Strategies for US Companies Hiring Employees from Abroad

published on 31 January 2024

With global competition intensifying, most companies would agree that accessing top talent worldwide is critical for business growth.

By implementing key strategies for hiring employees abroad, US companies can build productive global teams, tap into wider skillsets, and boost profits by up to 30%.

In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the end-to-end process for sourcing talent globally, from embracing diversity to managing international payrolls and visas. You will discover proven frameworks for finding bilingual candidates, calculating remote salaries, onboarding foreign contractors, and more.

Embracing Global Talent Acquisition

As businesses expand into global markets, there is a strategic advantage in building diverse and skilled workforces by hiring employees from abroad. This allows companies to tap into a global talent pool, gain new perspectives, and remain competitive. However, the complexities of global employment must be navigated carefully through proper compliance, infrastructure, and support systems.

The Competitive Edge of International Hiring

Hiring international employees can provide significant benefits for US companies:

  • Access to Specialized Talent and Skills: Certain skills and expertise may be more abundant or affordable in foreign talent markets. This allows companies to find employees that suit their specific needs.
  • Diversity and New Perspectives: International employees bring diverse viewpoints, helping to innovate, problem solve, and understand global customers better. Diverse teams increase profits by roughly 33%.
  • 24/7 Productivity: With time zone differences, adding international employees creates opportunities for nearly round-the-clock productivity.
  • Cost Savings: Hiring and paying international contractors or overseas full-time staff is often 30-50% cheaper than comparable domestic employees.
  • Global Market Expansion: International employees provide localized knowledge and connections to help companies expand globally.

While international hiring has clear advantages, it also comes with hurdles around legal compliance, operations, and culture:

  • Employment Laws: Companies must navigate complex global employment laws and requirements around visas, taxation, benefits, payroll, contractors vs employees, etc. Non-compliance risks major fines or legal issues.
  • Payroll and Payments: Paying international employees adds complexities around global payroll, currency conversions, international wire transfers, tax treaties, etc.
  • Asynchronous Communication: With teams across time zones, communication and collaboration can suffer without the right tools and strategies for asynchronous work.
  • Onboarding and Culture: It takes extra effort to properly onboard international hires and integrate them into company culture with limited in-person interactions.

Companies can overcome these hurdles by finding an employer of record or Global PEO to handle legal compliance, payroll, and HR. They also need to invest in collaboration tools and set policies to support asynchronous work across time zones. With the right strategies and partners, businesses can build successful global teams.

How do US companies hire foreign workers?

First, employers must seek certification through the U.S. Department of Labor. Below you will find a link to documents and forms. Once the application is certified/approved, the employer must petition the U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services for a visa.

The process for a US company to hire a foreign worker involves a few key steps:

  • Determine the need to hire foreign talent - Companies should first evaluate if there is a business need to hire someone from abroad that cannot be filled domestically. This often happens when there is a shortage of skilled talent in a particular domain.
  • Understand visa application requirements - There are different types of work visas like H-1B, L-1 etc. that allow foreign nationals to work in the US. Companies need to identify which visa category applies to their hiring need and fulfill all documentation and process requirements.
  • File for Labor Condition Application - Most work visa petitions require the employer to file a Labor Condition Application (LCA) with the Department of Labor, attesting that employment conditions meet requirements.
  • Petition USCIS for visa approval - Once the LCA is certified, employers submit the visa petition with necessary forms and fees to USCIS requesting visa approval so the foreign national can start employment.
  • Handle onboarding/relocation - After visa approval, the company handles travel, relocation and onboarding arrangements for the foreign employee before they can start working.

The process involves considerable paperwork and processing times of several months. Companies should plan in advance and work with immigration attorneys to ensure successful and timely visa approvals.

Can you hire someone from another country to work in USA?

Yes, US companies can hire foreign workers either as full-time employees or independent contractors, with the option of either working remotely in their home country or relocating to the US with the relevant labor certification and visa.

There are a few key steps involved:

Sponsoring Visas

If the foreign worker needs to physically work in the US, the company will need to sponsor their work visa, such as the H-1B visa for specialty occupations. This involves filing paperwork and forms with USCIS showing that:

  • The position requires specialized skills and qualifies as a specialty occupation
  • The foreign worker is qualified for the role
  • The company will pay the required wage

It can take 6+ months for visa petition approval.

Using a Global PEO

Companies can hire foreign employees without having an entity set up in their country. A Global PEO acts as the legal employer abroad while you maintain full control. They handle payroll, benefits, compliance, and more under a contract.

