Hiring foreign workers can be a daunting task: It’s time- and paperwork-intensive, but more and more companies are looking abroad to fill their vacant positions. If you cannot find U.S. citizens to hire at the prevailing wage for the occupation, you may be able to find them outside the U.S.
Your first step should be to contact the U.S. Department of Labor’s Division of Foreign Labor Certification (DFLC). The DFLC provides labor certifications to employers interested in employing foreign workers in the U.S. In order to receive certification, you must be able to prove that there is a shortage of qualified U.S. workers who will work for the going rate for the job. To determine if your pay range meets prevailing wage requirements, consult the Department of Labor’s Online Wage Library.
The DFLC offers six different types of certifications, depending on the nature of the work to be performed by the foreign worker. They are:
- Permanent Labor Certification
- H-1B Specialty (Professional) Workers
- H-1C Nurses in Disadvantaged Areas
- H-2A Temporary Labor Certification (Seasonal Agricultural)
- H-2B Temporary Labor Certification (Non-agricultural)
- D-1 Crewmembers Certification
H-1B certifications account for the vast majority of the foreign workers legally admitted to the U.S. To qualify as a specialty occupation, the job must require a body of specialized knowledge and a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent. The vast majority of H-1B visa holders work in high-tech fields such as software engineering.
To begin the foreign labor certification process, visit the DFLC’s Web site. Bear in mind that the federal government imposes quotas on how many foreign workers may enter the country each year, so even if you meet all the necessary criteria to hire a foreign worker, your request still may be denied if quotas for the year have been met.
But if your application is approved and your vacancies are certified, you may advertise your openings and begin the hiring process. Most firms that hire foreign workers choose to work with international recruiting firms that have established relationships in the communities in which they operate. A Google search will turn up literally thousands of international recruiting firms.
Once you hire a candidate for your open position, you must secure a visa for your new employee. That requires a separate application process through Citizenship Immigration Services, or CIS.
You will begin the process by completing an I-129 form and submitting the appropriate fee. The base fee for filing is $185, but CIS also requires fee supplements of $750 to $1,500, depending on the size of your business. You may also have your application expedited by completing Form I-907 and paying an additional $1,000.
While you must provide CIS with proof of your DFLC certification, certification does not necessarily guarantee that CIS will issue a visa to your new employee.