Hi, Matt Ives here with Preferati, coming from Henderson, Nevada, this morning. And today I wanted to talk about visas for your developers.

When you do a nearshore hire in Latin America, it is highly recommended and extremely beneficial to the relationship if you fly your Latin American staff out once or twice a year. This could be to meet with clients, to meet with your team, and especially for any year-end planning, Christmas parties, and things like that. It’s a great idea to have them out. When you go to arrange that travel, which you’ll find is actually pretty easy to do, the one sort of wrinkle in the whole thing is you will sometimes need to arrange visas for your nearshore staff.

Latin American developers, by and large, frequently already have US visas. That’s something I’ve discovered. So, certainly, that’s something to ask about during interviews and something to check into. But, quite frequently, they have US visas, they’ve been to the US, and it’s no problem whatsoever. That means you can just book them a ticket and they can just come out.

However, if they don’t have a visa, they’re going to need to apply for one. Chile is the only Latin American country which is visa-free to the US. So, unless you hired a developer from Chile, which I highly recommend, it’s a great country, you’re going to need to get them a US visa.

Your developer will likely be more familiar with the process than you are and will be able to prepare all the paperwork and everything for you.

What Your Developers Need in Order to Apply for a US Tourist Visa?

Customarily, you will cover the costs, which is generally about $150 to apply. You also, most likely, need to provide your developer with some paperwork to prove that you are going to be covering their expenses during the trip. This includes covering their travel costs, lodging costs, and taking care of any emergencies that might occur along the way, including medical challenges and things like that. You’ll probably need to prepare a letter and provide it to your developer so they can bring it to the embassy when they apply for a visa.

By and large, things go smoothly, the visas are approved and so forth. There are definitely some challenging countries where it happens less frequently, but by and large, it usually goes pretty smoothly. Make sure you start the process at least three months prior to the event you’re hoping to have your developer attend.

In more challenging cases, you can aid the process by sending a notarized letter documenting your intentions and making yourself available. This is in case the embassy wants to contact you and verify that you’re going to take responsibility for this individual while they’re traveling.

The primary thing that needs to be proven is that the developer is well established in their home country. This means that he/she has a family, has loans, perhaps has a house, a car and other things like that, that would indicate they’re not really motivated to skip out on their visa and stay in the US once they get here.

Generally speaking, that’s not a problem. Your developers are usually quite established in their home countries, and it’s not difficult to demonstrate that they’re set up. However, I certainly have seen visas not approved before, and frankly, it sometimes seems quite arbitrary. You can appeal the process and get a new appointment, but it is a bit of a crapshoot. You should never bank 100% on your developer being able to travel out to see you.

What Do You Do When a Visa is Denied?

When that’s the case, I highly recommend-well, I recommend in all cases that you visit your developer in their country. That is a treat that I can not even describe. It’s just immensely useful.

However, that can be very costly and time-prohibitive for your entire team. The point, of course, is to do some team bonding so it may be very difficult for your entire team to visit your developer in their home country. When that’s the case, sometimes we encourage you to set up sort of a rendezvous retreat. Perhaps you’ll have your year-end retreat this year in Cabo, Mexico or somewhere like that.

Your developer can usually get a visa to Mexico and, of course, the US is visa-free to Mexico. This way, your entire team can meet up and enjoy some nice weather and bond over that. The cost is usually pretty reasonable relative to corporate retreat costs. So, that’s one way to sort of work around if you’re running into some visa challenges.

When you do your staffing through Preferati, we do all the legwork related to visas, including covering the visa application fees. We do everything we possibly can, including leveraging all of our experience getting visas for past developers, to assist in coordinating your travel. We also book all the travel for the developer and their lodging as well, if you like. You do pay the cost of lodging and travel. We cover the cost of the visa and, of course, provide all the labor related to obtaining the visa documents and travel documents and booking the actual travel.