Planning On Hiring Foreign Workers For Your Business? Here’s What You Need To Know

There are plenty of talented workers based in the United States. What’s the benefit of hiring foreign workers? International workers can offer more to your company than you think.

For example, the demand for bilingual workers doubled in five years.

In addition, you’re giving foreign workers an opportunity to expand their skills, work in a new market, land a job that they may not get in their home country, and this all can even help them immigrate to the U.S.

However, immigration and work laws come into play when hiring foreign workers. Here’s what all businesses should know about hiring employees from different countries.

Ask If They Have Work Authorization in the U.S.

All applicants are required to share their state of work authorization in the United States. This is separated into a few categories:

  • U.S. Citizens
  • Noncitizen nationals
  • Lawful permanent residents
  • Aliens authorized to work

In order for foreign workers to legally work for your company, they will have to have one of these classifications in order to comply with U.S. immigration and work laws. In addition, the employee should be able to prove their status.

If you hire a foreign worker who isn’t authorized to work in the U.S., both you and the employee will be held liable.

There may come a time when you’re seriously considering an applicant; however, they’re not authorized to work in the U.S.

What If a Candidate Isn’t Authorized to Work?

Fortunately, you can help a candidate obtain a work visa.

First, always ensure the candidate needs help obtaining a work visa. They will have an easier time obtaining a work visa if you’re supporting them, rather than if they were to try alone with a lawyer.

Next, decide which visa is best for them. You have a few options:

  • H-1B: Specialty workers (graduate-level workers in technical expertise, such as mathematics, science, medicine, etc.)
  • H-2A: Temporary agriculture workers
  • H-2B: Temporary workers (only lasts a year)
  • B-1: Business visitors (for workers required a visa to enter the U.S.)
  • L-1 Visa: Transfers foreign employees to the U.S. (lasts up to seven years)

From here, fill out the required paperwork. For certain visas, such as the H-2B visa, you likely don’t need a lawyer. However, other work visas are more complex and usually required the assistance of a lawyer.

Keep in mind, each case and application are different. It usually takes a few months for an application to be approved. However, it’s safest to assume the paperwork will take up to a year to process.

Ask If They Have Residency

Will your employee be working on-site? If so, they will also have to have residency in the United States. The work visa doesn’t permit them residency.

If the employee will only be in the U.S. temporarily, foreign individuals are granted 90 days in the U.S without a special visa.

Workers also can’t work under a tourist (B-2) visa. If you want to hire an employee permanently, they will need permanent residency, also known as a “green card.”

Fortunately, as an employer, you can sponsor a foreign worker and help grant them a green card. Keep in mind, it’s best to seek assistance from a lawyer during the immigration process.

What if you grant a worker a work visa but not a residency visa, and they’re living in the U.S. illegally? They will be arrested and will need an immigration bond to get out of jail.

What If the Candidate Is Working Remotely From Their Home Country?

Is there a foreign worker you want to hire, but you don’t want to deal with immigration and work visas? If the position can be worked remotely, offering remote work avoids this whole ordeal.

Keep in mind, employee classifications can get complex. You’ll have to comply with liability, employment laws, and taxes in the employee’s home country.

You can also avoid this by establishing a foreign worker as an independent contractor. They technically work for themselves and you have no liability to offer them benefits and there’s no tax liability on your end.

Keep in mind, the worker is not obligated to work full-time, to work a certain set of hours, and they have power in setting their wages. In addition, a freelancer likely has multiple clients. Keep this in mind when opting for contractors.

It’s also beneficial to research freelance and contracting laws in the worker’s country. Many countries have similar laws as the U.S., focusing more on the contractual agreement the employer and freelancer sign.

But other countries have more employment laws protecting employees. For example, a company can’t legally offer full-time and/or long-term work to an independent contractor without offering employee benefits.

You Can’t Discriminate Against Their Culture or Country of Origin

Let’s say an applicant applies to your company and you decline their application.

You can’t say you declined their application because they’re a foreign worker. In addition, you also can’t state you declined their application based on their country of origin.

The United States has strict employee discrimination laws. These laws are known as the Equal Employment and Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Immigrant workers are protected under these laws.

What if you do hire a foreign employee? You also can’t discriminate them based on their immigration status, based on their home country, or on their culture.

Common examples include harassment, unfair screenings (preference of age, gender, country of origin, etc.), and creating rules advising you against speaking a certain language and certain cultural customs.

Hiring Foreign Workers: There’s A Lot to Know

There are many benefits to hiring foreign workers. However, businesses need to comply with U.S. immigration and foreign work laws.

As long as you follow this guide, you can create a diverse and multicultural work atmosphere. And if you’re ever stuck, seek assistance from a lawyer.

For more small business advice and tools, continue reading our website.

Ted Jones