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Immigration Laws - An employers Perspective

Updated on December 29, 2009

Interview with an Immigration Attorney

Recently I had the chance to sit down with an immigration attorney and interview her about immigration and how a company can utilize foreign workers. I was motivated to do this because I have recently come across a couple of employers who were frustrated that they had found good candidates but did not want the hassle of dealing with immigration issues. What I found was that having a good attorney can be a big help when dealing with immigration laws! You can see the full text of the interview here.

Today's Job Market - In today's job market, there are a number of good candidates to choose from. In fact it may be too good! I am finding financial controllers applying for book keeper jobs and engineers applying for technician jobs. Yikes. There are also a pool of talented individuals who are looking to compete in this job market that are sometimes overlooked by companies. These are the foreign workers. Some of these people are highly skilled and very talented. This is particularly true in the more highly skilled arenas such as Science and Technology.

Why Hire Foreign Workers? - My answer to this is simply, if the best candidate for your company or business is a foreign worker the why not! In today's economy it is so hard to compete that it is even more critical to stand out. I am definitely not say that we should take away jobs from Americans! In fact the system is set up such that with 2 equally qualified candidates, one a US citizen, the other a foreign worker, the person who is the citizen should get the job... and that is a good thing.

In cases where there is a good business case to hire the more skilled foreign worker, there is also a system set up to utilize that person with the special skills. This is good for business.

How to Hire a Foreign Worker - Simply put, find yourself an immigration law specialist. The system is not set up for the ordinary HR manager to file a few papers and just get approval. You really need to know the in's and out's. That's the bad news. The good news is that if you hire a professional, there is not a great deal of paperwork for the company to complete and once you complete it once, then it is significantly reduced the second time.

Want to Do It Yourself...anyway? - Now should you decide to give it a try yourself, you may still need to consult with a specialist because there are a number of different types of visas. For instance there are a couple of types of work visas, H1B and L1A/L1B. You will need to understand the differences and options. For example, the H1B visa allows US companies to employ guest foreign workers in specialty occupations. Sounds good but the current limit to these workers is 65,000 in a year and my guess is that by the end of January each year those slots are filled.

Other Options - There are other options for instance if your company is an international company with an office in a foreign country and you want to transfer a worker temporarily to the US office, this is called an L1 Visa. Then there is an M1 visa for trade schools and so on. It is just one long alphabet soup of bureaucratic confusion. Again a good reason to hire that specialist, even if it is just to help you sort things out that first time.

Insider Tips on Immigration Work Visa's - There were a couple of nuggets I learned from my interview. First you can do a transfer of an H1B visa. This process is much simpler than an application. The down side is that an H1B visa has a time limit and with a transfer some of the time has been used up.

The second tip I learned is that an advanced degree significantly increases your chances for success. If you wan to try this on your own, find some with an advanced degree. It enhances the notion that you are hiring someone for a specialty occupation if that person has an advanced degree.

Final Thoughts - In my interview I learned two things about recruiting foreign workers. First it is not something a novice should pursue without having someone who can help them navigate the bureaucracy of dealing with Immigration issues. Second, if you have the first covered, hiring a foreign worker should be about the value that candidate brings to you company and if that worker will make you a better company. So do not let the foreign status be a concern, get yourself an immigration law specialist and hire yourself a great employee.

You can see the full transcript of the interview along with some contact information if you have further questions.


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