One of the biggest challenges facing a lot of tech companies right now, small and large, is a shortage of skilled workers. Unemployment in the U.S. is very low, and the demand for top talent is high. However, there are plenty of skilled foreign workers in specialty fields who would love the opportunity to work in the U.S., at least temporarily.
When employers are facing a skills shortage or are having difficulty hiring, particularly in the tech sector, they often do look to employees outside of the U.S. The employees have the benefit of coming to the U.S., getting experience in their area of specialty, and having the opportunity to send money to their families using services like Remitly.
Most programs that allow employees to come to the U.S. and work do require that the employer sponsor the worker. The following are some things to know if your tech company is considering sponsoring a foreign worker.
There are quite a few programs available from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services that provide for foreign workers to come to the U.S. temporarily. One of the most common programs that most tech companies use is the H-1B visa. This visa program is geared toward highly skilled workers in certain areas, which is why it’s so popular with tech employers.
Starting the Process
The process to begin sponsoring a foreign worker usually starts by completing the Form I-129. This is the Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, and it’s filed with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services on behalf of the possible foreign worker.
An employer has to start the petitioning process, and the prospective employee can’t start this process.
Along with filing a petition, the employer is responsible for filing what’s called a Labor Condition Application with the U.S. Department of Labor. The purpose of this is to show that by hiring a foreign worker, it’s not going to cause harm or negatively affect U.S. workers.
The employer in this has to show that they will be paying the prevailing wage for the position and they’ll be providing the employee with the same benefits as other employees in similar positions. It also has to be demonstrated that there aren’t any labor disputes happening when the foreign employee is being hired.
Specialty Occupation Requirements
If you want to hire a foreign worker under the H-1B visa program, the job you’re filling must qualify as a specialty occupation. This means that the minimum entry-level requirement for the job is at least a bachelor’s level degree. The job should be so specialized or skilled that someone without a degree couldn’t reasonably fulfill the demands.
If the worker is from a country that has different types of degrees, their degree should be at least the equivalent of a bachelor’s degree.
If a worker doesn’t have a degree, they should have work experience that’s equivalent, and for that to be the case, the employee would typically need to have at least 12 years’ experience in most cases.
Finally, while the minimum requirement is a bachelor’s degree, most people who ultimately are granted an H-1B visa have a master’s degree or above.