Job application in the USA - Are you looking for work in the United States? Then you should first become acquainted with all of the rules and procedures governing the American application process. Here are some pointers to help you land the job of your dreams in the United States.

Job application in the USA - How to get a job in the USA as a foreigner?

Job Requirements in the USA

Being the most popular country for expats and emigrants, the United States of America attracts millions of people worldwide every year. However, getting a work permit for the US is not easy.

You are allowed to take a job in the US under the following conditions
  • You have a Green Card.
  • You are sponsored by a US employer and have a work visa for the USA.
  • You entered the US as a spouse of an E-visa or L-visa holder and have the appropriate endorsement (COA code) on your I-94 entry form.
  • Your employer back home sends you to a branch office in the US.
  • You are offered a summer job or internship in the US.

No work permit without a visa

Your new job in the USA depends on your visa. Therefore, to avoid wasting your or HR departments' time, take care of this first. You have the following options:
  • Participate in the Green Card Lottery to get an unlimited residency and work permit for the USA quickly and easily.
  • Apply specifically to companies with American branches. For a transfer to the USA, you might get an E-visa or L-visa later on.
  • With a university degree and skills in high demand in the USA, you can look for US employers who offer special H-1B visa jobs.

If you are applying for a job in the United States without a visa or Green Card, you must make this clear right upfront.

Green Card or US visa to work in the USA?

Holding a Green Card is the easiest way to be allowed to work in the USA. But also, with an E-visa, an L-visa, or an H-visa, you have a work permit for America.

The main differences between E-visa, L-visa, H-visa, and Green Card at a glance:

Employersonly US branches of companies from your home countryUS companies with special needs in highly skilled and in-demand occupationsfree choice
Education requirementsnoneuniversity degree and years of professional experiencenone
Residence permitup to 7 yearsup to 9 yearsunlimited
Is job change possible without loss of visa?noyesyes

What is my ideal future visa?

Work visas are incredibly complex. Your ideal takes into account a lot of your situation and profile (age, citizenship, marital status, length of stay, area of activity, industry, years of experience, skills, English level, etc.).

Your ideal visa depends on:

  • Citizenship: Your home country may or may not be in treaty with the USA. If it is, you may get a very specific type of visa.
  • Graduation: If you have more than five years of experience OR an upper-secondary diploma, it might be easier to get a visa.
  • Career: It depends on the company you are currently working for. Some companies may want to transfer you to the US.
  • Skills: It also depends on your area of expertise and your industry! Depending on these, you could get a specific visa.
  • Duration: How much time do you want to stay in the US? Some visas are for several months; others are permanent.

The application process in the USA

Once you have answered all your work permit questions, you are ready to dive into the American job market. Your path to a new job will include the following stages:
  1. Searching for job ads
  2. Preparing and sending out job applications
  3. Attending job interviews
  4. Follow-up correspondence
  5. Feedback and job acceptance

Finding a job in the USA

Depending on the path you use to land your dream job in the USA, you will need to search for listings in special job categories. For example:

With a university degree and a lot of work experience,use the keywords "H-1B" and "Sponsor" in job portals.
In US branches of domestic companies,approach a job in your home country and ask for a transfer to the USA after one year.
For summer jobs or internships,apply through organizations or universities.
With a Green Card,there are no restrictions.

When seeking for work in the United States, you must be proactive! In addition to exploring job boards, you should broaden your LinkedIn network, contact organizations, and maybe attend a training session with USA business professionals or English language teachers.

By contacting experts, peers, and possible employers, you will get more acquainted with the complexities of the American business world and will have the opportunity to rehearse your amazing "elevator pitch" even before your first interview.

Application documents in the USA

Once you have found a suitable job advertisement, you can compile your application documents. Stick to the required format exactly and weigh your details to fit the job.

Resume, CV, or curriculum vitae for the USA

The American resume is also called Curriculum Vitae or CV and usually consists of 1 - 3 pages (depending on your work experience). It is a chronological document that provides a clear, bullet-point overview of your career history.

Although the basic structure of the resume should always be the same, some smart designs can give you an edge over competitors. Build your American CV as follows:

RESUME (Curriculum Vitae) FOR A JOB IN THE USA

Header: Name, job title, contact details

Column 1: Education, Skills, References

Column 2: Short bio (3 - 4 lines), Languages, Work Experience, Organizations, Honors and Awards, Conferences & Courses, Soft Skills, Volunteer Experience, Interests

Less is more when it comes to the American CV. Don't overcomplicate your soft skills and leave out Interests, Volunteer Experience, or Awards if they have no relevance to your professional talents or simply do not exist.

What should not be included on your American resume?

When applying for a job in the United States, make sure to leave out any information that might be used to justify prejudice. Your marital status, age, gender identity, picture, number of children, sexual orientation, religion, and ethnicity are all included.

Cover letter in the USA

The American cover letter is designed to motivate your prospective employer to take a look at your resume. Choose a greeting that includes the recipient's name, such as "Dear Madeleine" or "Dear Mr. Smith." Alternatively, you can choose a greeting such as "Dear ABC Team."

