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Employing non-U.S. citizens in your California business

As a California business owner or manager, you may encounter a time when you need someone with a particular expertise. Your search for the right person may lead you outside the United States, and you need to know whether you can bring that individual into the country to work.

Before that individual may enter the country to work for you, you should make sure that he or she enters and remains in the country legally. Following the requirements of the Immigration and Nationality Act could accomplish this goal.

Specialty occupations

You may employ certain non-immigrants who work in specialty occupations such as the following:

  • Teachers
  • Engineers
  • Computer programmers
  • Physical therapists
  • Medical doctors

More often than not, those who would qualify must have a bachelor's degree or better in the field of employment.

Types of visas available

You may seek the following non-immigrant visas for those in the identified specialty occupations:

  • H-1B1 for those from Singapore and Chile
  • E-3 for those from Australia
  • H-1B for all others

Other work visas exist, but these apply to specialty occupations and some fashion models.

General information you must disclose in visa applications

You, as the employer, must file certain paperwork that must verify and include the following regarding the worker or workers:

  • Pay and benefits
  • Inform appropriate parties
  • Provide equal working conditions
  • No future or ongoing lockout or strike

You may need to meet other requirements under the INA depending on your situation. The notice requirement must adhere to the provisions of the act for compliance. Fulfilling this requirement may require some research and investigation to make sure that you don't inadvertently violate it.

You must also use caution not to violate the rights of the non-immigrant employee. The INA also includes certain record keeping requirements to which you must adhere. Any violations of the act may mean the assessment of hefty fines between $1,000 and $35,000 for each one. Under the act, other penalties may apply such as making back payments to affected employees. You would have 15 days to request a hearing regarding any alleged violations.

It may be possible to avoid any violations and their respective penalties. Of course, the best course of action would include not violating the INA at all. The process of bringing non-U.S. citizens into the country can cause a great deal of frustration and consternation. Any misstep could cause a violation of the act or keep your prospective employee from entering the country. It may help to obtain the assistance of a California immigration attorney to increase the chances of a smooth process.

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