What Should US Businesses Know About Hiring Foreign Workers?

A lot of businesses in the U.S. have an interest in hiring foreign workers. The jobs that might be filled by foreign workers range from agricultural labor and household work, up to skilled labor in the tech industry. Regardless of the reasons a business might have for looking outside of the borders to hire top talent, there are logistical and legal considerations to keep in mind.

Foreign workers have their own set of considerations when they try to find a job in the U.S., from things like applying for a Social Security number to finding ways to send money to their families still living abroad.

There are plenty of complexities, and the following gives an overview of some of the things to think about, from the business perspective.

Asking About Work Authorization

U.S. employers have the responsibility to show they’re compliant when they hire workers from outside the U.S. This can require using form I-9. Form I-9 is used to verify work authorization. The form includes details on things like acceptable employment documentation.

Also, in order for people to legally work in the U.S., they should fall into one of four categories. These categories are U.S. citizens, noncitizen nationals, lawful permanent residents, or aliens authorized to work.

Employers can’t be viewed as discrimination because of citizenship status or country of origin, but they also have to make sure their new hires are authorized to work in the U.S.


e-Verify is something that’s voluntary to use in most states, but some states do require the use of this federal database to see if employees are authorized to work in the U.S.

e-Verify lets businesses compare the I-9 form of an employee to records maintained by Homeland Security.

Helping a Foreign Worker Get Authorization

If you’ve found someone that brings the necessary skills to the role you want to fill, but they aren’t authorized to work in the U.S., there are options you can use to help them gain authorization. Employers can sponsor a worker, although this doesn’t mean they’ll definitely get authorization.

One option is a green card, which is permanent residence. There are also temporary work visas available including the H-2B visa, which is for temporary workers not in agricultural positions. There are other temporary visas aside from those as well.

Another option is something called the Extraordinary Ability, and similarly the National Interest Waiver petitions. These are different from the process workers go through for other types of green cards because they don’t require the applicant have a job or job offer in the U.S. However, the applicant is responsible for showing they are coming to the U.S. to work in their specific area of knowledge.

This kind of work approval is usually reserved for people who have a great deal of expertise and who are at the top of their specialization area.

Some other key things to keep in mind when recruiting or hiring foreign workers include the importance of treating them fairly under the law, and if necessary, consulting a legal professional to ensure compliance.