A Strategic Approach for US Companies Hiring Employees from Abroad

published on 31 January 2024

With globalization expanding business opportunities abroad, most companies would agree that leveraging international talent is strategically imperative.

By taking a thoughtful approach to hiring employees from overseas, US companies can build productive global teams, enter new markets, and significantly boost profits.

This article provides a comprehensive guide to strategically recruiting top talent worldwide, covering key considerations around legal compliance, global infrastructure, compensation, and more to set your international hires and company up for success.

The Strategic Imperative of Hiring International Talent

Hiring international talent can provide significant strategic advantages for US companies looking to reduce costs, access specialized skills, and expand into new global markets.

Reducing Costs

International employees often have lower salary expectations compared to US talent. By hiring remote staff abroad, companies can realize overhead savings of up to 50% in some cases. This allows you to get more value for your HR budget.

Accessing Specialized Skills

Certain skills and capabilities may be more abundant or affordable in foreign talent pools. Accounting and finance professionals with US GAAP expertise are in high demand domestically, leading to shortages. However, countries like India, Mexico, and Brazil have a surplus of qualified candidates with advanced degrees willing to work for US companies remotely.

Expanding Globally

Having international employees on staff facilitates expansion into their local country and region. They provide insights into local culture, regulations, consumer preferences, and business practices. They also enable 24/7 productivity through asynchronous work across time zones.

To strategically hire international talent, partnering with a professional employer organization (PEO) or employer of record (EOR) can simplify the process. They handle tasks like payroll, benefits, compliance, and immigration support - allowing you to focus on core operations.

Evaluating whether your business can benefit from cost savings, specialized skills, or global expansion is an imperative strategic question every leadership team should regularly revisit. The global talent market provides new possibilities to strengthen your capabilities and competitiveness.

How do US companies hire foreign workers?

US companies looking to hire foreign workers must follow specific legal processes. Here is an overview of the key steps:

Obtain Labor Certification

The first step is for the employer to obtain a labor certification from the Department of Labor confirming:

  • There are no qualified US workers available for the role
  • Hiring the foreign worker will not adversely impact US wages or working conditions

The employer must submit an ETA Form 9089 and receive certification approval before proceeding.

Petition for a Work Visa

Once labor certification is obtained, the employer must submit a Form I-129 petition to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) requesting the specific visa type for the foreign worker (such as H-1B for specialty occupations).

As part of this petition, the employer specifies details on the offered job position, foreign worker's qualifications, and intention to hire them. USCIS reviews the petition and if approved, issues the work visa.

Additional Considerations

There are additional legal and tax considerations when hiring foreign employees:

  • Adhering to anti-discrimination laws
  • Withholding and reporting applicable taxes
  • Verifying identity and work authorization

Companies should consult an immigration attorney to ensure full legal compliance when hiring foreign workers. Using a Global PEO can also simplify the process.

How do you recruit employees from other countries?

Recruiting employees from abroad can seem daunting, but following a strategic approach can set your business up for success. Here are some key steps:

Research Your Options

The first step is understanding the legal requirements and options for hiring foreign employees. Key programs include:

  • H-1B skilled worker visas - For specialized roles where qualified US workers are unavailable. Requires sponsorship and approval.
  • Employer of Record (EOR) services - Companies that hire, pay and handle compliance for foreign workers on your behalf. Streamlines the process.
  • Remote contractor agreements - If hiring short-term or independent contractors rather than full-time employees.

Consider if you need full-time hires or contractors, which countries you want to source from, and what legal entity structure makes sense.

Create an International Hiring Strategy

Next, develop a plan for recruiting abroad aligned with your business goals. Key elements include:

  • Defining target roles and skills - What capabilities are hardest to find domestically? Prioritize these.
  • Selecting target countries - Weigh factors like skills, language abilities, cultural alignment, and time zones.
  • Setting a hiring timeline - Account for longer visa processing or contractor screening times.
  • Budgeting - Consider higher legal/admin fees but lower salary costs.

