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#1 Zoshenkov   User is offline

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Will be working in US, need career advice

Posted 03 August 2016 - 07:25 AM

Disclaimer:#I have made attempts at finding a more suitable sub but couldn't. This is not a programming/coding question, but a thread about career paths.

Disclaimer #2: Lengthy post (800 words), so Iíd really appreciate your help as a Good Samaritan. Thank you.

I have 3 distinct career options ahead of me and I'm seeking both seasoned opinions from veteran programmers and earnest thoughts from kindhearted fellow dreamers.

Before bringing my options on the table, allow me to provide a little background about myself and to voice my concerns which subsequently explains at least partially why I need advice.

I'll likely be migrating to the US in the next 5 years thanks to a family member. I'm from a country of which name I'm rather reluctant to disclose, I have a college degree and AFAIK, it is recognized in the US. I was an EE major and I have 4 years of experience working on mostly IOT projects, which means I have been dealing with microcontrollers and circuit-board designs the whole time. All projects were done in C, although I know how to code in C++ and Java.

You might want to ask, whatís the problem, then? The problem is that first and foremost, my degree is virtually useless in the American job market. Iím not saying Iím underqualified, Iím saying itís a whole different game in America. In my country there are tons of small companies and micro-studios willing to hire college graduates or even people with an associate degree with a humble salary. Bottom line is, if you are not ďpickyĒ, a job is always readily available but you may not be Porsching around in 3 years. In the US, based on my preliminary research, there doesnít appear to be so many small businesses, basically on Indeed.com, I canít turn over one page without bumping into recruitment ads from HP, Intel, Apple etc. Iím pretty sure my working experience and education is next to useless when competing with those Silicon Valley wizzes who graduated with a master degree from Stanford or UCB.

Then thereís another problem, Iím getting mixed signals. Iíve researched quite extensively into this subject and the more I read, the more confused I am. There are tons of blog entries telling me contradictory experiences about getting a job in the US. Some say itís incredibly difficult, you pretty much have to defeat the best of the best to land a position in a medium sized company, some say itís easier than a cakewalk. Besides blogs posts, the actual online information also bewildered me greatly, per those ďeasier than a cakewalkĒ posts, Iíve browsed a few programmersí (who work for major IT players) project on github and they failed to impress me, at least I know I could do the same; but serving as testimonies of those ďincredibly difficultĒ comments are job ads out there which call for super humans, some ads would require potential candidates to master JAVA, C/C++, Perl, Python, CSS,.Net, C# &VB, some would demand applicants to be experts on all MCUs of 8051, CM3, A9 architectures, plus an expert on FPGA. Iím positive it is impossible even if you were in the industry for over 10 years, unless of course you were a child prodigy and started your engineering profession at the tender age of 6.

With all that said, I think I have 3 paths to embark on:
The first is advanced software developing with an Electrical Engineering background. It may sound confusing, but Iím talking about programing for embedded Linux systems, developing drivers, tailoring Linux kernel and configuring bootloaders.

The 2nd is general programming. I think it is quite reasonable to expect there are a lot of low-tech programming jobs out there. For example, a state health-department will need a programmer just skill enough to modify a few line of codes using C/C++ to suit the ever-changing demands, but not pricey enough to write an entire system from scratch. So all I need is the ability to code relatively well in C/C++ and/or JAVA, and I shall be able to get a position somewhere.

The 3rd option is starting from ground zero, Iím talking about trying to pick up Javascript or Android development ó something I had very little knowledge about. Iím reluctant but it can potentially be a very reasonable and promising choice because ó

You see, all Iím concerned is GETTING a job, not getting a GREAT job. So I believe the ďalgorithmĒ for me to choose a career path should be based on applicants-to-vacancy ratio (AVR). I think it is reasonable to assume Option 1 has a relatively low AVR because it is very, very difficult. I donít know about US but in my country the proportion of EEs who could do that is well below 1/20. But Iím actually less inclined to go down that path because people doing that job will be playing a major role in any development process, they will likely be the architect and commander-in-chief for an entire project, in other words, unless you are incredibly good and have something to prove it (like you were the Chief Tech for LG Mobile division), an aviation company at Auburn Alabama will most likely leave the job open than hiring some guy with an exotic diploma. So option #1 is actually quite risky.

