>As an employer, having an outstanding workforce is essential to a successful business.  If an employer finds an exceptional individual or applicant of foreign nationality, the employer can add this individual to its workforce provided the immigration status of the employee is in order.  When contemplating hiring a foreign national, there are many different possible scenarios.  I will address the some of the most common scenarios here.

Green Cards:
A potential employee, who is a permanent resident and holding a green card, may be hired at once.

Permanent Visas:
A permanent visa allows a foreign national permanent residency in the United States if he or she has a unique skill set or is offered a job that will not displace a U.S. worker.  This determination is made by the Department of Labor through the labor certification process.  The advantage of a permanent visa is the employee will maintain their position permanently by their ability to remain in the U.S.  On the other hand, a permanent visa application takes a long time as the labor certification process is comprehensive and once approved, a waiting period may exist until permanent residency can be obtained by the employee.

Temporary Visas:
A temporary visa can be simpler and quicker to acquire for a foreign national employee.  An employer must apply for a temporary visa specific to the type of work the employee is doing.  The U.S. does limit the amount of temporary visas issued each year depending on the type of visa requested, so employers should plan ahead whenever possible.  Most temporary visas are just that, they are only for a limited time, depending on the visa obtained.

Other Considerations:
Both permanent and temporary visas permit the foreign national to bring along his or her qualified dependants, spouse and children.

Whether temporary or permanent, an employer must find the right visa for their worthwhile foreign national employee.  Factors to consider in any employment immigration petition process is how fast an employer can obtain a visa for an employee, how long will the visa last, which visa would the employee qualify for, and what is the expense of the immigration process.

An employer must keep in mind that the costs of the immigration sponsorship of an employee are by law paid for by the employer.   A verification record of any foreign national employee’s immigration status must also be maintained by the employer immediately upon the foreign national’s employment.

An employer looking to hire a foreign national should establish the best employment immigration option for their employee and ensure employment of the foreign national is legally sound.

Action Items:
An employer should:

  1. Make sure to check a potential employee’s citizenship status before hiring,
  2. Carefully assess whether the immigration laws apply to the individual being hired (you may wish to consult with a qualified immigration attorney),
  3. Explore visa options for the individual based on the needs of your business.