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Ask HN: I will help your startup in exchange for food and a place to stay
584 points by codeornocode on Aug 10, 2015 | hide | past | web | favorite | 278 comments

This my third and final time posting this post, first time it was labeled as spam and the second time someone suggested that i edit it and so i did.

I have 4 years remaining in my U.S visa, each visit i can stay 6 months, i don't want to break any U.S rules that's why i want to code for your startup for no money, just food and a place to live in transportation would be nice too but i am not going to take money from you and i am not going to ask your for health insurance or be your employee, i don't want to break any rules, i have +8 years of experience in JS, PHP, Ruby mainly as a full stack web developer i also do game development using Unity3D + C#, i'm a Musician since over 15 years at my free time and i can design sounds and soundtracks i work with many DAWs, i'm bilingual i speak fluent Arabic and English beside having many more skills.

I am doing this because i live in a war torn country, some issues happened and i've lost all my savings, I'm 31 years old and i don't want to spend the rest of my life in this place, i've been to California in 2014 and i loved it so much, i can't get an H1B visa because i don't have a university degree although i have a high school diploma and a college diploma in business management and e-commerce.

If you'd like to interview me please send me an e-mail to life.will.get.better.2016@gmail.com, thank you.

Thank you for reading my post.

ps: Please if you can't help me at least try not to be negative in the comments i already have enough negativity going on in my life and i could really really use some motivation, but after all you are free to write whatever you want of course and i appreciate it.

One more thing, thank you "dang" for telling me about the spam filter and helping me.

Why U.S.? I understand that you don´t want to live in your country, but there are many others countries. Many of them has a much flexible immigration system where you can live legally if you find a job and where there are many jobs opportunities if you know how to code. I mean, instead of working almost illegally for free in the U.S., you can be legally and earning good money in another country. I´m from Uruguay and this will work here (also, you will have health insurance, as it is mandatory in any job of any type. Also, it is common that tech companies hire forgeries that don´t know Spanish, as most people know English, is not a problem). I know that this is also the case in many other countries.

Your comment makes a lot of sense and yes, the visa hassles are obviously the most logical reasons why any "foreigner technology worker" should try working elsewhere than in the US. But you know what? I don't think they can "hear" you.

Let's face it, for many countries, the US is still seen as dreamland, in particular to those many who don't connect the dots between the root cause of the problems in their homeland and the 30% tax that will be taken away from their income once they start working in the US.

This dreamland illusion is so strong that even the locals believe it. I have to deal with this on a monthly basis at the border custom patrol: the officers constantly stop me at the border and investigate me with tons of questions aiming at evaluating whether or not I am trying to "sneak into the country to steal work from honest US citizens" (sic). Every time, I am treated like a lost soul who's dreaming of working in the US (and who's very probably a criminal considering my skin color). Last time I crossed the border I was even warned that my passport doesn't show proof that I left the US, it only shows every time I entered it so technically, they don't know if I am staying there more than 90 days. How do you respond to this without being insulting? The thing is: I hate the idea of working in the US so much that I can't even talk honestly about what I feel fearing I would be arrested.

So, yes, "why US?", you asked the right question. But these guys are living in the exact same illusion than the US citizens are: "Our country is the best place in the world, the only place you're free of your opinions and where you can become a billionaire." The illusion is so strong they would even work for free...for free...for free...for free...

You can't do much against this.

> Last time I crossed the border I was even warned that my passport doesn't show proof that I left the US, it only shows every time I entered it so technically, they don't know if I am staying there more than 90 days.

This boggles the mind. "Hey, I'd love to have an exit date stamped on my passport. But I don't make the rules." First time I went to the US I got apprehensive because I didn't see an "exit" stamp. My passport was full of such stamps, mostly from Portugal and so I expected one. Only after arriving back at my country and turning the data package in my cellphone on is that I discovered that the US issues no such stamps.

> the US is still seen as dreamland, in particular to those many who don't connect the dots between the root cause of the problems in their homeland and the 30% tax that will be taken away from their income once they start working in the US.

Only 30%? That's nothing. Were in the world would you pay less?

> The thing is: I hate the idea of working in the US so much that I can't even talk honestly about what I feel fearing I would be arrested.

You give crap to law enforcements, specially immigration officers, and you are in for a bad time, anywhere. I bet your attitude has something to do with it too. Try to be polite.

My experience with US immigration is that they are cuddly teddy bears compared to Japan.

> Last time I crossed the border I was even warned that my passport doesn't show proof that I left the US, it only shows every time I entered it so technically, they don't know if I am staying there more than 90 days.

I can tell you all about this. Technically, the onus is on the air carriers to use their passenger manifests to report back to DHS, who tracks it all centrally. You can imagine how well that works.

Read More: http://cis.org/biometric-exit-tracking-feasible-and-cost-eff...

> Technically, the onus is on the air carriers to use their passenger manifests to report back to DHS, who tracks it all centrally. You can imagine how well that works.

Well, aside from any compliance problems, its quite possible (and legal!) to leave the US by means other than air travel. (And, to respond to the link you provided, also quite possible and legal to do so by means other than commercial air or sea travel.)

  Only 30%? That's nothing. Were in the world would you pay less?
Ironically, countries in the Middle East.

> Only 30%? That's nothing. Were in the world would you pay less?

27,5% for income and 15% for capital here in Brazil. What is very expensive considering the quality of public services. And the taxes paid for products are much higher.

0% in Panama on foreign income, interest and dividends. 20-year exemption on property tax for new construction. 7% sales tax.

If you're a remote worker, that's heaven.

> Let's face it, for many countries, the US is still seen as dreamland

Maybe, but there are definitely other options. I am an immigrant myself and the steep USA's visa process made me to look to another place.

I am happy living in Canada now but my second option (Australia) still looks attractive too, and that is just to name two.

Even though everything in Australia wants to kill you, I would pick that over Canada and it's weather.

The "30% tax" is one of the main reasons I want to move to the US...

Well said!


I think you are confusing the commenter and the original poster.

Seriously, this is the most helpful comment on here. OP, I understand the psychological pull of America, and perhaps it is the first Western country you have visited, but it is not worth it to work illegally (as you are proposing, even if no money changes hands) in America.

You may improve your life temporarily but it will all come crashing down one day when the immigration authorities catch up to you. You will be deported and banned from re-entering the US. There are many developed countries where someone with your skills can obtain a temporary work visa easily. You can live and work freely and legally, get on your feet financially and maybe attend university there to help you get into the US legally in the future.

Maybe it will help if you tell us where your citizenship is and we can help you with suggestions of other developed countries that will allow you to come for a 1-2 year temporary work visa.

I concur. There are in fact good reasons to get a permanent status in those countries, such as for passports and travel purposes.


I agree. It is definitely better to move to a different country. Perhaps Canada, or some country in Europe? Australia has lax immigration requirements as well.

Not sure where you heard this, but Australia's immigration policy is .. agressive .. at best.

It's a points based system, which is punitive of age and education.

30 years is the cut off for the 'easy', one year, restricted 'working holiday' visa that you may have been thinking of.

For regular immigration, you'll need a working visa, which requires your hiring company to handle the paperwork.

Likewise, if you're trying to immigrate without an already found job, with no college degree, the OP will find the point system probably weighing heavily against him.

One of the most flexible countries at the moment is Spain. The weather is great, the food is great, and it's a fun country.

> It's a points based system, which is punitive of age and education.

Pretty much the same than Canada but still way less restricting than USA.

>One of the most flexible countries at the moment is Spain. The weather is great, the food is great, and it's a fun country.

Spain has still a pretty significant unemployment rate, also (this may vary depending of the region and where are you originally from) some people are not very polite with some immigrant even if they are Spaniard-decendent (anecdotical experience from some friends living over there)

That's actually one of the reasons they've been pushing the new (2013, very new in terms of how quickly most visa situations evolve..) entrepreneur visa(s) in spain.

There's two types: one gives you 1 year residency (can be extended, of course) - application is decided within 10 days.

Another gives you 2 years, decision in 20 days.

Entry requirements are low. It's worth checking out.

In 10 days, you could be in Spain. There are many decent tech companies hiring as well.


Err this is not true. There are so many illegal immigrants in America that deportation is unlikely. You'd have to do something pretty bad to get deported.

Those millions of illegal immigrants are living on the margins of society in order to avoid the authorities. They are unable to get well-paying work, they are at the mercy of employers who can rat them out to the INS at any time if they complain about poor labour conditions, they cannot get health insurance, they cannot get mortgages or college loans for their kids. You can't hide like this while working in the tech industry. Do you know of many illegal immigrants working at Google?

Huh? I knew many illegal immigrants growing up with professional parents and comfortable middle class lives...immigration is more varied than the experience you see on TV although admittedly many immigrants are poor.

I have also had various family members overstay visas for very long periods of time and they weren't dirt poor. On the other hand, this kind of hiding in plain sight is hell when kids turn 18 and can't attend a university. That's the most sad part of the existence and a big reason for support of the DREAM act.

Pretty high up at Goldman Sachs: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-02-25/how-an-und...

I know a large number of people in the tech industry with questionable immigration status.

Also not fully true. Not working at google doesn't mean you live in the margins of society. It's possible to have a pretty okay life as an illegal immigrant here in the united states.. It's also possible to have a bad life as well... you def won't have a job at google but many times whatever you can get is still a better life than what some people get in their native country...

