With the H-1B lottery looming, how should we approach overseas hiring? – TechCrunch

Here’s another edition of “Dear Sophie,” the advice column that answers immigration-related questions about working for tech companies.

“Your questions are vital to spreading the knowledge that will allow people around the world to rise above borders and realize their dreams,” says Sophie Alcorn, a Silicon Valley immigration attorney. “Whether you work in people operations, are a founder, or are looking for a job in Silicon Valley, I’d like to answer your questions in my next column.”

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Dear Sophie,

We are a very early stage startup company that – like many others – is very challenging when it comes to hiring talent. We have not posted job opportunities internationally, but we have received some applications from international talent.

This is all new to us. What is your advice for hiring internationally? I also know that the H-1B Lottery is fast approaching.

Can you explain more about this process?

– Keen to start up at an early stage

Dear Pleasant,

Yes, the H-1B Lottery is fast approaching! The registration period for H-1B candidates begins in March; There are some steps companies need to take before that, if you haven’t previously participated in the H-1B lottery process. First, be sure to set up an account with US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), which conducts the lottery. Given this timeline, your company should determine as soon as possible whether the positions it is looking to fill and the potential international talent it is looking to hire will be eligible for an H-1B specialty work visa.

Check out my column at TechCrunch+ last week for more details on the sweepstakes process. To bypass the H-1B lottery—or if no candidate is selected in the lottery—your company could consider getting an H-1B exempt from the maximum candidate limit. Transferring an individual’s H-1B to a startup is also an option. To learn more about this process, take a look at this Dear Sophie column.

A futuristic lens on international appointments

I recently had a great conversation with Jamais Cascio, a Futurist and Distinguished Fellow at the Institute for the Future in Palo Alto. Cascio has some great ideas related to your question.

The population in the United States is getting older and the birth rate is declining; As such, we will increasingly need to look to immigration to keep our economy going. Cascio discusses three mindsets for dealing with drastic changes in this chaotic world to stay strong as a company and thrive in the future. This advice is very applicable to companies like yours when you are setting out to try to recruit from abroad.

The three mindsets that Cashio said will benefit businesses are:

  • Flexibility: The ability to withstand the shock of the system without breaking. For example, he said, companies with just-in-time models are very fragile and prone to collapse compared to those that have a slack period built into their system. Building in a downturn often requires additional resources, reducing efficiency and profit, but offers built-in resilience.
  • Improvisation: Stay creative and smart and be ready to embrace change.
  • Empathy: Perhaps the most critical of the three, this involves recognizing the humanity in others and what we do is important to others now and in the future. (I loved hearing that the heart’s role will be, and will continue to be, critical to business success!)

Adopting these mindsets while developing an immigration strategy that provides stability for international talent will be key to attracting and retaining talent and creating a company culture that fosters innovation and resilience. Listen to my podcast, “Tips for Businesses to Support Honorable Humans,” as I discuss this in more detail.

Image credits: Joanna Boniak / Sophie Alcorn (Opens in a new window)

Specific visas for consideration

Before delving into the details of visa, please be aware that I recommend you consult an experienced immigration attorney, who can assist you in developing an immigration strategy for prospective international appointments, as well as provide guidance on visas that would be appropriate given available and future employment opportunities. candidate. Take a look at my previous Dear Sophie column in which I provide an overview of immigration matters you should focus on if your startup doesn’t have someone to handle HR.

O-1A visa

If prospective employees can’t get through the H-1B lottery process I mentioned above, or you need to get them here more quickly than in October and can’t risk not being selected for this year’s H-1B lottery, a great option is the O-1A Capabilities visa the exceptional. More and more startup clients are choosing to follow them for key CEOs and individual shareholders with specialized expertise. While the qualification bar for O-1A is much higher than for H-1B, the process for obtaining O-1A is much faster. And O-1A doesn’t have an annual cap or lottery process to contend with.

Talent visas from certain countries

There are specific visas for talents from Australia, Canada, Chile, Mexico and Singapore.

If the job candidate is an Australian citizen, the E-3 visa will allow that individual to work in the United States in a specialized profession, just like the H-1B. E-3 visas also require the sponsoring employer to file a work status application with the U.S. Department of Labor, as required with H-1B petitions. A maximum of 10,500 E-3 visas are available each year.

Is the candidate for the job a Chilean or Singaporean citizen? If so, the candidate may qualify for an H-1B1 specialty work visa, which is the H-1B visa intended for Chilean and Singaporean nationals. Thanks to special treaties the United States has with these two countries, professionals may qualify for H-1B1 visas on a fast-track basis. Each year, 1,400 H-1B1 visas are reserved for Chileans and 5,400 for Singaporeans – these are rarely completely exhausted.

Professionals from Canada and Mexico can come to the United States to work under the TN visa, which is born from the Canada-Mexico trade treaties and U.S. TN visas are limited to occupations listed in treaty agreements, but most of these jobs overlap with the H-1B specialty occupations.

Some good news: Until the end of 2022, consular officials can now waive the interview requirement for certain individuals seeking certain (temporary) nonimmigrant visas, including H-1Bs and O-1s. Individuals applying for a visa in their country or nationality of residence may have the interview waived if any of the following are presented:

  • Any type of visa has previously been issued.
  • A visa is never refused unless it is overridden or waived.
  • No disqualification.
  • Nationals or nationals of the country participating in the Visa Waiver Program.

Wish you all the best and success!


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The information contained in “Dear Sophie” is general information and is not legal advice. For more information about Dear Sophie’s limitations, please see our full disclaimer. You can contact Sophie directly at Alcorn Immigration Law.

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