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How To Get A Job As An Expat In The USA

The U.S. job market, renowned for its high salaries, innovative companies, and vast potential for professional growth, attracts talent from all over the globe. However, the path to landing a job in the U.S. can be complex, involving visa requirements, rigorous application processes, and cultural adjustments. Let’s look at some practical steps to help you successfully navigate your job search as an expat in the USA. 

Visa and Work Authorization Requirements

Employment Authorization Document (EAD)

The Employment Authorization Document (EAD), also known as Form I-766, is a critical document for noncitizens seeking to work legally in the United States. Issued by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the EAD serves as proof to employers that the holder is authorized to work, regardless of their citizenship or national origin. To obtain an EAD, individuals must submit Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, along with supporting documentation that demonstrates their eligibility based on their immigration status or specific circumstances.

The EAD specifies the period during which the individual is authorized to work in the U.S., typically ranging from one to two years depending on the individual’s circumstances and USCIS discretion. Renewal of the EAD may be necessary before its expiration to maintain continuous work authorization, requiring individuals to file renewal applications similarly to initial applications.

Eligibility for an EAD

Eligibility for an EAD includes individuals who are authorized to work in the U.S. due to their immigration status, such as asylees, refugees, or certain nonimmigrant visa holders. Additionally, those required to seek permission to work, such as applicants with pending adjustment of status or asylum applications, are also eligible. However, certain categories, such as lawful permanent residents (green card holders) and some nonimmigrant visa holders with employment-authorized visas, are exempt from needing an EAD. Instead, they can use their Permanent Resident Card (Green Card) or their visa documentation as evidence of their employment authorization.

Application Process for an EAD

To apply for an EAD, eligible individuals must complete and submit Form I-765 to USCIS. The application must include personal information, details about the applicant’s immigration status, and reasons for seeking employment authorization. Supporting documents, such as copies of immigration documents, identity documents, and other types of evidence, must be submitted to prove eligibility. Applicants are also required to pay a filing fee unless they qualify for a fee waiver. Current fees can be found on the USCIS website.

Applicants can send their form and documents either by mail or electronically, depending on the instructions provided by USCIS based on their status. It is crucial to follow the specific instructions to avoid delays or denials in the application process.


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Renewal of EAD

Work permits have expiration dates, and if the immigrant needs to continue working in the United States, they must file a renewal application with USCIS in advance of the expiration date to avoid interruptions in employment authorization. The renewal process is similar to the initial application process, requiring the submission of Form I-765 along with the necessary supporting documents and fees.

Special Considerations for Asylum Applicants

Asylum applicants have specific considerations when applying for an EAD. They must refer to the Asylum page on the USCIS website for detailed information, including the effect of applicant-caused delays on their Form I-765 adjudication. If the statutory cap is reached in a fiscal year and the waiting list process is used, petitioners for U nonimmigrant status and derivatives in the United States can apply for employment authorization using Form I-765 based on deferred action. USCIS can only approve an application for employment authorization based on deferred action after the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has deferred action in the case, regardless of when the Form I-765 is filed.

Automatic Extension of EADs

To improve access to work permits, USCIS has announced a temporary final rule (TFR) to increase the automatic extension period for certain EADs from up to 180 days to up to 540 days. This measure aims to reduce processing times and ensure that eligible noncitizens can maintain continuous work authorization while their renewal applications are being processed.

Practical Advice for Expatriates

For expatriates seeking employment in the United States, it is essential to understand the visa and work authorization requirements. Before applying for a visa, expatriates should consult Visa Bulletins for the most up-to-date information on the visa procedure and the growth of immigration legislation. Additionally, expatriates should ensure they have the necessary qualifications, such as a master’s degree or relevant work experience, to compete with the American workforce. Tailoring resumes and cover letters to specific job openings and demonstrating excellent English communication skills are also crucial for success.

Expatriates can look for job opportunities on traditional job search services such as Career Advisor and Monster, but they should be aware that most jobs may not sponsor visas. If they already have a visa, there may be special constraints that prevent them from taking certain employment. Therefore, it is important to target companies that are known to sponsor visas and to use specialized job search platforms that cater to expatriates.

