What Does it Mean to Require a Sponsorship for Employment?

by Dennis Hartman; Updated September 26, 2017

As technology and globalization create further inter-connection of national economies, labor forces become more mobile, with workers taking their skills to other countries where wages are higher or job opportunities are better. This mobility of labor raises issues concerning immigration status. Some countries, including the United States, require foreign workers to have a sponsorship for employment in order to enter and work legally.


Several federal agencies oversee the employment sponsorship process in the United States. The U.S. Department of Labor first certifies that an immigrant worker who is applying for admittance has special skills and will not displace domestic workers or impact their wages. Next, the Department of Homeland Security's U.S. Citizen & Immigration Service (USCIS) reviews an employer's offer of sponsorship, which includes information about the worker's credentials and the nature of the job offer. Workers who meet with approval may only work in the specific positions that sponsoring employers offer.

Types of Sponsorship

Employers can offer one of two different types of employment sponsorship. The first is a temporary worker sponsorship, which allow foreign workers to take jobs and earn wages in the United States without achieving immigrant status. The second form of sponsorship is a permanent residence sponsorship, also known as a Green Card. This gives a foreign worker immigrant resident worker status and allows the worker to live in the United States for the duration of employment.


The USCIS processes employment sponsorship applications based on a number of factors. One tool for determining which sponsorships are acceptable is a hierarchy of priorities that values certain types of foreign workers more highly than others. The highest priority class includes teachers and academic researchers with special skills, as well as executive and managerial candidates for business positions. The next class includes professionals with advanced degrees in other areas of employment. Lower priority classes include general laborers, religious workers and foreign investors.


The Department of Labor prevents foreign workers who lack special skills or qualifications from gaining employment in the United States, which minimizes the impact on American workers and unemployment rates. However, the requirement for a sponsorship process also creates a black market for labor. Workers who don't qualify for sponsorship or can't receive job offers from American businesses may choose to enter the United States illegally. For businesses, the sponsorship requirement represents an opportunity to recruit the most highly skilled candidates for a job regardless of their location or citizenship status.