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Hiring Non-U.S. Citizens

Hiring foreign workers for employment requires approval from several different government agencies including: Department of Justice (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)), Department of Homeland Security (Immigration and Customs Enforcement [ICE]), Department of State and the Department of Labor. Getting through the complex issues involved with hiring non-U.S. citizens can be daunting.

Noncompliance with immigration laws can have an impact on the NPC (depending on the act, fines may be imposed) and a serious impact on the lives of the employees and their families. NPCs may want to contact an immigration lawyer or the university affiliated with the local VAMC for assistance. Many universities have sponsored program offices that specialize in immigration issues.

In addition to USCIS, ICE, the Department of State and the Department of Labor have very good websites that give additional information on required documentation for hiring non U.S. citizens.  

Nonresident Aliens and FICA Withholding

An NPC that hires nonresident aliens should be aware of special rules pertaining to withholding of FICA. Nonresident aliens living in the United States under one of three visa categories - Fl (student), JI (J1 exchange visitor), or MI (M1 vocational student) - are exempt from FICA withholding taxes when the services they perform are the reason they hold the visa. However, if they work in a job not related to their visa (a part-time job to earn additional money, for example) their earnings are usually subject to both FICA and FUTA.

A spouse or child who accompanies an F1, J1 or M1 visa holder is issued an F2, J2 or M2 visa and is covered for Social Security purposes. Such a spouse or child is subject to both FICA (including Medicare) and FUTA withholding.

For additional details about withholding taxes for nonresident aliens, go to http://www.irs.gov and consult IRS Publication 15, Circular E.

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