Applying for US Biotech jobs as a foreigner
November 3, 2014 2:29 PM   Subscribe

I'm an experienced postdoc in academic biology/medical research, looking to move into biotech or pharma. Most of the jobs that I'm best qualified for are in the US, but I'm not a US citizen. I'm aware that the H1B visa cap can make it difficult for employers to hire foreigners, so am I wasting my time by applying?

Several of the firms I've looked at have language on their careers pages along the lines "We only accept job applications from candidates who are properly documented with authorization to work in the United States", which presumably excludes people currently without work visas, like me.

The bigger pharma companies tend not to have this language, but I have to think that the same issue at least puts me at a major disadvantage as a candidate.

Does anyone have experience here? Are biotech and pharma companies able and willing to jump through the hoops to arrange visas for Scientist-level employees? Or am I likely wasting my time on these applications?

(I'm aware that universities are generally excluded from the cap, but for the purposes of this question I'm interested in industry jobs)
posted by metaBugs to Work & Money (4 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Which country are you from? There is the H1B1 visa if you are from Singapore or Chile. I've had acquaintances get O visas as well.
posted by TrinsicWS at 2:56 PM on November 3, 2014

Response by poster: Good point. I'm from the UK.
posted by metaBugs at 3:08 PM on November 3, 2014

Best answer: I work for a small biotech firm in the US that employs a couple people (Ph.Ds) who are on H1 visas. But, I think there were some special circumstances (someone with some political connections, probably). At larger companies, they usually have enough money to employ immigration lawyers and visa specialists who can facilitate visa applications, so it's a bit easier. Smaller companies can't usually afford the paperwork. It's still a disadvantage in applying, and I wouldn't say the outlook is rosy. But they raised the visa cap this summer, and I've had two friends on work visas get jobs in 2014 in the biotech field. (Though, I think it helps to have connections at the company just as it would if you were a US applicant). So, keep applying, and definitely at larger companies rather than smaller ones. You might find these reports useful. Here's the report on the top visa sponsors in the Scientific Research industry.
posted by bluefly at 5:52 PM on November 3, 2014

Response by poster: Thanks very much, bluefly. I'd stumbled across those reports already, but it's valuable to have some fisrt-hand perspective.

Very frustrating that all the firms I can find advertising jobs that I'm very well qualified for either have the US visa hurdle or require fluency in a language that I don't speak. Oh well, one of the perils of (over-)specialising in one's training, I suppose.
posted by metaBugs at 2:58 AM on November 7, 2014

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