How do I go about working in the US?

I have more than 10 years HR experience gained in a variety of organisations.
The last five years have been spent in the public sector, where I have
specialised in employee relations and change management. I am CIPD qualified
and have a BSc degree in Business Studies. I am interested in spending some
time working in the US and wondered how to go about it given the stringent
immigration regulations. Also, should I prepare for gaining the necessary
knowledge/qualifications in US employment law?

Peter Sell, joint managing director, DMS Consultancy

Although you are well qualified, you have quite rightly identified that the
stringent immigration regulations are going to make it very difficult to get
work in the US.

Have you approached the immigration department to find out whether you could
get a temporary work permit? It is likely you will need to have an offer of
employment before you will be allowed into the country.

With regard to research, your obvious options are the internet and
specialised libraries. If you are willing to take a longer-term perspective,
then you should look at moving to a global organisation where you may get the
opportunity to be seconded to the US on a short-term assignment

Caroline Battson, HR consultant, Macmillan Davies Hodes

It is extremely difficult for an individual to gain employment in the US as
it does have strict guidelines, which have been tightened more recently.

Have you considered joining a US organisation which has a UK base? As part
of your general research into the company, you should find out how easy it is
for employees to work in the US for periods of time, and whether the
organisation views it positively and will encourage this as part of your

If you were successful, it would then be the organisation’s responsibility
to ensure you have all the correct documentation. Alternatively, if you are
able to secure a position in the US prior to leaving the UK, you will need a
H-1B visa. To qualify, you require a bachelor’s or higher degree in the
specific speciality for which employment authorisation is being sought.

It will then be decided whether this constitutes a speciality occupation and
whether you are qualified to perform the services. If you do obtain a visa it
could still be revoked dependant on the immigration officer’s recommendations.

If you are keen to gain more knowledge, you should contact the US embassy
and also refer to the CIPD website which has some useful links regarding
employment law in the US.

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