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

A futurist lens on international hires

I recently had a fascinating conversation with Jamais Cascio, a futurist and distinguished fellow at the Institute for the Future in Palo Alto. Cascio has some wonderful insight relevant to your question.

The three mindsets that Cashio said would benefit companies are:

Resilience: Being able to withstand a shock to the system without breaking. For example, he said companies that have just-in-time delivery models are very brittle and prone to break down compared to those that have built-in slack into their system. Building in slack often requires additional resources and reduced efficiency and profit but offers built-in resilience.

Specific visas to consider

Before we dive into visa specifics, please be aware that I recommend you consult an experienced immigration attorney, who can help you devise an immigration strategy for prospective international hires, as well as provide guidance on what visas would be appropriate given the job opening and prospective candidate.

O-1A visa

If your prospective hires don’t make it through the H-1B lottery process I mentioned above, or you need to get them here more quickly than October and you can’t take the risk that they might not be selected in the H-1B lottery this year, a great option is the O-1A extraordinary ability visa. More and more of our startup clients are opting to pursue it for key executives and individual contributors with niche expertise. While the bar for qualifying for the O-1A is much higher than for the H-1B, the process for getting an O-1A is much quicker. And the O-1A does not have an annual cap or lottery process to contend with.

Visas for talent from specific countries

Specific visas exist for talent from Australia, Canada, Chile, Mexico and Singapore.

  • Previously issued any type of visa.
  • Never been refused a visa unless it was overcome or waived.
  • No ineligibility.
  • Citizens or nationals of a country that participates in the Visa Waiver Program.

Find Out More about H-1B Visa Processing and Working in the United States

Sophie Alcorn is an attorney and Board Certified as a Specialist in United States Immigration and Nationality Law by the State Bar of California.

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