Should Your Company Hire a Foreign Employee? The Pros and Cons


As of 2020, 59 percent of Silicon Valley’s workforce was foreign-born.

In a country where hiring foreign workers is increasingly difficult, that number makes many Americans outraged. Where are the local workers for these high-paying tech jobs? Couldn’t one of them do just as well as a foreign worker?

But the truth of the matter is there aren’t enough US-born workers who can fill the job description of many of these positions. Even with stricter immigration laws built to encourage companies to hire local employees, a large number of tech positions in Silicon Valley have remained vacant.

Even in areas outside of tech, the skills and affordability of foreign workers are becoming increasingly valuable to businesses, particularly startups and SMEs.

If you’re wondering whether or not you should consider hiring a foreign employee these are some things your business may want to think about today.


Why hire a foreign employee?

1. A wider range of skills

Western nations like the US are no longer the nations with the most college graduates. They actually lag well behind nations like India and China by sheer numbers. It’s a big world out there. If you limit your hiring to only people within your country then you miss out on an increasingly skilled workforce around the world.

Foreign employees can bring in a range of new skills and perspectives to your business that you may have never considered before. Many industries today have developed differently abroad and a foreign employee may have insights that your organization hasn’t considered.

For example, even though England invented e-commerce and much of its early development was in the west, it has undergone most of its recent development in fast-growing Asian economies. Now the west takes cues from countries like China to get ahead of the curve at home. Employees who have experience in Asian e-commerce may be very valuable to countries like the US or England today.

2. Affordability

In the US, the median weekly earnings of foreign-born full-time wage and salary workers were 88.5 percent of native-born workers. Compared to western employees, foreign workers are willing to work for considerably less. While this is by no means a reason for an organization to purposely try to underpay their workers, it does open up a lot of possibilities in the realm of remote work. Especially if foreign employees are based in a country that is considerably cheaper.

3. Increased international exposure

Speaking of remote work, a foreign worker can be the first step for your business moving into a new country. This can be a great move for growth-oriented companies with an international market in mind:

  • Your customers will take you more seriously if you have a local base. 
  • It can be helpful if your products require any after-sales service.
  • You can benefit from a regional partner’s local knowledge and reputation.
  • Setting up an international office can help extend intellectual property rights and registrations into other markets.
  • It’s easier to hire and pay foreign employees through a local branch.


Why not hire a foreign employee?

1. Language/cultural barriers

It can be difficult for an employee to adjust to a local office, especially if they have to move to a different country away from their friends and family. Foreign workers without a support system can easily become isolated and it may begin to negatively impact their work. In fact, countries like Singapore have even begun pushing to make government-mandated programs for preparing foreign domestic workers for life in the country.

If you hire a foreign employee you should be prepared to reach out. Give them resources to learn the local language. Make sure they feel included at company events too.

2. Difficulties when assessing skill level

When you hire employees from your own country, you can tell a lot about competency just by briefly meeting with them and viewing their resume. You probably can easily verify what school they attended and any previous work experience they’ve had with a quick phone call.

A foreign worker may hold a degree from a university with very different standards than one in your home country. And if a foreign employee fakes work experience on their resume it could be difficult to verify. Add on top that you may not meet with them in person until day one on the job and you have a lot of uncertainty regarding their ability to perform.

3. It’s hard to hire a foreign worker

In many developed countries, it is becoming increasingly difficult to hire foreign workers. Especially in the wake of COVID, governments feel an obligation to their local workforce and often make it difficult for you to hire foreign workers for jobs even if they are better qualified.

When hiring, you’ll need to keep track of which visa your employees need to be on and likely consult an agency to make sure your employee fills out all the right paperwork on time. There can be a lot of headaches for this. For example, immigrants to the US have five different visa types to choose from based on very specific employment situations. A full green card to the US runs on a lottery system where qualified individuals only have a 30% chance of being selected every year.

  • U.S. Green Card Holder
  • Exchange Visitor Visa 
  • Temporary Work Visas (Non-Agricultural)
  • Temporary Worker Visas (Skilled Workers)
  • Seasonal Agricultural Worker Visas

While there are many difficulties in hiring a foreign worker, these days you may have more options than organizations in the past. Today remote work has provided a great opportunity to dip your toes into foreign talent without the need to hire and transport a foreign national all the way to your country.


Virtual Internships are a better way to hire a foreign worker today

With a virtual internship, you can flexibly hire a foreign intern for a position without the paperwork and the commitment. That goes both ways. A virtual intern lets you:

  • Assess skill level without hiring and spending on transportation, a full-time salary, or visa work.
  • Work flexibly around your 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 dedicated to helping organizations find the best talent around the world. 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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