H-1B alternatives: Take your talent to these countries instead
Source: AFP/Ian Willms

Getting a H-1B visa has never been more difficult. The popular visa program, which lets American companies employ international students and foreign-born workers with specialist knowledge and a bachelor’s degree or higher, is now facing unprecedented disruptions under the Trump Administration, lawyers explain.

From increased bureaucracy to higher rates of denial, the US today does not appear to be very welcoming to foreign talent.

Speaking to the New York Times, John Goslow, an immigration attorney in Ann Arbor, Michigan, said: “You see all these arguments that we want the best and the brightest coming here.

“Yet we’re seeing a full-frontal assault on just all aspects of immigration.”

So if not the US, where can the world’s “best and brightest” take their talent?

1. Australia

Several engineering specialisations fall under the list of occupations in the Australian Medium and Long-term Strategic Skills List (MLTSSL). Source: AFP/Torsten Blackwood

The most similar visa to the H-1B would be the Temporary Skill Shortage Visa (subclass 482). Australian employers can sponsor a skilled worker from overseas to fill a position they can’t find a local worker to fill. It’s designed to fill gaps in the Australian labour market.

Applicants with occupations on the Short-Term Skilled Occupations List (STSOL) are eligible for visas of up to two years, whilst those on the Medium and Long-Term Strategic Skills List (MLTSSL) or the Regional Occupation List (ROL) can apply for up to four years.

For those seeking post-study work training and internship Down Under, there are a few visas you can apply for:

2. Canada 

More welcoming than the US. Source: AFP/Jeff Vinnick

The Federal Skilled Workers Program lets those with a suitable education and work experience to emmigrate to Canada. There are 347 eligible occupations which range from human resources managers, to engineering managers, financial auditors and accountants.

Applicants must also be of the right age and possess the necessary language capabilities. Suitable candidates have to submit an expression of interest profile to the Express Entry Pool. These candidates are then ranked under a Comprehensive Ranking System, and the highest-ranked candidates will be considered for an invitation to apply for permanent residence. Upon receiving this invitation, they must submit a full application.

International students seeking to stay and work in Canada post-graduation should apply for the Post-graduation work permit (PGWP).

3. Germany

Germany is in need of skilled labour in many sectors. Source: AFP/John MacDougall

According to the World Economic Forum, Germany is one of the countries with the most acute skills shortages. To fill these labour shortages, an EU blue card allows foreign nationals to enter and reside in the country “for the purpose of highly qualified employment”, if he holds a higher education qualification which is recognised or otherwise comparable to a German higher education qualification (or comparable professional experience). The applicant must also show a job offer which must be for a specific minimum gross annual salary. The EU blue card is issued for a maximum period of four years.

It’s a process that can take a few months, a lot of patience and the ability to stay cool throughout the slow process.

4. Norway 

Almost 14 percent of the total population of Norway are immigrants. Source: AFP/Torgrim Rath Olsen

This Scandinavian country is in need of nurses, nursing professionals, healthcare assistants, engineers, ICT workers and more. To work in Norway under the skilled workers scheme, applicants need to secure a job at a salary rate which is no less than the Norwegian average salary. To be classified as a skilled worker, applicants must show they have completed vocational training, higher education or have special qualifications. Norway isn’t covered by the EU Blue Card scheme which applies in many other countries in Europe.

5. New Zealand

Chinese engineers would find their skills highly in-demand in New Zealand. Source: AFP/Marty Melville

Citizens of the People’s Republic of China are eligible for the China Skilled Workers Visa if theyre qualified to work in an occupation that’s considered skilled work by New Zealand’s government. Up to 1,000 Chinese skilled workers can work in New Zealand under the China Skilled Workers Instructions, which includes jobs such as automotive electrician, engineers, auditors, university lecturers, etc. The visa is valid up to three years and as their website states: “While you’re working here you can enjoy our scenery, culture and friendly people.”

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