It’s not easy for people in foreign countries to find work and live in another country. Most nations have work visa requirements. The United States represents a country of economic prosperity for many, but the process of getting a visa to work in the United States is a long and complicated one. To start with, someone who wants to work in the United States must find a company willing to sponsor them.
This article delves into visa sponsorship and explains what visa sponsorship is, why and how companies issue visas, how a worker can get visa sponsorship, and how long visa sponsorship lasts for the different types of visas issued.
Let’s say I’m a UK national, and I apply for a full-time job in the United States. If I get the job, fantastic, but I still can’t go to the United States and work because I am not a legal resident or a U.S. citizen. Because of that, I need a visa to work in the United States. A visa is a government-issued document that the hiring company has to apply for. It is an official stamp in your passport authorizing you to travel, work, or study in a country for a specified length of time.
All countries, including the United States, require a work permit visa for foreign workers, and few employers will not hire you without one.
An employer of a foreign national must guarantee to the U.S. government’s visa department that the person will, in effect, be a legal working resident. This is visa sponsorship. The company agrees to sponsor the person, which requires submitting the necessary documents to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
There are a number of steps to visa sponsorship. The company must first submit a job posting to the Department of Labor. If no suitable candidates are found, the company can then go ahead and hire an international worker. The point is that the company must justify hiring an international worker by proving that there is no U.S. national who is equipped to do the job.
There are two main types of visas: non-immigrant visas (that do not provide a direct path to permanent residency) and immigrant visas (that do offer a path to permanent residency).
Some work visas are temporary depending on the job type. These are called non-immigrant visas, and visa holders cannot use them to ultimately become U.S. citizens or obtain a Green Card (U.S. residency). Visaguide.world lists the following non-immigrant visas:
L1 visas – Intercompany transfers going to the United States due to specialized knowledge or to take on managerial or executive positions
For immigrant visas or Green Cards, employment sponsorship is required. Visaguide.world lists the following immigrant visas.
EB-1 Visa – Outstanding professors, researchers, people with extraordinary abilities in arts, science, business, athletics, or education. Also executive managers who have worked at a foreign branch of a U.S company for the past three years.
EB-2 Visa – Professionals with advanced degrees and people with extraordinary abilities in arts, sciences, or business.
EB-3 Visa – Skilled workers with more than two years of experience and professionals with higher education degrees. Also, unskilled workers with less than two years of experience (EW-3 Visa).
EB-4 Visa – Various religious, government, or international organizations workers.
Some of these visas, such as the EB-1 visa, permit self-petitioning. Someone with extraordinary abilities can opt to sponsor themselves by submitting all the documents and fees themselves. An EB-5 is an example of a visa that requires self-petitioning.
With visa sponsorship, you can live in the United States and become a legal permanent resident. You can enroll in school, buy property, and apply for a driver’s license.
Getting a sponsorship letter is a long and complex process, and most companies hire a lawyer to prepare and submit the paperwork. Here are the documents that must be submitted to the USCIS by the recruiter.
The offer letter, job description, and contract from the U.S. employer to the employee.
Labor certification must be submitted to the U.S. Department of Labor stating that the company could not find a suitable candidate in the United States.
Once the labor condition application is certified, the employer submits a petition to the USCIS with all the supporting documents including the visa applicant’s qualifications. The employer submits Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker, for non-immigrant employment visa sponsorships, and Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker, for immigrant visas, If they are approved, the employee can begin their US visa application process in their home country with the local U.S. Embassy. In terms of cost, visa sponsorship typically costs approximately $4,000 per employee.
Different visa types have varying longevity. An immigrant visa effectively gives the holder Green Card status, or U.S. residency for 10 years with unlimited extension. After five years, the holder can apply for permanent citizenship.
Non-immigrant visas can be valid for one year or up to three years, depending on the visa. As the expiration date nears, the sponsor can apply for an extension to the USCIS.
If you are lucky enough to receive work authorization with a company overseas, the visa application process can be long but doable with the help of an immigration attorney. Once your visa sponsor has secured your visa, you will then be required to visit the country's consulate in your home country, which may interview you before issuing your visa as a stamp in your passport.
Congratulations and boy voyage!