Coming to America

To plug the talent gap, finance departments are hiring foreign nationals — if they can obtain visas, that is.

Technology firms in search of skilled programmers have long called on the government to raise the cap on H-1B visas. Now, finance executives are chiming in. “You can hire someone for the summer, spend 10 weeks with them, and then make them an offer, but if they don’t get the visa they can’t work here,” says Shan. “There are a lot of companies that tell people not to apply if they don’t have a visa, because of the risk.”

But given the difficulty of finding finance talent, “it’s a risk you have to take,” asserts Leung. Don’t be surprised, say Leung and others, if the next person you hire to fill a finance position is imported. “It’s like we’re looking for the best athletes,” says Shan, “and a lot of those athletes are internationals.”

Kate Plourd is a reporter for CFO.

The ABCs of H-1Bs

Companies can’t apply for H-1B visas without candidates, so the first order of business is to have qualified people in mind (hint: reach out to local colleges and offer internships, interviews, or informal get-togethers as a way to assess promising students).

• An employer must verify with U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS) that the job requires a specialty degree.

• If an H-1B candidate has a degree from abroad, the employer must submit the recruit’s foreign degree to a USCIS-approved credentialing service for verification.

• The employer submits the proposed salary to the Department of Labor, which verifies that it is equal to or higher than the going rate for similar positions in the same region.

• The employer signs an agreement with USCIS promising to pay the H-1B worker the proposed wage.

• H-1B applications are accepted for five days beginning on April 1. The government notifies recipients from June through October, when the visas become valid.

• Several fees total about $2,500 per worker.

Sources: Jennifer G. Parser, Ward and Smith; Lynda Zengerle, Steptoe & Johnson

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