With the continued globalization of the modern business world and the embracing of multiculturalism in the workplace, many contemporary entrepreneurs find themselves employing a diverse staff hailing from all corners of the world. No longer limited by geography, business leaders are free to seek the most qualified individuals for their teams, regardless of nationality. Though this offers advantages in collaboration and business ingenuity, hiring employees who are not legal residents can present some unique challenges. For those entrepreneurs wanting to assist their employees in navigating the U.S. immigration process, here are several resources:

How to File for Alien Labor Certification

Certification: Before you can assist an employee in obtaining a green card or in pursuing citizenship, an employer needs to first meet the criteria of an alien labor certification standard. The application needs to be filed with the Employment Security Agency (SESA) or State Workforce Agency (SWA) specific to your state along with the Department of Labor Form ETA-750.

Obstacles: The main challenges involved in obtaining the alien labor certification and in continuing on to sponsor an individual is that the process can be slow and employers are required to demonstrate that there is a shortage of eligible employees locally in the U.S. for that specific kind of work. With a little patience and a lot of clever diction, though, you can move on in the process.

How to Help an Employee Obtain a Green Card

What is a green card? Generally, individuals obtain a work visa to temporarily live in the U.S. for the purpose of employment; however, if that individual is offered full-time, permanent employment and wishes to reside in the U.S. indefinitely, that person is required to become a lawful permanent resident. After continued residency and work, these permanent residents then receive a green card (the card itself was originally literally green in color, but currently, is only green in name). Green card holders are authorized to permanently live and work in the U.S., but they are non-citizens, meaning they are not entitled to the same rights or benefits as those who are native to the U.S.

The offer: As an entrepreneur, if you are willing to offer a foreign worker permanent employment, there are a couple channels available to assist you in helping your employee. The most direct option is to declare yourself the individual’s sponsor and make a permanent job offer to him or her. This begins the multi-step process of red tape and paperwork that you and the foreign national must complete. Though the process may seem daunting at first, knowing what forms to submit and to where will prevent delays and snags.

The paperwork: You, the employer, are responsible for filling out and submitting an Application for Permanent Labor Certification from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). Once the application has been approved by the DOL, you must also file an Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker Form-I140 with the U.S Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) on behalf of your employee. In addition, specific requirements regarding the type of foreign employees eligible for this form of the immigration must be carefully discussed and considered with your employee. All of these forms and instructions for filling them can be found at www.uscis.gov and the list of fees and other requirements are located at www.foreignlaborcert.doleta.gov.

How to Help an Employee Become a Citizen

Positives of citizenship: For many legal resident workers citizenship would be a dream come true, allowing for many benefits not yielded by legal residency alone. According to NPR, naturalized citizens often achieve higher incomes than non-citizens. Additionally, those foreign nationals that receive citizenship show greater involvement in their communities and demonstrate civic engagement through voting and participation in city and school board meetings. In return for their support and guidance, employer sponsors receive a loyal and dedicated employee.

Additional support: Simply offering to sponsor your employee is not the only support that you can offer, though. Refer your legal residents and green-card-holding workers to organizations like the SimpleCitizen’s Immigration Learning Center, which offers resources to foreign nationals to help them stay on top of their applications.

Yet another resource for both employer and employee is The New American Workforce project. The organization partners with businesses to offer on-job support like English language classes, legal assistance and citizenship workshops.

In this modern, globalized world, the workforce should be rich in diversity and talent. Though the road to a green card and citizenship can be bumpy, the destination is well worth the journey, for both foreign workers and entrepreneurs.