Embedded Software Engineers and H-1B Visa

Embedded Software Engineers and H-1B Visa

Like all professionals in the United States tech market, many embedded software engineers work in the United States via the H1B visa. While the government doesn’t often release H1B numbers (they last did it in 2019), anyone who works in the field knows how pervasive they are. Numerous visa holders work on it for years while waiting for a Green Card.
We’ve covered advice for H1B holders in the past, but embedded software engineers face unique situations. Here, we’ll discuss three pieces of advice for them.

Embedded Software

1. Make sure it’s a real Embedded Software Job

I’ve read countless resumes where the title “Embedded Software Engineer” didn’t equate to true embedded development work. Shady employers will use immigration anxieties to convince engineers to accept these positions. These roles are typically focused on limited validation or support work.

First, these roles limit your career growth potential. You won’t develop the skills necessary to qualify for more in-demand development positions.

For those on H1Bs, it also increases the odds of losing your status in the future. If you’re downsized out of a company, you’ll have a harder time finding a new position in the 60-day window. If you do, it will likely be doing the same, limited work.

The sad truth is thousands of early-career engineers accept these roles because they represent their best shot at getting sponsored. If this happens to you, it’s important to line up more complex development work as soon as possible. The safest route would be a new position with your current employer, but a job change is the more probable choice.

2. Stay in direct-hire positions

While consulting companies still account for the largest percentage of H1B employers, they’re not your sole option. While many embedded software engineers start working for these firms, they often have more opportunities than their IT-leaning counterparts to leave for direct-hire employment.

It’s the best path for those looking to stay in the U.S. long-term. Consulting companies’ best interest is to keep you in the same role, without much incentive to sponsor a Green Card. You have a better shot with product development companies, as they’d like you to stay for the long haul.


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3. Don’t get swayed by money alone

Money should always be a top priority, but not at the expense of your immigration prospects. Sometimes an offer is too good to be true.

This is good advice for any engineer, in any field, but the risks are greater when you’re on a visa. When it comes to embedded software jobs, look for common indicators of long-term disaster. In these cases, there’s a chance the company is throwing money at a short-term need. They’ll cut you as soon as you finish the project.

Look out for these:
• The company primarily does mechanical designs. Once your project is over, they’ll no longer need your skills.
• They do most new development overseas, and your project is an exception to the rule.
• The work they’ve lined up goes a short time into the future, with no clear idea of what’s next. They can’t be thinking about your future if they don’t know theirs.

If there’s something that makes you uneasy, don’t let more money sway you. The embedded software field doesn’t have the same volume of opportunities as IT, so lining up a new position within 60-days will be more of a challenge.

An embedded software engineer will face unique challenges, compared to counterparts in other industries. This remains true for those on H1B visas, where good career choices are even more critical. There’s a tremendous upside if you know how to play the game.

The team at PRA USA has 30+ years of experience helping professionals in the Electronic, Embedded, and Controls Engineering fields. We use the knowledge we’ve gained to help our candidates and clients navigate the shifting employment landscape. Let us know how we can put our expertise to work for you.