Working in the United States (USA)
Building your career or working in the USA is still seen as a very big plus by many. This is because having work experience in the US might help boost your career. Another attribute to the US work lifestyle is all-day round-the-clock work hours. But that depends on your location.
Now, let’s take a look at some of the few things you need to know about US work-life, especially as an immigrant.
In the past four years, people had difficulties immigrating to the US with work visas due to Former President Donald Trump's immigration policies. The plan to revoke work permits for the partners of H1B visa holders (H4 EAD) caused serious issues because they were forced to consider the financial consequence if they were not allowed to work in the US.
However, based on the latest changes by the USCIS, visa applications can now easily be denied if the necessary information needed in the application is not complete. Though, these changes were set in place to reduce questionable and incomplete applications as claimed by USCIS. Still, there are some concerns that more applications might be denied without stating the proper reasons.
Meanwhile, the EB-5 Immigration investor program which grants green cards to individuals ready to invest up to $500,000 in setting up new US business has been extended till 7th December. Though, currently, many are pushing for it to be abolished due to possible fraud. Still, the investment has not changed.
There are lots of categories of temporary visa/non-immigrant programs, including immigrants’ visas. Most of them have different requirements. And it’s very imperative to check your eligibility and the circumstances surrounding the visa before applying for any of them.
However, let’s take a brief look:
- H-1B remains the most common temporary visa program. This visa is for people who are specialized in a specific occupation.
- And then, there’s also the L Intracompany Transferee visa program, which gives you the privilege to work at a branch, affiliate, parent, or your current employer’s subsidiary as a manager or an executive officer.
- There’s also O visa, this program is for individuals with special achievements and rare abilities
Note that some of these selected temporary work visas need your employers to get or acquire certification labor or other proof from the Department of Labor before a petition is filed for the non-immigrant visa.
However, if you wish to move to the US permanently, you then require an immigrant visa. Under this, we have the Employment-based Green Card program which gives work immigrants the privilege to become permanent residents legally. And as well, be able to work. We have about five (5) different types of employment-based (EB) Green cards, let’s look at them briefly.
- EB-1: This employment-based Green Card is meant for multinational and international managers or individuals with exceptional experience in science, education, business, art, or sport.
- Eb-2: This is for specific professions like medicine, science and tech, teacher. People with master’s degrees and above
- EB-3: This accounts for some selected skilled workers with a minimum of 2 years of experience in the relevant field, a master’s degree, and Ph.D. holders who are not accounted for under the EB-2 visa program. And then, for some low-skilled workers interested in taking up permanent jobs in the US. The EB-3 visa has less stringent requirements but can take time like 6 to 9 years.
- EB-4: This is specifically for religious workers, US foreign service employees, and people who do not qualify for other visa programs
- EB-5: This is for qualified investors who can invest at least $500,000 or $1,000,000 for a US business that has a minimum of 10 employees
Variations in The US Working Conditions
As an expatriate, you should also understand that the working terms and condition available to you in your home country is quite different from what you’ll see in the US.
For instance, most workers in the UK and Europeans are entitled to break time for about 20 minutes uninterrupted, so far their work hours are more than six hours a day. They are also entitled to vacation and family leave. However, the opposite is the case in the United States. There are no rights to breaks. It’s even reported by Business Insider reports that only about 10 to 20% spend lunchtime away from their desks. Also, there’s no common or conventional time for coffee breaks in the US, unlike the popular British tea breaks.
During vacations, an average UK worker is reliable to a minimum of 28 days of paid annual vacation per year. Taking this time off in full is highly preferred by most UK workers. Whereas in the United States, things are a bit different. No statutory rights to break time and it’s also normal for most US workers to only use half of their 2 weeks’ vacation time.
Interestingly, UK businesses offer up to 37 weeks of parental leave for both parents to share. But in the US, family leaves are not compulsory. The record shows that only about 17% of the workforce have gone on family leave. However, there are possible rumors that the Family and Medical Insurance Leave Act (FAMILY Act) might change this. As there are considerations in place to provide up to 12 weeks of partial income in situations of serious health care conditions like pregnancy and childbirth recovery as a nursing mother.
Employment at Will in the United States entails that provided that the cause for your dismissal does not fall under discrimination legislation, the work contract can be terminated. This leaves a non-US worker at the risk of being exposed to deportation since their visa is tied to the job. But if you are quite productive, your stay is guaranteed.
Getting A Job in the US
Getting a job in the US is not supposed to be that hard if you have the right information. There are some recognized job hunting platforms like Craigslist, CareerBuilder, and Monster, including LinkedIn and the rest. Assuming you are outside of the US, when you apply for a job, you still need to check if your employer is ready to assist you in obtaining a work visa. Although, in a situation where your skills are in high demand, there are high chances that you’ll easily get a job that will allow you to move to America. Another great approach is to join a multinational company that will allow you to be transferred internationally.
When you scout a great opportunity, you will need to revamp your resume and cover letter to suit the position and the company in question. Also, note that the US resume format is quite different from the normal CV used in other European countries or the UK. A Curriculum Vitae (CV) contains your entire career in chronological order whereas a resume is just a summary of your skills and experience in just one or two pages. It’s okay to use the standard cover letter format but your resume should be tailored towards the specific job position you are applying for. A typical resume should always include your name and your contact details (not personal details like age, gender, marital status, home country, etc.)
After application, be ready for a job interview. Most international job interviews are done on skype or via telephone. Physical interviews are done when you make the shortlist. This is why it’s very essential to make a big first impression on the first contact. You can also do research beforehand to understand the company’s objectives and values. Also be sure that you fully understand the job description, relevant experience, and how to sell yourself.