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 America staff out once, twice a year. This could be to meet with clients, to meet with your team, especially for any year-end planning, Christmas parties, 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 need to sometimes 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 check into. But, quite frequently, they have US visas, they’ve been to the US and it’s no problem whatsoever, 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 in Chile, which I highly recommend, it’s a great country, you’re going to need to get them a US visa.
Your developer should be more familiar with the process and be able to prepare all the paperwork and everything.
What do the developers need to apply for a US tourist visa?
Customarily, you will cover the costs, which are generally about a 150 bucks 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, medical challenges, things like that. And so you’ll probably need to prepare a letter and provide that to your developer so they can bring that to the embassy when they apply for the visa.
By and large, things go smoothly, the visas are approved and so forth. There are definitely some challenged 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 assist 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, has perhaps a house, a car, things like that, that just would indicate that they’re not really motivated to skip out on their visa and stay in the US once they get there.
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 to do when the 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 there 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 that 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 for the cost of the lodging and the travel. We cover the cost of the visa and, of course, provide all the labor related to obtaining the visa documents, the travel documents and booking the actual travel.