- Some positions within warehouses, such as machine operators and engineers, are in demand in North America.
- You can usually see if sponsorship is available for a warehouse position on the job ad.
- There are a range of different visas that permit foreign nationals to work in North America.
North America has one of the most successful economies in the world, making it an attractive prospect for foreign workers. However, because so many people want to work in the United States or Canada, the eligibility criteria are stringent. Companies can sponsor immigration visas under exceptional circumstances, in cases where it’s practically impossible to hire locally.
In this article, you’ll learn everything you need to know about visa sponsorship for warehouse jobs in North America.
Will U.S. or Canadian Warehouses Sponsor an Immigration Visa?
While it’s not easy to find a warehouse job in North America that sponsors foreign workers, it’s possible.
The United States
There’s no shortage of unskilled workers in the United States, which makes it more challenging to enter a warehouse role. However, experience operating heavy machinery, the willingness to work long hours and proof of extensive knowledge of your field put you in the best position to find a sponsor.
Canada has a highly educated general population, which means there are more skills shortages in entry-level career positions. As such, you might be able to find a warehouse that sponsors unskilled foreign workers.
In the United States and Canada, you might be able to find a visa sponsor as a data warehouse specialist.1
Types of U.S. Visas for Foreign Workers
In the United States, there are two visas you can access solely through an employer: the L1 and the H1-B.
L1 Intra-Company Transfer Visa
If you work for a company with an outpost in the United States, you can use an intra-company transfer to undertake work in a similar role within the country. A U.S. employer must file a petition on your behalf, and you must:
- Have worked with the company for a year;
- Be a manager or executive, or;
- Have specialized knowledge.
The H1-B is for graduate-level workers with the technical expertise required to work in specialty positions in the United States. An employer must apply on your behalf and prove that no U.S. citizen could fulfill your duties.
Types of Canadian Visas for Foreign Workers
In Canada, like in the United States, employers must prove that a foreign worker is better-qualified than any citizen to undertake a job role. The two visa sponsorship options are intra-company transfer and LIMA.
If you’re a highly skilled foreign worker, you can get a temporary visa to work in Canada through your current employer. To qualify, you must be an executive or a senior manager or have proprietary knowledge or advanced expertise.
LMIA-Based Work Permit
The employer must first apply for a LMIA to demonstrate they can’t fill a position domestically. Next, you must apply for a work permit via the employer, subject to assistance from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada.
1. United States: Receiving Manager
Salary: $52,811 per year2
Benefits: Potential HB-1 sponsorship, paid time off and employee discount across all stores
The receiving manager coordinates and supervises incoming warehouse shipments. They keep logs, maintain company records, and oversee distribution employees to ensure the smooth running of operations.
- Liaise with managers and employees to maintain proper storage, receiving and shipping operations.
- Inspect stock for damage.
- Operate machinery, such as pallet jacks, overhead cranes, and forklifts.
- Perform preventative maintenance.
2. United States: Machine Operator
Salary: $63,257 per year3
Benefits: Work six months on and six months off, health care, life insurance, paid holiday, 401(k) and profit-sharing, potential visa sponsorship, 24/7 on-site fitness center and an annual uniform
Kimberly-Clark manufactures quality products using high-speed, advanced equipment. For this role, you’re expected to work 12-hour shifts, with one 36-hour week and one 48-hour week each pay period.
- Use high-tech, high-speed manufacturing equipment.
- Safely and effectively manage a production line.
- Work overtime, weekends, nights, and holidays.
- Be able to lift 50 pounds and perform complex physical tasks.
3. Canada: Warehouse Worker
Salary: $32,713 per year4
Benefits: Health insurance, potential visa sponsorship, flexible working hours, employee discount and professional support and development.
In Canada, there’s particular demand for warehouse workers in farms to help maintain buildings, operate machinery and manage inventory. Physical strength and the ability to work long hours are essential, and you must be able to operate a forklift and pallet jack.
- Keep the warehouse clean.
- Load and unload deliveries.
- Count and confirm stock.
- Mark and label inventory.
4. Canada: Machine Operator
Salary: $14.53 per hour5
Benefits: Potential visa sponsorship
If you’re fluent in French or English and looking for a role in Canada, you might find it significantly easier to find unskilled warehouse work. Operatives must be skilled in using advanced machinery and have the physical stamina and strength to work long hours standing up.
- Collaborate with other warehouse staff to ensure the smooth running of daily tasks.
- Pay attention to detail to spot faults or issues with stock and equipment.
- Operate equipment, such as forklift trucks and pallet jacks.
Warehouse Workers’ Shift from Unskilled to Essential
The nature of warehouse work has shifted, and so has public and government perception. Following the global lockdowns in 2020 and 2021, warehouse workers are no longer considered unskilled. Instead, they’re referred to as essential workers, because without them, the economy would come to a grinding halt.
Nonetheless, it can be difficult to fill warehouse roles in the U.S. and Canada, so companies sometimes turn to overseas workers to take them on. In some cases, they might offer to sponsor a visa so you can relocate.
Warehouse Opportunities Vary by Location
If you’re looking for visa sponsorship for a warehouse job in the United States, it’s important to take location into consideration. Bustling, metropolitan states with big economies have more job openings for machine operators and material movers. However, smaller cities often have higher pay due to local skill shortages.
According to the Bureau for Labor Statistics, the following states have the highest employment rates for warehouse laborers:
The states with the highest mean annual wage are:
- Kansas, and;
Warehouse Managers Earn More Than Laborers and Machine Operators
What’s more, the position you’re qualified to perform in a North American warehouse has a major impact on your ability to get a visa sponsorship. It also plays a key role in your earning potential. For example, machine feeders and off bearers7 earn more than manual laborers in warehouses.7
Neither machine operators nor laborers require a degree level of education, which might make obtaining visa sponsorship harder for foreign workers. However, logisticians are in higher demand, with job growth projected at 30 percent between 2020 and 2023-much faster than the national average of seven percent.8 This unprecedented level of demand might necessitate North American warehouses to offer sponsorships to qualified overseas workers.
Essential Skills for Warehouse Workers in North America
When applying for a job in a North American warehouse with visa sponsorship, you’ll need to write a resume and cover letter. These should be simple, compelling and outline the skills you possess to your prospective employer. While most entry-level positions require on-the-job training alone, you might need a degree to get into management.
Important skills for your CV include:
- Attention to detail;
- Excellent English language abilities;
- Computer literacy;
- Manual dexterity;
- Accuracy and speed;
- Stamina and strength;
- A flexible approach to challenges, and;
- Willingness to learn.
How to Find Jobs That Sponsors Visa Applications for Foreign Workers
Finding work and sponsorship in North America isn’t easy, but there are job openings for skilled, qualified candidates. Start by conducting extensive research using the various H1B visa databases online. You’ll find information about how many sponsorships they offer and how many they reject per year.
Next, search for warehouse roles on job boards like Indeed and Monster, which often list whether sponsorship is available in the job ad. Apply to any relevant positions, with a focus on companies that regularly petition for and approve sponsorships.