Counterpoint with a few points of anecdata: 2 good friends, 1 Stanford CS, the other Stanford Econ (minor CS), both got kicked out of the US -- one due to an H1B issue, the other because he visited home in Uzbekistan and didn't get let back in.

Was he forced or escorted out? More like he was told to leave. He could prob stay as an illegal if he wanted to.

Well educated as they are, skilled people usually don't prefer to live illegally. And that's why you will most likely see ex-illegals and unskilled people receiving green cards or citizenship in US.

Sure but thats not the point. My point is that a forced deportation is rare. Please read the thread before voting me down or commenting, thanks.

Do you mean being arrested? Because having your permission to stay/work revoked with a given time to leave the country looks like being deported for me. After that, even a touristic visa will be harder to obtain again.

Please, don't get offended. I'm not a heavy user here and I don't have permission to downvote posts.

Deportation as i understand it is when you are forced out of the country like an eviction.


"Told to leave"; sure he could stay an illegal and just live off the radar, but the expected value of that is really low given his options anywhere else in the world. I guess if you want to argue semantics, his risk of being physically flown out of the country was probably not substantial.

I think the purpose of all this discussion was whether OP should come to the States and work under the radar, and the general consensus is that being here illegally strongly caps your upside, and has a pretty uncertain downside.

PS - My friend's now the chief engineer of a successful business in London... I always thought it was such a shame for a guy who worked his way from being an orphan on a farm in Kenya to live 90% of the American Dream, only to be kicked out of the country after putting in his all at Stanford and at a few startups.

Or you could just be living a normal life:


This history sounds weird for me as he was in a relationship for 5 years and haven't even tried to marry with the girl to fix his status. The only safe way to stay in US is by getting married, what give to the skilled workers the same level of opportunity given to illegals. An immigration policy that encourages the fraud.

> deported

in capitalist America, we ALSO deport intelligent workers

Not so intelligent if you risk everything on risking eventual deportation it seems.

OP should look at Australia, I think he will probably pass the 60 point requirements for Australian skilled PR visa.

Or New Zealand - check out www.seek.co.nz for jobs. Quite easy for tech skilled immigration.

Following up - here's our requirements for getting a Visa http://skillshortages.immigration.govt.nz/developer-programm...

You will fail around on the 3rd screen when you say "NO" to the questions "if you have completed Phd .. education in the previous 3 months in NZ"

Ditto this... as a developer in Auckland, I've got to say it's pretty sweet here. Ditched a career in investment banking in the US for the quality of life here. I only occasionally regret it.

What's the occasional that you regret? Friends/family?

Likely anytime he needs to catch a bus or a train. Or wishes to have a discussion about something other than Auckland housing prices, Rugby, or Reality TV.

I'm currently in the process of sorting out a temporary work visa in Christchurch (+1 for the quality of life comment seriously). It's definitely harder to get a work visa without a degree in your field of work (I switched to software from another field of engineering), but 5+ years of relevant experience can serve as an alternative to a degree.

Are you from Auckland, or did you move there from the US?

Could you elaborate a bit?

The lack of a degree will be an issue for points in Australia. The college diploma maybe helpful but recognition of your institution is required.

In addition to the comment:

You need a "blue card" to work to work in the EU, its comparable to the US Green Card, but (i think) easier to get. From the Wikipedia-Article (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue_Card_(European_Union)) :

Acquisition of Blue Card has several requirements. The applicant must have a work contract or binding job offer with a salary of at least 1.5 times the average gross annual salary paid in the Member State. A Blue Card acquirer must present a valid travel document (and in specific cases a valid residence permit or a national long-term visa) and documents proving the relevant higher professional qualification.

Here is more information regarding Germany (but it is from 2008): http://www.wohin-auswandern.de/blue-card-en

To be honest, the salary probably won't be a problem, with your expertise you should be able to land a pretty decent job.

Blue Card isn't only option. For example, in Sweden there are two work visas for software developers: Blue Card and Work Permit.

I didn't get Blue Card since I didn't get job offer with really high salary, but instead I got Work Permit which don't require salary 1.5 times higher than the average.

Also in Netherlands there are two options: Blue Card and High Skilled Migrant.

Requirements for High Skilled Migrant are much lower than for Blue Card.

In Sweden and Netherlands you can work without university degree.

In Germany, you can not get Blue Card without university degree. And if you want to get Work Permit as alternative, you should know German language (Sweden and Netherlands don't require you to know their language).

So Germany isn't good option. I recommend Sweden and Netherlands if you don't have university degree.

Netherlands is only probable if he is under 30.

AFAIK, no-one has ever received a Blue Card in the NL. The salary requirement is higher than for knowledge migrants, so it doesn't even make sense to try.

Knowledge migrant law discriminates on age. If he's over 30, the salary requirement is prohibitevely high - high enough that it is highly improbable he'll find a company willing to pay him that much with his profile.

If he's under 30, than the salary requirement is around €3k per month, and that might be doable if he does his interview exceptionally well and convince them he has a "thinking level" of somebody with a university degree.

Income requirement for Highly Skilled Migrant for someone older than 30 isn't that high. According to:


You should earn €4189 per month. It's not a lot of money if you are good software developer.

Booking in Amsterdam pay more than this!

From my personal experience (I don't have degree), I can say that companies like Booking, Amazon, Facebook, Google etc don't care about your degree.

If someone is handsome with algorithms and scalable architecture, then he/she can easily get more than €4K in Amsterdam.

>>From my personal experience (I don't have degree), I can say that companies like Booking, Amazon, Facebook, Google etc don't care about your degree.

Seriously, if only I can get a job at one of them.

> €4189 per month [is] not a lot of money if you are good software developer.

That's difficult to believe. I barely make half of that in Canada.

Yes, for software developers in Germany with a permanent contract and higher education it is really quite easy.

I recently acquired a blue card kind of accidentally, after landing a permanent contract with a company as an iOS dev. The HR person took me into the foreigners office to apply for a sponsored work visa (where I would be tied to a specific company) and we walked out with a blue card tied to my profession instead, on the spot. Blue cards are really amazing - you have free movement inside the entire Schengen region, can work for anyone, you get unemployment benefits and it's a relatively short period before you can get permanent residency (with a language requirement - B1 in 21 months).

Question to HN: What are the easiest countries for people from <anywhere> to move to as a software developer? Eg; easiest visa rules, there are companies hiring, people aren't egregiously racist?

The Netherlands. The only requirement is that you learn Dutch at a very basic level. Apart from that everybody, and I mean everybody, speaks English and the standards of living are among the highest in the world. Sure beats living on a mattress in some illegal housing in L.A.

I've been living in the Netherlands for nearly 7 years and haven't even tried to learn Dutch yet. Completely concur that it's an easy and wonderful country to live in, and there's tons of work for good software developers.

They must love you there :-). I lived in Belgium/W Flanders and some people were getting angry that I don't know Dutch...

Language is an extremely touchy subject in Flanders, not something exclusive for West Flanders. Not everybody in Flanders is like that, but it is certainly not a minority also. My father is (West-)Flemish and my mother is French so because of that I always looked at it in other view then most people who grew up in Flanders.

I'm West-Flemish myself and still live here, but I also get my share of snarky remarks of blogging in English or reading stuff primary in English. If you have a website with some text in Dutch and you make a spelling mistake then you will certainly get (angry) mails about it. Or when you use an English word instead of a Dutch, for some that is another capital offence.

If that sounds ridiculous keep in mind we have people proverbial running after busses and filling complaints when the bus company dares to advertise something with English words in it.

Ans seeing how many Dutch related contests Flemish participants win, I have sometimes the feeling that we are better in Dutch than our neighbours in the Netherlands. So yeah the Dutch language is really important in this part of the world.

For some things I can see the benefits of being able to promote (or even force) the local language. I'm personally convinced that from a social POV it helps when your neighbour understands you and speaks the same languages.

But on the other hand in the global age we are living we shouldn't overestimate the importance of it. It sometimes depresses me if I see how much energy gets lost in those kind of discussions.

I mean, I didn't mind learning it, in fact I can understand it pretty well on paper. But understanding spoken Dutch/Flemish was nearly impossible, and I could not make proper sentences for a conversation.

The people were very nice (like, almost Hot Fuzz nice :-D), probably why the few who berated my Dutch speaking abilities stood out :-)

I heard it is a very difficult language to master if you are foreign. It took my mother some time to be fluent at it. Also have some former colleague's - Bulgarian/Russian - who even after 10 years of living here still have difficulties.

Fortunately a lot of people don't mind if you aren't fluent in it as they value the effort more then being 100% correct. And those who react hostile just don't understand how difficult the language is. Hell even natives have sometimes problems with all the grammatical rules the Dutch language has!

Hot fuzz is really one of my favourite movies, then again I'm a bit of an anglophile regarding movies/series/... . :-) I lived btw also in Blankenberge for 12 years and born in Bruges. Nowadays I live at the other end of West Flanders.

I don't know where you lived exactly, but i do live in West-Flanders.

West-Flanders is actually (almost) Dutch only, not a lot of IT in here and a lot of agricultre. I don't mind, but i suppose a lot of older people ( who don't know english) could have a hard time having a conversation with you :)

Where did you live?