Hiring Contractors

Bringing on international talent as independent contractors is faster and simpler than sponsoring employees. Define project details, have them sign agreements virtually, and pay them as 1099 workers without being subject to foreign employment laws. Be sure to properly classify them according to IRS guidelines.

In summary, global remote teams enable tapping into specialized talent worldwide, increased diversity, and significant cost savings. With the right support for onboarding, compliance, and payments, US companies can seamlessly integrate international hires or contractors into their workforce.

How do you recruit employees from other countries?

Recruiting employees from abroad can seem daunting, but following these key steps will set your company up for success:

Understand Your Hiring Options

The first step is determining if you want to directly hire an employee or work with an employer of record. Direct hiring means the employee is on your payroll. An employer of record handles administrative tasks like payroll and benefits on your behalf.

Start Early

Give yourself ample time - up to 12 months - to work through the process. Visa sponsorship and immigration take time. Be prepared for possible delays.

Make Internal Preparations

  • Designate an internal owner to drive the process
  • Consult immigration attorneys to understand laws and options
  • Set up necessary vendor relationships for global payroll, benefits, etc.

Obtain Labor Certification

For some visas, you’ll need certification from the Department of Labor confirming no qualified US candidates exist. An immigration attorney can advise if this applies.

Petition for Visas

Once certified, you submit visa applications and supporting documents to USCIS. Common work visas include H-1B for specialty roles and L-1 for intracompany transfers.

The key is allowing plenty of time and seeking expert counsel. With the right help and preparations, expanding your talent search internationally is very feasible.

Can a non US citizen work remotely for a US company?

Yes, US companies can legally hire non-US citizens to work remotely from outside the United States. There are a few key things US employers need to keep in mind:

Tax and Payroll Requirements

  • US companies are required to withhold and pay income, Social Security, and Medicare taxes for non-citizen employees, even if they are working remotely from abroad
  • Payroll and tax compliance can be complex with remote foreign employees. Working with a global PEO helps handle payroll, benefits, compliance and more in 180+ countries

Independent Contractor vs Employee

  • Properly classifying foreign workers as employees or independent contractors is crucial to remain compliant
  • Misclassifying employees as contractors can lead to fines, back taxes, and penalties

Visas and Immigration

  • Employees based abroad do not require visas or work authorizations to work remotely for US companies
  • If relocating the foreign employee to the US, appropriate visas or work permits need to be secured

By partnering with a global PEO to handle payroll, compliance, and HR, US companies can seamlessly hire staff from abroad to work remotely. With the right support, borderless remote teams create immense value for US businesses.

Strategies for Sourcing Global Talent

This section delves into effective approaches for identifying and attracting top talent from around the world.

How to Find Bilingual Employees for Global Markets

Expanding into new global markets often requires employees with language skills to facilitate communication and operations. Here are some tips for finding bilingual talent:

  • Leverage online job boards and social media targeting specific languages to source candidates globally. Sites like Indeed and LinkedIn allow targeting by language.
  • Partner with bilingual recruiters and staffing agencies to expand your reach. They often specialize in specific languages and have existing pools of talent.
  • Offer referral bonuses to current bilingual employees for successful recommendations. This incentivizes your team to tap their networks.
  • Attend university job fairs and other events to connect with bilingual students and graduates, especially for languages like Spanish, French, German and Mandarin.
  • Be flexible on location when hiring bilingual talent, as long as communication needs can be met. The rise of remote work expands the available talent pool.
  • Consider candidates proficient in multiple languages as it expands their versatility and ability to support more markets.

Leveraging Diversity Increases Profits for Businesses

Research shows that increased workforce diversity correlates strongly with increased profitability for businesses. Some key reasons:

  • Diverse teams enhance creativity and innovation due to their variety of perspectives. This leads to better solutions and decisions.
  • Representation of target demographics internally helps companies understand and market to those groups more effectively.
  • Varied cultural backgrounds help companies navigate cultural nuances and expand into new global markets successfully.
  • Employees feel more included and engaged when they can connect with peers from similar backgrounds. This boosts retention.

To leverage diversity for profits, focus on inclusive and equitable hiring practices, implement cultural awareness training, encourage open dialog between groups, and track diversity metrics over time.

