It is becoming increasingly hard for US tech companies to fill technical roles, but many are avoiding hiring international students and recent graduates from top US universities due to the laborious H-1B visa process. It’s a frustrating situation, but the good news is that US companies do have other options — they just have to look beyond US borders.
In this case, the EU can offer a solution to many of the challenges that US employers are currently experiencing when trying to hire foreign nationals using the H-1B visa. With a straightforward and timely workaround, the EU Blue Card provides an attractive route to eventually getting that skilled worker permanently back into the US, avoiding the H-1B visa altogether.
In this article, we are going to talk about the H-1B visa and how the EU Blue Card can help employers recruit and retain talented STEM students while bypassing some of the most frustrating aspects of the H-1B process.
What is the H-1B Visa?
The H-1B visa is currently the most common way for US-based companies to employ skilled workers, especially tech workers, in the US. It allows employers to petition for highly-educated foreign professionals to fill skilled job positions — often falling within the tech and engineering fields — and is a non-immigrant visa with a standard initial duration of three years which can be extended up to six years, or longer in some cases.
When submitting an H-1B visa petition, the employer must take steps to ensure that hiring a foreign professional does not harm US workers through various compliance measures, and there is also a cap on the amount of H-1B visas that are available each year — currently 65,000 visas with 20,000 extra available for graduates with a master’s degree. Though some employers, specifically research organizations, universities and other nonprofits and government research entities, are exempt from the cap.
Despite the popularity of the program and the fact that it can lead to US permanent residency, the reality is fraught with issues. Firstly, with over 300,000 registrations in 2021 for the fiscal year 2022 H-1B lottery and only 85,000 slots, the chances of even getting selected to file an H-1B application are already slim.
Of those that are lucky enough to get selected, file an H-1B visa and get it approved, there is still a long green card backlog to contend with, particularly for Indian nationals, who make up a large number of H-1B hopefuls yet face decades of waiting in H-1B limbo. This is largely due to a US law stating that no more than 7% of green cards may be given to citizens of a single nation. This means they won’t gain permanent residency for a long time.
Due to the challenges surrounding this entire process, many companies are wary of the H-1B process or avoid it altogether. However, that doesn’t mean they have to lose that skilled worker — there’s another way to hire and retain skilled talent, which is where the EU Blue Card comes in.
Why the EU Blue Card is the perfect solution for US employers to hire skilled workers
A relatively little-known program, the EU Blue Card is Europe’s equivalent to the H-1B visa-to-Green Card journey. It allows highly-qualified workers from outside the EU the right to live and work in one of twenty-five EU countries. It’s typically valid for a period of one to four years and can then be renewed as long as all conditions are satisfied. Permanent residency is also an option depending on the laws of the individual member state.
With the EU Blue Card, holders are guaranteed equal treatment with citizens of the host country. Germany, Europe’s biggest economy, currently issues the most EU Blue Cards out of the participating member states.
But how does this help bypass the H-1B situation?
With the EU Blue Card, US-based employers can hire their skilled tech workers in the EU exactly how they would via the H-1B process in the US. However, the EU Blue Card has a maximum processing time of ninety days which is significantly quicker than navigating the H-1B system. This allows the employee to either be permanently based in Europe or gain the experience to move to the US via other methods, for example with the EB-1C visa, which is an employment-based “first preference” visa for multinational managers or executives.
For large multinationals that already have an EU presence, this may be easily achievable. However, for the vast majority of US startups and scaleups that don’t have an EU office, Global RCG offers a simple solution.
How Global RCG can help US companies without an EU presence leverage the EU Blue Card
Global RCG is the first US-based advisory firm providing companies with a range of global mobility assets to help them recruit and retain top talent. Using global immigration creatively, we can help you avoid the pitfalls of the H-1B visa and the broader US immigration system.
For companies that don’t currently have an EU presence, Global RCG helps set up a subsidiary for the company in Germany — not only Europe’s biggest economy but the country that has given out the most EU Blue Cards since the program’s inception. Global RCG then supports the immigration process of obtaining an EU Blue Card for the company’s desired employee.
The employee will then be able to move to Germany and work at the company for at least a year. Finally, once the employee has worked at the company and received the necessary managerial or executive experience, the company will then be able to sponsor them for a US green card directly via the EB-1C program. The EB-1C visa targets management and executive-level employees who are seeking permanent residency in the US, enabling them to transfer from a foreign company to a related US company.
So how does this all help US companies recruit STEM students in the face of the H-1B program? Companies can now feel confident that they don’t have to worry about only hiring recent international graduates on their STEM OPT for a few years before gambling with the H-1B lottery.
By utilizing the EU Blue Card, and having the employee work in a subsidiary in Germany, or exploring other remote opportunities through Global RCG, including various digital nomad visas, employers can confidently know that their recruit will be able to stay with them for the long term. The employee can either remain in their position in Europe and work toward permanent residency, keep jumping around from country to country using various digital nomad visas, or start plans to return to the US by using programs such as the EB-1C.
There’s no need to waste time and top STEM talent with this simple strategy.
Contact Global RCG to Learn More
Though US immigration can be challenging, confusing, and often time-consuming there are creative global solutions to go about hiring and retaining talent. For companies that are looking to hire high-skilled professionals and recent graduates without the hassle, contact Global RCG to see how we can help. To find out more, contact us via the Global RCG website or connect with me directly on LinkedIn.