We may earn money when you click on links to our partners. Advertiser Disclosure

How To Hire International Employees in 5 Steps

Streamline the global talent acquisition process

Updated: December 19, 2023

As the world becomes more interconnected, it’s becoming increasingly common for businesses to hire employees from different countries. Hiring international employees can bring a wealth of benefits to your organization, including access to new markets, diverse perspectives, and unique skill sets.

But before you start recruiting, it’s important to understand the legal, cultural, and logistical considerations involved in hiring international employees. In this guide, we’ll walk you through the process of hiring international employees in the steps below.

Step 1: Identify your business needs & write a job description

Before hiring someone from another country, it’s important to figure out what kind of employees your business needs. What roles do you need to fill? What skills and experience do those roles require? Will you be hiring people to work full-time, part-time, or for a specific project? Understanding your employment needs will help guide you in finding the right candidates for your organization.

When you determine which position you want to fill, you’ll need to create a job description that explains the role and the qualifications needed. This is a critical step because it will guide the entire hiring process. By defining the job requirements and qualifications clearly, you can attract the right people and evaluate candidates based on the skills and experience needed for the job.

Think about the countries or regions where you want to find potential job candidates. Consider factors like culture, language, and visa requirements for each place. Be sure to include important details about the location of the job and any language requirements so that candidates know what they’re applying for and whether or not they qualify. This information also helps ensure candidates can get the appropriate visa classification for their work permit.

And remember – when it comes to writing great job descriptions, you don’t have to start from scratch. Many hiring and HR platforms like BambooHR and Workable offer job description templates that can help get you started.

Step 2: Post the job & advertise the position

When you post the open position, it’s important to make sure that international applicants will see it. Job sites like LinkedIn, Indeed, and ZipRecruiter serve international audiences and allow U.S. companies to post jobs for international hires. You can also work with international recruitment agencies or contact local embassies to find more candidates.

If you’re hiring contractors or project-based workers, sites like UpWork and Fiverr are great for sourcing international candidates. These sites make it easy to filter based on location and allow you to pay international contractors directly through the platform.

These are just a few examples of job sites that can help you find the best people for the job in the area where the job is located. Promoting open positions on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter can also help you share the job posting with candidates in your target markets.

team of women using video conference call for job interview

Step 3: Review applications & conduct interviews

Next comes reviewing resumes and applications, interviewing top candidates, and choosing the best one for the job. It’s very important to look carefully at each person’s qualifications, skills, and experience so you can make the best decision for your company.

To help you keep track of all the resumes and applications, you can utilize an applicant tracking system (ATS). These systems can help you manage and evaluate a lot of applications quickly and easily. Here are some good ATS choices you can use to keep track of your candidates:

When you’re interviewing candidates, it’s important to use good techniques to make sure you understand their skills, experience, and how well they would fit in with your team. This is especially important if the person is from another country, because they might have different customs or speak a different language. Here are some additional things to consider to ensure the interview process goes smoothly:

  • Choosing the right platform: Choose the best platform for the interview based on the candidate’s location and technology access. Common options include Zoom, Skype, or Google Meet.
  • Ensuring accessibility: Make sure the interview platform works for all candidates, no matter where they are or how good their internet is. Consider offering alternative options like phone interviews if needed.
  • Scheduling appropriately: Consider the time zone differences when scheduling the interview. Be flexible and offer several options to fit the candidate’s schedule.
  • Communicating effectively: Clearly explain the interview details, including the platform, time, and any technical requirements. Give support and instructions to make sure candidates are comfortable using the platform.
  • Planning for language barriers: If there are language barriers, consider using a professional interpreter or language translation software. Make sure the interpreter knows the important terms and concepts related to the job.

When hiring an employee from another country to work in the United States, it’s important to make sure they are allowed to work here legally. This means you’ll need to figure out which type of visa they need and submit the application to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) if you’re planning on have the employee relocate. You also need to make sure they can communicate well in English or whatever language your team uses and think about how well they would fit in with your team’s culture.

If you can consider all of these things carefully, you’ll be able to find the best person for the job and follow the law.

Step 4: Make a job offer

When you find the perfect candidate for the job, it’s time to make a formal job offer. Typically, it’s best to make a soft offer by calling the candidate, sharing the good news, and discussing any final details, such as start date and salary. However, if you are hiring an overseas employee, it may not be practical to make a call. In such cases, you should be prepared for some negotiation, especially on salary, during the formal offer stage.

When drafting the offer letter, be sure to include key details, such as the job title, start date, benefits, salary, and a comprehensive job description. You should also give the candidate a timeline of around one week to sign and return the letter to you. Since the person you’re hiring lives in another country, using secure online signature software can make the process efficient and smooth. You can upload the offer letter to the software and send it to the chosen candidate. Once they sign and return the letter, you can start the onboarding process.

handshake hiring job interview

Step 5: Arrange for the employee to enter the U.S.

The visa application process can be difficult and take a long time, so it’s best to start as early as possible to avoid any delays. Some types of visas have limits on how many can be given out each year, so it’s important to know about these limits and plan accordingly.

You’ll also need to make sure that the employee meets the requirements for the visa they’re applying for. This can depend on what type of visa it is and might include having certain skills or education.