The 2nd option is a safe bet but it will be highly competed. So I think I may have to go with companies/government offices at smaller towns, places which most Americans donít know exist. But Iím a small town guy so I have no problem with that.

The 3rd optionÖ based on my study, the hottest jobs right now is Android development and Website/Database front-end related jobs, i.e. javascript. I think I wouldnít sound too ridiculous if I assume the AVR for android developers and javascript programmers stands at 0.5, which means there are more jobs than coders, although frankly I could be wrong and the market had already been saturated, which is unlikely since Android is still quite new. The risk for this option being A. I have zero experience and academic credential and B. I have to start completely new, as of now I know virtually nothing about front end development.

So thereís my quandary. What are your thoughts? Any help will be greatly appreciated. Oh and, Iím not into big cities so Iím not looking forward to working in San Fran, LA or New York. Iím thinking about southern states like Texas, North Carolina and Florida etc.

Hope y'all have a great day!

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#2 modi123_1   User is online

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Re: Will be working in US, need career advice

Posted 03 August 2016 - 07:35 AM

Quote

I was an EE major and I have 4 years of experience working on mostly IOT projects,

For an actual paycheck or just personal projects?

Quote

The problem is that first and foremost, my degree is virtually useless in the American job market.

I would beg to differ. Plenty of 'electrical engineer' jobs out there.

Quote

So I believe the ďalgorithmĒ for me to choose a career path should be based on applicants-to-vacancy ratio (AVR).

Stop.. just stop right there. FFS if this, and the next chunk of text, do not scream "over thinking it" I don't know what does.

Quote

So thereís my quandary. What are your thoughts?

Apply for jobs your have reasonable skill set for.

Quote

Iím thinking about southern states like Texas, North Carolina and Florida etc.

Start looking at job boards specifically for there. Be clear if you need a visa, duration, etc.
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#3 Zoshenkov   User is offline

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Re: Will be working in US, need career advice

Posted 03 August 2016 - 07:53 AM

View Postmodi123_1, on 03 August 2016 - 07:35 AM, said:

Quote

I was an EE major and I have 4 years of experience working on mostly IOT projects,

For an actual paycheck or just personal projects?


Thank you for your input, Modi. Both actually. I now work full time for regular paycheck, and I've finished 2 free lance projects.


Quote

I would beg to differ. Plenty of 'electrical engineer' jobs out there.


Surely you don't mean a tech director would look at my resume and go "Graduated Magnum Cum Laude from Nowhere Town, 2nd-World University? Wonderful, how would you like to work on our flight control systems?" Although I admit if there's a toy company I'd be more than glad to continue working as an EE.


Quote

Stop.. just stop right there. FFS if this, and the next chunk of text, do not scream "over thinking it" I don't know what does.


That's me... and basically every EE. You can never overthink your product designs. No matter how hard you try, it always has a bug somewhere lurking around plotting to bite you at the least opportune time. LOL. But anyway, I think I better go into the battle prepared.

Quote

Apply for jobs your have reasonable skill set for.


Alas, I wish things is that simple, but hey, what do I know.

Quote

Start looking at job boards specifically for there. Be clear if you need a visa, duration, etc.


I think if everything went smoothly, I do not need one, although the waiting period could be longer than 5 years. Again, you have been very encouraging. Thank you!
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#4 modi123_1   User is online

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Re: Will be working in US, need career advice

Posted 03 August 2016 - 08:04 AM

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Surely you don't mean a tech director would look at my resume and go "Graduated Magnum Cum Laude from Nowhere Town, 2nd-World University? Wonderful, how would you like to work on our flight control systems?"