The Benefits of Asynchronous Working in Global Teams

With team members distributed across time zones, asynchronous communication better supports productivity:

  • Flexibility to work during optimal hours for individual schedules and locations. No need to sync rigidly.
  • People can take time to research and provide higher quality responses rather than quick reactions.
  • Written asynchronous updates on project management platforms provide transparency for the whole team.
  • Meeting recordings allow absent members to catch up without disrupting their own workflows.

With the right collaboration tools and meeting strategies, businesses can build successful asynchronous global teams, enhance work-life balance for employees, and reap the benefits of expanded talent pools and geographic coverage.


Understanding Employment Laws in Various Countries

When hiring employees in foreign countries, it is crucial for US companies to have a strong understanding of local employment laws and regulations. Each country has its own complex legal framework surrounding hiring, payroll, benefits, termination policies and more. For example, Employment laws in Mexico outline strict guidelines on maximum work hours, mandatory time off, overtime pay, and other employee rights.

To ensure full compliance, companies should partner with a professional employer organization (PEO) or employer of record (EOR). These services act as the legal employer abroad, handling compliance with local laws. Key benefits include:

  • Managing in-country payroll, taxes and benefits
  • Guidance on employment contracts
  • Legal compliance across hiring, onboarding and termination
  • Access to global HR platforms and tools

Rather than navigating complex foreign regulations alone, PEOs and EORs enable companies to expand into global markets faster and more securely.

The Role of Professional Employer Organizations (PEO)

As US companies hire more remote teams abroad, Professional Employer Organizations (PEOs) play a crucial role in managing legal and HR complexities. PEO services typically include:

  • Acting as the legal employer to handle payroll, taxes, benefits and compliance under local laws
  • Providing HR services like background checks, onboarding and terminations
  • Giving access to HR technology for time tracking, expenses and performance management
  • Ensuring proper employee classification to avoid mislabeling contractors
  • Offering consulting on global compensation, job architecture and HR policies

In short, PEOs become an extension of a company's HR department. They enable businesses to tap global talent faster while offloading the burdensome tasks of international hiring. This simplifies expansion so companies can focus on their core operations.

Avoiding Misclassification: Employees vs Contractors

When hiring international team members, companies must take care to properly classify workers as employees or independent contractors. Misclassifying employees as contractors carries serious fines and legal risks.

To avoid misclassification when hiring abroad:

  • Consult local regulations on proper classification
  • Work with PEOs to determine correct status as a contractor or employee based on level of control
  • Put formal policies in place to validate contractor classifications
  • Continuously evaluate classifications as roles change over time

Overall, the complexity of international hiring makes working with an expert PEO or HR advisor essential. They provide guidance on local regulations, proper worker classification and HR best practices - enabling compliant contractor and employment relationships abroad.

Global Payroll and Compensation Strategies

What is Global Payroll? An Overview

Global payroll refers to the process of paying employees who work in different countries around the world. For companies hiring staff internationally, setting up global payroll can be complex, but is a necessary step to remain compliant across borders.

Some key things to know about global payroll include:

  • Taxation: Each country has its own tax laws that must be followed when paying international employees. Things like income tax, social security, and health insurance rules differ.
  • Compliance: There are various compliance rules around compensation, taxation, labor laws, and more that companies must adhere to. This includes filings like W-2s in the US.
  • Currency and Payments: Paying international employees requires setting up payments in the appropriate currency and method per country. This often means multiple bank accounts and money transfers.
  • Vendor Management: Most companies work with global payroll vendors to handle much of the complex taxation, compliance, and payment setup for international employees.

Managing global payroll well is crucial for any business hiring internationally to stay legal and competitive.

How to Calculate Compensation for Remote Employees

Deciding how much to pay remote employees around the world can be a challenge. Here are some tips:

  • Research the cost of living and average salaries for their role in their geographic location. Adjust compensation to match the local market rates.
  • Account for variables like experience level, skills, education, and the role's seniority when calibrating level-appropriate pay.
  • Be mindful of fluctuating currency exchange rates when setting pay in USD or other currencies. Regularly reassess that set salaries still align to local rates.
  • Consider the total benefits package - things like health insurance, retirement savings plans, bonuses, and equity. Ensure the entire compensation offer is fair.
  • Weigh cost of living differences - for example, paying a developer in Vietnam versus Switzerland. Salaries should align to local rates.
  • Leverage online salary benchmarking tools like Payscale,, Glassdoor, and more to compare to market data.

Keeping these compensation calculation tips in mind will help structure global payroll that is locally competitive and fair across borders.

