While those of us in the USA like to think our country leads the way when it comes to technology, there are more than a few countries whose technology and engineering programs are on par. China, Switzerland, India, and Singapore all have some of the top talent in the world when it comes to engineering and technology, which is why a lot of US companies like to look to these regions when hiring. Competition for the best tech talent is tough and if your company is looking to hire the best, you might have to look outside the US to do so. When that happens, your company is going to have to enter the complex world of H-1B work visas.
The H-1B visa is a great tool for an organization, as it allows US companies to bring in foreign workers in highly specialized or technical areas. However, it’s not without its risks. When you become a petitioner for an H-1B visa, you become responsible for the behavior of that employee. If you pick the wrong person to employ, that could have a detrimental effect on your company. With the US immigration office set to start granting H-1B visas again in April, many employers are seeking out ways to vet these employees. Extreme vetting through RRA can get your company the best talent while ensuring the H-1B process doesn’t become a loophole through which high-risk employees enter the US.
What You Need to Know About H-1B Visas
H-1B visas are ideal for companies who want to bring in specialist employees that they might not be able to find domestically. Most of these visas go to tech industry workers. There are three basic criteria for an H-1B visa:
- There must be an employer/employee relationship with a US sponsoring company. The reason for this is obvious, as the H-1B visa is only employer-sponsored.
- The job must require specialized knowledge. This means the job is a complex position that generally requires a bachelor’s degree, or a combination of specialized knowledge and experience which would be the equivalent of a bachelor’s degree. This requirement ensures that the field is a specialized one while not necessarily requiring a degree. Some candidates may have highly specialized knowledge but no degree and this provision allows workers to qualify based on their specialized knowledge.
- The pay for the position must be for the actual or prevailing wage. This is to prevent employers from using the H-1B as a means of undercutting wages. The H-1B isn’t to get low-cost labor. It’s to improve the knowledge in the labor pool.
There are limits on how many H-1B visas are issued on a yearly basis. On top of that, the employer must take on a great deal of responsibility. In this case, because this is a non-immigration visa, much of the onus for vetting the employee won’t fall on the immigration office, but instead on the employer sponsoring the H-1B employee.
How Employers Become Responsible for H-1B Employees
The first thing to know is that, while the responsibilities of sponsoring a H-1B employee are many, you aren’t responsible for crimes committed by your employees unless you’re a participant in that crime.
From a legal standpoint, if you bring an H-1B employee into the country to work for your business, they’re treated the same as any American worker—with one major exception: If a H-1B holder commits a felony or a “crime of moral turpitude,” they could get deported. The definition of a crime of moral turpitude is blurry, but generally includes anything which involves theft, dishonesty, or a reckless disregard for human life. Under that definition, even a DUI could potentially be enough to get someone deported. Once that employee gets deported, you’ll have lost all the expenses paid to get them here and you will have to refill the position.
In addition, you must consider the risk to your company’s reputation. H-1B visas are already controversial and tend to get a lot of attention in the news. If you bring an H-1B employee into the country to work for your business and that employee gets arrested, your company’s reputation will be at risk. Consider Rurik Jutting, an equities trader for Bank of America Merrill Lynch. While working for the company and living in Hong Kong, Jutting killed two women. Now, the families of those women report they may sue Merrill Lynch for failing to prevent what happened. Even if the suit is unsuccessful, in the court of public opinion, it’s likely that the company’s reputation will take a hit.
While this didn’t happen in the US, it’s an example of the risks involved in international hiring. While a company might not be held criminally liable for its employees, it could be held liable when it comes to lawsuits and it could face serious damage to its reputation. That’s why, prior to sponsoring someone for an H-1B visa, companies need to do some extreme vetting to ensure the employee is morally right for the position.
Extreme Vetting of H-1B Employees
If you’re considering sponsoring a foreign national for H-1B employment, it’s not just enough to ensure they have the technical skills to do the job. You have a responsibility to society to ensure that they won’t pose a threat to those around them. This is where extreme vetting comes in.
Extreme vetting involves looking not just into the background of an employee using existing databases, but also looking at what they may have done that has not been discovered (and that can include both criminal behavior, and non-criminal behavior that is nevertheless harmful to corporate interests). That’s a bit more difficult unless you have the right technology at your disposal. While polygraphs are a common option for reviewing the risk potential of an employee, they’re also expensive, difficult to organize, and often inaccurate.
A better alternative for deep vetting is Remote Risk Assessment (RRA). RRA involves using proprietary voice analysis technology to assess the risk level of a given applicant. If you were reviewing a foreign employee for an H-1B position, for example, you could create a set of yes or no questions to assess their risk level. That employee could then call an automated system and answer those questions. The system would measure the level of human-based risk in their answers and would flag high-risk candidates for deeper review. This way, you can get an at-a-glance view of the risk level of an applicant. This can help employers avoid the risk that their employee will do something that might get them deported, or get their company sued, by ensuring only low-risk applicants get through.
For more information on using RRA as a means of reviewing a candidate for H-1B sponsorship, contact AC Global Risk. This process can be completed remotely, quickly and at a much lower cost than competing technologies, while also providing results that are upwards of 96% accurate. A unique and innovative technology, RRA can be seamlessly integrated into an extreme vetting program and help you mitigate risks while ensuring your company is staffed by the best and the brightest in the world.