Anyone who wants to remain permanently in the U.S. must obtain an immigrant visa regardless of the field in which he or she wants to work. Human Resources is no exception. Applicants must petition the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to request permission to apply for an immigrant visa. They're most readily available for individuals who are immediately related to a family member living in the U.S.
Employer-sponsored immigrant visas are also available for foreigners who wish to become U.S. residents.
Types of Visas and Green Cards
One blanket visa or green card for all immigrants who want to work in the U.S. does not exist, and many are differentiated by industry. A few might potentially apply to human resources, however, including:
- L-1 Visa: For foreign workers who are transferring to a U.S. business
- H-1B Visa Permit: For certain specialty occupations
- EB-2 Green Card Permit: For those possessing advanced degrees
- EB-3 Green Card Permit: For skilled workers with a minimum of two years' experience, as well as some unskilled workers and professionals with bachelor's degrees
Most other green cards and visas are restricted to investors, traders, agricultural workers, and health care workers. The EB-1 green card is reserved for immigrants possessing some extraordinary talent or ability.
The Human Resources Industry
Many people who are interested in jobs in HR are well-educated. This can be an advantage when you're applying for an immigrant visa, and you might qualify for an EB-2 green card visa, but HR isn't a field in which the U.S. lacks interested citizens, and this can complicate the situation.
Jobs in HR management have many candidates in most regions of the U.S. It's not a scientific or technical skill field requiring many years of study and commitment. Employer-sponsored green cards can be rare in this field and difficult to obtain as a result.
Employer Willingness and Availability
The Department of Labor requires that the DOL must determine that there are no U.S. workers who are "able, willing, qualified, and available to accept the job at the prevailing wage for that occupation in the area of intended employment and that employment of the alien will not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of similarly employed U.S. workers."
This can present a challenge because the national unemployment rate dropped below 4 percent in 2018, although more than 6 million job openings were still available across all industries.
Additionally, hiring foreign workers isn't necessarily a smooth process for employers. It involves a great deal of additional paperwork and some unique costs. The process of filling a position does not happen as quickly as many employers would like, particularly when ample citizens are available to work for a fraction of the time and cost involved in hiring.
Options for Immigrants
The majority of foreign-hiring employers are in the technical and information technology fields in 2018. If you have these skills but would simply prefer to work in human resources, you might consider getting your foot in the door by applying for one of these positions first. It might then be possible for you to gain citizenship and move on to the job of your choice.
Legally enter the U.S. and begin learning how to conduct a job search, ideally following up on leads you might have obtained prior to entering the U.S.
Disclaimer: Susan Heathfield is not an attorney, and the content on the site, while authoritative, is not guaranteed for accuracy and legality. It is not to be construed as legal advice. Employment laws and regulations vary from state to state and from country to country, so always seek legal counsel or assistance from state, federal, or international governmental resources. The information on this site is for guidance, ideas, and assistance only.