An international workforce may be the cornerstone of your company’s ability to succeed in an increasingly global market, but how do you hire foreign employees? Immigration in the US is a complex process. This, compounded by national discourse can at times seem discouraging toward immigration. Don’t be deterred – federal immigration laws in the United States carved out options for hiring and bringing qualified employees to the United States.
Below we’ve detailed five important steps to take when hiring a global workforce.
1) Understand your hiring options
There are numerous visa programs available and you will need to decide which one is appropriate for the 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 to take when choosing an 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’s 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 won’t 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. As a result, the best immigration strategies are multi-pronged and used to meet the specific needs of your organization.
There is a lot of red tape involved. As a result, the procedure of hiring foreign employees can take months or even years depending on which business immigration programs are utilized. Get started with 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 when hiring – view our guides here.
3) Make the necessary preparations within your company
You’re not just going to go out and start picking foreign nationals to hire and figure out the rest once they arrive. You need to know what roles within your company you want to fill with international employees. Often, these are positions where you have trouble finding talent within the US that has the capabilities to excel in the role.
Once you’ve figured out which roles in your company you will hire to fill, 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. Once done, you need to train your HR department 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 on board 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 multiple certifications employers must obtain depending on the type of immigration program they are using.
5) Petition USCIS for visas
The employer is 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 from start to finish in obtaining the talent your company needs to thrive. To stay on top of the latest news in business immigration, sign up for our newsletter.