It is universal knowledge that finding a job is not easy in the competitive world we live in today. That difficulty automatically increase 10x times when you ask a company to sponsor you a work visa. Many international candidates, especially those in the creative field, face the dilemma that their job offers may be revoked as soon as they disclose their visa requirements. After all, unlike the tech industry, the creative field is full of highly-qualified domestic talents. How do you convince your future employer to sponsor you a work visa even though they have plenty of options to hire a domestic candidate? Before we dive into strategies, let’s break down why companies are often reluctant to hire candidates with visa requirements. The reasons are quite simple:
Small to Mid-Size Companies
Definition: companies with fewer than a couple of hundred employees.
- Educate. These companies probably have never sponsored anyone else before and therefore not familiar with what it takes to sponsor work visas. When faced with unfamiliar situations, companies tend to run away from it rather than face it and embrace it, much like human beings. If you educate the potential employer on how the process works in simple terms, they might be more open to the possibility of sponsorship. Make sure you do plenty of homework beforehand. Get to know your visa type and what it requires exactly. In fact, you have to become as knowledgeable if not more knowledgeable as an immigration lawyer in your visa category. If you fail to make it easy to understand, your potential employer might be confused and scared to move forward.
- Show loyalty. One important thing that companies are concerned about is whether you will leave them soon after they sponsored you the visa. It is absolutely within the company’s right to protect themselves against this type of situation. In the United States, employment is at will and the company cannot legally lock you down in any way. However, let them know that they can sign a contract with you stating the service period you must complete after the visa is sponsored. If you violate the contract and leave the company earlier, you will have to repay the company’s cost in sponsoring the visa. This actually applies to both small and big companies, but larger corporations tend to care less when it’s simply work visas and more when it’s the green card. When you show companies that both you and them can be legally protected, it is much easier for them to agree.
- Present Your Uniqueness. Even when a company understands the requirements of the visa and that they can be protected with the repayment contract, you still need to convince them that your talent speaks louder than words. You need to show the company that even though there are other domestic candidates qualified for the job, your talent and expertise are a rare combination, which makes it hard to find and incredibly valuable to the company. For example, if you are a film editor but also a strong animator, your combination of talents will be more desirable than another film editor who may have a stronger reel than you. Companies welcome multifaceted talents who can wear many hats and save them money. The key is to show how you are different. It is the most difficult part, but it is at the core of your persuasion strategies that apply to both small and big companies.
Go big. There are many reasons why you would want to work for big companies. Great pay, excellent benefits, vast network of professionals are all valid reasons to join. However, part of the reasons you should consider bigger companies when you have a visa requirement is because they tend to sponsor more visas. Big companies have much more financial recourses than smaller companies. As a result, they are more generous in the way they spend money. It wouldn’t make a big difference to their budget to throw in a few thousand dollars for a great candidate. For a smaller company, this could be a much bigger deal. So to increase your chances of being sponsored, think big and go big.
Go small and then big. If you are a new graduate, you may find it challenging to get offers from big companies. They tend to have higher requirements and more people are applying to them. If you limit yourself to only big companies, you may find yourself unable to even get a job offer, let alone a visa sponsorship. If you are faced with this dilemma, don’t be afraid to go small and then go big. Smaller companies usually have lower threshold to get in. Get your foot in the door first and then plan for next steps. Revert back to the strategies I outlined for small to mid-size companies earlier to work your persuasion magic. Another reason to do this is because once you have successfully obtained your first work visa, it is much easier for the next company to take over because transferring visas, more correctly known as filing for change of employers, is easier than the initial petition of work visas when you were still holding a student visa.
It is not an easy road for creatives who need visa sponsorship. But what is easy never teach you a lesson and bring you the level of satisfaction that difficult tasks do. If you are an ambitious creative, don’t be afraid to show companies why you are the one and only they should hire, even with visa sponsorship requirement.