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I work for my employer in a telecommute capacity. He's based in the USA and I'm in South Africa (I was in the UK but my work visa ended there).

Due to a whole number of reasons, mostly surrounding my personal circumstances, I would like to approach my employer about sponsoring me for a work visa to work for his company on site in the USA. I have looked at the requirements and I do meet the criteria as a specialised worker. However, this will be an expensive and lengthy process for him to go through on my behalf, and I have no idea if he would want to even consider it.

I also do not know how much detail to go into regarding my personal circumstances. South Africa is politically unstable and I really would like to make a new future for myself and my daughter. I recently got out of an abusive relationship and starting a new life at the other end of the world would be a welcome change.

I have a great relationship with my employer but have no idea how to go about determining if this is something he'd consider,or exactly how much detail to give regarding my reasoning for wanting to move. Is this kind of conversation even appropriate for me to start? How do I go about finding out if it's something he would consider?

  • How large is the employer? Larger employers are likely to have done visa sponsorship before or at least have someone in HR that knows how to navigate the process. That's a much easier request than if you're working for a "Mom and Pop" shop that has never done a visa sponsorship and doesn't have an HR person that can deal with the paperwork. – Justin Cave Mar 9 at 18:47
  • @Justin it's a medium size company I think. Round about 40 employees. I have no idea if they've sponsored anyone before. – singlemom Mar 9 at 20:58
  • @singlemom while I think you can definitely ask your employer that, do you think you will get your ex-husband to authorize your daughter to move to another country? Are you ready to move without your daughter? You should think about that before approaching your employer. – gstorto Mar 10 at 19:03
  • @gstorto that's not an issue because his name isn't on her birth certificate. – singlemom Mar 11 at 20:13
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I have a great relationship with my employer but have no idea how to go about determining if this is something he'd consider,or exactly how much detail to give regarding my reasoning for wanting to move. Is this kind of conversation even appropriate for me to start? How do I go about finding out if it's something he would consider?

You just have to ask.

If you have regular one-on-one meetings, ask something like "Hey boss. I've really enjoyed working in this company. I'd like to work in the US, rather than remotely. Do you think the company would sponsor my work visa so that I could work on site?"

That should start the conversation.

Depending on how that conversation goes, you may need to go deeper into why you wish to work in the US. But maybe not.

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I think you should try and separate work and immigration.

Work visas are designed for employers to attract talent from other countries, that they can't find home. They are already have the position filled (by you), so they have found enough local talent and outsourced everything else.

You can try to argue that working on site will allow you to be more productive, but it might not be enough. Perhaps, you can ask for change of position or promotion, to get more work and responsibility, so that you are required to work locally in the US.

Work visas are tool for the US businesses, it is not a tool for you. That is why I am wary of you saying:

I really would like to make a new future for myself and my daughter

You are literally asking to immigrate in the US. The line between "living" and "working" is blurry, and I am not making a judgement, but I am 99% sure you can't bring this up to your employer, as it will mean they might break immigration laws by hiring you. AFAIK you can't enter country on work visa with the intention to stay (immigrate). The employer can't use work visas to rescue people from other countries, there are refugee programs for that.

I am an international PhD student in the US, so I am using student visa. I would like to stay and be scientist here, but right now my primary reason to stay is school. I know that work life and personal life get intertwined, that you, as a human being, will use whatever legal tools available to be happy. But your company is not working in your interests.

Bottom line: embrace your options (work visa), make a case for it, be ready that they'll say no. If they say yes, and you move to the US, get ready that company will go under in 2 months. You are not an immigrant, you are a foreign worker, your status is more shaky.

  • It is perfectly reasonable to request a site transfer for personal reasons. It does not mean his employer will accept it, nor that he is eligible for a visa sponsorship. It is up to the company that is going to request the visa sponsorship to assess its feasibility, not the employee. Maybe they will offer a promotion or a change of responsibilities? The employee cannot predict. – gstorto Mar 10 at 16:30
  • @gstorto my point is about the fact that entering US on work visa with intention to stay is against the law. I am trying to warn OP – aaaaa says reinstate Monica Mar 10 at 20:03
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    @aaaaaa there is a (long, expensive and pretty rocky) path to residency by a sponsored working visa that is completely legal. I have no intention of overstaying and am completely aware of how difficult and unlikely this process is. Nonetheless, I would like to take a shot at it and the first step is asking my employer about it. – singlemom Mar 11 at 20:17

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