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IrocZ

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Hi everyone, newbie here. Still in SA but have plans to move to Texas soon. This means me, my 14 y/o son, mom and sister. Grew up in SA but lived for a while in Seattle as aupair before I had my boy. Now half my family is in the US already and we mean to make a new place our home and start fresh. So thanks for the forum and the informative posts- I really enjoy reading anything of interest!

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Rudel, welcome to the forum. When are you planning to move to the USA?

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Hi thanks for the welcome.

 

Planning to go soon. Applying for work every day and entered the DV Lottery but I know our chances are around 2% to get it. But trying every possible avenue to start a new life.

 

Typing on a laptop by candlelight this evening. Isn't that ironic... Power off in my area (Alberton) 2nd night in a row.

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Welcome to the forum, IrocZ

 

Good luck with the DV lottery - it is always worth a try - and a number of us managed to get here that way - albeit with years of trying in some cases - but on the first try for others.

Good luck also with the job hunting. As you will be needing an employer who will both sponsor your visa, and potentially be willing to wait a year or more for you to join - that is going to be very, very tough too - even if your skills are very specialized.

 

You mention that you, your 14 year old, your sister and your mom will be moving. Whether you get chosen in the DV lottery, or secure a sponsored work visa, be aware that only your 14 year old can receive a visa with you based on that. Your sister and your mom will have, on their own, to also obtain either selection in the DV lottery or a job - you cannot sponsor or bring them over on your visa. Hope therefore they are also separately entering the lottery (next entry only Oct/Nov) and looking for a sponsored job.

 

You do, however, mention that half your family is in the USA already. What about family sponsorship? Depends on what relations they are, but that may be a good option.

 

All the best

Edited by Malamute
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Hi Malamute

 

Thanks for the informative reply.

 

Really - a year to wait for a work visa? Why does it take that long?

 

I am very aware that I cannot sponsor my mom or sister on the DV but my son is entered with me. This will be my 6th year of trying. We have all entered on our own too. Holding thumbs for this! 3 weeks to go...

 

Yeah the family. Always a problem hey? I'm sure they'll help us here and there but not really assist all the way as sponsor. So we'll make it on our own, come hell or high water.

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IrocZ, yes, unfortunately the work visa situation is not optimal. With very few exceptions (read: Nobel Peace Prize winners, world class athletes etc), work visas fall broadly into one of two non-immigrant categories:

  • L1 visa - this is for workers who are employed in a management position (and this is vetted) for at least 1 year in the preceding 3 years before paperwork can start, and then transferred to the US branch of the company by that company.
  • H1B visa (most common) - this is for sponsored workers. There is an annual limit/cap of 65 000 plus an additional 20 000 workers (Masters degrees or equivalent) permitted in this category. Companies can submit these applications on/after 01 April each year for a start date from 01 October of that same year. For the filing that started 01 April 2015 for this fiscal year, over 233 000 applications were received in the first few days, and the annual limit reached, the applications closed and many turned away until next year. The next filing only opens on 01 April 2016, for a start date of 01 October 2016. See http://www.uscis.gov/news/alerts/uscis-completes-h-1b-cap-random-selection-process-fy-2016

Hence the wait of at least 1 year, and probably quite a bit more than that. Self-perpetuating problem - hard to find an employer willing to wait that long for you.

 

Then there are immigrant visa categories for employer sponsored visas - which don't take as long, but the 'ask' of the sponsor is much higher - so much harder to obtain a sponsor for this type of visa.

 

If you haven't already, read up about the various visa types here: http://travel.state.gov/content/visas/english/general/all-visa-categories.html

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Really - a year to wait for a work visa? Why does it take that long?

My prediction is that, unless you get selected in the lottery, you won't be moving to the USA within the next few years. Getting a work visa (read-sponsor) is hard, and getting an immigrant visa is even harder. Looking at your situation with your child, mom and sibling I cannot see a quick avenue that you can pursue to get all of them in the USA anytime soon, but good luck with your efforts - persistence is key, so don't give up.

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IrocZ, on 14 Apr 2015 - 12:21 PM, said:

 

Really - a year to wait for a work visa? Why does it take that long?

 

 

Unfortunately, it's even longer than that.

 

Let's say you find a willing sponsor today, April 2015, applications for your H-1B visa can only be submitted by April 2016, and, if approved, the applicant will only be allowed into the USA by (roughly) the end of September 2016 - approximately 17 - 18 months later.

 

And that is the problem faced by potential sponsors. Very few of them, if any, will wait that long, regardless of how good you are. The best option will be to try and find a sponsor (employer) very early in 2016 and hopefully get the H-1B application approved by April. It will then only be a wait of about 9 months before moving to the US.

 

Oh, and another thing, if someone is not in the possession of an approved university degree, obtaining an H-1B visa is out of the question.

 

However, only a high school diploma (matric) is needed to enter the Diversity Visa Lottery.