Blankenberge. Was there for a couple of months, quaint little town, and close to Brugge, which is also very nice :-)

Lol, that's a half an hour drive from here.. Would be funny if you still were there :p ( considering i don't see much belgians here and especially people located in West-Flanders )

Another person from West-Flanders here :-)

Nice, would love to meet up sometimes. We probably have similar intrests. And that's quite rare in West-Flanders :p

I wondered what type is your visa to stay in the Netherlands, and could you explain how did you get it?

> haven't even tried to learn Dutch yet

How come? Just no interest? Don't like it?

Immigration into Netherland is not trivial at all. As far as I understand, you can get a permit if either your salary is above a certain threshold (it's got to be a pretty good job), or your employer and convincingly argue that he can't find someone with the right skill set locally. Unfortunately, "programmer" may be the skill set here. I don't think there's much room for recognizing specific expertise. Then again, my impression is that there's a lot of demand for programmers; I don't know any unemployed ones, and tons of recruiters complain they can't find anyone.

So it's worth a shot. Looks like we could use more programmers here.

As a Dutchman I'm sad to report that the situation seems to be changing. Getting permission for your spouse to come here for example is becoming harder and harder.

For Highly Skilled Migrant visa, you shouldn't know Dutch. I have Russian friends there who already got Highly Skilled Migrant visa and they don't know Dutch at all.

Only requirement is to get job offer with enough salary.

I wonder how much they pay there, I work in France, and almost all the beginners devs, are payed between 30K and 25K annually that's about 2500euro / month minus 25% tax.

How is that possible if the foreigners need to get a Schengen visa? It seems that it's harder to get these days... I remember about a decade ago people getting Schengen visas to Hungary then going to Germany or anywhere else for work.

A schengen visa doesn't allow you to work. At the moment, it only grants you a stay of upto 90 days in the schengen area and for most countries, it's not possible to change the visa once you're in the country. If you want to work, you're required to go back to your home country or outside the schengen area and apply for a work visa/permit. All this is based on the assumption that you're a non EU/EEA national

That really doesn't stop those who are desperate for work. They "visited" Hungary or went to "buy a car", and then hightailed it to Italy, Germany, Netherlands to work illegally. Not sure how they got back home, probably deported and banned...

But in this case, to work legally, he'd need a work visa as you say, which I imagine is even harder to get?

And the work visa requirements would be?

Germany will pretty much extend you the red carpet: getting a visa takes a couple of weeks and the deal is pretty decent.

There are some societal problems with xenophobia and racism though. Probably affects Muslims the most. Avoidable by going to a major city like Berlin or Hamburg.

Development and tech jobs are not so easy to come by in Germany without B2 or better working knowledge of the language. You can come to Germany on a language visa, but you have to prove you have enough savings to live off of while you learn (and you can't work while you're on a language visa).

Work visas are generally only issued if you already have an offer. Which is hard to get unless you're in the country...

I suggest to check Berlin and Hamburg. There are lots of both startups and established companies (yesterday's startups) where German is not required. The biggest hiring now are Zalando, SoundCloud. But this is true for software engineers. If you are an electrical or mechanical engineer, sure, the best places are Bavaria or Baden-Württemberg, where German is mostly a must.

Not true at all in my experience. You don't need to know any German, but you do need a university degree, so this isn't an option for OP either way.

Where do you live? Maybe you're somewhere hit harder with the dearth of qualified applicants.

In southern Germany, engineering jobs have been difficult to find for my expat friends that don't know German. "Sehr gute kenntnisse auf Deutsch / Englisch" accompanies most any listing.

As a Dutch person I have to disagree with the suggestions to move to NL, I've assisted quite a few people with moving here and the situation with the IND is dreadful. I'd suggest Germany instead which seems to be on the whole a lot more welcoming to skilled people.

New Zealand!

As RowanH suggested above. Have a look at www.seek.co.nz

I've looked at NZ a bit as some friends live there -- it seems they've made it super, super easy to immigrate if you're in IT and can find a job in (4, 6?) months.

Easiest one is Sweden among western wealthy countries! I don't have university degree and I didn't have big salary. They gave me a work permit in one week!

In short, you only have to get job offer to relocate to Sweden.

They didn't even check my employment history.

What was your "source" country though? I'd imagine it would depend on that a lot.

I'm from Russia. It means I don't have any privileges in getting visa in any European country.

Native Swede here. Welcome to Sweden! I take every opportunity to make a point of welcoming Russians to live and work here, while at the same time denouncing Russia's regime. Being afraid of the Russian Federation and her recent actions is not the same as being afraid of or disliking Russians. Just wanted to get that out...

Thank you! Last two years, me and my friends (who are software engineers) left Russia. I have Russian friends in Sweden, Switzerland, Germany, UK, US.

So western countries get more high qualified people like me and my friends.

Putin motivate high qualified people to find a job in Europe :)

And as everybody agree in 21 century, high qualified people is everything for growing economy.

How's life there ? I live in France and I'm planning to move to Sweden, but its difficult to move to a country you don't know.

It's really rainy and cold 8 months a year, if you live in Stockholm or south of it. If you live up north, it's at least cold and snowy and beautiful4 of those 8 months, instead of rainy. I love the summer in Sweden, but it's so short. The Stockholm winter climate just sucks, sorry. It has to be either colder or warmer for me to like. Mud and rain is not my thing.

So whats the website I need to go check if I am eligible for a work visa?


Basically, you need to get a job offer from a company in Sweden with a competitive ("normal") salary, and you are in.

IF your line of work is on the shortage list, such as IT work.

There's plenty of work in Belgium/Brussels ;) . If you know angular / java, i can hook you up with someone who is looking to set-up a software development team at this moment



Singapore is another good option. I believe it has a pretty straight forward work visa system. Also a growing number of startups. Here are some job boards:




Hong Kong is also an option. Relatively lenient on the work visa as long as you are skilled. Similar with a growing number of startups and big corps hiring lots of developers.

Shoot me an email (in my profile) if you need help / are strongly considering HK.

I'm trying to get a job in Singapore. But it's a little bit challenging without university degree.

I have to get a job offer with more than 6000 SGD per month in order to get employment pass without university degree.

How many years of experience do you have? I can help you ask around. If you are interested send me an email (details in my profile).

Uruguay was one of the countries I was thinking of in my other comment. So I second this.

Also, gmazzotti, I believe you wanted to say "foreigners" instead of "forgeries".

I can relate to the OP, and there's something about once you've lived and worked in the software industry in California, that leaves a void that can't by filled by working in any other country. There's a value for and energy for the work that is never quite reached in any other tech ecosystem. It's really hard to put into words. I grew up in the Middle East, and am an Indian citizen. After my 7 years of studying+working in software in the US, and then having to leave due to similar visa issues, I was never as satisfied with working on software from a variety of other countries (Singapore, Korea, Oman, India, etc).

If you want to work without problems, Isn't Europe the steadier solution? I'm from Belgium fyi and Belgium is currently re-enabling "shelters" where fugutives of war can reside/stay.

He'd still need a visa? EU citizens take it for granted, but it's actually rather hard to get a Schengen visa...

NicoJuicy appears to be referring to asylum seekers. They don't need a visa, just an asylum claim. I don't know about Belguim but in the UK asylum seekers are not initially allowed to work.

On paper Uruguay has an amazing proposition for potential immigrants (and loved your ex-President with his humble lifestyle). However, only about 3,000 immigration visas are being granted each month from what I've heard, which is way lower than the demand for them.

Given that UY has 1% of the US's population, 3,000 visas is actually a lot (equivalent to 3.6 million visas per year in the US)


467*10^3 immigrant visas, not 10^6!

Can you tell please more about the immigration and work outlook and prospects in Uruguay?

I have very limited info about Uruguay and I appreciate it if someone could help me and provide more details about the situation there

The law is very generous regarding immigrants, but it still is somewhat hard because of the bureaucracy and paperwork. It is extra hard if you come from some country they don't know much of, because you will be a first for a few kinds of paperwork.

I don't think knowing spanish is a requirement. At least I know of a few people who manage with only english, but you will enjoy life much more if you try to learn it. Uruguayans are nice, warm and very sociable, you will be missing out if you only talk to those that know english well enough.

Regarding work prospects, Uruguay is expensive and the salaries don't seem to reflect that. You will probably manage, but will have to be more frugal than someone in Australia. (There is plenty of good paying programming jobs though. Uruguay is the top software exporter in Latin America.)

All in all, Uruguay is underrated country. It has lots to offer and is growing everyday, but it still requires more effort to make a living than western countries. I wouldn't advice it for someone whose top goal is money, but I would strongly recommend it to someone who enjoys life's little pleasures, food, tranquility, friends, health, education and being away from almost all of the world conflicts.

There really needs to be more transparency to how US compares to other destinations. https://medium.com/digital-nomad-stories/the-fading-american...


> Because we're the best by far, in about every way?

Just a random picture of San Francisco: http://stitchesanddishes.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/2010...

Those are programmers working in tech offices?

That's exactly what the GP is trying to tell you. "Who cares about anyone else, that's not me in the picture".

I visited San Francisco for a month a month ago and it was pretty bleak.

Life long resident of San Francisco, and the Bay Area. My grandparents had a house in the Richmond District. My father grew up on those streets. This was before the gangs, but he drove those avenues like he owned them. They used to call my dad and his buddies, "The Avenue Boys", or something like that? He was a terror in his younger days. He mellowed out around 30?

