How to Sponsor a Work Visa for an Employee

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by Advice Chaser
by Advice Chaser

In the vast majority of cases, when you’re hiring employees, you can find a suitable person within the United States. In many others, you can hire someone living abroad for a remote job. But what about when the ideal candidate is the citizen of another nation, and you want them to move to the US and work for you here? In that case, you will have to sponsor their work visa.

It isn’t easy to get legal permission to live and work in the United States. Generally, the employee needs your sponsorship to get a visa—and getting one isn’t automatic.

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Non-Immigrant Work Visas

There are many types of work visas, but they can be divided into those which can be used for someone to immigrate permanently into the US and those which can’t. The latter type is called a temporary or non-immigrant visa.

One common type of non-immigrant visa is the H-1B. This visa is for specialized workers, usually with a higher degree. You will need to provide a labor certification. This proves that you truly need to hire a foreign worker and will do so in accordance with law. The application involves a number of different fees, adding up to over a thousand dollars. You will need to enter into the visa lottery, which happens annually in March. Only 85,000 of these visas are available, of which 20,000 are reserved for individuals with a masters degree.

If the work you are offering is not specialized, you may still qualify to sponsor an H-2A or H-2B visa. These are for temporary or seasonal workers. The H-2A is for agricultural workers, and the H-2B is for non-agricultural workers, such as hospitality or seasonal workers. Either way, there is no educational requirement, but you must prove that the work is temporary, that there is insufficient labor available domestically, and that hiring these workers will not negatively affect wages or working conditions of domestic workers. Again, you will need to undergo a complex application and pay fees. There is a lottery for the H-2B visa, but H-2A visas do not have a cap.

There are also several other types for trainees, nurses, intracompany transfers, celebrities, and more.

Immigrant Work Visas

For someone to immigrate to the US permanently, they will need an employment-based permanent visa. There are 140,000 available annually. They are divided into five categories called preferences.

  • First preference: persons of extraordinary ability in fields like arts, science, education, athletics, or business.
  • Second preference: skilled workers with advanced degrees and experience in their field.
  • Third preference: professionals, skilled workers, and some unskilled workers.
  • Fourth preference: special immigrants of various types, such as religious workers.
  • Fifth preference: business investors.

If you’re looking to sponsor one of these visas, you will probably be operating under the second or third preference (EB-2 and EB-3). For both of these, as for most temporary visas, you, the employer, will need to provide a labor certification.

The Labor Certification

As you can see, for almost every type of work visa you might sponsor, you will need a labor certification. It is issued by the Department of Labor, after you apply. The application is different depending on whether you need a temporary or permanent labor certification.

Either way, you will need to attest to the following:

  • The job opening has been available to American workers.
  • The job will pay what American workers make for the same job.
  • Vacancies in the job are not due to a strike or recent layoffs.
  • Working conditions will be in keeping with the law.
  • For some of these visas, you will have to attest that you have not been able to find domestic workers to do the job.

It’s up to the Department of Labor to approve or deny your labor certification. Clearly, if you’re hoping to import workers to save a buck, you may as well save your time and effort. The government does not look kindly on attempts to undercut the domestic labor market—that’s why it insists you check the immigration status of prospective employees and not hire any without a valid legal status to work in the US. Having a class of illegal, underpaid workers harms both the workers making these low wages and the American workers trying to compete with them in the labor market.

It Isn’t Easy

The American immigration system is labyrinthine and complex. Applications may cost significant amounts of money and take months, and you still have no guarantee of success! So if you’re considering this route, especially if you’re unable to find anyone domestically with the skills you need, it’s wise to consult with an immigration attorney or other expert before getting started.

For all your business financial needs, from funding your startup to attracting the best employees, a business financial advisor can help. Contact us today to find a qualified, experienced advisor for your business.

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