Process to Hire Foreign Skilled Workers in the United States
To initiate the process to hire foreign skilled workers, employers must complete and submit Form I-120 – Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
This form allows employers to seek approval on behalf of a foreign skilled worker for their admission to the United States to temporarily work or participate in training.
In some cases, employers are required to file or produce the following documents prior to filing a petition for nonimmigrant workers:
- Labour Condition Application; or
- Application for Temporary Employment Certification; or
- Obtain consultation reports form labour organizations
An Application for Temporary Employment Certification is a requirement for the following visa types: H-2A and H-2B nonimmigrants.
Department of Labor: Labor Condition Applications
Nonimmigrant visa categories may require a Labor Condition Application from the Department of Labor. This Labor Condition Application requires the employer to state that it will comply with the following:
- To pay a wage that is no less than a similarly qualified workers or if greater, the prevailing wage for the position in the geographic area
- Provide working conditions that will not adversely affect other similarly employed workers
- Ensure no strike or lockout at the place of business of the prospective foreign skilled worker
- Provide notice to the bargaining representative or post a notice at the place of business that a labor condition application has been filed
A Labor Condition Application from the Department of Labor is a requirement for the following visa type: H-1B nonimmigrants
Department of Labor: Labor Certification
A US employer sponsoring a permanent foreign skilled worker may need to seek a labor certification from the Department of Labor. This certification verifies that there are insufficient number of United States citizens or permanent residents with the appropriate skills who are willing to fulfill the job vacancies the employer has available. It also certifies that sourcing a foreign skilled worker will not have a negative impact on wages and working conditions of similar US workers.
A Labor Certification from the Department of Labor is a requirement for the following visa classifications: H-1B, H-2A and H2B
Visa Types for Foreign Skilled Workers
The following visa types are for multi-national corporations to engage foreign skilled workers:
|E-1||Treaty traders and spouses|
|E-2||Treaty investors and spouses|
|E-3||Australian specialty occupation workers and spouses|
|H-1B||Speciality occupations in fields that require highly specialised knowledge, fashion models of distinguished talent or certain abilities of an exceptional nature in the Department of Defense cooperative research and development projects|
|H-1B1||Speciality occupations for nationals of Singapore and Chile|
|H-2A||Temporary agricultural workers|
|H-2B||Temporary workers performing other services or labor, skilled or unskilled|
|H-3||Trainees or special education exchange visitors|
|I||Representatives of information media|
|J-1||Certain exchange visitors|
|L-1A||Intra-company transferees (executives/managers)|
|L-1B||Intra-company transferees (employees with specialized knowledge)|
|O-1||Foreign nationals who have extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business or athletics|
|O-2||Essential support personnel for O-1|
|P-1||Internationally recognized athletes (or athletic team) or members of an entertainment group|
|P-2||Artists or entertainers under a reciprocal exchange program|
|P-3||Foreign nationals who perform, teach, or coach under a program that is culturally unique|
|P-4||Essential support personnel for P-1, P-2 and P-3|
|Q-1||International cultural exchange visitors|
|TN||Canadian or Mexican professionals covered by the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)|
Expedited Processing of Petition for Non-Immigrant Workers
Employers have the option to submit a form to the Untied States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to request a premium processing service to have the application processed within 15 calendar days. Employers must submit Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing Service and pay the relevant filing fee.
|Filing Fee||Visa Classification|
|$2,500 USD||E-1, E-2, E-3, H-1B, H-3, L, O, P, Q or TN nonimmigrant classification|
|$1,500||H-2B or R nonimmigrant classification|
|$2,500||EB-1, EB-2 or EB-3 immigrant visa classification|
Employers Hiring Multiple Foreign Skilled Workers
Employers can hire multiple foreign skilled workers for their business so long as the visa classification allows it.
- H-1B, H-3, O and R à not permitted to apply for the hiring of multiple employees on one petition
- L-1 Visa Categories à employers can file a ‘blanket petition’ for intra-company relationships. Once this is approved, individual employees must file their own Form I-129-S, Nonimmigrant Petition Based on Blanket L Petition
- H-2A, H-2B, P and Q-1 à can submit a petition for multiple workers if the workers are working at the same location and performing the same role
Employment Eligibility Verification
Employers must verify the identity and employment authorisation of individuals they hire for employment. This can be completed by submitting Form I-9 and it must be filled out for each individual the employer hires. This form requires information from both employers and employees.
The form requires the employee to state their employment authorization. Please see the information below. The form then requires the employer to assess the employee’s employment eligibility and ID documents to determine whether it appears to be genuine.
US employers must ensure they check all employees regardless of their citizenship status or country of origin to ensure they are permitted to work in the United States. To determine whether your employees have work rights, you can request to see the following Employment Authorization Documents (EAD):
- Initial EAD – this document proves the employee is permitted to work in the United States
- Renewal EAD – this document renews your initial EAD
- Replacement EAD – this document replaces a lost or stolen EAD or an EAD that contains incorrect information