Immigrating to the US, and working in finance
April 26, 2005 1:05 PM   Subscribe

A friend of mine wants to become a permanent resident of the US, and get a job in finance.

She is 29 years old, has a masters in Finance from an american university and an undergraduate degree in Accounting from Taiwan. She has no useful job experience, but is willing to do pretty much anything to get into this career path.

As an added complication, she is hoping one of her future employers will sponsor her application to become a US citizen.

What should she do to follow her dream of being an American, working in Finance? options that involve more school, or jobs at the bottom of the ladder are completely acceptable.
posted by mosch to Work & Money (7 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I am no immigration expert but can offer you a description of my experience.

I've lived in the States for seven years being sponsored by a couple of different employers. But understand that getting work sponsorship is completely different to getting the freedom that comes with a green card or citizenship (that may be waaay down the road for your friend).

Anyway, when I finished university I got a J1 visa with minimal work experience with the help of these people (or an Irish branch of same). This allowed me to work in my field for 18 months for an employer who was willing to take me on. I made myself indispensible for 18 months, at which point they sponsored me for a H1B visa - that's 6 years of work authorization, again tied to your one sponsor employer.

In my experience, a lot of employers are resistant to the expense and trouble involved in sponsoring a candidate. I had some things going for me - I'm a quantity surveyor, so my skills are in very high demand here in New York; QS firms here are used to sponsoring us furriners (and are mostly run by furriners); I could leverage my Irish and British connections in the construction industry when I wanted to switch jobs. Whatever networks your friend can plug into, whatever makes her stand out a mile, start using.

It's worked out fine but is temporary residence - I find that it feels terribly insecure having your ability to stay tied to your job. The longer you stay the more you have to lose. Certainly in my case while I could probably ask my employer for green card sponsorship at this point, the constant administrative jousting with the INS and associated expense got to me.

Hopefully someone else will step in here with advice for a more direct route. Good luck!
posted by dublinemma at 1:36 PM on April 26, 2005

From what school is her Master's? Or, from what tier of school is her Master's.
posted by Kwantsar at 1:40 PM on April 26, 2005

She got her masters from American University in DC, not "an American University" as I originally stated.
posted by mosch at 3:13 PM on April 26, 2005

One other clarification: she has no experience working in finance, but has a large amount of experience working in accounting.
posted by mosch at 3:19 PM on April 26, 2005

It's a hard road. Even in academia, where it's fairly common, it takes years and thousands of dollars, and we've lost faculty who didn't get a green card quickly enough to schools abroad.

The first step is just to get to the US on a work permit, which isn't easy but is doable.

Once she's here and living a normal life, possibilities open. Especially the possibility of marrying a citizen or permanent resident, if she's not already married. Not in a fake, marriage of convenience way, but just that if you're living around a bunch of people who are either citizens or PR's, you're more likely to marry one than if you stay in Taiwan. Once that happens, adjustment to a green card is time-consuming but nearly automatic (ie, you get it unless they suspect foul play or she has some strike against her, like a drug-dealing conviction).

It's nothing you can plan on, but it's probably more likely than getting a green card through an employer unless she's really hot shit.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 3:25 PM on April 26, 2005

I tried to do this (I'm British) and failed miserably - no matter how impressive my resume and experience, nobody wanted to sponsor me. This is mainly because if you sponsor someone, you have to have a vacancy, convince the INS that an American can't do it, and then hold it open whilst the INS consider your application. And you've got to hope that the employee is going to naturalize successfully. It's far too big a risk, and if you've got a vacancy, chances are you need to fill it now, not in several months time....

I eventually did it by getting a transfer through work - not only does your company do all the work, they pay all the bills too: it ain't cheap!
posted by forallmankind at 4:26 PM on April 26, 2005

Here is the specific program I got the initial 18-month visa under. It's the "professional career training" one not the internship one. As it's geared directly to people who've just finished college, it may be your friend's best bet to get her "foot in the door". At that point, she can review her options for staying beyond the initial year and a half.
posted by dublinemma at 4:56 AM on April 27, 2005

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