Skip Main Navigation

The Role of HR in Navigating U.S. Work Visas: A Comprehensive Guide

Learn more about the key role HR plays when it comes to employing foreign workers in the U.S.

Chinese tech worker in the U.S.

When a U.S. company hires a foreign worker, the Human Resources (HR) department plays a crucial role in facilitating the process. HR departments often work closely with legal counsel or external immigration specialists to ensure compliance with immigration laws and regulations throughout the entire process.

Overall, HR plays a critical role in navigating U.S. work visas, for both the company and the foreign worker obtaining the visa. In this guide for HR professionals and U.S. employers looking to hire immigrant workers, we’ll cover.

U.S. immigration can be complex and confusing. Boundless is here to help. Learn more.

U.S. immigration can be complex. Boundless can help.

Understanding U.S. Immigration Requirements

Picking the Right U.S. Work Visa

There are many different types of U.S. work visas, each with its own set of requirements. In general, it’s important for a company’s HR department to understand these requirements in order to determine which visa is right for the company, the specific role in question, and the foreign worker interested in the position.

Boundless has a full guide to the different types of U.S. work visas and their various requirements. Check it out here!

Visa Sponsorship Process

If the foreign worker requires visa sponsorship, HR generally assists in coordinating the visa application process. Work visas such as the H-1B visa, TN visa, and H-2A visa all require the U.S. employer to file petitions with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) on behalf of the prospective employee.

This typically involves filing Form I-129 (Petition for Alien Worker), which HR can play a key role in by working with the employee directly to prepare the application. HR may also coordinate with immigration attorneys, gather necessary documentation, and ensure timely communication with USCIS.

You can learn more about the work visa application process in Boundless’ guide.

Immigration Compliance

In the U.S., HR departments are responsible for verifying the work authorization and legal status of foreign workers. HR professionals must ensure that the person hired possesses the necessary visa, work permit, or official authorization to legally work in the U.S. This involves reviewing and validating immigration documentation, such as Form I-9 (Employment Eligibility Verification), and maintaining employee records to demonstrate compliance with USCIS.

Employment Contracts and Policies

HR typically plays an important role in drafting employment contracts for foreign workers, outlining the terms and conditions of their employment, compensation, benefits, and other relevant policies. They must ensure compliance with U.S. labor laws while considering any specific employment requirements for foreign workers that may differ from hiring U.S. citizens.

Employee Benefits and Compensation

HR ensures that foreign workers receive appropriate compensation and benefits in line with company policies and applicable employment laws. They may handle specific considerations related to tax implications, social security, and other benefits that might vary for foreign employees.

If you or your employees need more information, we’ve put together a guide to filing taxes for immigrant workers, as well as a guide on how to obtain a social security number as a foreign worker.

Understanding Labor Laws

Federal and state labor laws can be difficult to navigate, especially when it comes to hiring foreign workers. HR departments must have in-depth knowledge of labor laws related to hiring, wages, working conditions, and employment practices. Overall, a keen understanding of any specific regulations or requirements related to foreign workers, such as prevailing wage rates or specific reporting obligations, is crucial for all companies and their employees.

Building a Support System for Immigrant Workers

Cultural Integration and Support

Within a U.S.-based company, the HR department is typically tasked with providing assistance to foreign workers in adapting to the U.S. work environment and culture. This can involve organizing orientation programs, cultural sensitivity training, or providing resources to help them navigate any challenges related to relocation, language barriers, or cultural differences.

Documentation and Record Keeping

HR departments are generally required to maintain accurate and up-to-date records related to foreign workers. This could include tracking visa expiration dates, work authorization documents, and other relevant information that may be requested from U.S. immigration officials. HR will typically coordinate with employees when it comes time to initiate visa renewals as well, ensuring that a foreign worker’s legal status or work authorization does not lapse. HR can also play a key role in facilitating a foreign worker’s adjustment of status to a green card once they become eligible to apply.

Need more information and helpful guidance? Check out Boundless’ guide on everything you need to know about working in the U.S.