Build the cover letter as follows:


Header: Name, job title, contact details

Column 1: Recipient name, address, date

Column 2: Greeting, motivation text, farewell, signature

Explain briefly why you desire the position and how your potential company will benefit from hiring you in the text. What issues will you address? How will you increase sales? What can your managers expect from working with you?

Transcripts, testimonials, and certificates

Transcripts, diplomas, references, work samples, and the like are usually only sent upon request when applying for a job in the USA - unless the job advertisement specifically asks for them. Prepare certified translations of all documents and also provide important work samples in English.

Job interview in the USA

After you have sent off your application for a job in the USA, it's time to wait. However, not as long as you might be used to. After 10 - 14 days, you will probably already have an interview invitation in your inbox.

Job interviews in the USA are normally structured into several stages. You might even have group interviews with other applicants, IQ tests, or exciting multiple-choice quizzes if you are lucky.

In a personal interview with the HR department and/or your future supervisor, you will quickly get to the point after a short small talk. Now it's time for hard facts: put figures and results on the table. Specific inquiries about future joint projects also make an impression

Dress code for a job interview in the USA

Dress in a formal, unpretentious manner. At your first meeting with your future employer, you no longer need to stand out with flashy, creative design but with poise and ability.

Extra tip: Before the interview, practice what you will do with your hands while speaking and listening because body language also plays a big role in deciding for or against an applicant.

Traveling to the USA for a job interview: Visa or ESTA?

If you are flying to the USA for a job interview, you can apply for an ESTA electronic travel authorization, which is faster, cheaper, and easier to obtain than a US visa.

How to behave when entering the country for a job interview

You must not, under any circumstances, create suspicions of illegal immigration intent when going for a job interview.

However, because there is no separate visa category for job interviews in the United States, incorrect concerns are occasionally raised by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). In the worst-case scenario, an invited candidate is denied entrance. As a result, we propose the following security steps for your entry:

1. Combine your trip with a vacation and stay for a few days (or weeks).

For all questions, documents, and applications related to entering the USA, make it clear and have proof that you are coming for a vacation and will be leaving before your travel authorization expires.

2. Do not mention your job application.

You are required to answer truthfully in the ESTA application. However, for the question, "Are you currently trying to obtain work in the United States?" it is not a lie if you check "no".

Why? Because the application has already taken place sometime before your ESTA application and you are now only flying in for contract negotiation. According to ESTA guidelines, this is permitted. However, you should not risk any misunderstandings.

3. Do not keep application documents in your luggage.

During your entry into the United States, you will have to go through a security check and customs area, where your luggage may be searched as well. Certificates and references in your luggage might lead to false suspicions.

4. Prepare for the talk with border officials.

A U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer will ask you why you are traveling to the USA, where you will be staying, and what your plans are for your stay. When answering, focus on your planned vacation, sightseeing, road trips, or whatever you will enjoy doing in the US. Your job interview is irrelevant here and should not be mentioned for security reasons.

Follow-up when applying for a job in the USA

Haven't you received a reply to your application yet? Then write a short and friendly email and ask about the status of your application.

A thank-you note after the interview is also highly appreciated in the USA! About two days after the interview, thank the interviewer for the pleasant meeting, re-emphasize your motivation, and explain that you are looking forward to the upcoming decision.

Helpful tips and tricks for job applications in the USA

Our job applications 101 are guaranteed to put you ahead of your competitors:

  • Write all emails, letters, and work samples in American (not British) English.
  • Take a preparatory language course.
  • Learn the technical vocabulary for the job you are applying for.
  • Network with potential employers on LinkedIn and learn the faces and names of colleagues early on.
  • Follow the format guidelines for the American resume and the required application scope.
  • Do not list "English" under "Languages."
  • After the interview, ask for the interviewer's business card.
  • Don't forget the follow-up email and a thank you note after the interview.
  • Participate in the Green Card Lottery to quickly get an unlimited work permit for the USA. You will be much more popular with US employers with a Green Card.

Job acceptance in the USA

Have you got a job offer in the United States? Congratulations! Any aspects that you did not explain during the interview will now be the topic of contract negotiations.

Some facts about American employment contracts:

  1. The written form of employment contracts is not mandatory in the USA. After the interview, conditions can instead be stipulated within a written job offer.
  2. There are fixed-term and permanent, "full-time," and "part-time" contracts in the US.
  3. There is no statutory vacation entitlement in the United States.
  4. The various US states have different minimum wages.
  5. There is no legal protection against dismissal in the USA.
  6. So-called "benefits" can compensate for a lack of security and lower wages.
Before signing a contract, study everything you can about available benefits, such as employer-provided health insurance, pension plans, life insurance, overtime rules, and individual vacation arrangements, and bargain confidently.

Tips to find work in the U.S.A.

  • Take your time. Make sure to start the process in advance, as the visa acquisition can be fairly lengthy
  • Verify eligibility. Review eligibility requirements before applying for a visa to come and work in the U.S.
  • Be aware of scams. Remember, there are no fees to access forms, though there are fees to file applications and petitions.  
  • Verify the visa process before applying. You can consult Visa Bulletins to check updates on the visa process and learn about immigration laws' evolution.
Consult an employment attorney who specializes in the United States concerning visa and relocation concerns, sick leave agreements, notice periods, probationary periods, and any warranties.