The top 5 Tips for getting an H-1B are simple.  It comes down to who you know and if they like you.

1. Get a STEM degree from a U.S. university

It should comes as no surprise that STEM talent receives the vast majority of H-1B visas.  According to the Office of Foreign Labor Certification’s (OFLC) Annual Report for 2015, the top three H-1B positions are: 1) Computer Systems Analyzes, 2) Software Developers, Applications, and 3) Computer Programmers.

Bottom line: if you are reading this while still in college looking for your major, STUDY COMPUTER SCIENCE. Computer science is basically 50% of all H-1B visa jobs.  So major in it!!!

2. Get your CPT while still in School

Once you majored in computer science, talk to your university’s Designated School Official (DSO) regarding your Curriculum Practical Training (CPT).  Your DSO is probably the person at the university that helped you with your F-1 Visa.  Your CPT allows you to work if certain requirements are met.  This allows you to start mining the gold that is employ-ability (after majoring in computer science).  Your network of contacts is the most important of the top 5 things to help you land the H-1B job.

3.  Maximize your OPT time

As you get toward graduation, all F-1 students can receive 12 months of Occupational Practical Training (OPT) after they complete their degree.  This OPT allows you to continue to foster your network of contacts and demonstrate your special skills directly related to your major.

But if you chose wisely and majored in computer science, you get 3 whole years of OPT time!!!!!!  There are more requirements and employers may need to consult with an attorney to properly plan for compliance with the requirements of extended OPT time, but 3 years is a LOT more time to create relationships and…..

4. NETWORK

Network, very important in the top 5.  Your network is your job.  Most people get a job because of who they know.   When an employer has a job opening, the business is thinking about the people they know that can do the job.

Be that person they know.

Get out there and hang out with jobs directly related to your field of study.

If you chose wisely and are studying computer science, send your resume to the area web development companies.  There are thousands of software shops in America, go meet the people that make them work.  Start or attend MeetUps relevant to tech.  See if your local start up incubator has student rates and get to know developers in the area.  Then compare skill sets.

5. Be like this puppy

Finally, be likable.  The puppy illustrates this point.  People love puppies.  Puppies are cute and happy to see everyone they meet.  So when you go out to network, remember the mantra “people love puppies.”  Yes, it is silly.  But people like other people that make them feel good, that like them, that are happy to see them and are positive.  If you’re in the dumps and depressed, code something, or go exercise.  But when you are feeling great to be alive, go out and network.

This is not an exhaustive list of the top 5 things to do to get your H-1B visa, but they really help.

Pick the right major.  Optimize the time you interact with possible employers.  Network in the area related to your field of study.  And channel your inner puppy when meeting people.

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