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A US work visa doesn’t have to be overwhelming to obtain, even if you are a small business. If you are sponsoring an employee for their visa, you’ll want to make sure you are up to speed on all of the requirements. By knowing what is expected of you as an employer, you can reduce your risk and remain in good standing with the US government. Here are three tips to help you through the process of sponsoring an employee for a US work visa.
Three Tips for Sponsoring a US Work Visa
1. Do your research and determine the right visa category
Sponsoring someone for a US work visa is not something that can be done on a whim. There are many different visa categories, all with their own set of rules and regulations that you need to be aware of. Before moving forward with sponsorship, find out which type of visa you will need to apply for. How long is the validity period? Does it allow full-time, temporary, or permanent employment? How much will it cost? How long will it take to process and when do you need to apply? What documents will you and your employee need to provide? Once you can answer all of these questions and are confident that you satisfy the requirements, you are ready to move forward with the petition.
2. Follow labor and immigration laws when hiring
You, the employer, are responsible for verifying whether or not a US work visa employee is eligible to work for you. Just as with the hiring of any other employee, you are responsible for following applicable labor and immigration laws. An employer is liable for knowingly employing an illegal worker, so it is best to confirm work authorization for any employee in order to protect your business. However, you are not expected to be an expert on authorization documents. According to the law, as long as you “act in good faith” when it comes to inspecting these documents, you should be protected from liability. That is the same whether the employee is a U.S. Citizen or a foreign-born worker.
3. Don’t forget the paperwork
As the employer, there is a lot of paperwork required by the government for any and all employees. Just as with your US citizen employees, you must complete form I-9: Employment Eligibility Verification for ALL foreign workers. Be sure to use the most recently revised version, as previous versions will not be accepted. To complete the form, your prospective employee must provide you with certain eligibility and identification documents. Together, you and your employee fill out and sign the form, attesting to his or her authorization for employment.
Keil Hackley is an immigration attorney and partner at Hackley & Robertson, a top U.S. naturalization and immigration law firm. Hackley & Robertson, P.A. is dedicated to helping individuals and companies navigate United States immigration law. With a team that includes former INS attorneys and investigators, Hackley & Robertson is skilled and focused on helping clients with their immigration law cases. Based in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Hackley & Robertson works with both companies and individuals. If you have questions about immigration law in the United States or about your legal status, the legal team can be reached at 954-349-4994.