How to Find Your Dream Job in the U.S. as an Ex-pat

Living and working abroad is not an easy adjustment. The first time you are in a new country, a lot of things can be intimidating. Getting the lay of the land, figuring out where to live, the culture of the country you are moving to, and asserting yourself in both social and professional situations can come with a lot of struggles.

The good news is that you are not alone. A lot of people move away from their homes and go to new countries for better opportunities. There is a lot of fear that can come with making this change. However, the benefits far outweigh the fear. The opportunities to expand your perspective, experience new cultures, and gain unique work experience are just a few advantages that can come out of working abroad.

Think Before You Act

When you first decide to move abroad, you have to remember that it is a process. Things take time, and moving comes with a lot of planning. The first place to start when deciding to become an ex-pat is identifying where you would like to live and work. When making this determination, there are several important factors to consider. This includes your language proficiencies, previous work experience, and goals. Additionally, it’s essential to research your visa options which vary based on your citizenship.

A lot of people come to America to make their dreams come true. A lot of us already have jobs, but we long for change, experience, and opportunity. Some of us are young dreamers who want to move to the U.S. for university in hopes that we can build ourselves “The American Dream.” Moving to America can be the catalyst for many people’s dreams coming true. Since we are specifically speaking about ex-pats in The United States, the most important thing to get straight before you make the move is your visa status.


Already Established Jobs

When working in the United States of America, there are a few things you have to consider in terms of legality before you move. People are often surprised to know that there are many different ways to work in the United States, as opposed to just one strict protocol everyone must follow. Diving right into the first category, this applies to you if you already have a job offer to work for a company in the United States.

There are several different types of visas for people to come to the United States to work if they have a job offer from a U.S. company. One of the most common types of visas for this situation is the H-1B visa. The H-1B visa is a non-immigrant visa for people that are coming to the United States to engage in what’s called a “specialty occupation.” The H-1B visa requires that you have an employer that’s willing to file a petition on your behalf.

The second type of visa is the TN visa. The TN visa is for citizens of Canada and Mexico. Through this visa, a Canadian or Mexican citizen is allowed to come to the United States with a valid job offer, if their job is listed in the U.S. TN-1 Visa Eligible Professions List. There are a number of different job titles under the TN visa, such as engineer, accountant, scientist (biologist, chemist, physicist, biochemist, geneticist, geologist, and zoologist), and management consultant, doctor, dentist, and many more. If your job offer is eligible and your profession is named on the list, then you could potentially qualify for the TN visa.

The next visa that we’ll go over is the L1 visa. The L1 visa is for intra-company transferees. The way this visa works is that it basically allows somebody that is working for a foreign company, as a manager or an executive, or a specialized knowledge worker to transfer to a related U.S. company, to work in the same or similar capacity.

Starting New

The second way that somebody can legally work in the United States is by starting their own business in the United States. Now, there are multiple different visas under this category as well. However, the one that is most often used is the E-2 visa. An E-2 visa is an amazing option for people who want to come to the United States for the purpose of managing and running their own business.  It can be difficult to find a job with a criminal record, but in some cases, expungement of the record may improve job prospects.

Basically, the way that an E-2 visa works is that you are required to invest a substantial amount into a U.S. business. You can either start your own business or purchase an already existing one. Based on making that investment, you’re authorized to live in the United States and operate your business.


The fourth way that somebody could legally work in the United States is through a student visa. Now, again, you need to make sure that this is done properly, but there are definitely ways for people that are on an F-1 visa to work in the United States through either CPT or OPT.

The main difference between these two is the time period in which you are eligible for these programs and the type of work allowed in each program. You are eligible for OPT either before or after graduation, while you are only eligible for CPT before graduation.

There are a few other variations that could work if none of these apply to you, but these are the most common ways that ex-pats can legally work in The U.S. Of course, getting a Green Card is possibly the easiest way to work in the U.S. but unless you are married to or have family that is a U.S. citizen, getting a Green Card takes years and a lot of luck. Visas are a much faster and simpler option while you wait for your Green Card.

Finding Work

After you have received your visa and all the paperwork has come through, you need to start looking for a job (if your visa wasn’t one that specified you already have an offer). This mostly applies to people who come to The United States to start a business or students looking for jobs.

Starting a Business

When it comes to starting a business, this isn’t as technically complicated as it might seem at first glance. The main thing you need to make sure to have are dedication, motivation, and a strong work ethic. We live in a fortunate age where the internet is at our full disposal. You can make a business out of basically anything, and it doesn’t have to involve a physical building and a room full of employees.

You can be an entrepreneur online, and with a basic understanding of e-commerce, you can turn anything into a business. Whether it’s selling products or offering a service, if you find a niche that helps people get what they want or need, there is a good chance you’ll see the beginnings of your business. If you have a website that you update regularly and advertise efficiently on social media, the Internet will help you reach people all around the world, and if your product or service is good, let the rampant consumerism in today’s society work its magic.

Of course, there are more traditional ways to go about starting a business, but it’s important to know that you don’t have to hold yourself to the standard, traditional ways. Many businesses today are either already online, or are moving online so know that it is a viable option.

Student Work

If you are a student or have recently graduated and you are looking for work, one of the best ways you can do that is by searching for jobs online. Make sure all of your paperwork is in order, polish up your resume, and start googling. Finding jobs through Lensa, LinkedIn, and many other similar sites is probably the fastest and easiest way to get work.

As an ex-pat, you might want to work in a place that allows you to meet people and experience the new culture you decided to live in. Public service jobs such as waitressing, bartending, working as a barista, and working in hospitality are perfect for fully immersing yourself. As an added bonus, these areas of work are eager to hire new employees.

Getting that Dream Job

One of the most common mistakes that people make is expecting things to happen rapidly. An ex-pat, you already have so much on your plate. Don’t forget that you are in an overwhelming situation doing the best you can at the moment. Patience is key. You have to start somewhere in order to work your way up. Certain jobs, such as freelancing, can be easier to come by, but they can be unreliable.

Mentioning public service jobs earlier was not an accident, today, the fastest way to get hired is through connections. Working somewhere where you meet hundreds of people a day, gives you a good baseline to work with. Establishing relationships with people gives you the “in” that you need to reach your dream job. But remember, patience is necessary. It might not happen overnight, over a week, or a month.

Keep working hard, and don’t lose motivation. Moving to a new country is difficult, but most likely you did it for the opportunities that it could bring. Look for opportunities online and look for them in other people, but make sure to take it one step at a time.

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