This question has been bugging me for over a year already. I've been working as freelancer or on a remote basis since I started earning money for programming (around 8 years ago).

Despite the fact that I don't have the amount of experience that many developer can show, I have some time in the job already and have learnt a trick or two which leads to the point that every time I make an interview for a .NET or PHP position, I get qualified as a Senior Dev. That's very nice, however, when they realize that I'm not from EU or inside the US and I need sponsorship, most companies will fall back saying that it's too complicated to get this done, or that they rather take a less skilled developer, anyways, except for a few which offer a remote work, they mostly bail.

Is sponsoring a candidate that hard?

Note: the tag sponsorship would be best for this question, but since I registered yesterday, I'm still considered a newb :)

EDIT: By sponsoring I mean visas, work permits and any process that will allow a foreign national to work in another country, like me (Cuba) to work in the UK or in the US. With the existence of SO Careers and Linked In, having international candidates is fairly common these days, so I think this is a fair (if not common) problem

Final Edit: I hope this brings some hope to those who are in the same process. I'm currently living in the UK, so the final answer is It's hard, but possible! if you work hard enough and find an employer willing to believe in you. I thought this might give hopes to somebody around there :)

  • 5
    The process is pretty straight forward. The problem is there is a limit to the number of people that will make it through the process. There is also no guarantee you will be one of those people. So it is much easier to find somebody who can be hired today instead of waiting for the process which can take months to finish.
    – Donald
    Jun 12, 2012 at 15:18
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    In addition to Ramhound's comment, there's additional expense. For example, I am currently 3 months and several thousands of dollars into a sponsorship process for someone (and this is someone from Canada and I'm in the US, so this is the "easy" version). It's not hard, but for many it's more trouble than it's worth when they could churn through local people. Not saying that's "right", but it is very much a reality.
    – jcmeloni
    Jun 12, 2012 at 17:35
  • I agree with you both, but then devs like me are doomed? My thought is that is a problem of finding the right person and also knowing how to convince that you are the perfect match. Neither an easy thing to do... Jun 12, 2012 at 19:07
  • Sponsoring for what? A visa? What type, what country? Jun 12, 2012 at 20:04
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    The fact that you're in Cuba almost certainly complicates things. Companies in the US are not legally allowed to trade with Cuba (outside of some very limited exceptions), a Cuban that sets foot on US soil automatically qualifies for political asylum if they want it, and the Cuban government is not particularly likely to allow its citizens to leave to come to the US since most would end up defecting. I suspect that makes it close to impossible for a US company to get a visa for a Cuban citizen. It's likely a bit easier in the EU since there is no trade embargo but not by much. Jun 12, 2012 at 21:07

3 Answers 3


Short answer: yes, sponsoring a candidate in your situation is very hard. Not 100% impossible, but very hard. You can get information about those very limited situations where your government can let you leave and emigrate to another country and adopt a strategy to qualify for one of those.

Good luck, you will need it!

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    Altough not an answer per se (i.e no actual solution) I think that there is no actual solution for this and for us developers in others than the 1st world it's a rough situation, so I'm marking your answer as correct and crossing my fingers to get my luck up :) Jun 17, 2012 at 15:36

To take the US example a bit further, if you were planning to get in under an H1-B visa, these tend to hit the cap rather quickly. H-1B Cap Reached Today; Didn't Get In? Too Bad notes for April 5, 2013:

"Employers stampeding into the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service to get their H-1B petitions filed before the cap is reached are getting the door slammed in their face today. The cap was hit in near record time of 5 days, compared to the 10 weeks it took last year to have more than enough petitions to fulfill the combined cap of 85,000 statutory and advanced degree H-1B petitions. While U.S. tech workers scream that they're losing out on jobs as H-1B workers are hired, employers are countering that the talent pool is lacking and they need to increase the cap. Of course, Congress is wrangling in on this one as to whether it's time to raise the bar."

Given that the annual cap was hit in 5 days, what kind of chance do you think you'd have for getting in this way? For those developers in Canada or Mexico there are NAFTA visa provisions so it is worth considering what kind of international treaties may affect one's ability to work in country A coming from country B.


Speaking for the US: very hard indeed. The typically sequence is "H1B Visa", "Advanced Parole" (really, I'm not making this up), "Green Card" and then "Citizenship". As JB King pointed out, H1B have a tight quota which is quickly exhausted. Coming from Cuba probably doesn't help because of the political situation. The application requires careful preparation from the hiring company and the associated immigration lawyers. This costs time and money. A lot of it.

H1B cost: ca. $5k-$10k plus whatever overhead the company has internally. Green Card is at least twice as much the application is more complicated (depending on category). Most of these are lawyer fees, so it depends somewhat on how the company operates.

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