Well, no. Of course not. I said nothing of the kind. I said there are quite a few 'electical engineering' jobs out there on the boards and with recruiters. Not all are flight control systems.

Apply for a job your have a reasonable chance and sufficient experience to mostly do.

Quote

Quote

Stop.. just stop right there. FFS if this, and the next chunk of text, do not scream "over thinking it" I don't know what does.

That's me... and basically every EE. You can never overthink your product designs. No matter how hard you try, it always has a bug somewhere lurking around plotting to bite you at the least opportune time. LOL. But anyway, I think I better go into the battle prepared.

Let's be honest - it is dumb and not positive productive to pretend there's some basic math formula job hiring boils down to. If you have actual honest-to-goodness four years of demonstrable business experience as an electrical engineer (I am unclear on what flavor), a degree, have the visa/foreign national bit nailed down to assuage HR/hiring managers, and what not - there's not much standing in your way to apply for reasonable jobs.

Of course this is now.. if you keep doing what ever for five years where ever you are that is now 8-9 years of actual business experience?

So this family member helping you out - you won't be remotely living near them? In what capacity are they helping you out?

Quote

Quote

Apply for jobs your have reasonable skill set for.

Alas, I wish things is that simple, but hey, what do I know.

There are zero reasons (outside of what was outlined above) that it isn't this simple.

Quote

I think if everything went smoothly, I do not need one,

Elaborate.
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#5 astonecipher   User is offline

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Re: Will be working in US, need career advice

Posted 03 August 2016 - 08:56 AM

You are over thinking. There are a lot of small to medium sized companies that hire, at good rates. As long as you are legally allowed to work and have the experience they are looking for, you would be a contender for open positions.
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#6 Zoshenkov   User is offline

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Re: Will be working in US, need career advice

Posted 03 August 2016 - 04:59 PM

View Postmodi123_1, on 03 August 2016 - 08:04 AM, said:

Well, no. Of course not. I said nothing of the kind. I said there are quite a few 'electical engineering' jobs out there on the boards and with recruiters. Not all are flight control systems.


My bad, I was making an analogy. What I was trying to say was that the proportion of high-end jobs in the US is ridiculously high which renders my education virtually useless. Every time I punch in those keywords, electrical engineering, mircocontroller etc., what pops up? Lockheed-Martin, NASA, Altera etc. Now it's kinda reassuring knowing that there most definitely are smaller companies, as another user mentioned.

View Postmodi123_1, on 03 August 2016 - 08:04 AM, said:

Apply for a job your have a reasonable chance and sufficient experience to mostly do.


OK then, but then again, all the job ads I browsed seem to have somewhat unrealistic demands for applicants. Maybe there are other sites out there other than mainstream job sites like glassdoor.com or indeed.com?

Quote

Let's be honest - it is dumb and not positive productive to pretend there's some basic math formula job hiring boils down to. If you have actual honest-to-goodness four years of demonstrable business experience as an electrical engineer (I am unclear on what flavor), a degree, have the visa/foreign national bit nailed down to assuage HR/hiring managers, and what not - there's not much standing in your way to apply for reasonable jobs.

Of course this is now.. if you keep doing what ever for five years where ever you are that is now 8-9 years of actual business experience?


That's rather comforting, thank you. You may find it absurd, in the sense that "you worked for 4 years, what you have to be afraid of?" Well the thing is, I've heard a rumor before, a relative of mine who were both engineers working on fighter plane radars are now running a bakery somewhere in New Jersey after they migrated. You could argue that radar isn't very "high-tech", but I always get the impression that "good" here in my country isn't so "good" in America.

Quote

So this family member helping you out - you won't be remotely living near them? In what capacity are they helping you out?



Oh, helping me out as in putting me on a waiting list of potential candidates for permanent residency program. I haven't looked into the whole matter and that's what I was told. I'm thinking about buying my own house in a relatively low cost-of-living area and drive 10 miles or so to commute on daily basis.

