Immigration in the Workplace

Building the best team is crucial when growing an organization and driving the business forward.  But what happens when those individuals are not American citizens? How do you deal with immigration laws in your workplace?

A new bill recently signed can benefit organizations hiring talent from abroad. The bill has a potential increase in the number of H-2B visas available for companies relying on seasonal workers.

However, with the current political climate, tapping into the global workforce to hire talented individuals could feel like entering murky water. Still, diverse companies can better help customers due to fresh perspectives as well as increase revenue for the business.

While expanding your company, whether globally or by hiring international staff, there are few things to consider.

Below are 5 issues you should consider for immigration in the workplace:

1. Policies (Compliance, Compliance, Compliance)- Immigration and paperwork can get complicated. It’s important to stay up-to-date on the latest laws. Subscribe to relevant newsletters and stay updated on the news. If you have in-house counsel- have them keep tabs on new legislation. If you don’t have these resources it is a good idea to consider a vendor who can provide the tools and resources to ensure you’re compliant with immigration law.

2. Have a Written Plan in Place for Inspections- It’s always good to be prepared. USCIS, the DOL, and ICE can all provide “zero notice” for an inspection. To ensure you aren’t caught off guard by one of these visits, create a plan of what to do should this scenario occur. First, have a point person and a backup that will be your designated company representative with the inspector. Second, have a single easy-access location where all proper documentation is stored. Third, educate all employees on the process should an inspection occur. Lastly, have a consultation with legal counsel focusing on immigration law to ensure you are fully prepared.

3. Know About the Available Work Visas- There are 11 types of temporary visas which allow individuals to work in the United States. The primary visa is the H-1B, which allows an individual with a special skill to work in a specialty occupation. There are caps on how many of these are permitted per year. Before hiring an international applicant, know if they require a work visa or already have one.

4. The I-9 Form- As every new hire will need to fill out their I9 form and provide the appropriate documentation, a new hire who immigrated for the position will also need to fill this out. However, it’s important to obtain the proper documentation from ALL employees (certification of Birth Abroad issued by Department of the States, U.S. Citizen ID card, original or certified birth certificate, etc.) regardless of their place of origin/birth. It is also important to know that the I9 is not a means for verifying whether the individual is legally allowed to work in the U.S.- this must be done prior to hiring and on-boarding.

5. Inclusion Strategies- It’s important to recognize that the work-culture in the US might be different than those of other countries. First, understand that some language barriers might be present due to English being a second language. Train managers to be patient and explain processes in a simple manner. Another tactic for inclusion strategies is flexibility. Providing flexible schedules allows an individual to adjust to their new surroundings and better acclimate.

Before starting your global search for talent, consider obstacles in the process you may encounter. Being prepared will ensure you are equipped to address any issues that might arise.

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