Recruitment 101: Hiring Foreign Workers in the US


HR Insights for ProfessionalsThe latest thought leadership for HR pros

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Opening your recruitment up to workers from countries outside the US can give you a much bigger pool of talent to search in, but how does the process differ from hiring Americans?

Article 3 Minutes
Recruitment 101: Hiring Foreign Workers in the US

The internet has made the world a much more open space, with people being able to communicate with others all over the globe. This has been especially true in recruitment, with applicants no longer just looking for jobs within their state or even country.

Employers have also changed how they think about hiring, with many wanting to benefit from the range of skills that can be found by not limiting their talent pool to one country. However, if you're a small business perhaps thinking about hiring someone from outside the US for the first time, what do you need to know? How does the process differ from hiring American workers? Is it expensive?

Read our quick and simple guide on hiring staff from outside the US to find out the answers.

Everyone needs to know about immigration

As an employer, your business is expected to know about - and comply with - immigration laws, whether or not you intend to or have hired foreign workers. Businesses need to be able to prove that each employee they hire has the right to work in the US.

The form I-9 you need for these records can be found on the USCIS website.

Who has the right to work in the US?

Whenever you make new hires, whether you are sure they are American-born or not, you need to make sure they fit into one of the following categories:

  • A US citizen
  • A non-citizen national (someone born in an American territory or born outside the US to at least one American national parent)
  • Lawful permanent resident through a green card
  • Aliens permitted to work

Do I need to ask awkward questions?

You may be worried about having to ask questions about a person's nationality or background, but you actually don't and shouldn't. It's up to the employee to present you with one of the documents that proves their right to work in the US at the start of their employment.

This also ensures that you're not putting yourself in the position where you could be accused of illegal discrimination. As the law prevents you from favoring any particular type of worker who is legally allowed to work in the US, you should make sure you don't specify what types of document you accept or even prefer.

What if they don't have the documentation?

If someone you want to hire doesn't have the right to work in the US, there are ways you can help them get the right documentation. This can vary between each industry, job position and even company, but 'sponsoring' an employee is a potential way to allow them to work for your business legally.

This can be expensive and time-consuming, while the candidate in question will need to come under one of the employment-based (EB) immigrant visa categories. It can also mean there's a long delay between choosing to hire someone and actually being able to have them work for you in the US.

It's worth noting that these rules are for hiring workers for permanent positions, and the rules surrounding temporary or fixed-term jobs can be a little more flexible. This can be used by employers to have a foreign worker with them while they wait for the green card to be processed.

You should make sure you and the candidate meet the requirements needed for this to make sure you're complying with immigration laws.

If you're unclear about whether your business is legally protected when hiring a worker from outside the US, you may want to seek advice from an experienced immigration attorney.

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