Quote

There are zero reasons (outside of what was outlined above) that it isn't this simple.


Ok then, that's really great.

Quote

Elaborate.


Again, my mistake, I think I may still need a visa to go to the US, but it's likely I will become a permanent resident shortly afterward so I won't be in a hurry to obtain a working visa? I could be wrong but again that's what I was told. I think the gap period will be only months.
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#7 astonecipher   User is offline

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Re: Will be working in US, need career advice

Posted 03 August 2016 - 05:08 PM

The process isn't quite that quick, and in order to get a work visa you need a company to sponsor you first. Litterally just went through this with one of our DBA's.
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#8 Zoshenkov   User is offline

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Re: Will be working in US, need career advice

Posted 04 August 2016 - 05:11 AM

View Postastonecipher, on 03 August 2016 - 05:08 PM, said:

The process isn't quite that quick, and in order to get a work visa you need a company to sponsor you first. Litterally just went through this with one of our DBA's.


Really? Gee I've read it somewhere that it took only 4 months. Ok then, never mind. Also, I've heard you get to obtain a permanent resident status, which eliminates the necessity for a working visa, and besides, the "H" visas are incredibly difficult to get.
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#9 no2pencil   User is online

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Re: Will be working in US, need career advice

Posted 04 August 2016 - 05:26 AM

Forgive me if someone else already mentioned this, but I didn't see it. One thing that you have going for you is your use of the English language. This alone, at least judging by your demeanor in this topic, puts you ahead of some US candidates.
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#10 astonecipher   User is offline

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Re: Will be working in US, need career advice

Posted 04 August 2016 - 06:37 AM

That alone puts him ahead of some citizens!
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#11 Zoshenkov   User is offline

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Re: Will be working in US, need career advice

Posted 05 August 2016 - 04:01 AM

View Postno2pencil, on 04 August 2016 - 05:26 AM, said:

Forgive me if someone else already mentioned this, but I didn't see it. One thing that you have going for you is your use of the English language. This alone, at least judging by your demeanor in this topic, puts you ahead of some US candidates.


Whoa hey um, at the risk of making a total fool of myself, thanks a whole bunch (because I'm not good at detecting sarcasm so I'm just gonna take it at face value). I thought my posts were ridden with grammar errors lol.

My uh, proficiency with the English vernacular can probably be attributed to my extensive interaction with my ex-girlfriend who stayed in my country for quite a while because her father had to work here. She um, she was ethnically Russian and a native Tennessean if that makes sense. She had this whole bad mule vibe which she carries that's really enticing. I mean to a more introverted, borderline autistic Asian guy that's mind-blowing, exotic and completely out of this world (no pun intended).

View Postastonecipher, on 04 August 2016 - 06:37 AM, said:

That alone puts him ahead of some citizens!


Wow um, that's an incredibly sweet thing to say. You now make wanna consider going into the Hollywood. Okay I'm done getting carried away. :bigsmile:
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#12 Craig328   User is offline

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Re: Will be working in US, need career advice

Posted 05 August 2016 - 05:08 PM

I'm late to this party but I'd like to chime in here. Pretend for a moment that I'm a hiring manager. Location, company size doesn't matter. Your resume lands on my desk for a position you applied to that you may or may not be perfectly qualified for (further down I'll explain why it doesn't matter).

  • "I have a college degree - an EE major"
  • "I have 4 years of experience working"
  • "I have been dealing with microcontrollers and circuit-board designs"
  • "...done in C, although I know how to code in C++ and Java"
  • And you appear to be able to craft a cogent sentence in English


Assuming you are legally allowed to actually work in the United States (and you better get that ball rolling pronto if you're not), guess what: I want to speak with you. Know why?

- Because you were smart enough to master the skills, or hire someone, to write a concise, pertinent resume and cover letter extolling your virtues (you WILL do this). Your resume says "I'm different" and different is good. Different gets you noticed. You may have heard that American companies place a premium on diversity. Diversity is more than acknowledging skin color or which gender you prefer to frolic with. For a lot of companies you check a box simply by not being American...by being different.

