The answer is yes, you can bring foreign workers to the US to fill open positions at your company. You can do that legally, without hiring undocumented migrants and facing steep fines and other penalties.
However, the question is how can you hire and sponsor foreign workers to the United States? To do that an employer must first determine what workers are needed and for what reason. As a US employer you might want to bring foreign workers if you face labor shortages or if you need workers with specialized skills and knowledge. A large multinational company on the other hand might want to bring talented executives or managers from a subsidiary abroad.
Below are different work visa options available to hire and sponsor workers based on employers’ need for seeking foreign workers and on the job requirements.
No degree required, seasonal or temporary labor need
For jobs that do not necessarily require a degree or even a specialized skill and are of temporary seasonal nature there are two work visa programs you can use.
H-2B– this visa allows US employers to bring foreign non-agricultural workers for temporary or seasonal jobs. The H-2B visa is suitable to fill positions such as landscaper, laborer, cook, hotel housekeeper, construction worker and others. The visa is typically granted for 6 to 10 months. To be able to bring workers under the H-2B visa program, the US employer must be able to prove a temporary need as defined by US Department of Labor – seasonal, peak-load, intermittent or one-time occurrence.
H-2A– this visa is similar to the H-2B but for agricultural workers. Employment under H-2A can be either temporary or seasonal. Employment is seasonal if it is tied to a certain time of year, such as an annual growing cycle. H-2A employment is considered temporary when the need for the worker will not last more than 1 year.
No degree required, permanent labor need
EB-3 Unskilled Workers– when you need workers to fill permanent positions that are not tied to a season or other temporary need such as an event or festival, the only viable option for a US employer is to sponsor foreign workers for permanent residence (green card).
The EB3 Unskilled Worker program is available to 10,000 workers per year to fill positions such as landscaper, truck driver, nanny, caregiver, housekeeper, agricultural and construction worker, food service and hospitality staff. The US employer must offer the foreign worker a full-time permanent position and show there are no qualified US workers available for the position.
Degree or specialized knowledge required
US immigration law provides for a few work visa options for employers who seek candidates for professional positions that require at least a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent.
H-1B – although best known for its use by tech giants such as Apple, Google, and Microsoft, the H1B visa can be used for any industry as long as the minimum requirement fir the sponsored position is at least a bachelor’s degree.
The H1B applicant must also possess a bachelor’s degree or higher in the relevant field that is required for the position. The H1B visa is initially issued for 3 years and can be renewed for an additional 3 years. The downside of H-1B visa is that there is a limited number of visas available each year, with the number of applicants being far greater than the available visas. To address this and decide who gets to apply for H-1B visa the USCIS holds a lottery every year.
L-1B – allows a multinational company to transfer specialized knowledge employees from one of company’s foreign offices to its offices in the United States. The transferred employee must have worked outside of the United States for the company for at least 1 year in the prior 3 years. Here, specialized knowledge is defined as either a special knowledge of the employer’s product, service, research, equipment, techniques, management, or the employer’s processes or procedures. The maximum authorized under L-1B visa is 5 years. The L-1B visa is a dual intent visa, meaning that the employee can simultaneously hold an L-1B status and have a green card petition pending without any adverse consequences. Canadian citizens benefit from a simplified L-1B application process and additional advantages.
TN– is only available for citizens of Mexico and Canada and allows them to work in the United States in certain professions authorized under the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement. See the list of TN professions here. The professions are very diverse and include pharmacist, teacher, economist, interior designer, accountant, computer systems architect, and others. The TN visa is issued in increments of 3 years. The TN visa can be renewed indefinitely. There is no limit on the number of TN visas issued each year.
E-3 – E3 visa is for Australian citizens to come and work in the United States in a specialty occupation that requires specialized knowledge and at least a bachelor’s degree. The E3 visa is generally issued for 2 years, with the possibility to renew or extend it indefinitely. E-3 visa workers can work full-time or part-time.
EB-2 or EB-3– the EB-2 and EB-3 visas allows US employers to sponsor foreign employees for permanent residence (green card) and live and work in the United States. The EB-3 is for workers with a bachelor’s degree or lower. The EB-2 visa is for workers with at least a master’s degree or bachelor’s degree and five years or progressive work experience in the field. The EB-2 and EB-3 visas can be used to sponsor a worker who is residing outside the US at the time of application or a worker who is currently in the US working for the employer on a work visa such as the H-1B visa, TN visa or other. Both the EB-2 and EB-3 visas follow the same PERM process which starts at the US Department of Labor. The EB-2 and EB-3 PERM process can be expensive and lengthy.
O-1 – is a visa for individuals who possesses extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics, or who have demonstrated a record of extraordinary achievement in the motion picture or television industry and have been recognized nationally or internationally for those achievements.
E-2 or E-1 – it is available to employees of E companies who hold the same citizenship as the investor or treaty trader and are coming to the United States to work in a position requiring specialized skill. The E-2 and E-1 visas are generally granted for a number of years depending on the treaty country. These visas can be renewed indefinitely. Canadian citizens benefit from a streamlined application process.
Degree required or manager or executive
L-1A – is similar to the L-1B but is for an executive and manager. The sponsored employee must have worked outside of the United States for the company for at least 1 year in the prior 3 years in a managerial, executive or specialized knowledge position and must be coming to the US to work in a managerial or executive position. The L-1A new office petition is available only to employees who worked as executive or manager for the qualifying employer abroad. The maximum duration of stay for an L-1A executive or manager is 7 years. The L-1A is a dual intent visa.
This means that employees can maintain L-1A status and simultaneously pursue a green card (permanent residence) without facing adverse consequences such as inability to travel outside the US while their immigrant petition is pending. Canadian citizens benefit from a simplified L-1A application process and additional advantages.
E-2 or E-1 – it is available to employees of E companies who hold the same citizenship as the investor or treaty trader and are coming to the United States to work in an executive, managerial or supervisory position. The E-2 or E-1 visas are generally granted for a number of years depending on the treaty country. The E-1 or E-2 visas can be renewed indefinitely.
EB-1C – is a type of green card available to certain multinational executives and managers. The requirements are similar to the L-1A in terms of the employment requirement for least 1 year in the prior 3 years in a managerial or executive position, the sponsoring company conducting business in the US and at least 1 other country through a subsidiary, branch or affiliate. To qualify for EB-1C visa, the US company must have been actively doing business for at least 1 year. In practice, EB-1C is used by executives of multinational companies who first come under L-1A visa, TN or other visa and then apply for US permanent residence under EB-1C.
Malescu Law can assist
If you are a US employer and want to explore your options for hiring foreign employees, contact our immigration lawyers or book a consultation with our work visa lawyers in Miami, Florida USA. We serve companies and individuals across all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.
Malescu Law P.A. – Business & Immigration Lawyers