Prepare Your Infrastructure

Before actively hiring, implement necessary infrastructure:

  • HR policies - Update policies to address remote work, local laws, payroll, time-off, etc.
  • Onboarding & training - Ensure programs support overseas employees.
  • Technology - Provide collaboration tools accessible globally.
  • Payroll/compliance - Choose an EOR or payroll provider that handles tax filings, payments, etc.

Checklists help cover all your bases.

With the right strategy and infrastructure in place, your company can access top talent anywhere. The key is researching options, planning thoroughly, and partnering with experts to ensure legal and cultural fit.

Can a foreign company employ someone in the US?

Yes, a foreign company can hire employees in the U.S. There are two main options for doing so compliantly:

  • Setting up a U.S. legal entity such as a subsidiary or branch office. This involves establishing a formal presence in the U.S. by registering your company locally. It allows you to directly hire employees, handle payroll, taxes, and benefits. However, it can be complex and costly in terms of legal fees and administrative requirements.
  • Using an employer of record (EOR) service. An EOR acts as the legal employer to hire staff on your behalf. The EOR manages payroll, benefits, compliance, and HR issues, freeing you up to focus on operations. This simplified approach reduces your entity setup costs and administrative workload.

Key things to consider when expanding your foreign company into the U.S. include:

  • Understanding U.S. employment laws and regulations around hiring, compensation, healthcare, taxes, etc. These differ significantly from other countries.
  • Evaluating if you need a physical office location or can enable remote work arrangements.
  • Developing competitive salary packages and incentive structures to attract top talent. Cost of living varies greatly between U.S. states.
  • Budgeting for the overall increased costs and complexities of growing internationally. There may be unforeseen legal, HR, or tax expenses.

In summary, hiring employees from abroad in the U.S. is very feasible but does require some strategic planning around legal entity setup, compliance, payroll, and talent acquisition. Partnering with a reputable EOR can simplify your expansion by managing the localized employment infrastructure and HR needs on your behalf.

How do I hire international employees remotely?

Hiring international employees remotely can seem daunting, but breaking down the process into a few key steps makes it straightforward:

The first step is determining if your business needs to establish a legal entity in the countries where you plan to hire. Setting up a subsidiary or branch office ensures full compliance with local labor laws. If you don't want to establish a local entity, you can use an Employer of Record (EOR) service instead.

Choose an EOR or PEO

An EOR handles compliance, payroll, benefits, and more on your behalf. A Professional Employer Organization (PEO) co-employs workers, providing HR services while you maintain control. Evaluate both to see which model best fits your needs.

Find the Right Talent

Defining the roles you need to fill and the required qualifications helps narrow your search. Vet candidates thoroughly based on skills, cultural fit, language abilities, and time zone alignment.

Onboard and Pay Employees

Handle visa sponsorship, tax calculations, payroll, and benefits based on the countries where your staff reside. An EOR or PEO can manage onboarding, payroll, and compliance.

By breaking down the key steps and seeking expert guidance, hiring international remote staff can be straightforward. The right partners help handle compliance and other complexities behind the scenes.

The Benefits of Hiring International Employees for US Companies

Hiring international employees can provide significant benefits for US companies seeking to expand globally. By building a diverse and multicultural workforce, companies can gain valuable insights into new markets, increase innovation, and ultimately drive higher profits.

Expanding into Global Markets with a Diverse Workforce

Employing staff from different countries and cultures can aid US companies aiming to enter new global markets. International employees have an intimate understanding of the norms, values, and consumer preferences in their home countries. They can provide guidance on product localization, marketing messaging, and customer engagement strategies tailored for specific regions. With their on-the-ground knowledge, international staff can help US companies avoid missteps when expanding abroad and develop offerings better suited to local tastes.

Diversity Increases Profits: The Financial Upside of an International Team

Research has shown that increased workforce diversity correlates strongly with improved financial performance. A recent McKinsey study found that companies in the top quartile for ethnic diversity were 36% more likely to experience above-average profitability. Enabling new perspectives and ideas to emerge enhances problem-solving, sparks innovation, and creates better products. The combined business and cultural expertise of an international team generates unique value that diverse customer bases worldwide respond favorably to.