- Now, you said "my degree is virtually useless in the American job market" and I'd like to know why you say that. Given your name and that you had/have a Russian GF, I'll expect you're Russian or are from one of the previous territories they squatted on while they were busy being the USSR. You're from a 1st/2nd world country. Your education is just as valid as a mid tier American school.

- You seem to have mastered English reasonably well. You have no idea how big a deal that is when you get past the HR people and get to interview with the people you'd end up working with and for.

- You have actual job experience. Presumably, you can also acquire superior references both professional and personal (and have them translated if necessary). You have an enormous leg up on all those new college grads because you've been there and done that already. No breaking in period for you to transition from relatively irresponsible college kid to working adult.

[/end temp hiring manager stint]

Here's the thing: those are the qualities any firm's HR department wants to know about. Of course, you need to apply for work you can actually do but don't worry too much about the education. Focus on the tasks of the job. Do you know how and can you do them? They want to speak to you. Period. Since you may score an HR rep who isn't all that bright, it wouldn't hurt to put that into your cover letter ("I have done and can do all the requirements you listed in the position description. I am interested in the job. I want someone to contact me so we can learn more about one another").

Education is nice and all but that's really just a gross filter. What every single employer wants is not just an educationally qualified employee but one who will actually show up to work, do the job and do it well. Communication is important so if your English sucks so bad you have to have an interpreter hired to follow you around as well (don't laugh...this was the practical case for someone assigned to me just 2-3 years ago)...then you will find it difficult. But you don't appear to need that.

The resume/cover letter is key though. Perhaps you see what I did. The things you identify as weaknesses, I rephrased them as strengths. This is done in the cover letter. Be succinct and to the point. If they listed required skills, address each and every one, in order, in the cover letter. Once you do that, tell them how you meet every criteria they asked for (and if you didn't, you are "eager to pick up new skills") and then tell them you are interested and you want to discuss the opportunity with them further. Be direct.

There are other threads here on DIC that offer up advice (some of it worthwhile even). One of them that worked out well for the OP was this one. He later posted that he got his job so it worked out for him.

In closing: do not prejudge yourself harshly. If you aim high and miss THEN you lower your aim. But your first efforts should be made toward your best preferred outcome.

Good luck!
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#13 astonecipher   User is offline

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Re: Will be working in US, need career advice

Posted 05 August 2016 - 05:12 PM

Oh,my company has a few "foreigners", one is English, the other Ukrainian. The Ukrainian is the one I recently went thru the visa stuff with.
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#14 Zoshenkov   User is offline

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Re: Will be working in US, need career advice

Posted 06 August 2016 - 03:55 PM

View PostCraig328, on 05 August 2016 - 05:08 PM, said:

I'm late to this party but I'd like to chime in here. Pretend for a moment that I'm a hiring manager. Location, company size doesn't matter. Your resume lands on my desk for a position you applied to that you may or may not be perfectly qualified for (further down I'll explain why it doesn't matter).

  • "I have a college degree - an EE major"
  • "I have 4 years of experience working"
  • "I have been dealing with microcontrollers and circuit-board designs"
  • "...done in C, although I know how to code in C++ and Java"
  • And you appear to be able to craft a cogent sentence in English


Assuming you are legally allowed to actually work in the United States (and you better get that ball rolling pronto if you're not), guess what: I want to speak with you. Know why?

- Because you were smart enough to master the skills, or hire someone, to write a concise, pertinent resume and cover letter extolling your virtues (you WILL do this). Your resume says "I'm different" and different is good. Different gets you noticed. You may have heard that American companies place a premium on diversity. Diversity is more than acknowledging skin color or which gender you prefer to frolic with. For a lot of companies you check a box simply by not being American...by being different.