He always used say, "I just don't know why people like San Francisco so much?"

Things my father didn't like: The weather. He hated cold, rainy weather, and hated wind.(It messed up his hair?). He didn't travel much, so he didn't know what real hot weather can to do a person's energy level. I used to tell him if he spent a week in Joplin, Missouri, he would never complain about the cold, foggy SF climate.

My father didn't like the cost of living in the city, but I never knew why. He didn't care about other people. Yes--he cared about himself. He really didn't have to worry about the costs because he inherited a house, and had a good Union job all his life?

He didn't like the diversity in the city. I liked the diversity of the city, but found that even though San Francisco seems pretty liberal, and caring; people walk over the poor/Homeless in order to get to their shindig(whatever that may be?). They vote liberal if it benefits them, but it can be a cruel city? Maybe all big cities are cruel?

I have noticed a lot of young females try to find a man in San Francisco, and I've seen/know a lot of lonely women. I guess there's a lot of reasons why? I have a ex-girlfriend who got sick of her social life, or lack there of, and finally moved to Silicon Valley.(I'm not sure if she ever found anyone?)

If you are a female, and considering moving here, and want to settle down and start a family with the right guy; I think it's harder than other areas? Some of you will vehemently dissagree?

Personally, I don't like driving/parking in San Francisco.

If you decide to buy a car in San Franciaco put a kill switch in it--even if you think no thief wants it, you will eventually will have someone break into your vechicle. My old truck was broken into so much, I emptied it completely, and just left it open--at least they didn't break a window to get to a cheap stereo?

The positives of the city: It's a union city, but you must get into a union. It's not impossible, but there's a lot of competition. You will get paid though; local 6 Electricians make $100/hr, or more? Bell Hops own homes.

The restaurants, if you are care? Personally, I don't care that much about eating out, but I'm not normal.

Rent control--if you are lucky enough to land in a place that has rent control? (I believe rent control is an essential for such a small city. The people I know who live in San Francisco all are under rent control, and wouldn't be there without it. They know they got lucky! )

The diversity. While I love the diversity; don't think people will welcome you with open arms. The better looking people are treated better. When their looks fade, they don't get any special treatment. I'm not just talking about the gay community either. (Maybe this is common everywhere?)

Actually, the one thing I really love about San Franciso is Ocean beach. It's free to park your car. I've never seen too many cops harassing people there. It's just a peaceful place. I used to drink a beer, in my truck, there after work.

To be honest, the city is great if you have money. I heard one little dude tell me, "SF is great for street smart, credentialed people!". He was in a bar desperately trying to impress his date--someone way out of this guy's league.

I recall, telling him he would last half a day in New York City. I still believe that. I still believe it's easier to "make it" in SF, than NY? (The little dude was really irritating me, but what I said to him was true--at least I thought it was?)

"a female"

For fuck's sake just say "a woman"

Please stop posting generic political rants to HN. They lower the quality of discourse here.

I am an Indian national on H1B with a top company in US. By all means please do not come to US with H1B. The U.S. has broken immigration system. My visa is locked down to my employer and I cannot ask for a raise or get promoted. I accepted the lowest payment as per DOL from my employer just to stay and work in US with my 6 year H1B validity. By all means apply for a Canada work visa. They have now something called Express Entry system. You can also apply for permanent residency. US immigration system is broken and they are not going to fix it anytime soon. Immigrate to Canada. H1B is indentured servitude.

I have started my Express Entry application and very soon I will say goodbye to US , I don't mind the cold in Canada. I will have freedom to change jobs, won't be an indentured servant. I will also get permanent residency fast. US green card for Indian citizen is around 10 years backlogged.

I suggest it's best for you to apply for the Canadian Express Entry for skilled workers.

I'm sorry you're having such a bad experience here, I really am. As an American, you're right, our immigration system is horribly broken; ten years for a green card is average for most immigrants, if not fast for many. US firms, especially tech firms, use H1B to do exactly what you said, acquire people who are effectively indentured servants. Don't like it? Go back to your home country. Don't want to accept the bottom-basement pay? Someone else will, there are plenty of non-Americans to exploit!

And at the same time they lobby the Congress for an increase in H1B visas claiming there aren't enough US workers, they send out ads asking for ten years experience in HTML5 and CPU design, offering $30k for an "entry level" position, and say they can't find anyone here to fill it. Of course not, your requirements are insane and the wage is equally insane.

Yes, there are plenty of companies using H1B ethically, but for every ethical H1B, there are 5 unethical ones. It's a disservice to both American workers AND foreign workers.

PS: I'm not anti-immigration. I'm very much pro-immigration. What's that? You're intelligent, hard working, and want to come to my country to work your butt off and get rich? COME ON OVER! All I want is an immigration system that's fair to everyone, both those coming in to get a fair shake and have protections, and those of us already here, preventing immigrants from being used as cheap replacement labor.

It's actually worse than that. Here's an article from 2 years ago describing how the biggest employers of H1Bs use the program to bring low-paid immigrants into the country, train them, and ship them back home to pay them even less while doing the same work: http://www.npr.org/sections/alltechconsidered/2013/04/03/176...

Companies like these use up most of the H1B slots such that truly skilled high tech jobs that pay well, and would accept H1B if they could, are going unfilled. This is why you see so many U.S. companies setting up branches in Europe and Canada.

I was working for one of those body shops Indian consultancy company back in India. When they applied for my H1B , I knew what I was signing up for. So after a while I switched to one of the top employer in US (within an year of my arrival in US). So I basically made use of the Indian body shop to get my H1B using them as a bridge.

During that switch, the idiosyncrasies of the US' broken immigration system played a major role in my salary negotiation with my new employer. Many have an opinion that Indian H1Bs are unskilled. I am not going to judge them. AFAIK , I went through many rounds of interviews (whiteboard,project,cognitive) and I am pretty much sure I have engineering skills which are in demand. I am brave enough to state that I have more mathematical skills than many of my American counterparts.

Let me explain the idiosyncrasies of the US immigration system for an H1B worker.

While I was making the switch , my current employer came to know about my interview (possibly through a mole in my team) and the manager wanted to send me back to India. So he started the process of cancelling my petition.

So now I was under pressure to switch. The new employer knows that I am on H1B and they low balled me. This employer is not a body shop. This employer is simply trying to take advantage of my visa restrictions. Since my previous employer was in the process of cancelling my petition , I had no other choice but to accept the offer and join the new employer.

Your petition and visa is tied to your employer. Your job & freedom is under their mercy. If your employer cancels your petition , you are an illegal alien from the very next day. There is no grace time. (think about booking flight tickets, selling your car, breaking the lease and what not. Imagine school, kids and their state of mind. Its a mental torture).

So I joined my new employer and started working. I am beginning to feel that I am assigned a lot of work than my American counter parts , but I am not given any recognition and I am pretty much sure , I will be the one to get the lowest appraisals , because I cannot bargain. If my new employer fires me , I am an illegal resident from the very next day. I cannot search for a job , because there is no grace period. No employer will hire me because my petition would have been cancelled by then.

Not only Indian companies exploit H1B workers. American companies does that too.

Remember , American is a capitalist country. No employer whether Indian or American care about H1B workers. They just exploit them to the maximum extend because of this broken immigration system.

How to change it ? Immigration reforms like employer portability will be a good start.

But I am not waiting on these to decide my career & future. I have applied for the Canada Express Entry system and qualify with high points. My visa & permanent residency will not be controlled by employers in Canada. Soon I will say goodbye to this country. It has taught me many good things to remember and bad things to forget.

Disclaimer: I am an H1B visa holder (though likely on my way out)

You hit the nail on the head. This is why rather than more H1Bs we need a better H1B.

IMO doing away with the lottery and granting the visa to the <N> highest paid applications would go a long way to make things better.

It would kill H1B sweatshops, motivate employers to look for American candidates a little harder and make it easier for companies willing to pay H1B workers well to fill the positions they cannot fill locally.

It's also a proposal that - I feel - could gain bipartisan support in congress. Unfortunately, I don't hear many people speaking out in support of it.

They are. But it's drowned in the noise about undocumented immigrants, which is a much more emotional issue and more in the consciousness of the general public. If a politician says he wants to improve H1B, he'll get a primary opponent running ads saying he is pro-amnesty. Look at the comments section in any news article about improving H1B loopholes and the discussion is dominated by issues relating to the border with Mexico, amnesty, and undocumented immigrants.

As someone from India, Its very nice to hear your thoughts. That's true, tech. companies exploit people, their salaries are too low. Mostly they hire us for cheap labour, not because they can't find talents in america and we are do at it :) I know 95% indian friends who is America or not technically good. They are just close to the management people. 5% of are good.

ps : I never visited aboard, don't want to travel aboard just because i'm a cheap labour :)

<typo-1> and we are good at it :)

<typo-2> who is in America are not technically

You're brutally truthful.

Sorry for the hijack, but am in a different boat of confusion. I have 6 years experience in tech and I've been offered an L1 to transfer to Bay Area with a salary of 145k USD along with a comprehensive medical insurance.

I am not really sure if I should be taking this up considering the ridiculous cost of living in the Bay. Also, I don't know how much I'll be saving at the end of 2 years considering the fact that my wife will be travelling along with me (she doesn't have a STEM degree).

