Oftentimes HR professionals are prepared to handle payroll, recruiting, onboarding, and even internal company disputes, yet many are not trained to take the lead on foreign talent recruiting and management. But that’s becoming a part of the job description for HR professionals as more and more companies are looking to fill the skills gap by hiring internationally.
There are a few basics you must know when looking to hire foreign talent:
Create a clear job description: Hiring the best person for the job is difficult if you don’t know exactly what you need. This may seem simple, but we often see companies that are hiring to make sure they have great talent but don’t have a specific role. They run into delays when they apply for visas for these employees, such as the H-1B visa, because all work visa applications require a salary, job description, and minimum credentials required for the position. If you aren’t sure what should be included, your attorney can help with this, but at least have a handful of bullets describing the job and a salary range to help the process along. This information is required to help U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) weed out companies that are looking to abuse the visa system.
There’s a lot that can go wrong, so be prepared and start the immigration process as soon as possible: The immigration process is extremely complex. A few things to think about:
- Constantly changing regulations make it hard to keep track of requirements.
- Some deadlines for submitting paperwork are not flexible. Missing one could mean you’ve missed your chance at getting that visa.
- The process is document-intensive—there are a lot of forms to review and important evidence to assemble to demonstrate that the employee meets the requirements for the particular visa program.
- If anything is incorrect (even a misspelled street name), the application could be significantly delayed, lost in the mail or, in some cases, denied.
- If the application is missing certain information, the USCIS may request specific evidence be additionally submitted, further delaying the case; could conduct an on-site investigation, or simply deny the case without offering a chance to remedy the missing information.
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The process isn’t over once the visa is approved: While many think that an approved visa is the end of their immigration management responsibilities, that couldn’t be farther from the truth. An approved application is just the start. Certain visa categories, such as the H-1B, have document retention requirements where employers are required to keep certain documents on hand and available to the public upon request for a specific amount of time. Other visas are limited in the number of years they can be issued for, so it’s important to look forward and keep planning for the future top of mind when speaking with your immigration counsel. If HR managers don’t stay on top of the assignment their employees with visas are given, they may lose the talent they worked so hard to hire because an amendment may need to be filed with the USCIS to remain in compliance. Here’s what HR pros should keep in mind:
- If an employee is promoted or a job description changes—alert your immigration attorney.
- If an employee starts working from an office or worksite that has an address different from what was provided to the USCIS initially—alert your immigration attorney.
- If an employee plans to travel abroad—alert your immigration attorney before that employee leaves the country.
When it comes to applying for and maintaining visas for foreign talent, the smallest things like a misspelled name or a change of address can mean the difference between being in compliance and being noncompliant. With increased scrutiny focused on visa applications, even legal foreign talent acquisition, it’s important to know how to manage sponsored employees and their expectations surrounding the immigration process. The best way to ensure that your sponsored employees do not face an interruption in their ability to work in the United States is to make sure you’re working with an immigration attorney to stay in compliance.
Allison Kranz, a licensed attorney, is Envoy Global’s Immigration Solutions Partner. Her experience includes handling all aspects of corporate and employment-based immigration law and creating strategies to address the visa, work, and permanent immigration goals of her clients.