How this Pinoy is helping kababayans get US work visas

By Yvee Tadeo Guevarra, ABS-CBN North America Bureau

Posted at Apr 20 2014 09:01 AM | Updated as of Apr 21 2014 09:33 PM

LOS ANGELES – The annual cap on the number of H1B visas for skilled foreign workers has been reached less than a week after applications were accepted.

So far, US Congress has stalled on proposals to increase the 85,000 visas currently issued to foreign workers.

But for those who were able to benefit from the program like Joe Matias, an H1B visa could be life changing.

Matias, a business administration graduate, was sponsored by his employer in 2000.

“When I applied they were telling me that I was overqualified,” Matias said. “But I told them that we are willing to start from the bottom and work my way up, which I did.”

After seven years on an H1B visa, Matias’ employer sponsored him for his permanent residency.

Eventually, he was able to put up his own business. Matias is now co-owner of A Runner’s Circle, one of the leading running stores in Los Angeles.

“I am very grateful that that program is up for grabs,” he said. “If you are qualified to get one, I would suggest that you apply for one.”

Matias said he is even prouder that he is now at a position to help other Filipinos who need to be sponsored for their work visas.

US government data shows the Philippines continues to be among the top five countries that provide foreign workers to America. The most popular jobs for Filipino foreign workers include occupational therapists, medical and clinical lab techs, and accountants and auditors.

“It’s very difficult to find good people in the workforce, whether they are Americans, Filipinos, or other nationality,” John Emrani of Fund Capital America said.

“The reason why I think employers or persons like me would look into sponsorship is to find people who are working very diligently and hard, someone who is loyal. I said loyal before, but caring as to what they are doing.”

Three of Emrani’s office departments — accounting, marketing, and underwriting — are all headed by his Filipino employees.

Emrani added that he does not mind sponsoring Filipinos for working visas and even immigrant visas because he believes in the talent and hard work of Filipinos.

“For us it is worth it,” Emrani said. “It is hard. We do have to provide a lot of documentation. We work diligently to make sure that as hard as they work, we work for them too to get them their sponsorship.”