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I'm a UK citizen working in London. For three years, I have been a writer employed by a company based in the USA. It's fair to say I'm indispensable but I do not have any formal writing qualifications.

I want to ask my employer about sponsoring a work visa for me so I can stay in America for a while. From what I understand, an H1B is the best option? But before I bother them, I'd like to know if I'm overlooking something and it's a waste of time? Or is there a chance?

The biggest issue is that I can work remotely, meaning there is no need for me to be in the country. On the flip side of that, surely if I'm earning their money, they'd prefer it if I spent it in their economy and their tax system?

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I see two major hurdles which you'd need to overcome.

Firstly, you would need to convince the company that the not-insignificant expense in both their time and money would be outweighed by having you working on-site in their office in the USA instead of remotely from London.

Secondly, the company would have to convince the US Dept of Labor that there are no suitably qualified American citizens (or legal residents) who are willing and able to take up this on-site job.
I think the DoL is likely to wonder what's changing in the job description which now requires an on-site presence. You've presumably been performing your duties remotely perfectly well up until now, and with the current state of affairs, many companies are changing their business models to locate more of their workers remotely instead of on-site wherever practical.
With that in mind - even if they can make a case that they need someone in this role to be located in the US, how would they believably take the position that there's no-one suitable anywhere in the US, or even in their state?

IMO, this unfortunately would probably be a waste of time to pursue, although there's probably no harm in asking.

I moved to the US with an H1B a little over 8 years ago (and now have a 'green card'), but I'm almost certain that if I were trying this today I'd fail due to the fact that most of the work I was doing then really could have been done remotely (since that's what I was already doing). My current role requires me to live near to one of the company office locations and be available to work on-site for up to 50% of the time though, so in this position I think my chances would be much higher.
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  • Ok, this is good info, thanks! The writing is for scripts in a very specific style which does mean I am irreplaceable. However, I can do my work from London or anywhere, so that might be the biggest problem. It makes little sense though. Why would the US prefer I take money out of their country when I could instead be spending it in their country including their tax? It feels backwards! – LegoTrip Jan 30 at 10:35
  • @LegoTrip nobody is irreplaceable. – phoog Jan 31 at 21:50
  • @phoog you don't know me. – LegoTrip Jan 31 at 22:10
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    @LegoTrip it doesn't matter that I don't know you, because nobody is irreplaceable. It is a lesson learned through hard experience, but it is true nonetheless. Will the company fold if you quit? Of course not. In any event, even if your company finds you essential, they may not be able to convince the US government to agree with them. – phoog Jan 31 at 23:44
  • @phoog As it's a creative role, my absence would drastically change the product. Can you replace the singer in a band or the actor in a TV series? Yes. Will the audience accept it? Probably not. Regardless, thanks for your optimism, I'm going to try anyway. – LegoTrip Feb 1 at 10:33
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H1B may not be the right visa type for you. Instead, I suggest reading about, and discussing with your employer, the L1 visas One of them may fit your situation. They are designed to allow companies with international operations to move overseas employees to their US operation.

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  • L1 looks good, I'll explore that direction further. Thank you! – LegoTrip Jan 30 at 10:35
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    @LegoTrip I don't think the L visas are relevant unless you are working in your company's UK office, or, more precisely if you are employed by your company's UK subsidiary. From the sound of it, your company doesn't have a UK subsidiary. – phoog Jan 31 at 23:48
  • The OP has not said much about the current arrangement and how tax etc are being handled. They may, for example, have a UK subsidiary. – Patricia Shanahan Jan 31 at 23:56
  • We do not have a UK subsidiary. To be honest, there aren't offices anywhere in the world, everyone works remotely. I'm guessing that's a problem. – LegoTrip Feb 1 at 10:35

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