Many employers look overseas to fill their employment needs. As we recently reported, hiring highly-skilled foreign nationals – particularly for IT jobs – can boost productivity and increase wages for the entire workforce. There are several things to consider before hiring foreign IT workers, however. This article provides some preliminary information for employers and human resources departments to consider as they make hiring decisions.
1. What type of visa is needed?
There are several work visa options available for foreign workers, but the most common work visa for IT employees is the H-1B visa. The H-1B visa allows foreign nationals working in a specialized field – including technology and scientific fields – to work in the U.S. for up to three years, making it the preferred immigration choice for many employers seeking to hire a foreign national. The H-1B is subject to strict quota caps, however, so it will not be available for everyone.
Other visa options include the L-1 visa for intra-company transfers. Generally, in order to qualify for an L-1 visa, the applicant must have worked abroad as an executive, manager, or specialized employee for at least one continuous year within the previous three year period.
If the foreign national is from Canada or Mexico, he or she may be eligible for a TN visa. Under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), TN work visa status is available for Canadian and Mexican citizens who will enter the U.S. to be engaged in activities at a professional level, which is generally defined as a job that requires at least a baccalaureate degree or appropriate credentials. There are no caps on the number of TN visas that can be issued each year.
2. How will hiring foreign workers impact the existing pool of workers?
Many employers worry that if they hire foreign nationals, they may be taking jobs away from eligible U.S. citizens, but as we recently reported, hiring foreign nationals actually has a positive impact on the entire workforce. In fact, a recent study found that those areas with increased employment of foreign nationals also saw increased wages for U.S.-born employees, as well.
3. What on-going compliance requirements must be met?
When an employer hires a foreign national, it must make sure that it complies with various immigration requirements. In this previous post, we provided an immigration compliance checklist for employers to review as part of the human resources and hiring process. For instance, employers must comply with E-Verify requirements (if they choose to use the optional program) and ensure continued compliance with Form I-9 requirements. Additionally, employers should be prepared for possible L-1 or H-1B site inspections.
Contact an Immigration Lawyer
There are a number of things to consider before hiring a foreign national, including the type of visa to be sought and the compliance requirements involved. The Chicago immigration attorneys at the Shapiro Law Group focus on helping businesses, investors, and families with all of their immigration and visa needs. We can help you assess your employment immigration options and complete the necessary paperwork. If you are an employer considering hiring foreign national employees, contact our office at (847)564-0712 to speak with our employment immigration attorney today.