Although there are these cost of living calculators they just take into account a lifestyle that is 'just enough' to get by.

You'll do just fine. It's a great salary.

Hi there

I do have some questions regarding working/living in the Canada. Is there an email I can reach out to you for some questions and advice? Would appreciate it. Cheers

Indian here. I wanted to try for H1B, but after studying the waiting period, conditions under H1B employment, it makes so much sense to go to Canada instead.

Good choice. Do not end up in the ditch of US broken immigration system. Apply for Canadian Express Entry. Take control of your career and future. Your career advancement and future should not be anchored to US employers. They just take advantage of this draconian immigration system to low ball your salary, thus creating an impression that H1B workers are cheap.

I thought H1Bs weren't locked to employers. Can't you transfer the visa?

Yes. The parent's visa can be transferred, for up to a max of 6 years in length. However, the employer needs to be willing to transfer the visa. Lots of employers are willing to transfer the H1B during a good economy but rare to find an employer who would be willing to do so in a bad economy.

Also, if H1B worker wants long term stability and wants to stay in the US beyond the 6 yr period, then the employer needs to apply for Permanent Residency (Green Card). The H1B worker needs to employed for that employer for the entire duration of that GC process. The icing on the cake is that the H1B worker needs to find new employment within a month of being terminated or leave the US. Again, possible in a good economy but near impossible in a bad one.

All in all, this creates the perfect hostage scenario with H1B workers pursuing stability till they get their green card.

Yes you can change employers while on H1B. Its not really a transfer. Its a new petition by the new employer except that its not counted in the annual cap. It has got its quirks. Join the new employer only when the new petition is approved and your employer's lawyer have got the petition in hand.

Never switch before the petition is approved.

Technically yes.

But the poster's employer has probably applied for a green card. Since the poster is Indian, that is a 10+ years process (4 for China and 1 for everyone else). If the poster changes employer (or accepts a promotion), the 10 year clock is reset to 0.

So for all practical purposes, the poster is locked to the employer. He is also locked at the same level and pay. Employers love this since they get an experienced person locked in at the same pay for a decade or more. Obviously this reduces wages for everyone.

> If the poster changes employer (or accepts a promotion), the 10 year clock is reset to 0.

This couldn't be more wrong. there is this little thing known as AC21 clause where you can change employers after some part of your green card has been pending for more than 6 months. This doesn't reset the green card clock at all if you're waiting to be current, but you do have to do the first couple phases again with the new employer (which are really quick)

I have seen many people I know use this to change employer with no problem. If someone under green card is unable to change employer, chances are they just can't find a better job.

Also it is wrong that you can't accept a promotion. For example going from software engineer to senior software engineer is fine. As long as the new position is at least 51% similar to the previous one you are fine, and it is easy to prove on paper with a little bit of magic with your lawyers.

Also wrong that you are locked at the same pay... Seriously I have never heard this yet, where did you get that? I know plenty of people (and myself included) who while waiting for the green card got multiple raises with no problem.

Again you are technically right. But in practice this is of no help.

The AC21 allows you to change employer when you have filed the I-485. That is step 3 of the 4-step green card process. One can't file the I-485 until the "priority date" is current. That is not an issue if you are from any country other than India, China, or Philippines. Else you are looking at a delay of 4 to 11 years. So as I said, not practical for the poster who is from India.

Technically it is also possible to accept "normal career progression" changes in employment, i.e., promotions and raises, as you correctly pointed out. However in practice, what constitutes as "normal" is subjective, completely at the discretion of a visa officer. For a long time, this was very easy and a formality. In the last 1-2 years, the Visa Officers have become anal about this. Cases are being audited for something simple like Data Scientist using Python to Data Scientist using R (actual anecdote in my company).

Also visa officers are going back to approved cases from several years ago and retroactively denying them on some technicality like the above. So even if you know cases that were easily approved in the past, they can be suddenly denied and the employee can retroactively become "undocumented" for the past several years (again actual anecdote).

My understanding is that you can't transfer an H1B. The new employer has to re-apply. You can however go through the process while remaining in the US.

My experience (as an employer) is that it's become much harder over the last year or so to get the re-application through. At the very least they tend to have substantial delays. I'm not aware of the underlying reason.

If you have 8 years of experience, wait till you get 9 years. If you do, then even if you have a year of college, you can qualify for H1B. Typically, 3 years of experience equals 1 year of college. As is popular myth, a college degree or education is not a requirement that is set in stone for H1B.

Also, money or not, if you're working in US in capacity that usually someone would get compensated for, even for a company outside the US, you need to have work permit in the country.

If I were you I would look for jobs within Middle East like Qatar, UAE. Jobs related to tech are there, US universities are there, and the requirements with immigration are basically "if employer wants you get in." Rack up a few years of experience, then getting H1B would be viable.

Thank you for your help and information.

Yeah, I second this. I've never been to the Middle East and I haven't heard the best things about living/working there as a foreigner, but it's absolutely doable - I knew a couple guys in Nepal who would go to Saudi Arabia and Dubai for work (cattle ranches or something), visa and all. Other folks from India and other places who would go for tech work, engineering, etc - all over the Middle East (even Oman) and it's not so bad. There are stable, thriving economies there.

Please do not suggest this unless you know the full story. The conditions are bad, the pay is terrible, and the legal environment is most unpleasant.

And due to cyber security laws, you will notice no one is going to sat more than that in a GCC state.

Both are true. My experience (primarily from UAE and Qatar) is that, if you have skills that are in short supply then you can get excellent, tax-free salaries with fantastic benefits.

If you're there for manual/low skilled work then the pay and conditions (relative to, say, Europe) can be appalling.

Exactly, I can give more detail, but for obvious reasons I will not.

Given what he posted, he is either from Syria or Yemen. And this is why, knowing the breakdown that you summarized, he will most certainly face a tough time.

I work with many people on both sides of this spectrum, and hence my warning.

This fits what I've heard from people who went (having passports confiscated and held against their will, being put in prison until they signed their companies away, things like that).

How do you prove that you have 9 years experience?

You might have to give them contact details for bosses for each of the positions. At least that is what I had to do.

Which can be problematic if some of your 9 years have been spent with the company where you are currently employed.

Or you have run your own business or have been a self-employed freelancer.

Proving experience without employment contracts is really hard to impossible.

If you've been self-employed, you'll have had tons of paperwork, tax returns, invoices, clients to obtain references from, and possibly could get to a prospective employer through your personal network. The key is to plan ahead.

You seem a highly skilled and driven individual whose talents would be savoured, and rewarded with good money, by many companies in many different countries around the world.

Do not work for free.

Once more, please, do not work for free.

1. You don't have to work for free, far from it. You have in-demand skills and experience in a global job market. You can make really good money in many, many desirable locations around the world.

2. I would be extremely wary of anyone who would take you up on the basis you're proposing. Anyone who would give you such 'charity'[1] may have very questionable morals - 'oh sure, I'll take this desperate[2] man's skills, make potentially a LOT of money off of him without giving him his due reward, and that's completely fine with me, because that's what he said he wanted'. Imagine the sort of person who would utter such a sentence - do you want to tie your livelihood for the next however many years to such a person? I'm sure you know, there is a whole class of criminal activity in developed countries which exploits illegal immigrants based around this very premise. DO NOT put yourself on that path.

3. Never put yourself at the mercy of any one person or organisation for your survival. Your current situation is awful, but what kind of life would that be to move to? How will you feel waking up in a morning in a bed someone is letting you sleep in, eating some food they gave you for breakfast, then going to work all day only to guarantee an evening meal and bed when you return home. Repeating every day for a long time. That is not a life.

[1] That's what they might justify it as, at least. The reality is the opposite.

[2] I really don't mean to offend here, I know that's not what you are, at your core. But that's how they will see you, and that's the position you will put yourself in and indeed what you will become by following such a path.

I don't think `davnicwil` is wrong here, but I do think it's overly negative. A lot of immigrants through the course of history have fled truly terrible situations and ended up in pretty bad situations where they were disadvantaged, but at least able to get their feet on the ground and build something up.

I agree that I would guess you can do better, especially looking at other countries (there are so many out there! and wonderful people everywhere). But worse comes to worse, don't be afraid that the sky will fall down on you if you can't find better than this arrangement. Just keep working hard and leaping for better (and do keep your eyes peeled as there absolutely could be people who would take advantage of you).

I agree with you, but my main message isn't that he can't do it, it's simply that he needn't, and moreover he definitely shouldn't.

I can't relate to what he's going through but I know he's looking for an out from his current situation, under a great deal of stress, and from that vantage point it's usually difficult to see how varied your options are.

I meant for my overall message to be positive - OP, you do not have to resort to this plan! There is virtually zero chance that this plan is your best option. Assure yourself of that, and take a serious look at the vastly better alternative options you have - some great ideas for which are on this thread!

Thanks, what an inspiring reply.

Not trying to be negative, but my understanding has always been that U.S. immigrations doesn't care whether or not money exchanges hands. If you are doing work that a U.S. citizen would normally get paid for you are still technically "taking a job" from a local.

While I am sure there are conditions that will allow you to come and stay in the country, I would be careful what your arrangement is with any potential startup and how it is worded.

Perhaps another individual on HN has more insight into U.S. visa rules and can provide better guidance?

Good luck nonetheless!

