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Hiring Immigrant Workers

As a small business owner, you will probably need to hire some employees in order for your business to succeed. Finding good candidates can be a difficult task. Add the various anti-discrimination laws, payroll taxes, and other regulations, and you might feel stressed out by the prospect of hiring employees.

Sometimes, there isn't an adequate supply of U.S. citizens that fit your needs. In that case, you may need to look into hiring an immigrant worker. Please be aware that regardless of whether you're hiring a U.S. citizen or an immigrant, you're required by law to make sure that the person is eligible to work in the U.S.

Verifying an Employee's Employment Eligibility

When hiring any employee, you are required to verify that he or she is legally eligible to work in the United States. In order to do so, you need to file an Employment Eligibility Verification form (Form I-9) within three days of hiring the employee. The I-9 Form provides the procedure for verifying an employee's eligibility to work, including examples of the types of documents required an employee must present for verification. While employers are barred from hiring employees without legal status, they are also prohibited from discriminating against job applicants or employees based on national origin or citizenship status.

Employment-Based Immigration

There are several ways to legally immigrate into the United States. For those who wish to immigrate here so that they can work in the U.S., there is the option of applying for and obtaining an employment visa. There are employment-based non-immigrant visas and immigrant visas. The main difference between these two types of employment visas is that the former is for those seeking temporary authorization to work in the U.S. and the latter is for immigrant workers who wish to remain and work in the U.S. permanently. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and the Department of Labor (DOL) both provide helpful information about employment-based immigration.

Non-Immigrant Visas

An immigrant worker can obtain a non-immigrant work visa, which will allow him or her to work in the U.S. for a temporary period of time. Visas that grant temporary worker status require the sponsorship of an employer. The type of temporary visa that an employer needs to apply for will depend on the position that needs to be filled. In order for a temporary visa to be granted, the employer must apply for the visa and show that the position for the immigrant exists. In the event that the immigrant is laid off or fired, he or she is no longer permitted to work in the U.S.

Immigrant Visas

If you have found an immigrant worker that you would like to sponsor for a green card (legal permanent resident status), there are certain steps you must take. Before deciding to do this, it's important to know that sponsoring an employee for a green card can be difficult. The waiting period for a green card can take several years, depending on the employee's country of origin.

In addition, in most cases, the employer will need to show that there are no U.S. citizens available for the position. In order to show this, the employer must go through the PERM Labor Certification process. This process generally requires that the employer advertise the job, interview candidates, and show that those candidates weren't right for the job. Once the employee receives his or her green card, he or she is eligible to stay in the U.S. indefinitely and free to work anywhere he or she wishes.

Getting Legal Help

If you have any questions or concerns about hiring an immigrant worker, you may want to contact an immigration attorney in your area. For more general questions regarding your hiring policies and practices, you can contact a local employment law attorney for guidance.

For more information and resources related to this subject, please visit FindLaw's section on Immigration Law for Employers.

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