How to Hire a Foreign Employee as an SME

There has never been another point in history where more people around the world have had today’s access to education and in-demand job skills. With a growing number of nations industrializing there are many skills your business can find abroad that just aren’t available if you only choose from a local market.

Read our previous blog on why you should consider hiring a foreign employee here.

However, despite the numerous benefits of foreign employees, it’s tough hiring a foreign worker for companies in most developed countries today. Governments increasingly push organizations to seek employees from their own population rather than draw from the wealth of talent that can be found around the world. With all the paperwork and legal hurdles to jump through, it can seem like only large mega-corporations can hire the best talent from around the world.

But this may be changing with the advent of remote work. Organizations need to get creative if they want to tap into the expanding network of global talent. Here’s what you need to know about hiring foreign employees today.


How to hire a full-time foreign employee locally

The normal hiring process for bringing a full-time foreign employee into a developed country like the US today is complicated, to say the least.

While in a bygone era you needed little more than the “American Dream” to get settled and working, a company today must prove that any foreigner they bring in is an “expert” in their field.

The process your organization will have to follow is usually something like this:

  1. Find an employee – Generally, the easiest way to do this would be through US-based universities. Foreigner students usually get one year after study where they can get a job or internship. You can use this time to test them out. Otherwise, you’ll have to look abroad.
  2. Assess your employee – Test your employee on the job with an internship. If they’re abroad when you find them, you may want to try hiring interns through a virtual internship to test out their skills before you begin the paperwork to bring them in.
  3. Create a case for your employee – Immigration departments usually require an extensive amount of paperwork proving that an employee meets the requirements of “expert in their field”. In the US it’s estimated the average hiring time for an H-1B professional visa is 275 days or approximately 9 months.
  4. Help get them set up and legal – A foreign employee is going to need to make sure they file their taxes and take care of other obligations of residence in their new country otherwise they may face fines or get kicked out. They will want to begin applying for a residence permit as well.
  5. Stay ahead of new regulations – Who is legally allowed to work in other countries changes slightly almost every year. It is your company’s responsibility to make sure you meet them.

But what if you don’t have the time or resources for all of that? Especially if you run an SME, you need to do things quickly and often on a shoestring budget. Here are some other solutions for tapping global talent today:


You can hire foreign employees as contractors

The solution for many smaller companies today wanting to hire foreign employees is hiring them as contractors. As a contractor, they do not technically work for your company and in countries like the US, they do not receive the benefits of a full employee. However, you’ll need to check local regulations regarding hiring contractors as they can vary drastically from country to country.

A contractor’s main benefit is it puts the pressures of paperwork and work legality on your employee or the contracting agency that brings them in. That means you won’t have to make a large time commitment to keep your employee legal in your country.

That said, the tradeoff is that you will usually need to offer a contracted employee more money than a normal employee. However, this can be avoided if you hire your employee as a contractor while they remain in another country.

But today your business may find it much more beneficial to hire employees as remote workers.


Hiring foreign employees as remote workers

What many companies today don’t know is that in countries like the US, it’s technically legal to hire employees abroad for your organization without all the paperwork if they stay abroad. 

Dubbed “outsourcing”, this sort of work is no longer limited to low-paying repetitive tasks like call centers. With the rise of remote communication and work a growing number of companies are hiring skilled foreign employees, working with them, and paying them from abroad.

A foreign employee working remotely offers many of the benefits including:

  • More flexible payment options (especially if in a cheaper country)
  • Giving your organization a face abroad. This is very beneficial if you have a customer-facing business in the country where you hire a foreign employee. Even for B2B businesses, it can be easier to show up at conventions and trade shows with a local representative.
  • Laying the groundwork for a satellite office abroad. Want to expand your business abroad? A foreign hire with the local lay of the land can be a great opportunity to test the waters for opening up shop abroad.
  • They don’t have to worry about US taxes and social security. As long as they remain within a country outside of the US, foreign employees aren’t expected to pay taxes on their salary or make deductions for social security. This eases the burden on you as an employer.

So what’s the best way to find foreign workers abroad for your organization?


Use a remote internship to find the perfect employee abroad

One of the best ways to access and assess talented foreign workers abroad is through a virtual internship program.

A remote internship lets you flexibly try out a foreign employee for a position without the paperwork and the commitment. That goes both ways. Through a virtual internship you can:

Assess skill level without hiring and spending on transportation, a full-time salary, or visa work.

  • Work flexibly around your schedule and your intern’s schedule.
  • Experiment with employment in a new region.

If you like your remote intern, then you can easily take the next steps of hiring them if need be. And if not, you can continue your search without any extra time or cost. Your interns get the added benefit of not needing to move and adapt to a new host culture while trying out your company too,

At Virtual Internships, we are an organization dedicated to helping organizations like yours find the best talent around the world. And we partner with some of the top universities and intern networks around the world to do it. We want to help you take the next step in bringing in foreign talent to your organization at no cost to you.

Submit your email on our website today and let’s talk about how you can set up a virtual internship tomorrow.

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