Hiring employees is a tricky process with a lot of rules and regulations. It’s difficult enough to find someone with the right skills and personality to fit into your company, but when you have to deal with the legal aspects of hiring a non-U.S. citizen, it can be downright intimidating. Before you interview and hire a foreign job candidate, be sure to educate yourself on the following process:
Ask About Work Authorization
Whether you’re hiring United States citizens or people from other countries, you are legally responsible for ensuring they are eligible to work in the U.S. All of your employees must fit into one of the four classes of legal workers: U.S. citizens, noncitizen nationals, lawful permanent residents or aliens authorized to work.
You cannot discriminate or show preference to candidates within one of these categories, but you do have to follow the rules laid out in the U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS) Employee Handbook. Make sure all of your new hires fill out an I-9 form, found on the USCIS website, to verify their legal status.
Seek Certification and Visas
Another step you must take before hiring a foreign job candidate is seek certification with the Department of Labor (DOL). If your certification is approved, then you must petition USCIS for a visa and your potential employee must do the same. This can be a complicated process, so make sure you are educated on the process of green cards, eligibility and employer sponsorship. SimpleCitizen provides a thorough step-by-step guide. For example, there are three levels of preferences for green card sponsorship by an employer: having extraordinary abilities in certain industries, holding advanced degrees and being a skilled worker.
Understand Taxes and Reporting
Just like with U.S. citizens, you need to correctly classify foreign workers as employees or independent contractors and pay the correct taxes to the IRS. There are different rules for employees who perform work outside of the U.S., inside the U.S., for varying time periods and for the amount paid. All of these variables affect your tax withholding and reporting obligations, so make sure you understand the rules to avoid any penalties or legal problems.
Hire a Lawyer
There are a lot of rules and regulations in place when it comes to the hiring process because both your company and potential employees require protection. Whether you decide to go with a U.S. citizen or a foreign job candidate, it may be a good idea to hire a lawyer to go over your contracts, taxes and other legal forms. You don’t want to find out after the fact that you did something wrong and now are being sued or owe penalties to the government. This shouldn’t dissuade you from hiring noncitizens; however, you must be careful that you’re following the law.
Now that you’ve gone through the stack of résumés and scheduled your interviews, it’s time to make some hiring decisions. If you decide to hire an employee from another country, do your homework, fill out all the required forms and get ready for a successful new partnership.