Advice by Michael Miller, Founder of Cultural Adapt

What all spouses who come to US on a dependent visa need to know? 

Reshma was living in America on her husband’s H-4 dependent visa with their young child. They were grateful to be here and her husband had a great job. However, she wanted her own career. She had not got an undergraduate degree in Commerce, worked in the field for about 8 years and then earned an M.B.A., just to take care of her child.  For a while she felt lost, until a mentor put her in contact with me.

I strongly believe that a spouse on an H-4 dependent visa should pursue her own dreams and career aspirations. Without purpose, one’s life can start to feel dull and less meaningful. U.S. immigration laws may make it more difficult for you to succeed but in my mind it is just another obstacle  that you can learn to overcome.

So Reshma became one of my career coaching clients and started pursuing her dreams. She discovered there were more options available to her than she had known of and that the proper strategy is necessary to succeed.

In this post, I will explain multiple options for you to pursue your dream career in the U.S.

Pursuing Your Dream Career

Option 1: H-1B Visa

I could write about this topic for days (or even an entire book ) but since this is a short post I will just tell you the most important things you need to know. If you are applying online, you are wasting your time. 80% of jobs in the U.S. are never even posted and the remaining 20% are mostly given to people that have connected to the company internally.

What does that mean to you?

You need to meet decision makers. That means going to networking events, conferences, conducting informational interviews, etc. That is how you will get a job in the U.S. You need these decision makers to like you AND know how valuable you are, for them to even consider sponsoring your visa.

I say “value” because employers think in dollars. There is a cost associated with hiring you and an extra cost associated with sponsoring your visa. (Typically $2-$5000) So you need to determine not only why you are the best candidate, but also why you can make or save the company enough money to make it worth sponsoring your visa.

So that was a couple important points but you’re probably wondering what job or careers immigration law allows you to pursue, so let me break it down.

There are 85,000 given out per year and the 2013 “cap” has already been reached. That means you won’t get one of these this year… UNLESS you are pursuing a job in government, nonprofit or higher education.


These industries are not affected by the cap and can give out as many visas as they want. So oftentimes I suggest exploring these industries. At the same point, for-profit companies will start recruiting for 2014 soon and can sponsor your visa then. If you visit you can find a list of all companies that sponsor H-1B visas, sorted by industry, category, etc. Here you will also find additional answers to many questions and laws surrounding the H-1B visa.

Option 2: Become extraordinary

The O-1, or Extraordinary Ability visa, is a great one to get if you can manage to. Of course, it’s difficult to acquire because you must be one of the top people in your field― in the world. Some professions that can receive O-1’s include athletes, coaches, musicians, writers, physicists or scientists.

This may seem impossible to you right now but I believe anyone can become an expert at anything in 6 months… especially if you love it. I know many entrepreneurs that have got this visa and I could coach you to help you achieve this feat. (You can become a coach or Internet guru at almost anything)

There is no cap for the Extraordinary Ability visa because, frankly, America loves extraordinary people.

Option 3: Start a Company

You have a few immigration options if you want to start a company. The EB-5 Visa, where you have to invest $500,000, the O-1, an international partnership, where you don’t collect a salary, or even an H-1B for a venture-backed company.

Each immigration situation is different and eventually you will need an immigration attorney to help you but if you have an idea, I’d suggest putting some time and effort into it first. As long as you’re not making money, you are ok.

That’s a sum up of the options available to you and if you’re serious about any of them I’d suggest contacting me for 1-on-1 coaching or joining my upcoming live online class, the H-1B Institute. If you are still wondering what you are meant to do in life, you should join 150+ amazing international individuals at the 2013 Career Leadership Forum.

Remember that life is short and it should be spent pursing dreams.

Michael Miller


Michael Miller is the author of 4 Weeks To Your American Dream Job and the founder of Culture Adapt, an expat career coaching firm. Follow Michael on Twitter @mmiller1222

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