The Visa Window of Opportunity

In my last article, I wrote of the need for HR to think outside the box when it comes to recruiting by offering relocation assistance. In this article I would like to explore offering visa sponsorship as a way to expand your possibilities in recruiting candidates. My timing is perfect since we are almost at the beginning of a new fiscal year (October 1, 2000) when the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) will begin considering petitions for visas. Last year, the INS had already received its cap of 115,000 petitions by February 29! This year, the expectation is that the INS will start by taking those petitions it didn’t get to last year and cap it at 107,500. What are the benefits to hiring someone who needs sponsorship? One of the great benefits of sponsoring visas is that your pool of candidates will more than double, particularly in the IT arena. Your competition for these candidates will be greatly reduced since not too many HR departments want to go through the time, money, and hassle of visa sponsorship. The most important benefit is that your newly sponsored candidate will more likely stay in your organization longer because of the difficulty in transferring a visa. With turnover rates reaching an all-time high for IT workers, retention is very important factor to consider. Although the visa process sounds time consuming and a bit bleak, there are some things you can do to help widen your recruiting net. If you have some strong candidates in the wings that need sponsorship, petition now or outsource it to those companies who can do that for you. Hopefully you have already identified those candidates you need to petition for and have initiated the complex paper process. While your candidates are waiting, ask them to become a full time student, that way they can settle in and live in the U.S. legally. <*SPONSORMESSAGE*> If your candidate is currently sponsored, it is easier to transfer an existing visa than it is to create a new one. Keep in mind that if you are transferring a visa, the employee should stay at their current employer until your petition gets approved. Technically, if a currently sponsored employee were to leave employment, their visa would become invalid the next day. If you are like many and have missed the H1-B Visa boat, don’t worry; there are some things you can do to creatively recruit outside the box for you’re hard to fill IT positions:

  • Ask An Expert: There are several different types of visas available that your candidates may be qualified for besides the H1-B. Talk to an expert and run through different criteria with your candidate to see if they fit for one of the many different kinds of visas.
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  • Take Advantage of NAFTA: It is fairly easy for a Canadian or Mexican citizen to obtain a visa to work in this country. NAFTA allows certain professionals from just outside our borders to work in the US for one year (this must be renewed) by simply going to the border and applying. These folks should try and apply for a green card (company sponsored) or obtain dual citizenship while in the U.S., since renewals are not guaranteed.
  • Use Your International Offices: The L-1A/B Intra-Company Transferee visa allows your international employees with specialized knowledge to transfer from a foreign company to a U.S. parent, branch, subsidiary or affiliate for limited periods. The only caveat is they must have worked at the foreign company for at least 12 months during the three prior years to qualify.

The key to implementing a successful program is to think outside the box and plan at least a year in advance on what your needs will be. Work with your hiring manager to identify specific, hard-to-fill positions and timelines. Keep your finger on the pulse of your organization’s recruiting needs and success will follow.

Audra Slinkey is a leading Internet Recruiting Consultant who has designed the Recruiters-Aid PERS (Proprietary E-Recruitment System) to ensure Internet recruiting success. Recruiters-Aid provides Internet candidate sourcing and screening services, and guarantees results—or the clients do not pay. Recruiters-Aid manages one of the largest FREE recruiting resource sites online. Recruiters-Aid services were created specifically for recruiters who don't have time to source the Internet themselves.

ContactAudra at aslinkey@recruiters-aid.com

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