Main with passport in airport
An H-1B visa allows you to hire an employee from another country into a specialized position for three to six years. — Getty Images

If you're having trouble finding the appropriate talent for your business, you may want to consider sponsoring an employee from outside the United States to work for your company.

Employers have the option of hiring highly-educated nonimmigrant workers if they are unable to find workers domestically. Nonimmigrant workers can be sponsored for a limited time by an employer through the H-1B visa program, issued under the Immigration and Nationality Act.

Though the program provides benefits for both parties, employers should review and consider the program’s terms and conditions before beginning the application process.

What is an H-1B sponsorship?

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, an employer can sponsor a nonimmigrant by hiring them to work in the United States with an H-1B visa. In order to get a sponsorship, the worker must have at least a bachelor’s degree (or their country's equivalent), and the position they’re applying for must require the use of specialized knowledge. Positions may be found in areas of specialty such as engineering, law, business, medicine, etc.

Some things to consider about an H-1B sponsorship:

  • A nonimmigrant worker that receives an H-1B visa can work in the U.S. for three years with the option of expanding up to six years.
  • Employers must document in a labor conditions application (LCA) that there are no U.S. workers qualified for the position and that the nonimmigrant worker will be paid an amount that’s the same or equal to other workers in that position.
  • The employer files all documentation for the worker and pays the fees for the process. They must file the LCA before applying for the worker’s visa. The request will be entered into a lottery, and, if chosen, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will approve or deny a visa.

[Read: 3 Things You Need to Know About Hiring in 2019]

Employers need to review the details of the proposed job to ensure it meets the requirements of the H-1B visa program.

How to sponsor H-1B visas

Before obtaining a visa, there are a few things that need to be completed and processed. The employer is responsible for paying all fees, which can range between $1,500 and $4,000, and they must petition for the visa themselves.

Employers need to review the details of the proposed job to ensure it meets the requirements of the H-1B visa program. The job must require a bachelor’s degree or higher and specialized knowledge in the field of the occupation. They’ll also need to determine the pay rate.

Current employees in the same occupation need to be notified either by email, electronic bulletin board or printed notice that their employer is filing for an H-1B visa. This must occur at least 30 days before the date that the Labor Conditions Application (LCA) is filed with the Department of Labor.

In the LCA, the employer must confirm the following:

  • The nonimmigrant worker will receive the same, or an amount equal to the pay and benefits of U.S. workers in that type of position.
  • Working employees will not be affected by the new hire.
  • There has not been, or will not be, a controversy regarding labor conditions or pay at the time of hiring.

The petition is reviewed within about a week of submission to ensure accuracy. Once reviewed, employers need to complete a petition packet that includes Form G-28 and Form I-129. This will be submitted to the USCIS upon completion. Employers will receive Form I-797 Notice of Action if the petition is approved.

The nonimmigrant worker will take a copy of the form and apply for their visa with the Department of State. They can do this at a consulate within their home country or at a U.S. embassy. Once the visa is approved, the worker will apply for U.S. admission at the U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Employers will follow normal hiring procedures once the worker has been admitted.

Though the process can be complex, obtaining the visa and gaining a highly proficient worker will benefit all who are involved.

[Read: Hiring in a Competitive Market: 5 Ways to Recruit Top Talent]

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

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Published August 12, 2019