An international workforce may well be the cornerstone of your company’s ability to succeed in an increasingly global market, but how do you go about hiring foreign employees? Immigration in the US is a complex process, and the complexities are compounded by national discourse that can at times seem discouraging toward immigration. Don’t be deterred – federal immigration law in the United States carves out options for bringing qualified employees to the United States.
Below we’ve detailed five important steps you need to take to move forward with building a global workforce.
1) Understand your options
There are numerous visa programs available and you will need to decide which one is appropriate for the types of international employees you want to hire.
Do you plan on your new employees becoming permanent residents? Employer-sponsored green cards can be the most effective and predictable way to hire a foreign employee.
Do you want to open a new business, or a branch of a foreign company? Foreign investors and entrepreneurs can utilize the L visa, the E visa, or a strategic combination of the two.
What job function will they be fulfilling? Have you had a hard time filling this position in the past? Is the position short-term, or are you hoping to fill a long-term need in your company? These are all considerations you must take in choosing a business immigration program. For more information on specific visas and petition programs, click on the following links:
- Extraordinary Ability – for immigrant and nonimmigrant visas. Extraordinary ability petitions are only for the most highly qualified individuals in their field.
- H-1B Visa Sponsorship – a nonimmigrant visa for professionals, usually requiring a bachelor degree and favoring advanced degree holders.
- H-2B Visa Sponsorship – a nonimmigrant visa for short-term, nonagricultural positions.
- J-1 Visa – a nonimmigrant visa for students and trainees.
- L-1A and L-1B Visas – a nonimmigrant visa for executives, managers and employees with specialized knowledge of multinational companies.
- National Interest Waiver – an immigrant visa for highly skilled individuals in fields that will benefit the United States.
- Student Exchange and Visitor Programs
2) Start early
Your company will not be able to decide on Monday that they want to hire international workers and have them in the US by the end of the week. The best immigration strategies are multi-pronged, and used to proactively meet the needs of your business or organization.
There is a lot of red tape and the procedure of getting started hiring foreign employees can take months or even years depending on which business immigration program you are utilizing. Get started with planning and taking the necessary steps as early as possible with the knowledge that it may take a while before your plan starts bearing fruit. FordMurray has published several guides for businesses and higher education institutions that provide extensive insights, timelines and pitfalls to avoid for different types of employment visas – view our guides here.
3) Make the necessary preparations within your company
Obviously, you’re not just going to go out and start picking random foreign nationals to hire and then figure out the rest once they get to the US. You need to know what roles within your company you want to fill with international employees. Often, these are positions for which you have trouble finding talent within the US that has the prowess and capabilities to excel in the role.
Once you’ve figured out which roles in your company that you want to fill with international talent, you need to make plans for recruitment and retention. Business immigration is not something that you can play by ear. You need to create a plan for bringing the employees to the US, and once you do, you need train your HR to help your business and employees stay in compliance. For more information on maintaining compliance with United States Customs and Immigration Services (USCIS), download our 13-page I-9 Compliance Guide. FordMurray attorneys offer remote or on-site I-9 compliance trainings to get your entire team onboard with tools and best practices.
4) Obtain a certification from the Department of Labor
Before moving forward with the visa process with USCIS, you will have to obtain a certification from the US Department of Labor (DOL). These certifications are in place so that the DOL can verify that the admittance of your foreign employees to the US will not harm job opportunities, wages, or working conditions for US workers. There are various certifications employers must obtain depending on the type of business immigration program they are using.
5) Petition USCIS for visas
The employer is the party responsible for obtaining visas for their prospective international employees. Once again, there are various processes you must follow depending on the type of visa you wish to obtain. Just because you were approved for certification to hire foreign employees does not guarantee that you will receive a visa. You will also go through USCIS if you wish to extend an employee’s visa or change the visa status.
If you want to hire a foreign employee and don’t know where to start, contact us today for a complimentary consultation. We can help you step-by-step from start to finish in obtaining the international talent your company needs to thrive. To stay on top of the latest news in business immigration, sign up for our newsletter.