It’s very important to get help from someone who knows about the visa process, like an immigration lawyer or a visa expert. They can help you navigate the complicated process and make sure you have all the right documents so that your employee has the best chance of getting their visa approved.

Relocating an employee to a new country can be a challenging and stressful experience. This can be particularly difficult for the new employee, and it’s important for employers to be supportive and listen to their needs. By doing so, the relocation can be successful and less overwhelming.

To make sure the relocation goes smoothly, it’s important to plan ahead and consider the logistics of the employee’s arrival and transition. This may include

  • helping the employee with transportation to their new country
  • finding temporary housing
  • moving their household items
  • assisting with finding schools and employment for family members

If the employee will be working remotely from abroad, it’s essential to ensure they have the necessary equipment and resources to perform their job effectively.

On top of logistical considerations, it’s also important to properly onboard the employee and help them integrate into the company culture. This can include providing training on company policies and procedures, introducing them to their colleagues, and setting clear expectations for communication and collaboration.

Legal & Operational Considerations

It’s important to be aware of any potential compliance issues that may arise from hiring international workers. Some of the most common post-hire situations to be aware of are addressed below.

Paying taxes is a necessary part of running a small business, even if people don’t like it. If you hire someone from another country, you still need to follow tax rules. Not following these rules can result in expensive fines and hurt your business’s finances.

If you hire someone from another country who will work outside of the United States, they need to give you a form called IRS Form W-8BEN. This form helps you withhold the right amount of taxes from their pay. If the money they get comes from inside the United States, they might have to pay up to 30% of it in taxes. But this form can tell you if there are any exceptions to that rule before you pay them.

If your employee is a US citizen living outside the country, you can add them to your regular payroll without any extra paperwork.

If you hire an independent contractor from another country, they need to give you a different form called IRS Form W-8BEN-E. This form is complex and they need to fill it out before you pay them.

It’s important to be clear about whether an international worker is an employee of your company or a contractor. If you classify an employee as a contractor, it can cause legal and financial problems. Employers can get in trouble for not withholding taxes or giving benefits to eligible employees. They can also be held responsible for any mistakes made by misclassified workers. Employers can be fined for not following federal and state employment laws.

In countries where workers are protected by strong laws, an employer might have to pay back vacation and holiday pay, mandatory benefits, severance or notice pay, government fines, and other penalties specific to that country if they misclassify an employee.

In the event that your company plans on hiring a substantial number of workers or wishes to enter a new market and have long-term and ongoing operations in that country then setting up a foreign entity should be considered. For only a few employees, or for very short stays, consider working with an international payroll and compliance company like Deel or Papaya Global.

Each country has its own formation requirements, banking regulations, corporate taxes, and operational expenses that should be considered before deciding on opening a branch, affiliate, or subsidiary in that country. It is recommended that you speak with a qualified attorney to assist with the process.

As an employer, you are responsible for ensuring that your employees have the necessary authorization to work in the U.S. If you knowingly hire or continue to employ a foreign worker who is not authorized to work, you may face penalties, fines, and even criminal charges. Staying ahead of expiration dates and understanding when to submit extension requests can help you avoid a leave of absence for that employee, avoidable costs associated with the visa renewal, or stress for the employee.

Similarly, an employee who fails to maintain their immigration status can face removal from the U.S., which can impact business operations. Employers may need to find replacements quickly, which can be difficult and costly. Employers invest time, money, and resources in hiring and training employees, and losing them due to immigration issues can result in significant losses.

Pros & Cons of Hiring International Employees

  • Get access to a wider talent pool
  • Diversity enhances innovation and new ideas
  • Access to new international markets
  • Cut costs where foreign exchange rates are lower
  • Having a local entity can be expensive
  • Unfamiliar employment law and regulations
  • International payroll and compliance can be troublesome

Hiring International Employees – Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Yes, U.S. companies can hire foreign workers, but they need to follow specific procedures and comply with the requirements of U.S. immigration laws. Depending on the type of visa the foreign worker requires, the company may need to obtain a certification from the Department of Labor or submit a petition to USCIS.

Hiring international employees can provide several benefits to U.S. companies, such as bringing diverse perspectives, expertise, and knowledge of foreign markets. In some cases, it may be difficult to find qualified candidates with specific skills or experience in the domestic market, and hiring international employees can help fill those gaps.

The cost of sponsoring an immigrant worker varies depending on the type of visa and the specific requirements of the sponsoring employer. Generally, employers need to pay fees for visa application processing, labor certification, and attorney fees, among other expenses. The fees can range from a few hundred dollars to thousands of dollars, depending on the type of visa and the complexity of the case.

Yes, but only if the employee will work remotely from another country. If the intention is to hire the employee to work in the U.S. then employers must obtain the appropriate visa for them. The U.S. immigration laws require foreign workers to have valid visas that authorize them to work in the U.S. Failure to comply with these requirements can result in penalties for both the employer and the foreign worker.

The Bottom Line

In today’s world, technology is making it easier for people from different countries to work together. Many businesses are hiring employees from other countries, which can be a great thing for the organization. However, if you don’t follow the proper steps when hiring international employees, or if you don’t consider the legal and compliance issues that come with it, it could end up costing you a lot of money.

If you want to hire international employees, it’s important to have a clear plan in place and make sure you have access to the right resources to make the process easier for you and your new employees. This will help ensure a smooth transition and a successful working relationship.