Remote Work and Asynchronous Working: Maximizing Productivity

With advancements in communications technology, remote work and asynchronous working are increasingly viable. This provides access to talented international employees regardless of geography while promoting better work-life balance. Studies show remote employees have higher productivity with more flexibility over when and where they work. Supporting asynchronous communication also aids collaboration across time zones. Avoiding strict 9-to-5 schedules enables international teams to maximize output while still maintaining strong cohesion.

The Strategic Approach to Foreign Employee Recruitment

When recruiting globally, US companies should take a methodical, step-by-step approach:

  • Determine which roles would benefit from international hires based on market expansion goals and cultural alignment needs.
  • Research best practices for legally employing international workers. Consider utilizing an Employer of Record or Professional Employer Organization.
  • Develop a global compensation strategy that is fair and competitive for foreign employees.
  • Create standardized but culturally-aware onboarding processes to smoothly integrate foreign hires.
  • Encourage open dialogue between domestic and international staff to share knowledge.
  • Continually re-evaluate global recruiting efforts against key performance indicators.

Taking a systematic approach to global hiring, backed by strong change management, sets up international employees and US businesses for mutual success.


Hiring employees internationally can provide tremendous benefits, but also introduces legal and regulatory complexities. Being informed on key considerations can help US companies expand their talent pool globally while remaining compliant.

Learn the Difference Between an EOR and a PEO

  • Employer of Record (EOR): An EOR handles payroll, benefits, and compliance in foreign countries on behalf of the client. Employees have an employment contract with the EOR, who serves as the legal employer.
  • Professional Employer Organization (PEO): A PEO provides HR services while employees stay on the client's payroll. The client maintains the full employer relationship.

For international hiring, EORs often provide more support as they manage in-country legal compliance.

Avoiding Misclassification of Employees as Independent Contractors

Classifying international hires correctly is crucial:

  • Employees are subject to payroll taxes, labor laws, and company policies. Misclassifying contractors as employees risks fines or lawsuits.
  • As contractors, workers are responsible for their own taxes and compliance. But increased legal scrutiny makes misclassifying employees as contractors risky.

Consult experts to determine proper worker classification across borders.

Establishing foreign legal entities allows direct employment but has overhead:

  • Subsidiaries must meet country regulations like capitalization rules and reporting requirements.
  • Local accounting, banking, payroll, and compliance must be handled in-house.

Alternatively, PEO/EOR services enable hiring abroad without an entity:

  • PEOs/EORs manage payroll, benefits, taxes, and compliance under their own legal status.
  • Companies avoid the cost and administrative burdens of maintaining foreign entities.

Evaluate options to balance control, risk, and operational efficiency for global hiring needs.

Building a Global Infrastructure to Support International Teams

As companies expand internationally, they need to build infrastructure to smoothly onboard and manage global teams. This includes solutions for payroll, HR policies, and communication norms across time zones.

Choosing a Global Payroll Provider for Wide Coverage

When selecting a global payroll vendor:

  • Ensure they can handle payroll in all the countries where you are hiring. As you scale globally, you want a provider that can grow with your needs.
  • Look for localized compliance expertise. Payroll laws differ across countries, so your provider should understand local regulations.
  • Seek fair, transparent pricing. Cost structures may vary based on team location and headcount fluctuations.

Crafting Communication Norms for Asynchronous Working

With remote staff across time zones, asynchronous communication is key. Best practices include:

  • Documentation - Record discussions in written channels like Slack for context.
  • Status updates - Share daily or weekly recaps to keep everyone informed.
  • Flexible schedules - Allow workers to set hours that suit their timezone.
  • Async-first norms - Discourage expecting instant replies on chat platforms.

Developing a Global Compensation Policy

Your compensation policy should:

  • Benchmark pay against local job markets - Offer competitive salaries aligned with each region.
  • Standardize job tiers and levels globally - This enables fair comparisons across locations.
  • Outline bonus structure - Incentives and equity should be accessible to all qualifying global team members.

