Looking for a Job While Needing a Work Visa

A reader asks:

“I am presently in the process of obtaining a spousal immigrant visa from Canada to the U.S. My next step in the process is my immigration interview at the US Consulate early next Spring 2011. My goal is to have a letter of employment that I may present at the time of interview in order that my visa be processed sooner. Otherwise I may have to wait a period of time before visa can be obtained. Any ideas for developing a strategy to achieve this goal? I am already on LinkedIn and Twitter and belong to various groups.”

To get a bit more understanding of the circumstances surrounding this job seeker, I contacted Irene Wren, immigration attorney at Wren & Gateways Law Group, and this is what she had to say:

“You state you are applying for an immigrant visa based on the sponsorship of a U.S. citizen spouse. The I-864 Affidavit of Support requirements state that the sponsor have sufficient income (as per the U.S. poverty guidelines), and if the sponsor does not, then a family member of the sponsor will need to come forward and show sufficient income. A family member might include you as the spouse, if you have been married for at least 6 months and you have a definite job offer with salary listed on the letter of offer. There are no clear guidelines on using such a letter from an employer – it will be up to the discretion of the Consulate Officer as to whether that would suffice.

“However, usually the U.S. Consulate will ask for a co-sponsor for the Affidavit of Support from the sponsor’s family, such as parents or siblings. I suggest that you look for family members of your spouse who might be willing to sign the Affidavit of Support to ensure that you are in the best position possible to be granted the immigrant visa. Your spouse would need to complete a form I-864 and the co-sponsor also would submit a form I-864 with supporting documentation.”

Now for a job hunt strategy! While the situation does complicate things, some of the basic job-seeking techniques still apply:

1. Network! Networking is always important, but it is especially critical in this case.  If people get to know you and the value you would bring, they are more likely to advocate for you and, if they are decision makers at their company, work to figure out what they need to do to bring you on board.

The fact that you are on LinkedIn and Twitter is great! Make sure that you are actively participating on them to get your name out there and to make connections with others.

On LinkedIn, join both industry groups and job search groups; the industry groups are good for making connections in your field, while the job search groups will give you access to a great deal of job hunting tips.  The job search groups that will benefit you most are those that were started by career experts who continue to be active in their conversations.  Two excellent groups on LinkedIn are HireFriday and Tim’s Strategy — both Margo Rose and Tim Tyrell-Smith (the respective creators of each group) are involved in the communities they created and are very dedicated to helping job seekers.

Also, work to engage folks on Twitter.  If someone tweeted something you liked, retweet it. If an author of a blog post wrote something thought-provoking, tell him/her or ask questions.  Don’t treat Twitter solely as a tool to meet your needs.  See what is happening in other people’s worlds.  Connect with them on a real level.  I’ve had the good fortune of initially meeting people on Twitter, and later turning them into IRL (in real life) connections.  In the long run, solid relationships will have a lot of give and take.

2. Make sure your job hunt materials are in order. How well do your cover letter and résumé sell your value?  Get those materials to the point where prospective employers will be able to readily see your past accomplishments and can envision the contributions you could make to their team.  You never know when someone will suggest that you apply for an opening or ask to see a copy of your résumé, so have them ready to go.

3. Keep strengthening your skills set and adding to your experiences. If you are currently employed, continue putting out stellar work and look for opportunities to grow (e.g. taking the lead on a work project).  If you are in transition, identify a volunteer opportunity that would allow you to continue using your work skills for a nonprofit organization.  Also, consider taking seminars or classes related to your industry that can contribute to your knowledge base.

4. Develop talking points for discussing your situation. Eventually, this topic will have to be discussed.  Don’t make it the first thing you talk about when networking — it puts up a disincentive to learn more about you.  But be prepared to explain your circumstances as the relationships with others develop.

What other suggestions would you have for this reader?

Irene WrenThank you to Irene Wren for her contribution to this post.  Attorney Wren has been practicing immigration law since 1984, specializing in employment based immigration services.  In 2005 she was given the state of Wisconsin Bar Association Gordon Synikin Award for Excellence in Service and the Dane County Bar Association Individual Pro Bono Award.  Attorney Wren has also lectured on immigration issues to various groups, including the University of Wisconsin Business School.

The Wren & Gateways Law Group, LLC immigration lawyers provide a full range of employment based immigration law services to businesses, educational institutions and individual clients.  With over 25 years of immigration law experience, The Wren & Gateways Law Group, LLC has consistently been rated as one of the top immigration law firms in the state of Wisconsin and beyond.

Does your job search feel like it’s stuck in neutral? Hit a road block with your career? Learn more about working together to jump-start your success!

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