How US Companies Can Use the EU Blue Card to Retain F-1 OPT STEM Talent

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US companies, particularly tech companies, face a number of challenges trying to retain highly-skilled foreign workers. Retaining STEM workers, especially, can be challenging due to the current US immigration laws.

The roadblocks that companies and employees currently deal with range from those hired on an F-1 OPT unable to get selected in the H-1B lottery, to those in H-1B status frustrated with the long green card process. This especially affects Indian nationals, many of whom are forced to repatriate in search of their career success.

Clearly retaining foreign-born, high-skilled talent can be tricky, but luckily there are options. This article will talk about some of these issues, and the creative global mobility solutions that are available to retain important STEM talent.

Why US employers struggle to retain F-1 OPT and H-1B STEM talent

International STEM talent, foreign-born STEM professionals who are already working in the US typically work in one of two statues: on the F-1 OPT which is a temporary status that is directly related to an F-1 student’s major area of study, or on the H-1B which allows employers to petition for highly-educated foreign professionals to fill skilled job positions. However, each of these has its own challenges.

F-1 OPT students, in most cases, have to win the H-1B lottery to stay with their existing employer — the difficulties involved with this often deter employers from hiring international students and recent graduates altogether. With over 300,000 registrations for the H-1B lottery last year and only 85,000 slots available, the chances of even getting selected to file an H-1B application are already slim.

However, if someone is lucky enough to get selected, and ultimately file an H-1B visa, those who are of Indian descent also face a long green card backlog. This uncertainty negatively impacts both their career progression and mental health.

Unsurprisingly, because of the issues surrounding this entire process, many companies have lost talented STEM workers who have since moved back home to India or headed to other countries to work for other employers. US employers are left unable to retain talent due to antiquated US immigration law.

However, there is a way to avoid this and actually retain great international STEM talent, it just involves a little creativity. It involves hiring an employee in Germany through the EU Blue Card with a long-term plan to eventually get them back into the US.

What is the EU Blue Card?

When it comes to retaining STEM workers, the EU Blue Card provides an ideal solution. Europe’s equivalent to the H-1B visa, it offers highly-qualified workers from outside the EU the right to live and work in one of twenty-five EU countries.

Valid for a period of one to four years, the EU Blue Card can be renewed as long as all conditions are satisfied, and while some may use this as a long-term plan to get back to the US, there is also the option of permanent residency in one of the individual member states.

The EU Blue Card provides a straightforward pathway for US employers to hire and retain their skilled tech workers in the EU just as they would via the H-1B process in the US. The EU Blue Card has a maximum processing time of ninety days making this an attractive and efficient process. After some time working in the EU, with increasing responsibility and managerial experience, employers can then transfer the employee to the US using an L-1 intracompany transfer visa or even the EB-1C program, which provides the security of permanent residency.

This strategic approach to utilizing EU immigration laws in order to retain skilled STEM employees is growing in popularity, and Global RCG is there to help companies make it happen.

How Global RCG can help US companies retain their F-1 OPT STEM talent using the EU Blue Card

Global RCG provides companies with a range of global mobility assets to help them retain their top talent using global immigration creatively to avoid the frustrations of the H-1B visa process. This strategy isn’t often discussed in the media, but offers massive potential.

If a US employer doesn’t currently have an EU presence, Global RCG can help set up a subsidiary for them in Germany — Europe’s biggest economy and the country that has given out the most EU Blue Cards to date.

Global RCG will then support the immigration process and obtain the EU Blue Card for the company’s desired employee providing a seamless transition into life in the EU. The employee will move to Germany and work at the company for at least a year, once they have obtained the necessary managerial or executive experience then the company can then sponsor them for a green card directly via the EB-1C program which specifically targets management and executive-level employees offering them a route to permanent US residency.

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 retaining top talent. For companies that are looking to retain or 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.

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