Working In The US May Have Become A Little Harder

Software developers wanting to work in the US usually need to get a H-1B visa. However, the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced it would make a more targeted effort to combat "fraud and abuse" of the system. With the Trump administration wanting to protect American jobs, they are adding some hurdles for software developers.

The news release from USCIS says that while there may be a shortage of skilled workers, US workers may be sidelined as foreign workers could be lower paid.

While programmers aren't specifically targeted in the statement, some further reporting by Bloomberg says outsourcing firms providing software engineers are one of the target groups.

While this might not have much impact on Aussies wanting to spend some time boosting their experience with some time in the US, it would be a good idea to ensure your have some pertinent experience highlighting the specialised nature of your work on your resume and some notes on why you should get a job in the US rather than a citizen.


    Couple of things here:

    First off, this is targeting specific types of 'Programmers'. The employer needs to show that for the purposes of H1-B that the position is specialized and could not be performed by an entry-level programmer who doesn't have a Bachelor's degree or better. It used to be enough to show that it was a software job and you had a software degree or equivalent experience. Now they'll have to also show that the job needs the qualification or experience to perform it.

    The point here is to weed out all the companies that abuse the H1-B system to bring over low-paid general programmers to work as contractors and displace US workers. They also stuff the H1-B channel with thousands of applications which makes it harder for the more legit applications to get through. For most Australians looking to relocate to the US for a software engineering job this probably is an improvement, especially if you're moving to take up a job with a company like Microsoft, Google, Apple etc. as they don't tend to bother international hiring for people that don't have some kind of experience or work specialization.

    Secondly, if you're an Australian citizen and only want to work in the US for a few years to pad your resume, you're probably going to be coming over on the Australian-specific E3 visa, not the H1-B. E3 already has a lot of these qualification restrictions anyway. H1-B takes months to years to acquire, but E3 is just a few weeks if your company knows how to line everything up correctly.

    Personally I'm working in the USA right now on an E3 and these H1-B changes actually look like they could potentially benefit me as I go through the application process: I'm working at a senior level in a pretty specific field and have a full degree and more than ten years experience in that field.

    "especially if you're moving to take up a job with a company like Microsoft, Google, Apple etc. as they don't tend to bother international hiring for people that don't have some kind of experience or work specialization."

    That would not be the case. There are plenty of H-1B hirings at Microsoft for low-budget SDEs (software development engineers) and SDETs (software development engineer in test). When I worked there, all H-1B openings were posted on the wall in one building where a lot of suits (lawyers etc) but no techies worked, to satisfy the "posted for X days" requirements. Pay rates offered on the postings were usually (but not always - presumably when they had a specific first world foreign applicant in mind it would be higher) much, much lower than those enjoyed by US citizens.

    That said, I'm all for the demise of the low-budget SDE market.

    Market for software industry is huge and it may feel like it's gotten a bit harder. The IT industry in US is far from saturated. Hopefully, with more kick starting firms on the horizon, the odds will balance themelves

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