• Employment visas: Why won’t companies sponsor an H1B?

  • When I’m presenting on campus, I get this question about employment visas all the time from international students (and sometimes from career counselors).   It’s a good question, and I didn’t really have a strong grasp of the answer until I was a recruiter myself.  The short explanation for why companies don’t sponsor H1b – or employment – visas is that they don’t feel like they need to.  Sponsoring an H1B visa requires extra effort on the company’s part to collect data, work with lawyers and the government, and manage timing.  It’s not a ton of extra effort, but if you don’t give employers a good reason to do it, many won’t.  Here’s why recruiters don’t (and I didn’t) sponsor H1B visas.

    Why companies don’t sponsor employment visas


    1. The company feels like it’s getting enough American applicants– If you’re a recruiter and you’re already swamped with applicants, you’re looking for ways to screen them out, not bring in more. In this economy there are lots and lots of people applying to jobs (particularly online).  And many of those people are unqualified.  A policy against sponsoring employment visas helps a recruiter make his pile of applications smaller.

    2. There’s a chance you could lose the visa lottery–  Typically when the economy is strong, there are many more H1B applications submitted than there are H1Bs available.  When this happens, the government holds a random lottery and selects winners.  If a company agrees to sponsor your visa and goes through the trouble of filing your application, it’s a real disappointment if you lose the lottery. What can the company do with you at that point?  Send you home (if the company operates there), take back the job offer?  It’s complicated, and companies hate the risk.

    3. The recruiter/company doesn’t really understand the process– H1B visa is not a household term in the U.S.  Most people have no idea how the work authorization process works for non-Americans, and they just don’t want to deal with it.   These days any topic that involves the government, immigration and lawyers is enough to make a recruiter run away in fear.

    4.  Fear that you won’t stay – Campus recruiters have grown suspicious of many international students because they don’t believe students will stay with their company very long.  Many international students are looking for a few years of American work experience that they can take back to their home country.  From the company’s perspective, why go through the trouble of sponsoring a visa for someone who will probably “go back home” in a year or two?

    I don’t mean to be discouraging, but these are some of the reasons why companies resist sponsoring work visas.  There are ways to overcome all of these circumstances, but that’s for another blog entry on another day.  Or you can check out my book “Power Ties: The International Student’s Guide to Finding a Job in the United States” recently updated in November 2014. (But one quick tip: avoid Human Resources.)