Employers can legally hire non-U.S. citizens by following specific procedures and complying with relevant immigration laws. There are over a dozen of work visa categories and it important for employers and prospective employees to understand which category is pertinent, and to follow the appropriate steps to apply to work in the United States. Here is a high level overview of steps to ensure legal hiring:

  1. Determine work eligibility: Before hiring a non-citizen, it is crucial to verify their work eligibility. This can be done by completing Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, which confirms that the employee is authorized to work in the United States.
  2. Verify immigration status: Employers should request and review the non-citizen employee’s appropriate immigration documentation, such as a valid visa or employment authorization document (EAD), to confirm their legal status to work in the United States.
  3. Understand visa requirements: Familiarize yourself with the different visa categories that allow non-U.S. citizens to work in the United States, such as the H-1B visa for skilled workers or the L-1 visa for intracompany transferees. Each visa category has specific requirements that must be met by both the employer and the employee.
  4. Sponsorship process: If hiring a non-citizen who requires a work visa, employers must file a petition on behalf of the employee with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The employer must demonstrate that there are no qualified U.S. citizens or permanent residents available to fill the position.

Is It Illegal to Hire Non-Citizens?

It is not illegal to hire non-citizens who have proper work authorization in the United States. However, employers must adhere to immigration laws and ensure that they do not engage in discriminatory hiring practices. The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) prohibits employers from discriminating against individuals based on their citizenship or immigration status during the hiring process.

Individuals with the right combination of skills, education, and/or career experience, may be able to live and work in the United States for multiple years or even permanently by seeking an employment-based immigrant visa.

Browse more Immigration law articles.