Sometimes an American business needs to hire foreign employees. Perhaps they need seasonal workers for positions that US citizens are less interested in, like agricultural labor positions, food service positions, or other service jobs. Or perhaps they need somebody with skills that are rare in the US, like highly technical knowledge such as a mastery of Python or Ruby. Whatever the reason, it’s imperative to hire foreign workers correctly. There’s a complex set of laws in the US that employers must follow—or face fines or even legal action. Additionally, with all the extra steps and (sometimes) money involved in hiring a foreign employee, making the wrong hire becomes even more costly than usual. Here are 3 mistakes to avoid when you hire a foreign worker for your business.
Mistake #1: Following Your Gut (Instead of Checking References, Digging into the Resume, etc.)
Making the right hire is about more than just picking the candidate you’re most drawn to. Especially when you’re hiring a foreign employee, the cost of a bad hire can be crippling. Don’t skip any steps. Begin your hiring process by deeply examining the resume. Some resumes will have elements you’re not used to. For example, Japanese resumes might include handwriting samples. German resumes often have what amounts to almost an autobiography of a candidate, including their birthday, parents’ occupations, religion, and more. Due to the profusion of offshore work in some countries, a candidate may list a big company on their resume, like Microsoft. However, they might have actually worked as a contractor for a vendor (that works for Microsoft).
To find the best candidate, it’s important to really study the resume and ask the candidate to elaborate on their experience. International resumes can be confusing or even break rules that Americans consider a given. You must see beyond the usual rules to find out what the candidate really can and cannot offer.
Related: How to Screen for Retention
Mistake #2: Using a short hiring timeline.
Hiring almost always takes longer than you need it to. Especially now, in a job seeker’s market, it can be hard to find the right fit on both sides: the candidate and employer. When it comes to hiring internationally, the process becomes even more lengthy. Even if you as the employer are not applying for paperwork for the candidate, they may still need time to clear immigration hurdles, apply for a visa, etc. (Sometimes, you’ll find that your perfect hire cannot clear those hurdles.) Then, it’s back to the drawing board! So, when you have a role that you may be filling with an international candidate, give yourself a nice, long timeline to hire. You don’t want to rush this process because it’s one of the most important investments your business will make. A good employee always returns high dividends!
Mistake #3: Not covering all your bases legally.
Before you hire an employee, you need to ensure that they have or are in the process of obtaining the correct visa. A candidate may have a visa, but it wouldn’t necessarily allow them to work. You also want to consider how long the person will hold this job, how much they will get paid, and whether you can sponsor the candidate in the future. In most cases, you’ll also need to post the job and be able to prove that you couldn’t find an American candidate who fit the bill. Along the same lines, the law prohibits you from discriminating against candidates of a particular visa type. This means you can’t continually pick candidates of one visa type, just because it’s better for your business financially or for any other reason.
Here are a few types of visas that often do qualify candidates to work in the US: An E1 visa, an F1 visa for students, an H1-B visa (often used by IT workers), an H-2B visa, an I visa for foreign journalists, a J1 visa for students, scientists, or teachers, an L-1 visa for transferred workers. The holy grail, of course, is a green card. This allows permanent residence and employment in the US. For more information or for specific questions, it’s best to work with a lawyer who can confirm you’re safely hiring somebody who is legally allowed to work for you.