Job Search Strategies for Expats

Customizing Applications and Optimizing Resumes

Tailoring your applications to fit each job’s specific requirements and incorporating ATS (Applicant Tracking System) keywords can make your application stand out from the competition. Understanding and leveraging ATS can greatly improve your chances of getting noticed by potential employers. Take the time to analyze job descriptions and align your resume with the requirements of each role you apply to. This level of customization will showcase your suitability and greatly enhance your chances of landing your dream job.

Networking and Building Meaningful Connections

Networking remains a valuable strategy for job seekers looking to make meaningful connections and uncover potential job opportunities. While online platforms have revolutionized the way we connect, it’s important to approach networking strategically to maximize its impact on your job search. Attending virtual events, engaging with industry professionals on platforms like LinkedIn, and cultivating meaningful relationships can lead to valuable connections and potential job offers.

Adapting to Remote Work Trends

Adapting to remote work trends can significantly enhance job search success. Many companies now offer remote work options, and having the skills and experience to excel in a remote work environment can give job seekers a competitive edge. By highlighting remote work experience and showcasing relevant digital collaboration tools on resumes and during interviews, job seekers can position themselves as valuable assets in the evolving job market.

Understanding the Job Market

The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook is recommended reading if you’d like to get an overview of the US labor market and find out more about occupations currently in demand. A general word of warning: unless you are sent to New York on an expat assignment, or you are a renowned specialist in your field, getting a job in NYC can be incredibly difficult for overseas applicants. This is partly due to the vast pool of talented New Yorkers available to the city’s recruiters. It also has to do with the fact that the process of filing a visa application for a potential foreign employee is rather time-consuming and costly for employers.

Preparing for the Move

For an international move, obtaining a visa and other necessary documents might be what you need to worry about the most. The type of visa you require will depend on your reason for moving, be it for work, study, or as a permanent resident. Visas can take several weeks or even months to process, so be sure to start early and have all necessary documents in order. Some documents you may need include a valid passport, proof of financial stability, medical records, and any necessary work or study permits. It is also essential to research any additional requirements that your destination country may have for foreign residents.

By implementing these job search strategies, expats can navigate the competitive job market in the USA and increase their chances of career success.

Best Cities for Job Seekers in the USA

1. Austin, Texas

Austin, Texas, has emerged as a top destination for job seekers due to its robust economy, low cost of living, and vibrant tech scene. The city is home to major tech companies like Dell, IBM, and Apple, which have established significant operations in the area. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Austin’s unemployment rate is consistently lower than the national average, making it an attractive option for job seekers.

Key Industries

  • Technology: Austin is often referred to as “Silicon Hills” due to its concentration of tech companies. The city has seen a 30% increase in tech jobs over the past five years.
  • Healthcare: The healthcare sector is another major employer, with institutions like St. David’s Healthcare and Seton Healthcare Family providing numerous job opportunities.
  • Education: The University of Texas at Austin is a significant employer and contributes to the city’s reputation as a hub for education and research.

2. Seattle, Washington

Seattle is another prime location for job seekers, particularly those in the tech industry. The city is the headquarters for giants like Amazon and Microsoft, offering a plethora of job opportunities. Seattle’s economy is also bolstered by its strong aerospace and healthcare sectors.

Key Industries

  • Technology: With Amazon and Microsoft leading the way, Seattle has become a tech powerhouse. The city has seen a 25% increase in tech jobs over the past decade.
  • Aerospace: Boeing’s presence in Seattle makes it a significant player in the aerospace industry, providing numerous engineering and manufacturing jobs.
  • Healthcare: Seattle is home to renowned healthcare institutions like the University of Washington Medical Center and Swedish Medical Center, offering a wide range of job opportunities in the healthcare sector.

3. Raleigh, North Carolina

Raleigh, part of the Research Triangle, is known for its strong job market and high quality of life. The city has a diverse economy with significant contributions from technology, education, and healthcare sectors. According to Forbes, Raleigh is one of the best cities for job growth in the USA.

Key Industries

  • Technology: The Research Triangle Park, located between Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill, is one of the largest research parks in the world, housing over 300 companies.
  • Education: North Carolina State University is a major employer and contributes to the city’s reputation as a center for education and research.
  • Healthcare: The healthcare sector is robust, with institutions like Duke University Health System and UNC Health Care providing numerous job opportunities.

