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Sunday, June 20, 2004

Smudging the Borders: Immigration, the Internet and the Job Market

Smudging the Borders: Immigration, the Internet and the Job Market

Smudging the Borders
Immigration, the Internet and the Online Job Market

Used to be that for most people, the only fast track to life in the USA was through marriage to a US citizen. With the integration of the Internet as a global job search and recruitment tool, that may be changing for a lot of foreigners who have more doors opening up to them, no matter where they are located.

"The past few years have seen a significant change in international recruitment," says leading immigration attorney Gregory Siskind, of Siskind, Susser, Haas & Devine. "Used to be that employers limited themselves a lot more. Costs were prohibitive, but the Internet has dramatically changed the economics." It is now far easier and less expensive to recruit, interview, make employment and immigration arrangements with and for workers around the globe.

Those job seekers with computer access can initiate the contact by researching opportunities anywhere in the world, sending resumes via e-mail, or posting them on job related web pages. In addition to this ease of contact between the two parties, employers are now able to freely research the immigration procedures for hiring and sponsoring.

Siskind concedes that the mass availability of immigration information on the Web may also serve as a deterrent to employers who are interested in global hiring. The backlogs, waiting times and caps on working visas can frustrate and intimidate those in charge. Nevertheless, the pros must be outweighing the cons, for more and more Internet-originated employment relationships are coming to fruition. Some half a million jobs are posted on line each day, and more and more foreigners are fitting the bill.

Over the past few years, with the growth of the Internet, the number of guest worker visas have skyrocketed from 55,000 in 1996 to over 135,000 today.

Another reason for the increased opportunity, Siskind points out, is that there has been a tremendous jump in technology positions, the skills and credentials for which are more easily transferable than those of a teacher, a lawyer or other professionals. Although the Internet is indeed providing openings for foreigners in many professions, those educated and experienced in various aspects of technology are at the greatest advantage right now. So much so that a special visa for foreign-born technology workers was recently introduced in the senate by Sen. Charles Robb, D-Va to address the "shortage of Americans for high-tech jobs." The objective of the high-tech industry is to increase the number of foreign skilled workers they can import. Others are concerned about keeping the high-techies from crowding out all other types of workers. Both issues are the source of much political fervor.

No matter what their field, the biggest challenge faced by those seeking positions in the USA is how to sell themselves to a company and convince a hiring manager that they are indeed worthy of the six to nine month wait and the insidious dealings with INS paperwork and bureaucracy. In this respect, a good education and a few lessons in resume writing, sales and marketing can come in handy. While everyone needs to "sell themselves" in a resume and interview, this is doubly true for international candidates.

Recognizing the immense need of job searchers to identify the companies willing to go out on the sponsorship limb, Siskind has had a hand in the founding of Visa Jobs, a pay service that boasts a ratio of two positions per each candidate subscribing to the service. All the employers listed are willing to sponsor foreign candidates for the specific openings. This can cut out a great deal of the leg work for many who are at a loss as to where to start their search. Of course, those who have the ingenuity to delve even further, can embark on a more extensive hunt, tapping into the numerous international job databases available on the Web and flexing their credential muscles in an effort to get noticed, interviewed, hired, sponsored, and ultimately approved by the Department of Labor and the INS.

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