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IrocZ, here is our H1B visa story - may help put things in perspective:

 

2 Jan 2011 - Received word that there was a job (college soccer coaching nogal) that was interested in having my husband apply (a contact that my husband had kept active since he came over in the '90s on a soccer scholarship)

mid Jan 2011 - met with Grant Kaplan - SA immigration attorney based in Boca Raton FL, who visits SA every year to assist with immigration needs...

mid Feb 2011 - interview, job offer

March 2011 - began the process of H1B documentation collection

mid April 2011 - submitted H1B and H4 (dependant) entries via Kaplan to the US departments

May 2011 - USCIS requested further evidence (proof that the offer was valid and in line with state salary, plus hubby's US degree accreditation, plus job skills audit)

mid June 2011 - received email from attorney saying we had been approved, just wait for package to arrive with approval docs and then make consulate appointment etc.

end June 2011 - docs arrived by UPS and we did our online DS160's etc and made appointment for Joburg consulate in July

sometime in July 2011 - had appointment and were told our case was not in the system and they couldn't help !!!!!!! Apparently an issue with their PIMS system (whatever that is) and our details weren't visible. They had to wait until their system was reflecting some other system before they could do our visas.

mid August 2011 - Finally we were told our case was visible in the system, made appointment for next day

17 August 2011 - Had appointments, successfully granted H1B and 2 x H4's

18 August 2011 - Flew out to start work and new life in Kentucky.

 

This was the single most stressful experience of my life - I wont lie. We were fortunate that we had a) a contact for a job, B) a US degree, and c) that we got in before they became EVEN stricter. During the process the College became increasingly irritated with US! that we didn't have our visas yet and the more we tried to explain that it was their government departments that had stalled things, the harder it became to keep them calm. It was frustrating, and really scary as you cannot call the Consulate and ask anything, you just have to wait.

 

However, there is one thing we learned through this and our subsequent extension of our visa. Jobs in Higher Education or medial research etc. DO NOT fall into the 65000 cap once you have received your first visa. Maybe Malamute, SJ27, Treverly and other very experienced members can add / correct me here. So our saving grace has been that foreigners, specializing in soccer (I think the US has a big drive for soccer as it is lucrative and they have spotted the commercial potential), with a US degree was what even got us in in the first place as neither of us would have qualified any other way. Then the extension was pretty straightforward because we hadn't moved jobs, were in Higher Education and thus not subject to the cap, and we had already had an RFE done, we had no black marks against our name, and so they granted the extension.

 

But having said this, it is expensive, hugely stressful and to be honest if you are not 100% happy with your sponsoring company you are fairly trapped unless you can find another job, which means a transfer of your H1B etc. However, it is all worth it, because we all know the reasons for leaving SA and you don't have to deal with those issues here - which is truly priceless.

 

I hope I haven't put you off trying to find a job, but I do think that knowledge of this very complex process is key. All the best of luck!

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Thanks for posting, CChalmers - I can only imagine how stressful it all was, but thankfully you made it through! Great post for those considering this route.

 

Once you have the H1b visa (and those are subject to the annual cap, which is now already filled for fiscal year 2016), further extensions of validity, or change to a different employer on the H1b are NOT counted towards the cap, regardless of industry/job you are in so at least you can't be turned down for that because of the annual cap being reached with new applications.

 

This year isn't the first time that USCIS have received so many applications - more than double the available visas for the entire year - in the first few days of the filing year, that they have had to run a mini 'lottery' to determine who will get, and who will not get a visa, regardless of the merits (i.e. they don't go through and select the 65 000 according to any system, just a lottery). Must be heartbreaking for those who have searched, found a job, got the sponsorship and paperwork together, and filed the application, only to be turned away for another year because the cap/quota has been reached for the year. That would be about 1/2 the people this year - as 133 000 were received before they closed it.

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I know someone also working in a university on H1B who was also cap exempt. He is in what seems to be a rather specialised field, he doesn't have a US degree but lecturing in an area it seems not many locals (Americans) have experience in, especially for teaching in graduate school. So it seems the trick is - as with your husband - to either be in a niche position that is rare in the US, or to be brilliant at your field, because there are so many local graduates for universities to choose from for "normal" jobs. I think it goes without saying that the chances of an average person getting these jobs is not that high.

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This is not from an official govt website but from what I know this is accurate:

 

H-1B cap exempt category was created by the US government to ensure adequate supply of skilled labor available to US establishments in certain important sectors. Sponsorships under cap-exempt category are throughout the year.

 

There are H-1B Cap-Exempt employers that hire professionals on H-1B visa throughout the year regardless of the H-1B quota situation. Cap exempt employers are those establishments which are not subjected to the annual H-1B visa numerical limitation as set by the US Government. Following classes of employers fall under the Cap-Exempt category.

A not for profit institution of higher education

A not for profit entity related or affiliated to an institution of higher education

A not for profit research organization or a governmental research organization

Certain for-profit (e.g. consulting/contracting) firms.

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http://www.uscis.gov/working-united-states/temporary-workers/h-1b-specialty-occupations-dod-cooperative-research-and-development-project-workers-and-fashion-models

 

Extract

 

The H-1B visa has an annual numerical limit "cap" of 65,000 visas each fiscal year. The first 20,000 petitions filed on behalf of beneficiaries with a U.S. master’s degree or higher are exempt from the cap. Additionally, H-1B workers who are petitioned for or employed at an institution of higher education or its affiliated or related nonprofit entities or a nonprofit research organization, or a government research organization are not subject to this numerical cap.

Edited by Malamute

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Just to add that the main issues with H1 are possibly being "trapped" in a job you don't like, being very vulnerable if you are laid off, there is no guarantee that you will get a green card (depends on your employer.), and the fact that dependents cannot work. I know people on and off this forum who have done it because it is their only option, but I've met very few who have "enjoyed" the process and all breathed a huge sigh of relief when the green cards came through eventually.

Also correct me if I'm wrong but if you have a child on H4 and they turn 21 I believe they have to leave the U.S.?

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