Navigating The Legal Minefield Of Hiring Foreign Employees

Immigration is a hot button issue at the moment and it has people divided. There is lots of dispute about who should be allowed into the country and who should be turned away. Whether you’re in favor of immigration or not, every business owner has to deal with the issue at some point. At some stage in your business career you’ll probably hire somebody from another country but what you might not know is that this comes with a lot of legal issues to deal with.

The laws surrounding immigrants, both legal and illegal is very complicated, especially where working is concerned. If you don’t follow all of the rules properly then you could find yourself in big legal trouble without even realizing what you did wrong. That doesn’t mean you should shy away from hiring people from other countries because you’re just cutting yourself off from a large section of the population who may have the skills that you’re looking for. Instead, you should make sure that you’re familiar with all of the legal hurdles involved with hiring foreign workers so you don’t get tripped up. This is the basic information that every employer should know.

Verifying Them

If somebody has entered the country illegally and is applying for work using false paperwork, there isn’t always a way for you to tell. But if you hire that person, it won’t just be them that’s breaking the law, it’ll be you as well. It falls to employers to verify whether somebody that they hire has the right to work in the US. Any mistakes you make at this point are going to cost you. The first thing you should learn is who exactly is eligible to work in the US?

Obviously, somebody that was born in the country has citizenship and is allowed to work freely, no problems there. Beyond that, you need to be checking whether somebody is in the country legally or not. That includes people that have moved here permanently, those seeking political asylum, and those here on a temporary basis.

If somebody has entered the country as an asylum seeker, contact some political asylum lawyers and have them go over the paperwork. They’ll be able to tell you if all of the necessary steps have been taken to make sure that that person is in the country legally, and if they’re eligible to work.

When it comes to checking whether they can work legally or not you need two things; a social security number and some other form of photo identification. If they can’t provide either of those things, do not hire them. If they have all the right paperwork and you hire them, you then need to fill out I-9 eligibility form and send it to the Department for Homeland Security within 3 days of hiring the new employee. The details will then be checked against the national database to see whether the information that they gave you is correct.

It’s important to note that while most immigrants need to have labor certification to work, there are some exceptions. People that hold leading positions in the business world like CEOs of foreign companies are often allowed to work without a green card. Other groups include people that are degree educated in science and engineering disciplines as well as wealthy people that can invest enough money to create at least 10 full-time jobs.


The Department for Homeland Security has started to update the methods they use for checking somebody’s legal status where employment is concerned. E-Verify is an online platform where employers can enter the social security number that they’ve been given and check it against the database. The government will then check it as well and sign them off as long as everything is above board. In some states, it is optional for companies to use the E-Verify service but in some states it’s compulsory. Make sure that you check the regulations of your state to see whether you need to be using it or not.

In the event that the employee in question is not matched up with the existing database, the Department for Homeland Security will start an investigation to see if there is a mistake somewhere. If they find that the person is simply not eligible to work, you’ll be notified of this and you can take steps to resolve the matter. In some cases, you may be able to apply for a work visa for them.

Work Visa

If you’re actively looking for employees to bring over, you might need to get a work visa if they aren’t going to move into the country on a permanent basis. There are a lot of different ways to get a work visa so you need to make sure you know what they are and which one you need to apply for. Any immigrant workers with exceptional abilities in a specific area are often eligible for a temporary work visa, as are those that are educated to a high level. Investors can usually get a visa as well but there are a lot of conditions involved. The type of investment has to be reviewed and will only pass in certain circumstances if the investment is in an area that is deemed to be valuable.

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  1. I firmly believe that each country should make a strict selection of immigrants for security reasons, to protect from problems such as unemployment or, simply, to maintain a good standard of living for its citizens.
    I will never understand (and I find it frustrating) that a country allows a person to enter for study reasons, it allows him / her to work there after completing their studies (Optional Practical Training), and does not allow then, a “path” to obtain the permission to reside in that country (Green Card or similar) less demanding, lengthy and uncertain as the actual one, which discourages the employers who, instead, need certainly to cover that position with urgency, and force those deserving people to leave the country, while there is a shortage of that professionalism and there is an employer interested in that person’s skills.
    What is the point of penalizing these well-integrated people and also the entrepreneur – citizen, who needs (now, not after a procedure that costs time and money) for those skills?








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