Sponsor a Foreign National for a U.S. Work Visas or Green Card
Finding good, qualified labor can be difficult and sometimes the best person for the job is someone who is still overseas or is in the United States on an existing work permit or green card. U.S. employers and foreign nationals must both go through a multi-step process to sponsor a foreign national to become a permanent U.S. resident based on a permanent job offer.
How to Hire Foreign Workers for a U.S. Business
There are several legal options for hiring someone to work for your business even if they are not a U.S. citizen or even in the United States. U.S. employers are required to confirm the work authorization of all new hires and ensure they fit into one of four classes:
- U.S. citizens
- Noncitizen nationals
- Legal permanent residents
- Aliens authorized to work in the U.S.
If the worker you want to hire does not have papers, or the necessary authorization to work in the United States, you as a prospective employer can help him or her obtain the authorization in many cases. Depending upon the qualifications of the worker you want to hire, the requirements of the job you are filling, and the amount of effort, money, and time you are willing to expend, it is possible to sponsor a prospective employee for a green card. A green card can be legally founded based on a permanent full-time job offer.
An alternative solution is using temporary visa categories that authorize many specific types of employment for specific periods of time. In this case, nonimmigrant status and using a temporary visa may serve as a stepping stone to help the employee eventually get a green card while allowing the employer to employ the individual during the wait process.
Sponsoring a Foreign Worker for a Green Card
The only way for a foreign worker to obtain a green card to come to the U.S. to work is if the employer can show that no American worker is willing, qualified, and available to take the job through a process known as “labor certification.”
Employers must go through several steps to do this:
- Request prevailing wage determination (PWD) from the Department of Labor. The PWD indicates how much is typically paid to someone in an equivalent job which is important as the employer must offer the immigrating worker at least 100% of this prevailing wage.
- Advertise and recruit in the U.S. The employer must make a good faith effort to find a U.S. worker for the job.
- File PERM Labor Certification application form. If the employer cannot find a qualified and available American for the job, the next step is submitting the PERM labor certification application to the Labor of Department along with supporting documents. While a decision is supposed to be made within 60 days, it can take up to one year.
- File a visa petition using USCIS Form I-140. Once the labor certification is approved, the employer can file a visa petition. When this is approved, the foreign national must apply for a green card through adjustment of status (if the worker is already living in the U.S. legally) or consular processing.
Temporary Work Visas for Foreign Nationals
Sponsoring a foreign worker for a job in the U.S. is often faster and easier using a nonimmigrant visa than with a green card and it can give the employer a worker while they are working toward getting a green card.
The first step is deciding whether any of the work-authorizing nonimmigrant visa categories fit the job you have available as well as the candidate you are considering. Nonimmigrant visas are available for many types of workers, but many jobs fall through the cracks because each category is very narrowly defined and imposes strict requirements on employees and employers. These categories cover seasonal laborers (H-2A and H-2B), illustrious artists, educators, business people, and scientists (O-1), specialized knowledge workers (E-1, E2, and L-1B), professionals (H-1B, E-3, and TB), athletes and entertainers (P-1, P-2, P-3, and Q-1), and more.
The H-1B Visa for Workers in a Specialty Occupation is a popular option for employers. This visa is available for people working in a specialty occupation that requires at least a bachelor’s degree or equivalent in on-the-job experience as well as distinguished fashion models.
What Happens Next?
Filing a petition proves you have an intent to hire the worker when the petition is approved and it gives the foreign national a place in the line of other people waiting to immigrate to the United States for the same type of visa category. The foreign national’s place in line is called their priority date and it is based on when you file the labor certification with the Department of Labor or petition with USCIS.
Once you file, USCIS will send you a receipt to verify your petition has been received. If the petition is incomplete, it may be rejected or you may be asked for additional information that can delay processing. You will be notified when a decision is made and the worker can immigrate and begin work as soon as the petition is approved.
The amount of time a nonimmigrant employee can remain in the United States depends on the visa category and the worker’s intended employment.
Contact a Los Angeles Immigration Attorney
Sponsoring a foreign national for a work visa or green card can be a time-consuming and difficult process that requires navigating complex immigration law. If you are considering hiring a foreign national who is already in the United States or still abroad, contact Soliman Law Group today for a free consultation to learn more about the steps you will need to take.