What Should SMEs Do to Recruit Employees From Overseas?

Your business is looking for the best person to fill a job vacancy. It has the exact job specification, salary and list of qualifications needed to take on the role. However, finding someone on your own doorstep to do it is proving difficult; this is when you look abroad for top talent. In doing so, you get someone to fill your skills gap, but there is more paperwork than usual for registering them.

As an employer, there are a few essential tasks you must complete in order to hire staff from overseas. We take a look at what forms you will need to fill in and how you can stay compliant with employment law.

Visas and Work Permits

Employers must ensure that their new employee from abroad has a visa and/or work permit. In the UK, the government has a visa sponsorship scheme. This is for workers who live outside of the European Economic Area (EEA) – the EU plus Norway, Switzerland and Iceland. The UK’s EU membership will end soon, however, making it more difficult to recruit foreign workers.

In the US, the equivalent of a work permit is an immigrant visa. It comes with five categories for different types of permanent workers, with EB-1 being for the most skilled workers and EB-5 reserved for investors. EB-3 is the most useful for many small businesses seeking one employee.


Employers are required to stay within the confines of the law when hiring foreign workers. Using the US as an example, federal law dictates that each employer has to fill in an Employee Eligibility Verification Form. It must be completed within three days of hiring a foreign worker, proving that they have the legal right to work in the country.

Regardless of which country your small business is in, sticking to immigration and employment law is imperative. Consulting a law firm who specialise in immigration law for advice is a good start. Check with your national government by making a phone call or sending an email prior to hiring an overseas employee.


Finally, small businesses must get some form of insurance for their employees. Much like workers who were born or have permanent residence in their country, national insurance to cover the cost of such things as medical care is needed.

As with employee verification forms and visas, contacting federal or regional government is a must. They will point you in the right direction and ensure you aren’t paying more than is necessary to hire the worker of your company’s dreams.

If you are an employer and interested in working with diversityjobs to promote your diversity and inclusion initiatives and attract the best candidates, please call 02037405973 or email discovery@diversityjobs.co.uk for more information.

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