First Time Dealing with Immigration? Seek Legal Help

HR practitioners new to immigration matters must first understand the two main types of visas—employment and business-based—and the processes involved in securing both, said Daniel Williamson, a partner with immigration law firm Fragomen, at the Society for Human Resource Management 2016 Annual Conference & Exposition in Washington, D.C.

“Movement across borders generally requires a visa,” Williamson said. But knowing whether a business visa or an immigration visa is required for a certain employee is a matter of law and is best determined by someone with legal expertise. To begin a dialogue with an attorney, Williamson told attendees that providing “a resume, a job description and the country of citizenship are enough for a lawyer to begin strategizing.”

Contrary to popular belief, “the duration of [a business] trip isn’t always the controlling factor” as to whether a visa is needed, he said. Williamson cautioned attendees that visas can be required even when a trip lasts for only one week. At the outset, employers must understand requirements in place because they may impact business strategy.

He gave the example of someone entering the U.S. for one week of training. The need for a visa in this situation may escape the attention of the HR department because payroll isn’t impacted and there’s no relocation. But if the proper due diligence isn’t performed, the employee could be stranded at the airport or sent back to his or her home country, or the employer could be fined for immigration fraud. So, if it understands the complications that immigration may present, the company may consider offering virtual training.