0

(NB: Although this question touches on issues of immigration and travel, its pith lies in understanding the way hiring managers and recruiters think, which is why I belive Workplace is the right place to ask it.)

I'm a Russian citizen who used to work in the US but quit his job and moved back to Russia due to urgent family issues I needed to resolve.

A few months back I was contacted by another US company that expressed strong interest in hiring me. All of my remote interviews went very well, and I was invited to make a paid trip to their US office for the final round. However, due to the current political situation I was unable to get a short-term travel visa in a reasonable time (currently it takes a whopping 200 days to get a short-term business/travel visa at the Moscow consulate). In other words, if I'm hired, I can get a work visa promptly since I already had it before, yet I can't get an ordinary short-time visa for the interview in a timely manner.

After some deliberation, I decided to carefully describe all the options I could think of, and sent a lengthy e-mail to the hiring manager. Two weeks of total silence ensued, followed by a canned response that the opening was no longer available.

Fast forward a few months, and yet another US company I'm interested in invites me to interview for them. Once again, I blaze through the phone interviews and get an invitation to visit their main office. Now I need to inform the hiring manager that I won't be able to show up in their office this or next month. I don't want to be discarded with no clear explanation again, hence my question how I should tackle this.

The following are the options I'm thinking of proposing:

  • Conducting the final round remotely via video conferencing. (This seems like the most logical option to me, and I'm surprised it did not work the first time.)
  • Me getting a visa in a neighbouring country (which is straining for me, but could significantly reduce the wait time until my visit).
  • Offering to contribute to the open source part of the project for free until my visa is resolved. (This, at least in my mind, should help us establish how well we "click" together.)

My questions are:

  • How exactly should I frame my response, and which of these options that I've listed seem most sound?
  • Was there something I did wrong that I was rejected the first time?
  • How likely is it that I was subjected to ethnic profiling and perceived as a sham? ("The guy is from Russia and can't show up in person on a specious sounding pretext, he must be up to no good.")
  • 1
    I'd maybe start off simply explaining that getting the visa is going to take time due to the current political climate. Offer alternatives. As an American, we aren't all stupid and don't know what is going on in the world or hate the Russian people. They reached out to you, they are obviously interested. Explain the situation. – SiXandSeven8ths Nov 1 '18 at 18:43
  • @SiXandSeven8ths Oh I by no means am implying Americans are stupid, I've met a great number of fantastic people in there, hence my interest in coming back. However, it seems that people responsible for hiring are afraid of getting into trouble for hiring the "wrong" person, which is why they bail on candidates with any unusual circumstances, be it visa issues or an illness, as long as there's some wiggle space for not getting legally pursued for discrimination. I appreciate your comment, and that is likely what I will do. – はいはいはい Nov 1 '18 at 19:25
  • I only meant that you shouldn't need to worry about the political issues between the US and Russia having an effect in a negative way, unless you are someone that has ties to the wrong individual. I don't think too many people are going to reach out to you and then say, "nevermind, he's a Russian, must be a spy or something." – SiXandSeven8ths Nov 1 '18 at 22:35
  • @SiXandSeven8ths I understand, though actually I heard pretty much that a few times when in the US. The word "spy" obviously was not spelled out, but people grew suspicious and suddenly changed plans or reverted previous decisions after learning my nationality. Never in the work-related context though, and only in more conservative states. – はいはいはい Nov 2 '18 at 5:12
3

If I were the hiring manager in this situation, my main worry would be that I offer you a job and then you can't get a work visa, or it takes inconveniently long. You may know for a fact that it's easier for you to get a work visa, but if I'm a US-based manager who doesn't know the practicalities of immigration law, I don't have that same certainty.

The current political climate in the USA doesn't help. As you no doubt know, US/Russia relations are complicated at the moment, and the current administration has been running hard on anti-immigration policies. While those are mostly directed at countries other than Russia, it does create additional uncertainty - e.g. I'm aware of various conferences that have been severely disrupted after would-be attendees were unexpectedly refused entry to the USA.

Video conferencing/teleworking sound like good options to consider, if your prospective employer is amenable to that.

2

I really don't think companies care if you are a Russian. Businesses do whatever is convenient. If anything, they are likely balking because they may fear you will bail on them to return back to Russia again. Any explanation should include that your trip home was not what you expect again.

I wouldn't work for free, but see if you can land an easy job working for smaller money, yet hopefully related to your field in the US while you are working out the details for the job you want.

  • 1
    Thanks for the response. I don't think my returning to Russia has anything to do with it however, otherwise they wouldn't have invited me to their office in the first place. Furthermore, I didn't "bail" on my past employer, we ended fairly cordially and with no broken obligations on my side. Had they not been suffering layoffs lately, I likely would have been working for them. – はいはいはい Oct 31 '18 at 21:21
  • Mentioning that I can work remotely until my visa situation is resolved is certainly an option I am considering, thanks for the reminder! – はいはいはい Oct 31 '18 at 21:26
  • 1
    I didn't mean to diminish or marginalize your reason for leaving, but only to illustrate what a skeptical potential employer might be thinking. – Den Warren Oct 31 '18 at 21:37
2

I can't comment on this site yet so It'll have to be an answer.

You say:

Me getting a visa in a neighbouring country (which is straining for me, but could significantly reduce the wait time until my visit).

I can tell you that from personal experience that is not possible. I recently applied for a U.S. student Visa and while I was at the American consulate (in a Western European country) I couldn't help but overhear this exchange between a Russian citizen and a consular employee.

The Russian citizen was visiting to get a Visa, I can't quite remember what Visa it was but I think it was a work Visa. The Russian citizen was saying the same thing you wrote in your question, that getting a U.S. Visa in Moscow takes an enormous amount of time and that for this reason he had traveled to this country to get a Visa faster.

Long story short, the consular employee told the Russian citizen that in order to apply for a U.S. Visa you need to be a legal resident of the country in which you apply. For example, if you wanted to apply in Italy for a U.S. Visa you would need to be a resident in Italy, or Italian citizen.

Now I can't say for sure if this was an isolated incident or if it's a restriction only for non-EU citizens or only for Russian citizens but make sure you double check before you make a consulate appointment and travel abroad.

Best of luck!

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.