Business owners in the United States can benefit greatly from hiring international employees. Not only do they bring in a range of unique skill sets but also diverse viewpoints that an organization can take advantage of. Navigating the immigration processes to bring in overseas talent, however, can be complex. In this guide, we’ll take a look at some popular legal avenues you can embark on for successfully hiring international employees.  VisaNation lawyers have years of experience helping clients do just that and we make the entire process seamless and quick. Schedule a consultation to kickstart the process.

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Reasons to Hire International Employees 

There are several reasons why companies may choose to hire foreign workers. Some of those reasons include:

  1. Skilled labor shortages: Sometimes, companies struggle to find workers with the skills they need in their local area. By hiring foreign workers, they can tap into a larger pool of talent and find workers with the specific skills they require.
  2. Language and cultural skills: Companies that do business in other countries may benefit from hiring workers who speak the language or have cultural knowledge of those countries. This can help with communication, business negotiations, and overall understanding of the local market.
  3. Diversity and inclusion: Hiring foreign workers can help companies to build a more diverse and inclusive workforce. This can bring different perspectives and ideas to the table, which can be beneficial for problem-solving and innovation.
  4. Government programs: Some countries have programs that encourage companies to hire foreign workers, either to address labor shortages or to promote economic development.

Employment-Based Visas for International Employees

Depending on what exactly your business’s needs are and what type of talent you want to recruit will determine the best immigration path to hire international employees. At the end of the day, a qualified immigration attorney is the best person to evaluate your particular situation and provide guidance about the most cost-effective and direct path to hire a foreign worker.

EB Visas

The following are some popular employment-based visas for foreign workers seeking to work in the U.S.

  • The EB-1 visa is ideal for individuals with exceptional abilities in various fields, including sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics. If you are an outstanding professor or researcher or a multinational manager or executive, this visa may be the right choice for you.
  • For those with advanced degrees or exceptional abilities in the sciences, arts, or business, the EB-2 visa may be the best option.
  • If you are a professional, skilled worker, or other worker, the EB-3 visa might be the perfect solution for you.
  • The EB-4 visa is designed for special immigrants, including religious workers, broadcasters, and Iraqi or Afghan translators.
  • If you are an immigrant investor willing to invest a minimum of $1.8 million (or $900,000 in certain targeted employment areas) in a new commercial enterprise that creates at least 10 full-time jobs for U.S. workers, the EB-5 visa may be right for you.

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E Visas

One great facet of the E visa is that it lets the beneficiary self-petition, however it is exclusively for entrepreneurs from one of the countries that hold a treaty of commerce and navigation with the U.S. Below are the two subcategories under the E classification:

  • E-1 Visa: Designed for traders who perform substantial trade between the treaty country and the U.S.
  • E-2 Visa: Allocated to investors from treaty countries that invest a substantial amount of capital into an enterprise in the U.S. (either a new business or existing one). The required amount to be invested is up to the discretion of USCIS.
  • E-3 Visa: Works like an H-1B visa but is only available to Australians with specialty positions. There is no annual cap so you won’t face challenges with supply and demand but you also cannot self-petition. A job offer from a sponsoring U.S. employer is required.

Once your E visa is approved, you will be granted an initial stay of two years (which is shorter than the H-1B). The good news is that you can apply for indefinite two-year extensions as long as you continue to meet the requirements for the visa. This feature is a significant benefit of the E visa category. It is worth noting that the E visa technically does not allow for dual intent, but it is possible to explore the option of obtaining permanent residency through the E visa with the guidance of an experienced immigration attorney. Don’t hesitate to consult with a lawyer to learn more about your options.

H Visas

Each of the following H visas has its own set of requirements and limitations, so discuss the best option with your immigration attorney.

Most Common H Visa: H-1B is for individuals with specialized knowledge or advanced degrees in fields such as science, engineering, and information technology.

H-2 Visas: The H-2A visa is for temporary agricultural workers while the H-2B visa is for non-agricultural temporary workers in fields such as hospitality and construction.

H-3 visa: For trainees seeking to receive training in the US that is not available in their home country.

The H-1B lottery season happens every year. 65,000 petitions are selected under the regular cap and another 20,000 are selected for the advanced degree exemption.

There are some situations where your H-1B visa petition may not be subject to the annual cap and therefore exempt from the lottery process. These include filing a petition for transfer, renewal, or extension of your current H-1B status, or if your sponsor is an institute of higher education, a non-profit organization associated with an institute of higher education, or a governmental research center. By meeting these requirements, you can bypass the cap and increase your chances of obtaining an H-1B visa.

For FY2024, the chances of being selected were about 11%. Be aware that year after year, the demand for the H-1B visa numbers increases and far exceeds the low supply. 

