What Hiring Managers Needs to Know When Hiring Foreign Nationals

/ / Career

Edited by Tatyana Frid

This is a recap of a FocusKPI Analytics at Work chat. Join our LinkedIn group to learn more.


Guest Speaker: Chiara St Pierre talks about the US Immigration policy

Speaker: Chiara St. Pierre

Chiara works as a Managing Attorney at the International Institute of New England. She has had over a decade of experience in immigration based legal services,including citizenship, obtaining a work visa, and more.


Things recruiters should know when hiring foreign nationals in the US

The options for employers, on the most basic level, are non-immigrant visas, or immigrant visas (aka green card). Employers in the United States can sponsor foreign nationals for either and there’s actually no requirement in some areas.

In terms of the Green Card, there are ways to go directly to the Green Card. The most common path for employment-based visas and sponsorship with companies starts on a student visa.

Student Visas

The student visa program in the United States has always been robust. There are a lot of opportunities to study here in the States. And with that comes the opportunity to make connections with US employers.

Everybody who studies in the United States, has at least one year of what’s called OPT which stands for Occupational Practical Training. If you graduate from a bachelor’s program or a master’s program, you will be eligible for an Employment Authorization Document, an EAD card, which allows you to work with any US employer, as long as the position that you’re working in is within your area of study.

H-1B Visa

After OPT training, most move on to an H-1B visa. The H-1B visa is an employment-based visa that any US employer can sponsor a candidate for the H-1B program for specific occupations.

Usually, you are required to at least have a bachelor’s in that field. Sometimes you can equate the experience to education. The H-1B usually lasts a 6 year period. If an employer starts a Green Card process for you can stay past the 6-year maximum.

L-1 Visas

If you are a multinational company, you can sponsor foreign nationals for an L-1. The L-1 comes in two flavors. There’s the L-1 for multinational managers or executives, and there’s the LNB for specialized skillsets for individuals that already have a relationship with the company.

For example, if there was a software developer that developed a very specific application or code that’s used on a platform and their signature stamp is on that, and now they want to work on it more in the US or start marketing it in the US, that’s a very strong candidate for an L-1 visa.

But again, to qualify for the L-1, there has to be a relationship with a company abroad, and you have to be able to prove that, in addition, the individual has to have worked for that company abroad for at least one year.

Immigration Law Credentials

J-2 Visa

The J-2 It’s generally for two years, it can be longer, which really depends on the relationship.

One thing with the J-2 to keep in mind is that depending on the program the individual is usually in it for cultural exchange, they might be subject to what’s called the two year home residency requirement. You can apply for waivers of that.

However, the congressional intent behind the program was that individuals coming to the US for this cultural exchange and gaining knowledge that they take that back to their home country, and that’s why there’s this two year home residency requirement, so they would have to stay out of the US for two years before they could come back in on a different type of visa or green card.

What are the stipulations on a J-2 dependent?

The J-1 you would consider the primary applicant, the J-2 would be the derivative applicant. And the individuals who qualify for that would be a spouse or unmarried son or daughter under the age of 21. Once a child turns 21, they would no longer be eligible for that derivative status as a J-2.

They would need to apply for either a change of status if J-1 applicant is eligible or they are required to fulfill or apply for a waiver for the two year home residency requirement, change their status. The J-2 program can go on a student visa without the home residency requirements.

This is very case-specific so I would urge that individual to talk to someone separately because this is a fairly general answer.


If you are interested in contacting Chiara, this is her information:


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