Hiring Foreign Workers Legally


foreign workers

By Bill Swan, Principal Consultant

Hiring foreign workers can bring an employer diverse perspectives, skills, and talents, but it is important to be informed and prepared to hire legally. There are penalties in the US for hiring, recruiting, or referring an unauthorized person leading to a hire.  Those found to violate the law repeatedly can be fined $3,000 for each unauthorized person and serve a prison term.  It is a felony to use false ID or misuse real ID to satisfy employment verification.

To help hire people from other nations legally, here are some key things employers need to consider when they are thinking about hiring a foreigner:

Legal and Regulatory Considerations:

  • Visa and Work Permits: Each country has different requirements for visas and work permits and the US certainly has its own. Understanding the needed visa type and the application process, including fees and documentation, is important.  This will require research and working with people who are well-informed. The process can take months, so start it early.
  • Tax Implications: Understand the company’s and the employee’s tax obligations. No one likes to be surprised. 

Cultural Considerations:

  • Communication Styles: Be mindful of how communication differs across cultures, including verbal and nonverbal cues, directness, and written etiquette. Be prepared to adapt your communication style for clarity and respect for the foreigner.
  • Work Styles and Expectations: Different cultures have diverse work styles and expectations regarding hierarchy, decision-making, teamwork, and work-life balance. Adapting the company’s management style to be inclusive and understanding differing work styles will be important for success.  This will involve training management and other team members.
  • Language Barriers: Assess the potential need for language training or translation services to ensure effective communication and inclusivity.  Even when people are speaking the same language, there are communication challenges.  Don’t assume perfect synchronization of speaking, listening, and understanding.

Logistical Considerations:

  • Relocation Support: If relocation is involved, the employer should consider offering support with finding housing and navigating cultural adjustments.  The list can be considerable: housing, helping to problem-solve their commute, accessing healthcare, setting up tech for their home office (if necessary), connecting to school district information (as needed), and more.

It is important to build trust and collaboration. This will take time and effort, so patience will be necessary. But in taking a methodical, planned approach, employers can (and do!) build successful experiences for themselves, their teams, and their international employees. An immigration attorney will likely be involved in the process, possibly relocation specialists and others for guidance and support. FIT HR can help and work with excellent immigration attorneys and other experts to hire legally and with great outcomes. Contact us.