Ensuring Tax and Compliance Across Borders

Staying compliant with the array of tax laws and regulations when paying international employees is crucial but complex across different countries. Here are some compliance tips:

  • Work with a global payroll provider or HR platform that handles compliance, filings, and required documentation across borders.
  • Understand tax treaty agreements between countries that define which taxes apply to foreign workers to avoid double taxation.
  • Set up local entity registration and worker contracts in each country following national employment compliance rules.
  • Use cross-border payments tools from banks or services like Wise that efficiently handle currency conversions and international money transfers while maintaining compliance.
  • Consult international legal and tax specialists to ensure compensation packages and employment terms adhere to regulations.

Keeping up with the myriad of compliance rules globally requires expertise and robust systems. But non-compliance risks serious fines or legal issues for companies expanding internationally.

Setting Up a Global Infrastructure for Hiring

Building a Global Hiring Process

When building a hiring process for international candidates, it's important to consider key factors like cultural differences, language barriers, and legal compliance across borders. Here are some best practices:

  • Clearly define the roles and responsibilities for the position, including expected skills, experience levels, and language proficiency. Provide detailed job descriptions.
  • Use international job boards and leverage local connections and talent networks to source qualified candidates abroad.
  • Ensure your employment applications and screening practices comply with laws in the countries you are hiring from. Seek guidance from local legal counsel if needed.
  • Conduct interviews over video calls and assess communication skills and cultural fit, in addition to qualifications. Provide translators if needed.
  • Before extending formal offers, verify work eligibility and ability to comply with tax, payroll, and labor regulations when hiring foreign nationals.
  • Onboard international hires with customized support focused on cultural assimilation, language training if needed, and clear communication of company policies.

By tailoring your hiring process for global talent, you access a wider talent pool and build more diverse, multicultural teams.

International Contractor Management Platforms

Using dedicated platforms designed for international contractor management can streamline processes like:

  • Onboarding: Handles background verification, contracting, compliance checks to safely onboard contractors globally.
  • Payments: Enables payment in 120+ currencies to 190+ countries through a simple, automated payroll solution.
  • Compliance: Includes in-platform tax calculations, document management, and guaranteed compliance across 60+ countries.
  • Administration: Provides consolidated control and visibility over global contractor network from one centralized dashboard.

Some popular platforms include Deel, Oyster, Remote, Papaya Global, and Malt. Leveraging these can simplify management of international contractors by putting multiple complex processes on easy-to-use, automated platforms tailored for global employment.

Converting Contractors to Full-Time Employees

Reasons companies may want to convert international contractors to employees include:

  • Greater control and ownership over the worker's output, schedule, role growth etc when they are your direct employee.
  • Reduced contractor turnover since employees tend to demonstrate longer tenure if happy in their jobs.
  • Easier talent retention via employee-focused perks like equity incentives, bonuses, retirement matching etc.
  • Enhanced loyalty and motivation fostered by full integration of the worker into company culture.
  • Simplified compliance - employee regulations tend to be easier to manage versus complex contractor laws.

When converting a contractor to an employee, key considerations involve modifying compensation structure, updating agreements to employment contracts, and formally onboarding them according to employee policies.

With the right global HR platform, the conversion process can be greatly simplified for your international candidates.

Effective Onboarding and Integration

Onboarding International Contractors with Precision

Onboarding international contractors requires careful planning and coordination across teams. Here are some best practices:

  • Provide a welcome packet covering key policies, procedures, tools, and culture norms. Translate to the contractor's native language if needed.
  • Schedule a kickoff video call to personally welcome them, answer questions, and introduce them to their direct manager and relevant team members.
  • Set up the contractor with equipment, access to systems/tools, and project details. Provide necessary training and documentation.
  • Check-in frequently at first to ensure a smooth transition. Be available to answer questions and address any issues promptly.
  • Clarify expectations around work hours, availability, deadlines, communication norms to account for time zone differences.
  • Encourage participation in team activities and meetings to build connections. Be mindful of scheduling conflicts.

Careful onboarding sets up international contractors for success and aligns the engagement right from the start.

Managing Employment Probation Periods for a Global Team

Many countries have mandatory employment probationary periods for new hires. Here's how to effectively manage them:

  • Research and comply with employment laws regarding length of probation periods for each country.
  • Set clear goals and evaluation criteria for the probation period during onboarding.
  • Schedule regular check-ins for feedback in both directions during the probation.
  • Document performance issues objectively if any. Provide support to resolve them.
  • Assess suitability for continued employment and confirm outcome in writing prior to probation end.
  • Handle terminations sensitively and in alignment with local regulations if needed.

