage, employers are willing to do it,” says Mr Siskind.

You’re also in luck if you’re especially talented in the arts or in sports. Artists and athletes can get in with virtually no hold-up. But you can’t just brag your way into the US.

But remember, immigration is ultimately a numbers game. The limited number of H1Bs and green cards available each year is first divvied up into categories and further divided among certain nationalities. Immigration officials can reconfigure the numbers based on need and demand. For instance, the quota for nurses from India may get maxed out before the quota set for Scandinavian nurses.

Aside from professions, some nationalities have a breeze coming into this country.

“If you’re Australian you’re sitting pretty,” says Mr Siskind. “They can bypass the whole H1B process.”

Last year, Congress created a new visa class: the E-3, which is solely for Australian workers. That means there are up to 10,000 slots for our friends down under – that’s separate from the 65,000 cap. There’s also an exemption for workers from Singapore and Chile because of the free trade agreements with those countries.

While the demand will continue to exceed the supply of US visas and green cards, achieving the “American Dream” is still possible. But working toward that goal is a lot easier when you know which jobs can get you in the country to begin with.

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