What Employers Need to Know About Sponsoring an Immigrant Candidate

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Discover what you need to know about sponsoring an immigrant candidate. This blog provides visa and sponsorship resources for employers and employees.

You’ve been searching for the ideal candidate for that tricky job opening but — so far — the right hire hasn’t materialized. The shallow talent pool has got you feeling frustrated and you’d like to widen your search, but you’re not sure how. 

The solution lies in broadening your recruitment parameters… and by broadening, we mean abroad. Seeking qualified candidates from outside the United States provides you with access to a global talent pool. 

But before you post a job listing on an international board, you’ll need to learn the basics of employment sponsorship. While it’s a complex process with many moving parts, seeking immigrant candidates offers a number of benefits, including improving your organization’s diversity and inclusion.

Read on to learn the basics of immigrant candidate sponsorship.  


What is Employment Sponsorship?

A job candidate who lives outside the U.S. — or doesn’t have citizen or permanent resident status — needs a visa before they can work. In most cases, to obtain this visa, the candidate needs an employer to sponsor them. 

When you’re expanding your job search to include foreign nationals, the following application questions are key:

  • “Do you need sponsorship?”
  • “Do you need work authorization?
  • “Do you require sponsorship now or in the future?”

At all stages of the process, ensure that you remain within compliance of employment immigration law. Specifically, be aware of the anti-discrimination and unfair immigration-related provisions within the Immigration and Nationality Act.

It’s always a good idea to consult with a legal professional to make sure you’re on the right track. 


What Types of Employment Sponsorship are There?

Employment sponsorship falls into two different categories: immigrant-based and non-immigrant based. 

Immigrant-Based Sponsorship

This type of candidate sponsorship is appropriate for a foreign national who wishes to immigrate to the U.S. and obtain a green card. This is a permanent solution. 

Non-Immigrant-Based Sponsorship

This type of sponsorship offers a temporary solution: a visa that’s only valid for a certain period of time. The government allows only a limited number of people to enter the workforce using this type of sponsorship each year, but candidates can always apply in hopes of being approved.


What are the Most Common Types of Immigrant Visas?

In order to work legally in the U.S., an immigrant must obtain a work visa. Visas differ based on factors such as the type of employment and the nature of the relationship between the candidate and the employer. Each visa has its own application process and requirements. 

Let’s look at some common types of immigrant visas:

H-1B Visa

The H-1B visa is a non-immigrant-based visa that allows temporary workers to stay in the country for a certain period of time. The H-1B is what’s knows as “dual intent,” in that the job candidate can legally work in the U.S. while trying to obtain a green card at the same time. 

Benefits of the H-1B visa include its versatility, as it can be extended to several types of candidates. Immigrants with H-1B visas tend to remain committed to their employer, as they’re vested in keeping their visa status. Plus, the process can last up to six years or more. 

Under the “boarding” process, an employer can take over an employee’s H-1B visa. Since they’ve already been approved for immigration, this allows them to change their place of employment if necessary. 

However, the process can be uncertain. The government only issues 66,000 H-1B visas each year and the application process runs on a lottery basis, with each country able to claim only a certain percentage of applicants. 


The EB-3 is an immigrant-based visa. This business immigration visa is only available to those who fall into the following categories:

  • Skilled worker: Requires at least two years of training or experience; the job must not be seasonal or temporary
  • Professional: For those with the equivalent of a U.S. baccalaureate degree
  • Other worker: Can perform unskilled labor in a position that’s not temporary or seasonal

Tourist Visa

A tourist visa, also known as a travel or B-1 visa, may be required in cases where a foreign national must come into the U.S. to conduct business. For instance, say an employer requires the employee to undergo training, attend a client meeting, negotiate a contract, or other activities that require their physical presence in the U.S.

Generally, a tourist visa isn’t needed if an employee works virtually. When an employee completes work and is paid for that work outside of the U.S., no visa is needed.


Is the Sponsorship of Immigrant Candidates as Difficult as it Sounds?

For many employers, there’s one burning question: Is hiring an immigrant candidate worth all the time and effort needed for recruitment, paperwork and determining work eligibility?

We’re not going to sugarcoat it: The employment immigration process is complicated. It’s a complex situation, and its many moving parts can lead to pitfalls if you’re not careful. That’s why we highly recommend seeking guidance from in-house legal counsel or an immigration attorney. 

Adding to the complications, changes in government administrations mean you have to pay extra attention to the regulations that govern business immigration. With new administrations, changes in requirements, forms and processes are going to take place.  Congressional rulings may also affect immigration relationships with certain countries, as well. 

All that said, sponsoring an immigrant employee is also imminently doable, and offers a number of benefits to your company. 


What Should Businesses Know about Hiring a Foreign Employee?

So you’ve finally found that superstar candidate… and they’re a foreign national. What now?

If you’ve found a great candidate that you believe will make positive contributions to your company, start by coming up with a game plan. Generally, acting as an employment sponsor involves multiple steps. These include: 

  1. Identifying the position the hire will fill; this will determine the type of visa required
  2. Performing background checks and verifying documentation to ensure work eligibility
  3. Applying for the appropriate work visa
  4. Obtaining certification from the U.S. Department of Labor 
  5. Meeting insurance, salary and benefit requirements

In many cases, a candidate can still be an employee who’s actively working for your business while they’re going through the sponsorship process. 

Having a complete understanding of what the process entails is key. For example, you’ll need to know if the chosen visa allows for extensions, so you can keep the candidate in the proper status. 

It’s also important to gauge your own commitment level to the process. When immigrant candidates see the effort you’re expending to try to get or keep them on board, it strengthens their sense of loyalty.

Consider that a foreign national employee may be here for six, eight,  or more years. It may help to think of the work you put in as steps toward building a partnership.  


What are the Benefits of a Diverse Workforce?

In recent years, we’ve seen a push for inclusive workplaces sweep the country. While it’s easy to pay lip service to this trend through social media posts or ads, hiring immigrant employees represents an actual, concrete step toward a more diverse workforce.

After all, today’s economy is global. A truly diverse workforce is one that includes representatives from other nations, one that welcomes other perspectives, and one that invites input from other cultures and communities. 

Hiring immigrant employees is a step toward inclusion. The employee will be a resource, providing ideas and solutions from a global perspective. The ideas they bring to the table can impact your company, your clients and your customers, as well as benefit the employee and their family. 

In today’s climate, a diverse workforce can even benefit your company’s bottom line. A growing number of consumers want to know that the businesses they patronize practice diversity and inclusion. Hiring immigrant candidates help show that you’re walking the walk, and aren’t just all talk.


Candidate Sponsorship Resources for Employers 

If your business is considering recruiting foreign nationals, start by learning about employment immigration regulations and requirements. The American Immigration Lawyers Association is a great place to begin; their website offers a number of resources, from the latest information on immigration law to videos and publications. 

When you’re ready to take the next step, head to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website. USCI provides the forms, documents and evidence lists you’ll need. You can also file forms electronically.

For many employers, gaining an understanding of how visas work — and which one is needed — is a roadblock. Indeed, this complex process can feel overwhelming. USCI offers comprehensive and up-to-date visa information, but do turn to legal counsel to be sure you’re in compliance.


When you just can’t find the right candidate for that particular job opening, the solution may lie in taking your recruitment efforts global. Though the candidate sponsorship process is complex, it’s worth it when you find that ideal candidate. 

PeopleSuite is here to help with your hiring challenges! If you’d like to learn more about how we can streamline the recruitment and hiring process, contact us today.

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