I also very much hope you find some way of working things out, but there is another thing you should be aware of:

> just food and a place to live in transportation would be nice too but i am not going to take money from you and i am not going to ask your for health insurance or be your employee, i don't want to break any rules

There is a good chance that, as well as raising immigration law issues, this arrangement could also cause your non-employer to violate federal and state minimum wage laws.

I second the advice of others who suggest consulting an immigration attorney. This is a challenging and important problem, and it really demands the advice of a professional. If you don't think you can afford one you should: 1) schedule an initial consultation with a good immigration attorney anyway. You should get at least this first conversation for free. (And beware: there are many truly awful immigration attorneys. Do a little research.) 2) Look to see if there are any law schools in your area that have immigration law clinics. They may well take your case for free and, although you will be assisted by law students, they will be supervised closely by faculty and will probably provide you with very good advice.

Good luck.

Yep. Not paying people properly for work is a crime. I know in California that's a big deal. See, e.g., the crackdown a couple years back on "interships" that were just free jobs. And my guess is that immigration authorities would see food and lodging as payment, meaning both employer and employee would be violating the law.

However, I don't think there's anything illegal about paying an independent contractor who's living in another country. So my suggestion to codeornocode would be to find some sort of work in the US that could be done remotely from some safe third country. Immigration authorities care a lot about displacement of their own citizens, but in the places I've lived they don't give a hoot about somebody who is on a working vacation.

Just as a bit of anecdata, I know New Zealand considers WWOOF'ing [1], in which you get accomodation and food in exchange for work, as actual work with compensation, so you need a work visa.

[1] http://wwoofinternational.org

With tech skills like his in NZ he could get a real job and get paid real compensation. No need for Wwoofing.

Having recently left my last position as a Senior Systems Admin. I'm now in the process of making a shift in IT career paths to a developer of some sort of description.

OP, you really should consider making your way here to NZ.

Just jumping on the bandwagon to say that NZ is an amazing place (visited for 2mo) and seemed decently hospitable to various foreigners. Not as diverse as the US but it's a wonderful place to live/work with great people.

Yeah, if the alternative is working for free and crashing on someone's couch, NZ would be an awesome place to go. Also it's a relatively easy immigration process, compared to the US at least.

Having said that, Auckland felt like a bit of a technical wasteland... I've heard it's better down in Wellington or Christchurch, but I never regretted moving to San Francisco.

Can't speak for the US, but this is the case in Canada.

I sponsored s.o. for their permanent resident visa and we were told to wait until the status has been approved before any kind of work can be done. The immigration hotline mentioned that volunteer work would be possible during that time, but it would still require an application from the employer. It took the employer a few days to get all the paperwork sorted out and 2 weeks later the application was denied, leaving everyone a bit disappointed & furious about all the wasted time and promised opportunities on both sides.

Generally speaking: even if you do work as a volunteer, the kind of work you're going to do is most likely s.th. that should either be paid for or could be done by a local resident/citizen. If the US system is anything like the Canadian one, then you'll still get in trouble if they figure out that you've been working, even if it's for free/volunteer work.

yup. I've been denied entry into the states to volunteer at a tech conference because it would've been "taking a job" from a local.

Many hostels overseas offer this arrangement and it is totally legal through some kind of room-and-board exception, but I'm not sure about the US.

I'm pretty sure its illegal (everyone I know who has done it had a work visa) but frequently ignored.

Also, indentured servitude is frowned upon.

Unfortunately this is most certainly in violation of immigration laws. And chances are at some point, you will be banned from entering the US for a minimum of 10 years. I actually know 2 people that this happened to, one of them a personal friend of mine. Immigration/Customs officials do not need proof to ban you, all they need to do is suspect it. If you enter the US with no plan, no money, etc, they will suspect, rightfully so, that you are working in violation of your visa and you will get banned on the spot, especially if you visit so often.

My suggestion is to not do this. Enter as a tourist and enjoy your time in the US. If you want to work in the US, do it legally. Do work on an open source project and try to network and get a job that that way. Maybe try to join a huge company like Google or Facebook from abroad and transfer. That's your best way, especially if you get an L1 visa.

I suspect you are on a BUsiness (B-1?) visa and what you propose to do, even if no cash exchanges hands is considered compensation and therefore employment. As others have pointed out, you could end up in serious trouble with US immigration authorities- the 10 year ban is just the beginning, it could end up with a lifetime ban!

It is just not worth the risk and definitely not someone of your caliber needs to. There are other countries where you could fare better. Perhaps Canada?

I didn't expect this to be #1 post this is kind of you people, I would love to thank everyone who posted and is posting midway replying to comments with "Thank you" i found out i'd be spamming the comments in here, so this is a huge THANK YOU to everyone who wrote and will write.

Congrats on the repost. You may want to include more detailed contact information in your profile.

All the best to you!

Personally, I'd go to the European Union. There are a few very good reasons:

- Once you get citizenship in one country, you can freely work on any of the other countries, or move there and live there. Creating a much bigger area of opportunity for jobs. You could have citizenship in France, and work at a cool startup in Amsterdam

- Though it causes a lot of political instability currently (immigrants constantly drowning in the ocean, trying to get across), getting a visa here isn't that hard, especially when you're from a conflict zone and can show you have a good chance to get a job.

- Europe is pretty awesome.

I agree with your points, but one small nitpick: the US is almost as big as the whole EU - 300M vs. 500M citizens. So it's not much larger area of opportunity, just a little bit larger.

167% the size of the US is more than a little bit, non?

Same order of magnitude. EU and US each have their pros and cons. But the EU is absolutely worth considering.

Also there is no language barrier in the US.

Disclaimer: I scanned the comments and couldn't see anyone talking about this, but please forgive me if I've missed this as it does seem like an obvious point.

Coding for a startup and not receiving pay, is likely still not legal. In my experience with US immigration (I'm Australian, living in Canada...traveling to the US from time to time) they don't really care about the money, they really just are about if you're taking away work that could have otherwise been done by a US citizen. Which leads me to the point of:

The fact you're doing the work for free is very likely to be irrelevant, its just the fact that you're doing work that is an issue, irrespective of the reimbursement you're receiving.

I think you've got it right here and I hope this gets seen.

US Border Patrol denied my entry to the US once because a coworker and I were coming over to oversee the installation of a number of electrical devices our company built/designed/tested and shipped to the client. We didn't have the adequate paperwork to state that this was a contractual "job" and we were simply there to assist local tradespeople in the installation should they have any questions since, you know, we designed the thing.

When we were turned around at the border it was explained: without the paperwork to detail what we were doing, that this was agreed upon ahead of time and likely a bunch of other legal matters they had no method of knowing whether we were hired to save wages that would otherwise go to an American citizen. We weren't being paid for this work, it couldn't be done by anyone else (short of them taking the design work and learning it from the ground up over several months) and we were still denied entry.

OP, work, even if free, is still work. Contact legal aid for what you are and are not allowed to do.

Not to mention the fact that, legally speaking, if there is no compensation then there is no transfer of ownership on any of the work done. There could be a strong claim to code copyright later on, though without him being citizen I'm not sure what rights he would actually have. Would cost a bit for a lawyer to draft up some contract stipulating the housing as a form of compensation, but again not being a citizen could be a problem.

> I have 4 years remaining in my U.S visa, each visit i can stay 6 months, i don't want to break any U.S rules that's why i want to code for your startup for no money, just food and a place to live in

Wouldn't that be compensation, technically? Also, I'd expect a company to be required to pay someone at least a minimum wage, but I could be mistaken.

> I am doing this because i live in a war torn country, some issues happened and i've lost all my savings

Dude, forget the US for now. Your first priority is to get a safe place to live in and a stable job so you can build your financial life back. Try other countries, such as the Netherlands, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland. These have way better immigration policies, specially for people in tech.

Then, when you are ready, try California again. Having no money will be an obstacle otherwise. How are you going to get translated, notarized documentation otherwise? Not to mention any kind of fees, plus transportation.

> i can't get an H1B visa because i don't have a university degree

Then don't, try another route. Such as via a big US multinational company. Or get the degree, if you follow the suggestion to go to an "easier" country first. You are young, you have time.

Have you considered India?

While a work visa is not likely to be easy, the current tech scene has huge demand for programmers of all kinds. Especially if you're expert in Unity/Full-stack.

If it'll help, let me know here, and I'll connect you to someone in this very area (game programming, Unity SDK programming).

Other options would be Canada, Mexico, Vietnam, or anywhere else you can work remotely.

For visa details see http://www.immihelp.com/nri/indiavisa/employment-visa-india....

definitely post to https://www.facebook.com/groups/delhistartups/ or https://www.facebook.com/groups/blrstartups.connect/

If you want any more information about India - dont hesitate to mail me. It's a great startup ecosystem and great food. Yes, we have our shit - but fairly democratic and good opportunities can be had in general.

Tech work in India can be used as a stepping stone to the middle east, Singapore or the US.

Not trying to be negative but the reality here is you can't legally just work for food and shelter in the US. Whoever makes you work that way is very likely breaking federal and/state laws even if you are not. At the very least you will have to get paid prevailing minimum wage. And the employer can only hire you if you are authorized to work.

A very narrow exception exists for unpaid interns. But that requires one to also be authorized to work in one form or the other for e.g. as a student who needs work experience in his/her field of study.

