The Basics of Sponsoring a Foreign Worker

Let’s start with this: while “sponsoring foreign workers” is perhaps the most incendiary phrase in the political vocabulary right now, the fact remains that across the country tens of thousands of employers each year look outside the U.S. for permanent and temporary workers.

And believe it or not, in most cases this is a very good thing — not just for the foreign workers, but for workplaces and communities. After all, all documented workers pay taxes, buy homes and cars, eat in restaurants, and so on. They also help some businesses stay competitive or even afloat when U.S. workers are unavailable, which is the case in many industries and fields, including healthcare, cyber security, some areas of programming and engineering.

What’s more, contrary to what some people have been led to believe by click-bait headlines and other tabloid tactics, big enterprises like Apple and Google don’t have a monopoly on sponsoring foreign workers. Any legally registered business based in the U.S. can petition to sponsor a foreign worker, and the application will be vetted accordingly by the good people at USCIS without fear or favoritism. Yes, I know in today’s conspiracy-riddled environment this is hard to imagine, but sometimes administrative bureaucracy is just that: administrative bureaucracy (which probably explains why there isn’t some binge-worthy HBO series on the wild world of sponsoring foreign workers).

If your business is considering bringing in help from outside of the U.S., you need to meet four fundamental requirements and attest to them in your sponsorship application:

  • You will pay a salary to the sponsored worker, which isn’t less than the amount paid to similarly qualified workers in the geographic area.
  • You will ensure that working conditions that the sponsored worker experiences will not negatively impact other similarly employed workers.
  • You are not currently experiencing a legal strike or lockout at any business or location where the sponsored worker would be working.
  • Hiring a sponsored worker will not displace a U.S. worker, and no U.S. worker is reasonably available to do the job (these attestations must be certified by the Department of Labor).

Provided that you meet all of these requirements, the next step is to submit an application on behalf of a (prospective) sponsored worker. There are different visa preference categories for temporary positions and permanent positions:

  • Temporary categories include (but aren’t limited to) H1B - Specialty Occupation; O1 - Extraordinary Ability; L1 - Intracompany Transferee; and TN - Nonimmigrant NAFTA Professional.
  • Permanent categories include (but aren’t limited to) First Preference EB-1, Second Preference EB-2 and Third Preference EB-3 (these grant sponsored workers what is unofficially but popularly referred to as Employment Green Cards).

Before wrapping up, some words of caution: sponsoring foreign workers isn’t a simple or easy process. It’s complex, and requires several documents (many of which must be notarized per USCIS specifications). There are also strict quotas and deadlines, and all temporary and permanent visa preference categories are currently under the microscope. Some changes have already been enacted, and others have been proposed. Your best — and frankly, only — wise course of action is to consult with an experienced immigration attorney who knows that the landscape looks like. You’ll be glad that you did, and so will your sponsored worker(s).

Chans Weber is the CEO of Leap Clixx, a digital marketing agency. Backed up by ten plus years of experience in a variety of industries, including finance, marketing, and online technology, Chans is known for his skill in transforming company’s visions and goals into tangible revenue. As an expert in advanced SEO, paid advertising, and inbound marketing he is passionate about sharing his knowledge with others and helping businesses reach their full potential.

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