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How to find a job in the U.S. as an immigrant

Immigration is a topic we've heard a lot about this election cycle. Despite the debate (and sometimes backlash) that surrounds foreign-born workers, U.S. employers are planning to reach beyond borders to help fill their open jobs, according to a new CareerBuilder survey. One-third of employers plan to hire immigrant workers in 2017, with 16 percent planning to do so in the second quarter.

Are you an immigrant to the U.S. and looking for a job? Here are four frequently asked questions about working in the U.S. as an immigrant:

1. What are the different U.S. work visa options?*

In order to work in the U.S. legally, you must obtain a work visa. There are many different types of work visas available for immigrants interested in working in the U.S., and the more commonly used visas are listed below.

For temporary (nonimmigrant) workers:

  • L-1 Visa: For foreign workers and owners wishing to transfer to a new or existing U.S. business
  • E2 and E1 visa permit: For investors and traders
  • H-1B visa permit: Designed for skilled, educated foreign workers who are employed in specialty occupations.
  • H-2B visa permit: Designed for temporary, though not agricultural, jobs such as truck drivers, positions at ski mountains, hotels, beach resorts, etc.

For permanent (immigrant) workers:

  • EB-1 Green Card: For persons of extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business or athletics.
  • EB-2 Green Card Permit: Based on exceptional ability and professionals with advanced degrees, and qualified alien physicians who will practice medicine in an area of the U.S. which is underserved
  • EB-3 Green Card Permit: Designed for skilled workers (minimum two years of training and experience), professionals with bachelor's degrees, and unskilled workers
  • EB-4 Green Card Permit: Special immigrants including religious workers, employees and former employees of U.S. government abroad, and translators with the U.S. Armed Forces
  • EB-5 Green Card Permit: This preference is reserved for business investors who invest $1 million or $500,000 (if the investment is made in a targeted employment area) in a new commercial enterprise that employs at least 10 full-time U.S. workers

For more details on these and other visas, visit the U.S. Department of Homeland security site here, and for an easy-to-navigate Visa Wizard Guide, visit the U.S. Department of State U.S. Visas website.

*Please note: this list is not legal advice. It's important to check with professional and experienced legal services for advice on your exact immigration situation.

2. What industries and positions are the most open to immigrant workers?

According to CareerBuilder's study, immigrant workers looking for employment can expect to find opportunities across multiple industries, with information technology housing the largest percentage of employers who plan to hire them this year:

The types of functional positions non-U.S. born workers are being recruited to fill varies by industry. Among employers who are hiring immigrant workers this year, these industries are top of mind:

  • Technical (42 percent)
  • Administrative (31 percent)
  • Manual labor (31 percent)
  • Sales (30 percent)
  • Creative (29 percent)
  • Financial (25 percent)
  • Managerial (23 percent)

3. How do I make it as easy as possible for an employer to hire me?

U.S. employers are actively looking at foreign-born candidates to fill their open positions. However, immigration and work requirements can be confusing to employers. Don't assume HR managers understand all the complexities of work visas — do your homework on your particular situation and be prepared to talk about it. Once you have secured your visa, make sure your status and eligibility is on your resume. If an employer you would like to work for requests a letter of interest, explain that you are legally able to work and for how long. Make sure you go to interviews prepared with paperwork proving your status.

4. Where can I find information on building a resume?

Make sure your resume has your name, address, phone number and email address on it, and don't forget to list your previous jobs, dates worked, your educational background as well as relevant skills.

Have more questions about working in the U.S. as an immigrant? Start by checking the websites of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (www.uscis.gov) and the Department of State (www.travel.state.gov) to learn about the requirements for various work-authorized visa categories. Please note that this FAQ is not legal advice – for specific information pertaining to your situation, talk to a qualified immigration lawyer or a Board of Immigration Appeals accredited representative.

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