Visa sponsorship refers to the process where an individual or organization takes responsibility for supporting a foreign national to enter or stay in another country.

In the workplace, employers may sponsor their employees to obtain a foreign visa and relocate abroad for a job.

Each country has specific processes for obtaining visas and work permits for international employee transfers. To abide by the destination country's immigration laws, an employer gets the appropriate visas and work permits on their employee's behalf and pays any associated foreign worker levies and fees for visa applications, extensions, and renewals.

Types of visa sponsorships

There are several types of visa sponsorships, which vary depending on the country's specific immigration laws and the individual circumstances of the person seeking the visa. Common visa sponsorships include the following: 

Visa sponsorship for employment

An employer sponsors an employee to work in a foreign country. A business may require employment visa sponsorship to expand to a new market, establish a new branch, or fill specific job roles where local talent may not be available.

Typically, the employer must demonstrate that no qualified national workers are available for the position. 

Visa sponsorship for families

Family members who are citizens or permanent residents can sponsor relatives for a visa to join them in their country. A family sponsorship visa includes spouses, children, parents, and relatives.

Visa sponsorship for education

Academic institutions can sponsor international students to study in the school’s host country. The institution may require students to maintain a certain grade point average and complete their studies within a specific time frame to maintain visa sponsorship.

Visa sponsorship for business

Investors interested in putting significant capital into a business may secure a visa sponsorship in the company’s host country to explore the market and further the business relationship.

The benefits of visa sponsorship

Visa sponsorship offers many benefits for both employees and employers, including the following:

Global expansion

Visa sponsorship allows companies to test new markets as they seek global expansion. Companies can tap into a larger pool of qualified talent who bring unique skills and specialized knowledge, send employees across borders to gather insights, and cast a wider net of global business opportunities. 

Global mobility

Visa sponsorship enhances a company’s global workforce mobility and competitiveness in today’s world of work. Companies offering visa sponsorship and enabling their employees to work anywhere in the world may also attract and retain talent looking for remote and flexible work opportunities.

Meeting workforce needs

Visa sponsorship allows companies to access top talent worldwide and fill specific skills, backgrounds, and knowledge they may not be able to find locally. Employers can target specialized talent and individuals with desired skill sets regardless of location.

Fostering cultural diversity

Employers utilizing visa sponsorship opportunities also promote cultural diversity, inclusion, and unique exchanges of ideas by hiring individuals with various backgrounds and experiences worldwide. A positive environment catering to a culturally diverse, distributed workforce can lead to increased collaboration, problem-solving, and innovation.

Visa sponsorship process for employers

The visa sponsorship process varies depending on the type of visa and immigration laws of the country. The following provides a general overview of the steps involved for employees seeking a visa for their employees:

  • Determine visa type. The employer must identify the visa type based on the purpose of their employee's stay and follow the eligibility criteria and requirements associated with the visa. 
  • Check employer eligibility. The employer must meet the eligibility requirements for sponsoring foreign workers, comply with local labor laws, and verify they can support the sponsored employee.
  • Provide a job offer if applicable. The employer should provide a job offer to the foreign employee and outline the terms and conditions in an employment contract that complies with local labor laws.
  • Submit visa application. The employer then submits the visa application to the country’s immigration authorities with all required documentation, such as a job offer, employment contract, and proof of employer eligibility.
  • Pay fees. The employer pays any visa processing fees associated with the sponsorship, which may depend on the visa type and local immigration process.
  • Employee application and interview. The sponsored employee provides any additional requested documentation; a consulate or embassy may require them for an interview.
  • Receive visa approval. The sponsored employee receives the visa once immigration approves the visa application. The employer assists them with travel arrangements and relocation logistics. 
  • Maintain compliance. The employer must ensure the sponsored employee complies with all visa requirements, employment terms, and local laws after arrival into the country.

Visa sponsorship challenges

While visa sponsorship is beneficial for employers expanding internationally, it can also bring many challenges, including:  

Regulatory complexity

Immigration laws and regulations are complex, challenging to navigate, and ever-changing. Employers and individuals unfamiliar with the visa process may have difficulty navigating the legal requirements.

Documentation requirements

Employment visa sponsorship involves extensive documentation that can be a time-consuming process. Employers must gather and submit the required paperwork on the employee’s behalf, including proof of qualifications, job offers, and financial stability, and risk delays if not done accurately.  

Financial obligations

The fees associated with visa sponsorship and visa applications can put a financial burden on both the employer and the foreign national employee. Both parties must prepare for the visa fees and any additional legal and administrative costs related to the visa process. 

Maintenance and compliance

Employers must abide by market-specific employment and immigration laws and continue to comply with immigration regulations once the employee receives their visa. Failure to do so can result in fines, penalties, legal issues, reputational damage, or the loss of sponsorship privileges.

To ensure global compliance, employers may choose to work with an employer of record (EOR) like Velocity Global for their immigration needs. Velocity Global’s Global Immigration solution helps companies navigate the nuances of the immigration process, including visa processing and employee relocation support.

Visa sponsorship FAQ

Below we answer common questions regarding visa sponsorships:

How long is visa sponsorship valid?

The time frame for when visa sponsorship is valid varies depending on the visa type and the country’s specific regulations. In the U.S., H-1B visas expire after three years and can extend for up to six years.

How much does visa sponsorship cost?

The cost of a visa sponsorship also depends on the country, the foreign national, and the visa type. In the U.S., the basic visa filing fee for an H-1B visa is $460 plus additional applicable filing fees.

Can an employer terminate a visa sponsorship?

The parameters for terminating a visa sponsorship vary from country to country.

In the U.S., an employer may withdraw their sponsorship if the visa application is still pending. If the visa application has already been approved, the employer can terminate an H-1B visa without penalty by submitting a formal cancellation request with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

However, the foreign national holding the visa may lose their legal status and be required to leave the country, change their visa status, or find a new sponsor.

Which types of visas don’t require sponsorship?

Visas that typically do not require sponsorship by an employer are "non-sponsored" or "self-sponsored" visas. These visas consider an individual's qualifications, circumstances, or relationships. 

Some common types of visas that don't require employer sponsorship include tourist, investor, spousal, and permanent residency and citizenship visas. 

However, visa requirements and categories can vary widely between countries, and immigration laws are subject to change. Always check the country's specific requirements and consult with global experts or legal professionals for accurate information.


Disclaimer: The intent of this document is solely to provide general and preliminary information for private use. Do not rely on it as an alternative to legal, financial, taxation, or accountancy advice from an appropriately qualified professional. © 2024 Velocity Global, LLC. All rights reserved.

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