How to Calculate Compensation for Remote Employees

Consider these factors when compensating international team members:

  • Local market rates for the role and experience level.
  • Cost of living - Some regions have lower costs than others.
  • Taxes - Understand tax implications to optimize net pay.
  • Benefits - Offer comparable health insurance and time-off across locations.
  • Equity - Ensure stock options are distributed fairly, if applicable.

Carefully research to assign pay that is fair globally while optimizing for the business.

Recruiting Top International Talent

Recruiting skilled talent from abroad can be a strategic move for US companies looking to expand their capabilities and access specialized expertise at an affordable cost. However, finding and assessing the right international candidates requires a thoughtful approach.

Leveraging International Freelance Platforms to Get Started with International Contractors

International freelance platforms like Upwork, Fiverr, and PeoplePerHour offer access to millions of skilled freelancers from around the world. These marketplaces allow you to:

  • Post your job requirements and have suitable candidates apply
  • Search profiles and directly invite candidates to apply
  • Screen candidates, view portfolios, and assess skills
  • Manage payment, contracts, and communications

This can be a cost-effective way to get started with international hiring. You can test out contractors on fixed-price projects before making long-term commitments.

Assessing Candidates' Niche Capabilities

When evaluating international candidates look for:

  • English Fluency: Strong verbal and written English skills are vital for seamless collaboration. Assess through interviews, writing samples.
  • Relevant Skill Sets: Carefully review their expertise and specializations to ensure alignment with your needs. Accounting pros should demonstrate US GAAP expertise.
  • Cultural Fit: Look for adaptability to US business culture in previous roles supporting US clients. Ask questions to evaluate fit.
  • Time Zone Overlap: Maximize productivity with contractors aligned or overlapping normal business hours.

Checking references and portfolios helps verify capabilities. Consider testing contractors with small paid trial assignments before making commitments.

The Benefits of Global Workforces in Hiring Foreign Workers

Expanding your talent pool globally offers advantages like:

  • Cost Savings: International contractors can offer up to 50% in payroll cost savings compared to US accounting professionals.
  • Specialized Expertise: Gain affordable access to qualified talent with niche capabilities like US GAAP not readily available domestically.
  • Diversity & Innovation: Global teams lead to more diverse perspectives, helping drive innovation.
  • 24/7 Productivity: Distributed teams allow round-the-clock collaboration aligning workdays for maximum efficiency.

Overall, a global workforce strategy leverages global talent platforms to source specialized, cost-effective contractors that can drive significant value. The key is thoroughly vetting capabilities.

Onboarding International Hires

Onboarding international hires requires careful consideration to ensure a smooth transition for both the employee and employer. By providing localized materials, implementing collaboration tools, and setting clear expectations, companies can effectively integrate international team members.

Providing Localized Onboarding Materials

When bringing on international employees, it's important to adapt onboarding checklists, training programs, and policies to resonate across cultures and languages. Consider translating materials or providing simplified English versions. Explain culturally-specific concepts and provide context where needed. Solicit employee feedback to improve localization efforts.

Leveraging Collaboration Tools for Cross-Border Teams

Digital tools like Slack, Notion, and Miro enable effective collaboration despite location barriers. Slack facilitates real-time messaging for distributed teams. Notion centralizes documents, tasks, wikis, and databases into a shared workspace. Miro offers online whiteboarding for brainstorming sessions. Provide training on these platforms during onboarding.

How to Manage Employment Probation Periods for a Global Team

Clearly communicate probation period policies and expectations upfront. Set defined goals and timeline for evaluating performance. Schedule regular check-ins to provide feedback and address concerns. Accommodate cultural differences in work styles. Extend timeframe if more training is needed due to language or skill gaps.

Onboarding International Contractors: Best Practices

  • Provide overview of company culture and core values
  • Designate internal coordinator to manage questions/needs
  • Outline project expectations, timelines, and communication protocols
  • Grant access to relevant documentation and infrastructure
  • Schedule kickoff meeting to align on goals and processes
  • Check in periodically on progress and obstacles

Following these recommendations will lead to positive onboarding experiences for international hires.