If you want to optimize for money, I would recommend Zurich. It is the only place in Europe where net salaries compare to NYC or the Bay-Area.

If you are interested in moving here, shoot me a mail. Alternatively, check out my blogpost on medium: "Eight reasons why I moved to Switzerland" (https://medium.com/@iwaninzurich/eight-reasons-why-i-moved-t...)

I agree but I want to bat for Sweden too. Wages are lower, but you don't have to pay for health insurance at all, all medical care is free and high quality. Also, Switzerland is not a member of the E.U. But Switzerland is great, I hear from relatives living there.

"Also, Switzerland is not a member of the E.U." You're saying this as if it would be a bad thing...

Also, paying 300-500 CHF per month for health insurance out of pocket might sound not to bad considering the fact that your net-salary is probably 3000 CHF higher here. (In Switzerland you pay 16-22% as income-taxes compared to 60% in Sweden).

I wonder if it is easy for non UE citezens who live in EU

If you're from a war torn country have you considered applying for asylum? I know cases were asylum was granted to guys from my old country, India, which is by no means a war torn country.

I'm going through the immigration process right now and everyday Canada looks like a good option. I know it's not the US but it's still an awesome western country and has a reasonable immigration system.

Good luck!

Highly recommend Canada ... Vancouver, Toronto, and Montreal all have decent (albeit small) tech scenes and are great places to live.

I run a startup in Singapore. There is a huge shortage of skilled developers in Singapore. Please do email me at sudhanshu@ideatory.co if you want to consider Singapore (I saw another comment suggesting Singapore). i know friends/startups looking for developers here and in Hong Kong (another option). Good luck mate!

I work in Germany, had the option to work in the US but decided against it, I find the visa regime too strict, and unless you land a great job in a great company in a good city(you don't want to live in the middle of nowhere) it's not worth the trouble.

There are plenty of Jobs which you can get without knowing German, and many employers provide free classes where you can learn some basic German. IMO knowing a new language is also a very marketable skill depending on where you are from. Depending on the company you may get 25-30 paid day offs in a year.

You can get paid well if you are qualified/experienced. Living costs are low as well, I live in Berlin in a spacious 3 room apartment in a great area (http://i.imgur.com/qLqzqN7.jpg). The infrastructure is amazing. My daily commute is 20 mins door to door (subway or cycle) and I don't need a car at all. My daughter goes to daycare for free, and the healthcare system though it has its quirks, works quite well.

Getting a blue card is easy and with your qualifications you should be able to get it quickly, with the blue card you can travel outside the EU and come back within 12 months, no questions asked.I just took a 3-week vacation back home and plan to take another one this year.

If you wanna explore some options I would be more than happy to help, drop me an email at winash@outlook.com

What you can do is to move to country like Ecuador (Cuenca, let's say) or Thailand, or Indonesia (Bali), or Phillipines. It's relatively easy to live there on a long term.

You can find a job on oDesk (upwork now). I did it before, I earned $3K/month and worked 5 hours a day only. It's a good money for these countries (well and for US too).

Just work remotely, live there, save money. One day you'll find a job and will legally move to U.S. (seems like you'll be qualified after 9 years of professional experience).

If you want to work in Indonesia or Thailand you need a local company to sponsor your visa and work permit, which makes remote work tricky. In years past you used to be able to just leave the country every 60 days or whatever and hop right back over the border, but you can't get away with that these days.

Doesn't make any sense, but that's how it is.

To help make "ends meet," it's possible to get some food, healthcare and monetary assistance from federal, state, county and city programs, often managed by each county's social services agency.

Firstly, there's the Refugee Cash Assistance (RCA) program: https://www.sccgov.org/sites/ssa/debs/calworks/Pages/refugee...

Here are some other California refugee programs: http://www.dss.cahwnet.gov/refugeeprogram/

List of other refugee programs: http://www.visaus.com/benefits.html

Next, food aid (food stamps) is called CalFresh (req 5 yrs of residency for noncitizens)

After that, there's MediCal (state-run health insurance available at the county social services agency) (unsure of requirements)

Lastly, General Assistance (emergency cash, a pittance) (only 15 days of residency is required). You can sign up for it at a local social services agency office.

Here's the main website for Santa Clara county: https://www.sccgov.org/sites/ssa

(Beware of name clash: federal Social Security is also called SSA. I hear any sort of Social Security benefits usually takes a very long time and lots of paperwork to get.)

GA policies: https://www.sccgov.org/ssa/general/gachap06.pdf

Other California counties' websites are listed here: http://www.counties.org/

Please consider India as one possibility - I have good connections and can help you if interested.

Yadav.rakesh (at) gmail

No need to work for free - definitely not when you know how to program and build systems. We don't seem to have enough of those.

Good luck.

Please consider having at least an initial consultation with an immigration lawyer before trying to do this. The initial consult is usually a 20-30 minute phone call and is offered for free by many attorneys. Your intentions are good, but it would be sad if you were blacklisted by immigration for any reason.

If the US visa doesn't work out try going to a country with less archaic immigration law. i.e anywhere else.

Specifically Australia, Canada, Germany all have working holiday visas which are flexible and would let you do this sort of thing. Generally anything to do with the US and visas is a bad day.

I would suggest Singapore too. Great emerging startup scene, very quick to get working visas.

Working holiday visas are not permitted once you reach 31. You must apply and enter the country before you are 31, I believe (it may be 30).

I actually could use your help and would provide a nice shelter, food, salary in an awesome town here in Germany.

if you are interested, let me know.

Germany also has single-payer socialized healthcare IIRC. The US has Medicare/Medicaid/Obamacare which isn't so great, and often doesn't include dental or vision care. For a long-term living situation, that's probably more important.

Also, the US immigration and refugee systems are arbitrary, byzantine, gotcha minefields that can suck would-be visitors into indeterminate imprisonment or expelled for minor paperwork errors or unintentionally breaking one of a billion unclear rules.

That sounds awesome, please contact me when you see this my e-mail is -as mentioned in the post- life.will.get.better.2016@gmail.com.

I knew a guy who was hasseled entering the US with some tools because he planned to do renovations on his own house that he owned outright.

The border guards said that unless he was a citizen or had a work visa then he was not allowed to work on fixing up his own house, and would have to hire a local to do it.

tl;dr working for "just food and a place to live" is still technically working, and unless you have permission to do so it would be risky for all parties involved.

> then he was not allowed to work on fixing up his own house

Then tourists are not allowed to cook and must go to restaurants, and coding for open source is also illegal? I think guards were wrong.

There's a grey area. Making your own bed is ok. Renovating a series of houses to sell on isn't. It's not totally clear where the boundary is but I think the guards have some discretion.

Have you tried applying for refugee status?

I don't know if you'd be allowed to work, but instead of taking grants from the US as a refugee, you could maybe convince them that you are a skilled-refugee who is leaving your war-torn country and you would like to work instead of being given a handout.

Something tells me that the red-tape in the US won't allow this, but it is worth a shot, especially if you speak to an immigration lawyer about it.

There is quite a lot of US visa related guesswork going on in this thread - please do seek expert advice. In my experience the application and compliance problems look much less scary when you talk to someone who does this every day. Lawyers are expensive, but try: http://teleborder.com (YC startup)

And on the global search for alternatives, should US not work out, here's some overview data of 110 most startup-friendly cities in the world: http://my.teleport.org/ -- and a mobile app for searching among them: http://teleport.org/mobile (visa data layers coming soon, too, but dozens of other cost & quality of life criteria already there)

I wouldn't want to hire you because I wouldn't want to get in trouble. I also wouldn't want you to get in trouble. There are alternatives being discussed here that would allow a win/win instead of a lose/lose: pick a different country, get another year of experience, and play by the rules.

Hey USA is not the only place in the word where you can develope your self, with that CV to can try India , China , Shangia places where you can find a LOT of opportunities.

Hello, upon reading this post I felt great sorrow for your situation. I have seen many scams,(I do not believe you to be involved in any kind of scam), and known many people with visa issues.. I believe you are a truthful, honest person who deserves the best...as well as having the best intentions towards others. While I am in Texas and have can not offer support at this time...I do know a few people in California and Oregon who may be able to help you...I am sending your post/email to them momentarily. Are there any other states have an interest in regarding living/working etc.? Please let me know and I will see what I can do to connect you with assistance.

Also, please keep us up to date regarding your situation.


D. Virgillo

Thank you for your kind comment and help, i appreciate it, most of the comments here and the e-mails i got made me consider somewhere else, when i posted this post i only saw California in my head even though i don't mind going elsewhere at all.

Talk to a lawyer that actually knows the stuff. Also, if the situation looks that bleak regarding the U.S, please consider another country that gives you a better legal standing. Broaden your search. There is more to the world than North America and Europe.

Here are my suggestions.

1. Take a deep breath and be calm. It will be ok. You have a visa which is the option to move. you are in a good place already.

2. Think of the most stable (infrastructure and cost wise) country you can access visa free, go there and try getting a remote position in the US. With that, you can fun living a fairly stable life in the mean time.

3. DO NOT risk your B1/B2 by trying to trick the system. Aim for a maximum of 4 months/year in the US on it.

4. With your B1/B2 you can travel to Mexico and Turkey for a while too.

Finally, DO NOT risk your B1/B2 and always have a decent reason when entering. the paper you have in your passport is merely for the CHANCE to gain entry at the immigration border and not a visa in itself.

