Five Things Employers Need to Do When Considering Employment Sponsorship for Immigration Purposes

You’re excited about the new hire.  You’ve extended the job offer and just when you’re thinking about how much value this person will add to your organization, you get a call from the HR department: “There’s one thing the applicant forgot to tell you: he needs to get sponsored.” “Sponsored?”, you ask.  What’s an employer to do?

  • Find out what the applicant is referring to exactly.  Sponsorship can mean many things. At a very basic level it means that the applicant needs some assistance from the employer to work or remain in the U.S. either temporarily or permanently.  Within this context however there are many variations.
  • Determine whether your company has (or should have) a policy that addresses immigration sponsorship.  Given that sponsorship involves petitions with the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), or both, some companies have policies addressing under what circumstances, if any, the company will sponsor a foreign national.
  • Ask the right questions.  You need to ask questions that will elicit the right type of information from the applicant to help you determine the applicant’s current immigration status, the limitations of that status, the length of time the company will be able to employ the applicant, how long the process will take, etc. Keep in mind that some applicants will put permanent sponsorship for a “green card” (lawful permanent residency) as a pre-condition to their employment.  
  • Get informed. Most likely the applicant is way ahead of the curve when it deals with the issue of sponsorship.  They’ve done their research, spoken with their peers, visited and participated in chat rooms, and many times have an idea on how to proceed.  Sometimes the applicants will represent something that may or may not be accurate because of fear of the employer revoking the employment offer or they themselves are confused or misinformed.   A good place to start is by visiting the website of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.  You need to know the employer’s obligations if the company moves forward with the employment sponsorship.  
  • Consult with an experienced immigration attorney. Even after you’ve done your due diligence you may have more questions than answers. Things can get complicated pretty fast. This is where discussing the matter with an experienced immigration attorney will help you in the process.

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