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The Nuances of Recruiting Non-Citizen U.S. Residents

Written by 
Santiago Neira
IT Technical Recruiter
The Nuances of Recruiting Non-Citizen U.S. Residents
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Recruiting programmers for the IT industry is one of the most challenging jobs. Even more so in the US, a country that leads the software services industry in the world, with a population of 329 million people, 15.5% of whom are immigrants.

You may wonder, how will this affect the recruiting team and the company? As a recruiter, your main goal is to find qualified candidates, not only from a technical perspective but also culturally, and with great soft skills. 

However, this is not all. You also have a limited budget to find these people. It is difficult to compete on the spot with the world's leading economy, where the market is hot because all qualified people are looking for high salary ranges. This is why you need to find some strategies that will help you succeed in your job, and grow your company.

Important Facts

A few important facts will make you understand why the IT industry is so hot these days:

First of all, it is important to know that the technology sector is the economic star of the US, leading the country's growth as well as its financial markets. This fact is changing people's lives, transforming business, finance, and the entire economy.

The fight for market share is even fiercer in many technology companies. Why is this so important? Because 90% of developers and people in the industry are trying to get a job in these companies. Working with them confers status. They are on the list of the best places to work, offering an unlimited range of benefits and high salaries that give them the ability to control the entire market.

Following the COVID crisis, Joe Biden's administration extended help to the unemployed. A certain percentage of those who were laid off have been receiving even more money than when they were employed. For the current government, this is a really important fact because if people are not desperate to look for a job, they will wait for a company that offers the opportunity that best covers their needs. This trend in the country is increasing. Companies do not have enough workers to meet their needs in the US.

Types of profiles in the IT industry

First of all, let's talk about the developers that hold U.S. Citizenship (USC). These are the professionals that all American companies prefer because they can speak English very clearly and are deeply connected to the culture. 

They know how the market works and always ask for high salary amounts. In fact, American developers are more expensive than immigrants because they know that it is easier to onboard them in any company since this will be a simple hiring process for us as recruiters. And the most important: they usually don't need a job.

Immigrants, on the other hand, are from India or Asia in general, even Africa. They come to the U.S. in search of a dream and intend to stay here forever. Because of their need to remain in the country, they need to be working all the time. If they are not USC or GC, they may be cheaper. However, 80% of them need sponsorship given by a company to work, which is why some of these people are very hard to onboard. 

How to onboard non-USC, living in the U.S., developers to your company 

For this process, you will need to check the pros and cons of hiring immigrants in the U.S. because it creates several doubts in many IT industry leaders. Onboarding people who need some kind of sponsorship can generate costs, misunderstandings, and fear of breaking some laws, resulting in something that is detrimental for the company.

Let's talk about a simple way to hire immigrants in our company. When I hired the first ones who started in this industry a couple of years ago, I asked myself: how could I bring people from my country--Colombia--and offer them work legally? One of the ways to stay and live in the U.S. is with a work visa. 

For this to happen, your company must show the government that you need the professionals, and it is something simple because, in the American technology industry, there is always a need for special people for projects with specific technologies that are not found in the country or whose cost is high. So if there is something scarce in the U.S., there will be no choice but to give them work permits. 

However, big companies do not want to do this process, and the main reason is that it brings a lot of costs, time, and uncertainty. Because of this, companies called agencies or consultants were born. Founded by the same immigrants, they build strong pipelines of people who need sponsorship, giving them work permits to stay in the country, and offering their services on a corp-to-corp basis. 

Therefore, the employer can cover the needs of the candidates without hiring this person directly. The cons of this are that you cannot hire these candidates directly until they get their Green Card. If these people work directly for another company, they will be less committed to yours. Also, sometimes, background checks are a bit tricky since most of their experience is outside the U.S.

What are the Visas in which employers can hire immigrants to start right away?

  • Greencard: no sponsorship needed.
  • Optional Practical Training (OPT): Probably they will need H1B sponsorship in the future, they get this visa doing a master's degree or studies in the U.S.
  • Curricular Practical Training (CPT): Probably they will need H1B sponsorship in the future, they get this visa doing a master's degree or studies in the U.S.
  • Employment Authorization Document (EAD): Probably they will need H1B sponsorship in the future, they get this visa doing a master's degree or studies in the U.S.
  • H4 EAD: No need for Sponsorship in the future, this visa is given by marriage with an American or with a resident with the H1B.

Those are some of the visas that work to hire immigrants full-time for your company. 

OPT, CPT, and EAD are common visas given to people outside the U.S. who enter the country with an F1 (student) visa. The way they can get them is by doing a master's degree or some studies in the country. The difference between those visas is that for OPT, the employer must certify that the professional has already completed the studies, whereas, for CPT, he/she can begin immediately. The cons are that the professionals hired with these visas will ask the company for sponsorship in the future, as they are allowed to work for just 3 years. 

The visa H4 EAD is a good and simple strategy that most companies should be aware of. The majority of the immigrants with this visa are women. This is a good fact to promote diversity in companies, and the employer will not have to do any sponsorship in the future. The cost is really good because they usually don't ask for high salaries, since they are more interested in getting their first job in the U.S.

Visas that need Sponsorship

  • H1B: It takes around 1 month to do the transfer from the government to the employer, which costs between $5,000 and $7,000 USD.
  • H1B i140 approval: It takes around 15 days and costs between $5,000 and $7,000 USD.
  • H1B Visas: Possibly the candidate will request visa sponsorship of the Green Card.
  • TN Visa: Mexicans and Canadians, it takes around 15 days.

When the company wants to bring onboard an employee with an H1B visa, we need to start thinking about some different important facts: 

  1. Cost of the transfer 
  2. Time of the transfer
  3. How much time will take this process for them to start working? 

The issue here is that sometimes the government doesn't approve the transfer or the candidate in the middle of the process, deciding to not move forward, and employers waste time and money. But if we think about it, in a market that is burned at this moment, offering professionals with really high competencies, it's better to take the risk. The process will probably be exhausting, but it's better to meet the needs of the company than never find anyone.

Recruiters like me, placed in a very competitive environment, work hard to meet all the needs of their companies. This is a very big challenge because we need to know many different things that are not common to us. We must always investigate what is happening in the world right now, not only in the country where we recruit and be able to play in a very versatile market. It is important to propose new strategies for our company to grow in the way we want to. 

In my personal experience, working with immigrants is one of the best options these days. As an employee, I am able to recommend great professionals to implement those processes. All companies should start thinking about how the market is changing and what actions should be taken to achieve success.

Santiago Neira
Written by
Santiago Neira
Santiago Neira

As an IT Technical Recruiter at FullStack Labs, Santiago is responsible for finding top talent across the US and Latin America to service our clients' projects. He is an experienced recruitment analyst with a proven track record in the information technology and technology services industry. Santiago holds a bachelor's degree in International Business Administration and has ample experience in sourcing, human resources, technical recruiting, and marketing.

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