It will be ok bud!

Sorry to say, but I don't think what you're asking for is legal. You cannot be employed just for food/place to stay. If you need to work in the US, it's not possible with your visa (which I'm assuming is B1/B2).

How about working for a startup tackling poverty alleviation globally, based in beautiful Cebu, Philippines? Visas here are much easier to get and the startup scene is growing rapidly. We're looking for talented full stack developers to work with Go language, Python/Django, Java, Docker, and Microservices. Our customers are doing life changing work globally, including in the Middle East. https://www.engagespark.com/about/#join . And two of us co-founders based here are from the US originally.

I don't think this is even legal; I'm sorry for your situation, but you must see that if this sort of thing were allowed, it would pave the way for slavery.

I'm not in the US, but some people here are.

What about working on some open source projects? I don't think that would fall into the danger zone of immigration law(since you wouldn't be working "for" anyone).

Alternatively, maybe a company here can offer you an internship? The visa requirements could be less.

Does anyone here know an immigration lawyer that could help this person get out of a bad situation?

Email sent. Let's get the ball rolling and see what you've got.

Try O-1 Visa. O-1 visa is getting more popular as an alternative to H-1B. O-1 visa does not require a university degree, and I think you have a good shot depending on how well you put yourself out there.


> i can't get an H1B visa because i don't have a university degree

I have exactly the same problem. I'm from Russia and I don't have university degree so I can't get H1B visa right now (but I will when I have 12 years of exp).

US is really hard country to get in.

I relocated to Stockholm, Sweden since Sweden doesn't require university degree for work permit. Software developers are in shortage occupation list.

Sweden is easiest wealthy western country to get in.

If you will bored in Sweden, you can later apply to UK (as far as I understand Tier 2 General doesn't require degree either).

You can get your job in Hong Kong and Singapore without university degree but it will be a bit harder.

So I recommend Sweden. It's better to be normal employee in Stockholm than working for food in California.

Also, don't stay for a few months in US on tourist visa. Next time they ban you to issue new visa!

Native Swede here, I agree. Sweden is quite easy to get into if you are on the shortage occupation list, which you are.

Once in Sweden you will either fall in love with the on the surface reserved people, or if you don't, work 5 years, apply for citizenship, then be a Swedish citizen (best passport in the world for traveling along with U.K. passport) and automatically a E.U. citizen, which means you can work anywhere in the E.U. without any limits at all. As a E.U. citizen and especially Swedish citizen it can be easier to get into the U.S. and Canada, I hear anecdotally. There are also sizable communities of almost all war affected ethnicities in Sweden you can socialize with. Stockholm is the most international city, you can live there a life time on English alone and not feel left out too much. Everywhere also you can still live on English alone, but the social life with locals will suffer if you don't learn Swedish, IMHO. All Swedes know English, but you will miss out on little chats etc. Also minorities often communicate more in Swedish than their native tongue, especially children of immigrants, so paradoxically to connect with your own kin, you also need to learn Swedish. Integration issues varies from place to place, there are some problems with racism especially towards people of color, but far from as much as in Germany. Also the racism is kind of specific and weird, if you are black but from the U.S. you are still almost celebrated by the Swedish locals.

TL/DR: Sweden is awesome. Easy to come in, if you love it, you will love it a lot. If you don't, become citizen then move on to the rest of the E.U.

Especially if OP is Syrian:


Sweden is not California, but California is not Sweden. Why the pity party trying to stay in the US, when Sweden is welcoming--and a great place to live?

I agree with you in general. But as non-EU citizen, I should work 4 years here in Sweden. Then I get only permanent residence.

After I get permanent residence, I should live ANOTHER 5 years to get Swedish citizenship.

So it's 9 years in total, not 5 years.

You are correct, mea culpa. However, with permanent residence for 5 years, you get similar rights as E.U. citizens and can work in E.U. countries except for Denmark, Ireland and the U.K.


> don't stay for a few months in US on tourist visa. Next time they ban you

Are you suggesting that the U.S. immigration authorities are banning people for using visas to their capacity, for their intended purpose?

YES! More precise, they don't ban you, they just don't give you a new visa. US immigration authorities use the following logic:

If immigration officer has opinion that you are potential immigrant, he will refuse you a new tourist visa.

Or another definition:

If there is no clear evidence that you are not potential immigrant, you will be refused to get a new tourist visa.

For example, people often won't get US tourist visa:

1. Who spent too much time in US on tourist visa (even if they formally didn't break their limits);

2. Who previously had a visa under "Work and Travel" program;

3. Who are young single girl;

4. Who said that he/she has relatives or friends living in US;

I wasn't careful and said that I have a friend living in US. They immediately refused to give me US tourist visa!

I read several hundreds interviews with US immigration officers (people posted their experience after refusal) and I think I clearly understand how US immigration authorities made their decisions. But it's too late, I did it AFTER my interview with immigration officer.

I didn't want to stay in US illegally but immigration officer think so.

US immigration authorities are very, very, very suspicious about Russian and Middle East citizens.


Do they require relevant work experience in Sweden? Also, do they have the visa attached to the employer like h1b?


Basically (from the page above) for a tech job:

* Valid Passport

* Job offer BEFORE traveling with average level salary

Edit: if you can get a job offer, that's much better than the asylum process. Waiting time for asylum decision is like 1 - 2 years and you are not allowed to work during that time. You may get in, especially if you face persecution in your country of origin, but your soul will be crushed in the asylum process. :-/

They don't check your employment background. But in Work Permit application form you write your experience.

I think you can get work permit in Sweden without relevant work experience. But I think there is some risk for refusal.

You will be attached to your employer only for the first two years.

But work conditions are very soft here. Nobody push me work hard.

Best of luck to you, I'm sorry for where the system has gotten in the way. If I could, I would offer.

Thank you

>>>> I am doing this because i live in a war torn country

I think your best option is to ask for Asylum [1]

[1] http://www.uscis.gov/humanitarian/refugees-asylum/asylum

Honestly, I think you will be more successful if you spend your time and energy looking for employers that could sponsor your visa to Australia, Canada, New Zealand, etc...

I'm from a very remote part of Brazil and I used www.seek.com.au to get a programming job in Australia in 2008.. The company ran some remote tests with me and paid for all the relocation costs. You should try this.

Also you can try to get a permanent visa even before you try to move there. You can use the Immigration Points Calculator (https://www.wannamigrate.com/tools/) to know if you have the basic requirements for these same countries.

You may be a good candidate for an Australian visa. Not sure where it goes, but this form allows you to register your interest in becoming a skilled migrant.


Also, there _may_ be nothing stopping you from living in the US but working remotely for a company in another country. That may be a good path to getting an Australian/European/other company to sponsor you for skilled migration.

Best of luck!

Why not just apply for college in The Netherlands? (I recommend NHL or if your sciencey Twente). Or Germany? You can live comfortably on a part time job and can use the degree to get into the U.S. if you want.

If U.S. doesn't work out, give Australia a try, a lot more lenient.

Unless you are granted asylum and therefor have to live in a prison camp...

The refugees in the prison camps haven't been granted asylum.

That's not true. Even those who are granted asylum have to live in these camps and are not allowed to live in Australia. "You will not make Australia your home."

Also, holding children in prison camps unfit for human habitation, because they have not been granted asylum status, isn't that much better.

That only applies to refugee unable to afford a plane ticket...

If you need a professional degree for potentially being able to get an H1B sponsorship, I would suggest signing up for harvard extension >> https://www.extension.harvard.edu/

Anybody can start class and you qualify to join signup for a professional degree after getting A in 3 or more classes. Good luck !

You should consider traveling to the US on your visa and then applying for refugee status: http://www.uscis.gov/humanitarian/refugees-asylum/refugees

You can contact the Helsinki Citizens Assembly or the International Organization for Migration for advice.

With 8 years of experience, you should be able to get a H1B. Every 3 years of experience adds 1 year to your education. You need 16 years of education to get a H1B. I too do not have a degree and managed to get a H1B. The challenge is to get through the lottery.

However, as many others have suggested, I too would recommend you to try another country, where visa rules are relaxed.

I am not 100% sure about the rules, but I think work for free is still considered work. If you have a tourist visa, you are not allowed to work for a client in the USA, even for free.

If you have all this time, why not develop an app and sell it on the internet? You can always say you're working for your own company back home.

Look up this organization called "World Relief." They might take you on and help you with visa troubles. This is definitely in their department and they're super nice people; I volunteered with one of their families for a while.

Good luck; we're rooting for you.

Hey why don't you come to Costa Rica? you can ask for political asylum here and work for tech companies. I'm an engineer and have always worked for american companies here. Also you can try New Zealand which is very similar in tech jobs like Costa Rica.

China(Shanghai, Beijing) will be a good place to go to find IT job that require English communication (good pay), and don't have to worry about visa issue. Just go to linkedin, and find local recruiter there.

You can apply to jobs in companies which are targeting diversity and experience like Rakuten Inc. It's in Japan one of the safest countries. If you got the appropriate experience they will hire you.

I advise you try to find a job in Germany. I'm a brazilian myself and got a job here.

For a skilled Ruby dev with a diploma(for a third world country, this is a requirement) you can get around here pretty easily.

Also Germany has pretty much free universities if you can qualify as a resident which I guess you would if you work a few years.


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