Avoid These 5 Costly Mistakes When Sponsoring a Foreign Worker

Shilpa Malik

Immigration Lawyer & Managing Attorney at SGM Law Group, PLLC
Shilpa is the lead attorney at the Law offices of Shilpa Malik. She has extensive experience and a great reputation for offering top-notch representation in business and employment-based immigration. She has successfully handled complex H1B Visa, L-1 Visa, and Employment Green Card cases in South Florida, NYC and nationwide.

As a small business owner, you know that taking risks is simply a hazard of the job. Being an entrepreneur is about facing challenges and putting a lot on the line for your business to succeed.

Still, if there was a way to leave as little to chance as possible, wouldn’t you take it?

According to a report from the Department of Homeland Security, almost 3 million green cards were issued between 2013 and 2015. Seeing as how work visas make up a large portion of that number, it’s safe to say that there is a good deal of foreign nationals living and working in the U.S.

One way that many business owners gain a hard-working and loyal employee is to sponsor a foreign national for their green card through employment.

However, too many fail to get help when going through this process and find themselves spending a lot more time and money than they had planned. If you are in the process of or thinking about sponsoring a foreign worker for their green card, take a look at these easy ways to sabotage the process.

Mistake #5: Not Paying the Prevailing Wage

One of the first steps to most employment-based green cards is the PERM Labor Certification. Because it’s so important and because so many business owners fail at this step, I’m dedicating the first three mistakes to the PERM.

The PERM is a way for the Department of Labor (DOL) to be sure that your foreign worker is not taking a job away from a qualified U.S. worker. To meet their expectations, you need to spend about two months running job ads with the intention of recruiting a qualified candidate.

When starting the PERM process, first find out how much you need to pay your foreign worker. The National Prevailing Wage Center handles this part. They take the job title and description and compare it to other similar jobs in your geographical area to determine the prevailing wage that your worker needs to be paid.

Here’s where employers drop the ball.

The common mistake is to either ignore the prevailing wage or to avoid advertising the wage when you post ads for the job. This is a surefire way to have your PERM denied, costing you weeks of work. To avoid this, make sure that the wage is clearly displayed and that you fully intend to pay your worker at least that much for their services.

Mistake #4: Skimping on the Recruitment Process

This is where some business owners try to be sneaky.

Obviously, if the goal is to hire the foreign worker, then running a job campaign would be counterintuitive, right? So, wouldn’t it be best to delete résumés, ignore leads, and reject qualified candidates so that the foreign worker wouldn’t have any competition?

Of course not! The DOL will see right through this and issue an audit for your case—if they don’t deny it outright. Sometimes, they might even have you redo your recruitment process under their direct supervision, which adds to the amount of time it takes.

I have seen so many cases where an employer tries to lie about the number and quality of candidates who apply. It almost always ends in disaster or at least an unwanted headache.

The best way to avoid this mistake is to be honest in your recruitment report. However, this doesn’t mean that you have to throw your foreign worker under the bus and hire the first U.S. candidate you meet. Rather than fudge the numbers, make an effort to explain to the DOL why each candidate was not qualified for the position.

Mistake #3: Waiting Too Long

You’re busy, I know.

Small business owners are among the busiest people I have ever met. So naturally, some things end up getting swept under the rug for a while other things take priority.

But it’s important that you don’t let this happen to your PERM. If you do manage to get one approved, you will have 180 days or six months to act on it and take the next step in the sponsoring process.

If you let this time pass without filing the green card petition, your PERM expires and you will have to go through the recruitment process all over again. Trust me, you don’t want to have to do that.

Obviously, you can avoid this error by moving forward and filing the green card petition as soon as possible. This ensures that you take full advantage of the time and effort you’ve invested in your foreign worker.

Mistake #2: Filing the Wrong Fees to the Wrong Places

This one may seem self-explanatory, but you might be surprised at how easy it is to make a mistake when sending off the fees and documents at the end of the long process of immigration.

The United States Citizen and Immigration Services has hundreds of forms in their archives, each one requiring a different fee. It’s always important to take some time and read up on which forms are necessary, which ones have fees, how much those fees currently are, where to mail them, and how the payments should be made.

I keep calling immigration a process because it is one. It is a series of important steps that fall apart if just one step is ignored or skipped. Because of this, you need to be well-versed in this process if you want to sponsor a foreign worker for your business.

However, the best way to steer clear of all these pitfalls is to avoid making the biggest mistake any business owner can make when sponsoring someone for a green card.

Mistake #1: Not Getting Help

Ultimately, it comes down to a decision. For one, you can sit down, try to become an overnight expert in immigration law, and risk all of your time and money on the hope that you’ve made the right choices.

On the other hand, you can place the entire case in the capable hands of an immigration attorney. Avoiding every mistake I mentioned above is as easy as calling an expert. Almost all cases that receive audits, supervisions, and rejections are made by people who tried to sponsor an employee by themselves.

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In the end, the main mistakes that business owners make when sponsoring a foreign worker are not paying attention to details, engaging in shady business practices, and trying to do everything alone. If you avoid these common errors, you may find that sponsoring foreign workers is the key to success in your industry.

Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Shilpa Malik

Immigration Lawyer & Managing Attorney at SGM Law Group, PLLC
Shilpa is the lead attorney at the Law offices of Shilpa Malik. She has extensive experience and a great reputation for offering top-notch representation in business and employment-based immigration. She has successfully handled complex H1B Visa, L-1 Visa, and Employment Green Card cases in South Florida, NYC and nationwide.

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