Virginia, US
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| Rebecca Landau

US Immigration: New Hire and Graduate Training Programmes

For all businesses, the onboarding process is integral to the engagement and long-term dedication of new hires. It not only helps new talent to learn the skills and knowledge to execute their duties and responsibilities, but also leaves a lasting impression on the company’s culture. Many global companies with offices in the United States wish to send their new hires for short-term training to the US before beginning or continuing with their employment abroad. Navigating this process can be challenging, and the last thing a company wants is for their new talent to endure a painful immigration experience. This article offers an overview of trainee immigration requirements and offers some tips and tricks for ensuring a smooth onboarding.

Planning ahead is the key

As an initial matter, it is important to note that it is never too early to plan ahead. It is essential to lock in training dates before starting the immigration process. The summer months are an extremely busy time at US Consulates and Embassies around the world, and visa appointments are at a premium. Planning ahead helps to ensure minimal conflict with summer holiday travel and proper coordination should the employee need to return to their home country to apply for the visa. Also, having a dedicated internal recruitment team to oversee the process before is essential. The team helps to ensure that there is an effective communication and appropriate coordination between the company, employee, and immigration team.

Immigration requirements for new hire training programme in the US

In order to send an employee to the US for a training programme, each applicant needs to be assessed individually to determine whether they require a business visitor visa, known as a B-1/B-2 visa, or whether they are eligible to travel under the Visa Waiver Program (ESTA). There are 38 designated countries whose nationals are eligible to travel to the US for business without a visa.

US immigration law permits foreign nationals to enter the US for a temporary duration, provided they are able to demonstrate that they have a legitimate business purpose and a foreign residence they do not intend to abandon. Permissible business activities include attending conferences, training, and business meetings, as well as meeting with colleagues. It must be emphasised that the US government categorises working in a US office while being compensated by the foreign office without the appropriate visa, impermissible work.

There are many factors to consider when assessing each case, particularly whether the applicant has prior criminal incidents, US immigration violations, or is applying at a Consulate/Embassy more susceptible to visa refusal, which may cause delays in visa processing. For those that require a visa, it is imperative that they apply at the appropriate US Embassy/Consulate, which is usually their home country. Some Embassies/Consulates will accept applications for third-country nationals that have demonstrably binding ties to that country. If an application is refused based on lack of ties, it is not recommended to choose another post or ‘forum shop’.

Further, the applicant must be adequately prepared for their interview at the Embassy/Consulate. The interview itself is an integral part of the process. Through their verbal response and supporting documentation, the applicant must demonstrate to the Consular Officer that they have overcome the presumption of immigrant intent.

The applicant is informed of the application outcome at the interview. Upon approval, visa processing averages about 7-10 business days. Thereafter, the applicant will receive their passport with the visa printed inside and is permitted to travel to the US.

It is always prudent to plan ahead in order to ensure efficient coordination and compliance, and to ensure a smooth and enjoyable onboarding process for new hires. If you have any questions about coordinating a summer training program in compliance with US immigration law, please feel free to contact me at RLandau@fragomen.com or the Partner of US immigration team in London, Charlotte Slocombe, CSlocombe@fragomen.com.