U.S. immigration laws provide a number of different tools allowing local businesses to hire foreign workers on a temporary, seasonal or permanent basis. The laws are varied and complex, and the process (from determining a business’ needs to matching those needs with the right prospective employee to complying with all federal immigration requirements) can seem insurmountable at first glance. A San Diego immigration attorney helps to navigate the maze, but hiring an attorney only adds to the complexity in the mind of the average business person. Yet, businesses of all sizes continue to hire foreign workers and at a growing rate. This is despite the current recession and immigration controversy.
The first step of course is to determine whether a business has a need for foreign workers. U.S. immigration laws directed at employment are designed to prevent employers from hiring foreign workers at the expense of U.S. workers. Thus, the fact that a business may be able to hire cheap labor from another country does not, from a U.S. immigration law perspective, satisfy the “need” component. Rather, a business’ need for a foreign worker is based on that business’ inability to find U.S. workers qualified and willing to take an employment position at the prevailing wage. Once a business determines the need for a foreign worker, it must of course go out and find him or her. Most businesses turn to one of the hundreds of international recruiting firms easily found on the web.
Satisfying the federal government that an employment position will not come at the expense of a U.S. worker depends on the type of position a business is trying to fill. The following is a summary of the different types of employment visas: H-1B Visas, the most common non-immigrant based visa, for specialty occupations such as architects, engineers, educators, accountants or legal professionals; H-2A Visas for temporary agricultural workers; H-2B Visas for seasonal non-agricultural workers; H-3 Visa for training in education of handicapped children; L-1 Visas for intra-company transferees; TN Visas for non-immigrant professionals from Canada and Mexico under NAFTA; and EB Visas, immigration visas, for permanent employment opportunities in the United States. There are five categories of EB Visas ranging from foreign nationals of extraordinary abilities to unskilled workers.
In a series of articles to follow on hiring foreign workers, we will explore in more detail the factors to consider in the initial decision to hire a foreign worker, complying with the legal requirements for each of the above listed visas and recruiting efforts. Whatever a business’ needs might be, consulting an immigration lawyer is the best first step.