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L Visa Category

The L visa is a type of non-immigrant visa designed for foreign workers who are transferring from a foreign branch of a company to a U.S. branch of the same company. The L-1 visa serves to allow multinational companies to transfer employees with specialized knowledge or managerial skills to the United States. This visa is applicable to a wide range of positions, including executives, managers, and employees with specialized knowledge in fields such as technology, finance, and engineering.

The L-1 visa is divided into two subcategories:

  • L-1A visa for managers and executives of multinational companies
  • L-1B visa for specialized employees who play a critical role in the company’s operations in the U.S.

Under the L-1A visa, a company can send managers and executives to the U.S. to open a new office or branch where none existed previously. There is no annual cap for the L-1 visa, and no formal education is required. If your L-1 visa is granted, you will be permitted to stay in the U.S. for an initial period of three years, with the option to extend it to up to seven years for the L-1A visa and up to five years for the L-1B visa. However, if you are starting a new office, your initial stay will be limited to one year, after which you will need to renew your visa. It is important to note that you can only work for your sponsoring employer and cannot transfer your status. Additionally, the L-1 visa allows for dual intent. Contact an immigration attorney for more information on whether an L visa is right for you.

O-1 Visa Category

The O visa is a non-immigrant visa reserved for individuals who have demonstrated extraordinary ability or achievement in areas such as science, art, education, business, or athletics. One excellent advantage is that it is dual-intent, which means you can pursue permanent residency in the US while holding it. Normally, companies use this visa to bring in individuals with a proven track record of extraordinary achievement in their respective fields. Professionals in areas like science, arts, athletics, and business leaders may require an O visa.

The O-1 visa is one of the most distinguished temporary work visas available but is also one of the hardest to obtain due to its “extraordinary” criterion. To qualify, the USCIS has a list of evidence based on the subcategory of the visa being pursued.

O-1A: The O-1A visa is for extraordinary scientists, professors, and athletes

O-1B: This is for extraordinary artists and actors.

If you are lucky enough to obtain an O-1 visa, it will be valid for an initial three-year period with an indefinite extension if your presence in the US is critical to your work or the organization you represent. To obtain an O-1 visa, you must be sponsored by your employer or agent representing you.

Other Visa Categories

P Visa

The P visa is designed for individuals or groups who are visiting the United States temporarily to participate in cultural, educational, or athletic events, competitions, or performances. It’s frequently used by sports teams, performing arts groups, and other organizations to bring in foreign talent for short-term events. Jobs that might require a P visa include professional athletes, musicians, and dancers.

L Visa

The L visa (non-immigrant) visa is designed for foreign journalists, individuals of the media, or their families who are coming to the United States for work or educational purposes.

TN Visa

The TN visa consists of a TN-1 for Canadian professionals, and a TN-2 is for Mexican professionals. Compared to to other visas, the process can be pretty straightforward. The requirements for a TN visa are as follows:

  • Citizen of Canada or Mexico
  • Qualified under one of the accepted NAFTA professions
  • Evidence that the position in the United States requires a USCMA professional
  • Participant has prearranged a part-time or full-time job with the U.S. employer. Self-employment does not qualify for this visa.
  • Evidence that the participant matches the credentials and educational requirements of the position

R Visa

The R visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows religious workers to come to the United States and work for nonprofit religious organizations. It’s commonly used by churches and other religious groups to bring in foreign religious leaders such as ministers, priests, and other religious officials.

Frequently Asked Questions About Hiring Foreign Workers

Below you will find answers to the most commonly asked questions.

How do I hire international employees?

There are a number of immigration options available to hire international employees, however, the suitable choice will depend on a number of factors, including your organization’s size, workforce needs, budget, etc. An experienced immigration attorney is best suited to guide you on the journey.

Can companies in U.S. hire foreign workers?

Absolutely, the process involves obtaining a work visa for the employer.

Can a U.S. citizen hire a foreign worker?

Yes, a U.S. citizen can hire a foreign worker, but there are certain requirements that must be met. The process of hiring a foreign worker typically involves obtaining a work visa for the employee.

Why do companies hire foreign workers?

There are many reasons that U.S. companies look overseas to hire talent. Some of those reasons include having a larger pool of candidates to choose from who have specialized skills, diversity that can contribute to the workplace culture and innovation, cost savings and more.

How much does it cost to sponsor an immigrant worker?

This depends entirely on the immigration path you choose and the lawyer you hire. Schedule a consultation with our office to learn more.

How VisaNation Law Group Can Help

One of the biggest advantages of working with a qualified immigration team is having them on your side and available if you receive any type of Request for Evidence (RFE) for your case. Not responding properly can additional processing time to your case and even cost you avoidable fees. Moreover, if you receive a rejection or denial, our team can assist you in filing a legal appeal. Our lawyers specialize in a range of employment-based and also family-based immigration cases to help you hire foreign talent.