An international workforce can give your company a competitive edge in a global market, but hiring foreign employees is no easy task. The lengthy procedure requires patience, planning and – most importantly – time.
Here are the basic steps businesses must take to hire foreign employees.
1. Make Internal Preparations
Which roles will your international employees fill? Knowing which roles they will fill will help you determine which type of visa you will need to obtain.
Typically, international employees are hired for roles not easily filled by U.S. workers.
Once you have determined which roles the employees will fill, you can begin the process of planning for recruitment and retention. A plan must be created to bring the employee into the U.S., and a plan must also be made to keep the employee in the country while remaining compliant with the law.
To legally retain international employees, you must abide by the rules and regulations set forth by the United States Customs and Immigration Services (USCIS).
2. Start the Process as Soon as Possible
Hiring foreign employees is a lengthy process, so it’s important to start the process as soon as possible. Because there is so much red tape involved, it can take months or even years to hire international workers and get them into the U.S.
3. Determine Which Immigration Program to Use
The next step is to determine which immigration program to use. There are several programs available. The right one will depend on your needs and the position being filled.
Is the goal to have the new employee eventually become a permanent resident, or is the position temporary? What is the main function of the position being filled? Will you hire from a country in which the U.S. has a treaty?
There are several different non-immigrant visas available for temporary positions, including:
L-1 A and L-1B
For multinational corporations, L-1A and L-1B visas allow employees overseas to be brought over to the United States. These transfer visas can be used for foreign managers, executives and workers with specialized knowledge.
H-1B Visa Sponsorship
Arguably the most famous non-immigrant visa for workers. Only a limited number of H-1B visa sponsorships are available each year, so it’s important to act quickly if choosing this option.
Special additional H-1B1 visas are available for citizens of Singapore (5,400 additional visas) and Chile (1,400 additional visas).
This special class of visas can be used to hire employees of extraordinary ability.
If you believe immigration is a benefit for your company, it’s possible to help international employees obtain a Green Card.
To qualify, you must be able to prove that your business was unable to find an American worker to fill the role.
4. Obtain Certification from the Department of Labor and Petition the USCIS
Next, you will need to obtain a certification form the U.S. Department of Labor. These certifications verify that the hiring of international employees will not harm job opportunities, working conditions and wages for U.S. workers.
Employers must obtain a range of certifications before being able to move forward in the process, depending on the immigration program being used.
Once the necessary certifications have been obtained, you can petition the USCIS for visas.