4. Denver, Colorado

Denver is known for its strong job market, particularly in the tech, healthcare, and energy sectors. The city’s high quality of life and outdoor recreational opportunities make it an attractive destination for job seekers.

Key Industries

  • Technology: Denver has seen a significant increase in tech jobs, with companies like Google and Oracle expanding their presence in the city.
  • Healthcare: The healthcare sector is a major employer, with institutions like UCHealth and Denver Health providing numerous job opportunities.
  • Energy: Denver is a hub for the energy sector, with companies like Anadarko Petroleum and Noble Energy having significant operations in the area.

5. Atlanta, Georgia

Atlanta is a major economic hub in the southeastern United States, offering a diverse range of job opportunities. The city’s economy is bolstered by its strong presence in the technology, healthcare, and logistics sectors.

Key Industries

  • Technology: Atlanta has a growing tech scene, with companies like NCR Corporation and Mailchimp headquartered in the city.
  • Healthcare: The healthcare sector is robust, with institutions like Emory Healthcare and Piedmont Healthcare providing numerous job opportunities.
  • Logistics: Atlanta is a major logistics hub, with Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport being one of the busiest airports in the world. Companies like UPS and Delta Air Lines have significant operations in the city.

6. Boston, Massachusetts

Boston is known for its strong job market, particularly in the education, healthcare, and technology sectors. The city’s high quality of life and rich cultural history make it an attractive destination for job seekers.

Key Industries

  • Education: Boston is home to some of the world’s leading educational institutions, including Harvard University and MIT, which are major employers in the city.
  • Healthcare: The healthcare sector is robust, with institutions like Massachusetts General Hospital and Brigham and Women’s Hospital providing numerous job opportunities.
  • Technology: Boston has a growing tech scene, with companies like HubSpot and Wayfair headquartered in the city.

7. San Francisco, California

San Francisco is a major tech hub, offering a plethora of job opportunities in the technology sector. The city’s high cost of living is offset by the high salaries offered by tech companies.

Key Industries

  • Technology: San Francisco is home to major tech companies like Salesforce, Twitter, and Uber, offering numerous job opportunities.
  • Finance: The city is also a major financial hub, with companies like Wells Fargo and Charles Schwab having significant operations in the area.
  • Healthcare: The healthcare sector is robust, with institutions like UCSF Medical Center providing numerous job opportunities.

8. Dallas, Texas

Dallas is known for its strong job market, particularly in the technology, healthcare, and finance sectors. The city’s low cost of living and high quality of life make it an attractive destination for job seekers.

Key Industries

  • Technology: Dallas has a growing tech scene, with companies like AT&T and Texas Instruments headquartered in the city.
  • Healthcare: The healthcare sector is robust, with institutions like Baylor Scott & White Health and Texas Health Resources providing numerous job opportunities.
  • Finance: Dallas is a major financial hub, with companies like JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America having significant operations in the area.

9. Miami, Florida

Miami is a major economic hub in the southeastern United States, offering a diverse range of job opportunities. The city’s economy is bolstered by its strong presence in the technology, healthcare, and logistics sectors.

Key Industries

  • Technology: Miami has a growing tech scene, with companies like Magic Leap and Chewy headquartered in the city.
  • Healthcare: The healthcare sector is robust, with institutions like Jackson Health System and Baptist Health South Florida providing numerous job opportunities.
  • Logistics: Miami is a major logistics hub, with PortMiami being one of the busiest ports in the world. Companies like Ryder and DHL have significant operations in the city.

10. Nashville, Tennessee

Nashville is known for its strong job market, particularly in the healthcare, education, and technology sectors. The city’s high quality of life and vibrant music scene make it an attractive destination for job seekers.

Key Industries

  • Healthcare: Nashville is a major healthcare hub, with institutions like HCA Healthcare and Vanderbilt University Medical Center providing numerous job opportunities.
  • Education: The education sector is robust, with institutions like Vanderbilt University and Belmont University being major employers in the city.
  • Technology: Nashville has a growing tech scene, with companies like Asurion and SmileDirectClub headquartered in the city.

These cities offer a diverse range of job opportunities across various industries, making them attractive destinations for job seekers in the USA.


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