This article is for the hundreds of foreign nationals who seek employment in American private schools each year. Be aware that most American private schools will hire a foreign national only if he or she has an H-1B Visa a J-1 Visa, or a Green Card (officially known as the Permanent Resident Card).
Let's review the types of visas available to a foreign national seeking to teach in the U.S.A.
H-1B visas are used for specialty employment situations, such as teaching and other skilled professionals. There are several ways you can navigate the labyrinth of requirements, forms, and fees required to submit your application. One way to do it is to apply yourself. This works only if you are an immigration lawyer because the rules, regulations, and application forms can be confusing for a foreign national.
H-1B visas are capped at 65,000 each fiscal year beginning on October 1. This class of visa is very competitive and uncertain. It also takes six to eight months for the entire process to play out. Only registered employers can apply for H-1B visas on behalf of prospective employees.
This video explains the H-1B visa process.
This video explains the J-1 visa process.
The Green Card
Most of the time, a school will not sponsor your application for a Green Card. It is too much of a gamble. The school goes through all the hassle and expense of securing a Green Card for you, only to have you decide a few years later that you want to work in another school. It's just not worth it.
A few private schools will go to the bother of securing a Permanent Resident Card for a key staff member such as a head of school. But those instances are few and far between. The situation is very much a 'catch-22' as the American Embassy in your home country will tell you that you need a job before applying for a work visa. On the other hand, the school will tell you that it needs you to have a green card before considering you for employment. That's why H-1b and J-1 visas are more attractive options.
This video offers some ways to get a Green Card.
The best advice I can offer is to hire an experienced professional immigration lawyer who will guide you through the lengthy, arcane process of applying for any American visa. Allow plenty of lead time. This cannot be a last-minute project.
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