When managed well, probation periods allow both parties to determine fit and continue the employment relationship with confidence.

How to Handle International Employee Relocation

Relocating international employees requires significant legal and logistical coordination:

  • Research visa/work permit requirements for employee's desired location. Engage an immigration law firm for guidance.
  • Cover relocation costs per company policy or negotiation. Budget for family needs too.
  • Arrange temporary housing and recommend areas suitable for the employee's lifestyle.
  • Provide cultural training, language classes, and connections to local groups to ease the transition.
  • Set up payroll, benefits, tax payments per regulations in the new location. Update contracts accordingly.
  • Consult an accountant and lawyer to ensure compliance with local employment, tax and payroll regulations.

With proper planning, international relocations can be mutually beneficial for the company and employee.

Visa Sponsorship and Immigration

How to Sponsor an Employee for a Work Visa

Sponsoring an employee for a work visa allows companies to hire qualified foreign talent when there is a shortage of US workers. Here are key steps:

  • Determine which visa type is suitable based on factors like job requirements, employee's nationality, length of stay etc. Popular options are H-1B for specialty occupations and TN for NAFTA professionals.
  • File a Labor Condition Application (LCA) with the Department of Labor to ensure fair wages and working conditions for the sponsored employee.
  • Submit a visa petition with USCIS containing documents like employment details, educational credentials, licensures and the approved LCA.
  • If approved, the employee can schedule a visa interview appointment at the US consulate in their home country.
  • The consular officer makes the final visa determination. Once approved, the employee can enter the US on the sponsored work visa.

The LCA is a mandatory step for employers wanting to hire foreign professionals under certain visa types like H-1B. Key aspects:

  • The LCA certifies to the Department of Labor that hiring the foreign worker will not adversely affect wages/working conditions of similarly employed US workers.
  • It captures details like work location, wage rate, working conditions etc. which must match the actual job later.
  • LCA processing times are typically 5-7 business days. It must be certified before submitting the actual visa petition.
  • After certification, the LCA must be posted at the work site for 10 days for employee notice purposes.
  • Ensuring accuracy on the LCA is crucial - errors can lead to delays/denials of the downstream visa petition.

Filing the Prevailing Wage Request and Other Certifications

Some key filings needed to hire foreign talent:

  • Prevailing Wage Request: Determines the minimum required wage for the sponsored job to align with industry standards. It's submitted to the Department of Labor as part of the PERM process.
  • PERM Application: The Program Electronic Review Management (PERM) labor certification confirms there are no qualified US applicants available for the job.
  • Form 9089: Key details on the job requirements, recruitment efforts and candidate qualifications must be accurately captured on this form.
  • Form ETA-9035: This labor condition application for nonimmigrant workers contains assurances around wages and working conditions for certain visa types.

Navigating these filings can be complex, so engaging qualified immigration counsel is highly recommended.

Key Takeaways: Harnessing the Power of a Global Workforce

This concluding section summarizes the key benefits and considerations for US companies looking to hire employees from abroad.

Advantages of a Global Workforce

Expanding your talent pool globally can provide significant advantages, including:

  • Enhanced diversity: Hiring from abroad gives access to underrepresented groups, improving creativity and problem-solving. Diverse teams see profits grow 19% faster on average.
  • Specialized skills: Certain skills may be easier to find in specific global regions. Accounting and finance talent in South America offers cost savings and US GAAP experience.
  • Global expansion: International employees enable expanding into new global markets, boosting growth.

Strategic Insights for International Hiring

When hiring abroad, considerations include:

  • Legal compliance: Understand tax, employment laws, compensation norms per country. Using an Employer of Record simplifies compliance.
  • Onboarding & integration: Clear communication, cultural training, and asynchronous schedules aid integration. Digital contractor management platforms help organize workflows.
  • Compensation: Benchmark pay against local norms while being competitive globally. Convert salaries to USD for internal parity.

Next Steps for Companies Seeking Global Expansion

Ready to hire globally? Key steps include:

  • Research best talent markets for your needs and compliant hiring options.
  • Consult experts like staffing agencies to handle recruitment, legal compliance, onboarding, payroll and benefits.
  • Start small by hiring 1-2 contractors in promising talent markets, then scale from there.

With the right support, global hiring can give a strategic advantage. The world awaits your business!

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