A lot of people I meet seem very curious and I am usually asked some details about how the hell I left my job at ThoughtWorks Brazil and moved to San Francisco to work for Gogobot. Overall, the transition was pretty simple. Getting the H1B visa was a lot simpler and faster than I expected. It took me around 2 months from the date Gogobot entered the petition to the US Gov. to the day I got my passport back with the visa stamped on it. However I was a bit lucky, since there is an early quota of 60 thousand H1B visas that US will distribute, starting every year in April. I applied around October, so the quota was almost over, but I was lucky enough to make it. Another friend that applied a few weeks later wasn’t so lucky and will have to wait till April till the window opens again.
Another thing that people usually ask me is how I got to know the company and how did I get the job. From my personal experience and from what I heard from other fellow developers, companies are not very receptive to the idea of sponsoring an H1B visa to a foreign developer, probably due to the high cost and risk involved with it. The usual flow is: you get in touch with the company you are interested in, probably send an email with a nice cover letter and your resume attached, and get no response at all. The only advice I will say is: If you really want that, be persistant and keep trying. Write a nice cover letter, with a brief introduction of who you are and why you want to work for that company. Try to be creative, original, otherwise you will be treated just like yet another average foreign candidate. Also extremely important is showing your achievements, having one or more pet projects is a big plus, actively contributing to open source, etc.
It is definitely not an easy task, nor an easy decision to leave everything behind and move to another country. Anyways, I still believe it is something extremely valuable in terms of career growth and life experience. If you can, I would advice you to do it! The sooner the better. As you get older, buy a house, have kids, marry, etc., it will be harder and harder to do something like this. For the same reasons, I support entrepreneurism.
I’ve been here for almost one month so far, and right now, I can say I am very happy to have taken this decision, despite having to leave friends, family and my beloved fiancee behind. We will try to soften the hurt by visiting each other periodically.
All in all, Gogobot is a great place to be, where I have the opportunity to work very talented and nice people and also experience the uniqueness of working for a Silicon Valley tech startup with milions of users and great media exposure!