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5 Things to Consider Before Hiring Foreign Workers

Hiring workers outside of the United States can expand your business in today's ever-growing global market. Additionally, you might be able to boost sales and significantly grow your company. Many companies are interested in seeking talents outside the US, but they are often unsure of how to proceed without facing negative legal consequences. Federal immigration laws can be complex, but do not let this deter you from hiring employees outside of the country. There are specific laws and codes designed to help you bring qualified employees into the United States. 

There are several visa programs available, and you will need to choose which one is right for your company. For example, if your new employees plan to become permanent U.S. residents, you may consider employer-sponsored green cards. They are the most effective way to hire a foreign employee. Conversely, if you plan to open a new business or location in another country, entrepreneurs can use the L or E visa. More strategic investors may even be able to use both. Below we outline five important things to consider before expanding into a global workforce.

Obtain Approval from the Department of Labor

To hire someone from a different country, you will first need approval from the Department of Labor.  Their goal is to protect the rights and work opportunities of American citizens. This means you will have to provide evidence that there are not enough qualified U.S. workers who can do the job for the wage offered. 

To do this, you will need to: 

  • Prove that there is a need to hire foreign workers 
  • Show that the job vacancy meets the specific needs of the selected labor certification program 
  • Complete and sign the appropriate forms 
  • Prove you have the ability to pay the candidate the offered wage 
  • Mail the form and all attachments to the designated office 

Start the Application Process Early 

The hiring process for a candidate outside the United States can take months or years to fully complete, so start with forming a plan well before needing someone in the role. The hiring time for an H-B1 professional can take almost nine months. The best companies have planned out well in advance, creating a multi-prong approach to meet business needs.

Additionally, you will have to plan what jobs the company will be recruiting. Often, these roles are positions for which you have trouble finding talent with the skills and capabilities needed to succeed within the country. This might mean sourcing domestic-based candidates before moving to international ones. 

Begin the Hiring Process 

Once you determine which roles you need to fill with international candidates, you need to make plans with the recruitment team. Business immigration is not something companies can play by ear. You must create a solid interviewing plan, including how long the job will be open and where you will post the job. 

Keep an Open Mind 

International resumes can look very different than ones you see from domestic candidates. In some countries, it might be common for applicants to list their race or marital status on resumes. If there is specific information you do not want candidates to include, put that in the job description. Additionally, it might be more common for people in other countries to have large gaps in their resumes, so keep an open mind when going through applicants. 

Conduct Interviews 

Once the recruiter has selected the best candidates for the role, the hiring manager can begin interviews. If you are hiring workers in their home country, consider using Skype or Zoom to conduct the interview. Remember to be clear on what time zone you are referring to when scheduling meetings with international candidates. 1 p.m. Eastern Standard Time is 7 p.m. in the United Kingdom. Keep this in mind, so you do not accidentally schedule a call where it is the middle of the night for the candidate. 

Obtain Work Visas 

If your candidate is already in the United States, it might be easier to use an I-9 to verify their work authorization. Then compare it with the E-Verify federal database. However, if the candidate is not in the country already, you will have to sponsor a visa, which can take months. 

The employer is the one responsible for obtaining work visas for their global employees. There are various processes to go through, depending on the visa you need. To sponsor an employee, the company will have to: 

  • Apply for a Labor Condition Application;
  • Provide company statements and request the proper documents; and 
  • File the visa petition on behalf of the foreign employee. 

Remember, although the Department of Labor approved your certification to hire foreign employees, this does not mean you are guaranteed to receive work visas. 

Follow All Tax Regulations 

Foreign workers may need to apply for a social security number through the Social Security Administration. Once they have a social security number, they will then pass it to the company's human resources department. Foreign workers are subject to the same payroll taxes as United States citizens. 

Employees who are staying in their home country will need to complete Form W-8 BEN. They will also need to complete a W-2 so that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials can cross-reference with their I-9. If ICE finds a discrepancy between the two forms, they will send the company a no-match letter. It is vital to not fire an employee because of a no-match as they may sue you for discrimination. Read the letter carefully and follow the instructions. 

Have More Questions About Hiring Foreign Employees?

Even after reading this, you may still have questions about the hiring process and related immigration laws. If you want to hire foreign employees but do not know where to start, we encourage you to contact our firm today. At Orbit Law, we specialize in employment-based immigration and can you with the entire hiring process, from the initial planning stage up to hiring a successful international candidate. Our attorneys have years of experience successfully navigating the complexities of employment-based immigration. Call us at (206) 312-8086 or complete our contact form today to learn more.