- Now, you said "my degree is virtually useless in the American job market" and I'd like to know why you say that. Given your name and that you had/have a Russian GF, I'll expect you're Russian or are from one of the previous territories they squatted on while they were busy being the USSR. You're from a 1st/2nd world country. Your education is just as valid as a mid tier American school.

- You seem to have mastered English reasonably well. You have no idea how big a deal that is when you get past the HR people and get to interview with the people you'd end up working with and for.

- You have actual job experience. Presumably, you can also acquire superior references both professional and personal (and have them translated if necessary). You have an enormous leg up on all those new college grads because you've been there and done that already. No breaking in period for you to transition from relatively irresponsible college kid to working adult.

[/end temp hiring manager stint]

Here's the thing: those are the qualities any firm's HR department wants to know about. Of course, you need to apply for work you can actually do but don't worry too much about the education. Focus on the tasks of the job. Do you know how and can you do them? They want to speak to you. Period. Since you may score an HR rep who isn't all that bright, it wouldn't hurt to put that into your cover letter ("I have done and can do all the requirements you listed in the position description. I am interested in the job. I want someone to contact me so we can learn more about one another").

Education is nice and all but that's really just a gross filter. What every single employer wants is not just an educationally qualified employee but one who will actually show up to work, do the job and do it well. Communication is important so if your English sucks so bad you have to have an interpreter hired to follow you around as well (don't laugh...this was the practical case for someone assigned to me just 2-3 years ago)...then you will find it difficult. But you don't appear to need that.

The resume/cover letter is key though. Perhaps you see what I did. The things you identify as weaknesses, I rephrased them as strengths. This is done in the cover letter. Be succinct and to the point. If they listed required skills, address each and every one, in order, in the cover letter. Once you do that, tell them how you meet every criteria they asked for (and if you didn't, you are "eager to pick up new skills") and then tell them you are interested and you want to discuss the opportunity with them further. Be direct.

There are other threads here on DIC that offer up advice (some of it worthwhile even). One of them that worked out well for the OP was this one. He later posted that he got his job so it worked out for him.

In closing: do not prejudge yourself harshly. If you aim high and miss THEN you lower your aim. But your first efforts should be made toward your best preferred outcome.

Good luck!



Thanks Craig, that's really helpful and informative, it truly eliminated a lot of concerns for me. I can't thank you enough :bigsmile: I'll keep building my career profile. Thanks.

View Postastonecipher, on 05 August 2016 - 05:12 PM, said:

Oh,my company has a few "foreigners", one is English, the other Ukrainian. The Ukrainian is the one I recently went thru the visa stuff with.


Hey the Ukrainian guy must be great, he went there on an H1b? I read similar cases (people from my country) before, they usually worked for major companies and were specialized in search engine related algorithms.
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#15 TechnoBear   User is online

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Re: Will be working in US, need career advice

Posted 08 August 2016 - 08:03 AM

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I think I may still need a visa to go to the US, but it's likely I will become a permanent resident shortly afterward so I won't be in a hurry to obtain a working visa? I could be wrong but again that's what I was told. I think the gap period will be only months.


I have a fairly handy bit of experience here for you. I am an immigrant to the US. You can enter the US on a visitors visa, I-94 visa (90-day visa, think it's electronically applied for now), depending on what country you are coming for. However, on a visitor visa you are not allowed to work or otherwise do something that may indicate you intend to stay.

In order to stay you need a visa with working privileges. This essentially comes down to with having permanent residency or a H-1b visa. You've got better luck of getting a H visa than getting residency, it took my about 3 years to get my residency and that was only really because I got married to my college girlfriend. So, lets just assume that residency is out for now.

To get a H-1b visa you are going to need a sponsor. A sponsor is a company willing to give you a job and willing to say that they will ensure that you don't fall into poverty and die, basically. With an Engineering degree you have the best chance of getting a H-1b visa, but I highly recommend that you start researching everything and anything related to the H-1b visas.

DHS website

H-1b Info

This post has been edited by TechnoBear: 08 August 2016 - 08:03 AM

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