Managing Compliance Requirements for International Employees

As companies expand their talent search globally, they gain access to a wider pool of skilled professionals but also take on additional compliance obligations. Effectively managing an international workforce requires understanding local employment laws and tax requirements.

When hiring employees abroad, key steps for fulfillling compliance requirements include:

  • Researching tax treaties between countries to determine tax liabilities
  • Registering as an employer and obtaining necessary licenses in countries where staff are located
  • Setting up local payroll and making appropriate tax withholdings
  • Filing necessary paperwork and submitting information returns in each country

Partnering with an employer of record or professional employer organization with global payroll and compliance expertise can simplify this process. They handle localization and act as the legal employer abroad while you maintain day-to-day management.

Adapting Policies to Local Employment Laws

In addition to tax considerations, localizing HR policies for international staff is crucial for avoiding legal issues. This may involve:

  • Providing mandatory benefits like healthcare, retirement plans and paid time off
  • Accommodating different cultural expectations around work arrangements
  • Modifying disciplinary procedures, termination policies and severance packages

An employer of record can advise on adapting policies and contracts to conform to regulations in each country where employees live and work.

How to Handle International Employee Relocation

When relocating staff internationally, key factors around compliance include:

  • Understanding visa and immigration requirements for employees and dependents
  • Accounting for cost of living differences and adjusting compensation appropriately
  • Modifying benefits packages based on what’s customary and legally mandated
  • Managing tax implications around moving compensation and equity grants across borders

A global mobility program through your employer of record can assist with navigating international relocations and help avoid missteps.

Financial Considerations of a Global Workforce

Hiring and managing an international workforce introduces new financial considerations around payroll, compensation, and potential cost savings.

What is Global Payroll? An Overview

Global payroll refers to the system and processes needed to pay international employees and contractors. Key aspects include:

  • Managing compensation in multiple currencies
  • Navigating complex global tax and compliance requirements
  • Ensuring payments are made on time across different time zones and bank systems

Setting up global payroll can be challenging, especially for smaller companies without dedicated HR and finance teams. Working with a trusted partner who has local expertise can help streamline this process.

Fair, Transparent Pricing: Developing a Global Compensation Strategy

When hiring globally, it's important to establish a clear compensation strategy:

  • Research competitive salaries in each location to attract top talent
  • Standardize job levels, titles, and salary bands across the organization
  • Communicate pay ranges transparently during the hiring process
  • Convert salaries into consistent base currency rates to simplify budgeting

By compensating workers fairly and equitably, you can build a stronger global team.

Offer Stock Options to Your International Employees

Extending equity compensation across borders has advantages:

  • Attracts talent by offering ownership and upside
  • Aligns employees with company goals and strategy
  • Retains top performers over the long term

However, equity policy design can be complex when dealing with different countries' tax and legal considerations. Seek expert guidance to ensure proper setup.

How to Pay International Contractors

When paying international contractors:

  • Choose payment platforms that easily support multiple currencies
  • Factor in currency exchange rates and fees with each transfer
  • Stay compliant with tax rules and independent contractor classifications

By addressing these considerations upfront, the payment process can be simplified for both the company and contractor.

Measuring the Business Impact of International Hiring

Hiring international employees can provide significant cost savings and access to specialized talent, but it's important to track key metrics to quantify the full business impact. Here are some suggestions:

Cost Savings

  • Compare average compensation costs between domestic and international hires for similar roles
  • Calculate recruitment cost savings from expanding your talent pool globally
  • Track overall payroll cost reductions over time

Revenue Growth

  • Measure revenue generated by business units, projects or products utilizing international team members
  • Compare revenue per employee for domestic vs international hires


  • Track number of new products, features or patents produced by globally diverse teams
  • Conduct employee engagement surveys to measure collaboration and new ideas


  • Calculate output per employee for domestic vs international hires
  • Track project delivery times for globally distributed vs localized teams

Carefully monitoring these metrics can clearly demonstrate the tangible upsides of strategic international hiring in areas like costs, revenue, innovation and more. The key is choosing metrics aligned to your specific business goals and consistently tracking them over time.

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