Expatriate Workers: How to Create the Ideal Employee Experience

  • Screen and onboard expatriate workers within two months
  • Offer an immigration perk package
  • Establish a green card policy

Expatriate workers are a valued portion of the global workforce. Ensure they’re onboarded correctly with these tips.

While visa and green card holders are often eager to join the U.S. workforce, many face hurdles. The antiquated U.S. immigration system is notorious for its arduously slow application process, and being separated from loved ones back home intensifies the stress of being in a new country and a new job.

At Envoy we strive to assist employers in creating the most inviting and welcoming experience for employees to help them thrive. Specifically, we want to see what visa and green card holders (“expats”) really care about — such as their top pain points, values and motivators — to effectively appeal to candidates and serve current employees. So we commissioned Harris Poll to survey 700 visa and green card holders to learn their experiences and priorities while living and working in the United States. With their responses, we built this five-step guide for creating the ideal expat experience.

1. Screen and onboard expatriate workers within two months

Our survey discovered that the time between your candidates’ first screening interview and his or her first day of work should span no more than two months.

Common reasons for delay:

  • Indecision by hiring manager
  • Long sponsorship process due to ineffective immigration services provider
  • Delayed background check, education evaluation, etc.

Taking longer increases your vacancy costs and could cause your candidate to accept a position at a competing company.

2. Offer an extensive immigration-related perk package

To attract high-skilled global workers in a super-competitive market, companies are offering robust perk packages that cater to the unique needs of an expat worker.


Top items to include in your offer letter:

  • Transportation: car service, company car, rental car
  • Housing: temporary house, corporate housing
  • Travel: free airfare to visit his or her home country or airfare for immediate family members’ travel to the United States
  • Company-expensed visa and green cards for dependents
  • Cultural assimilation training

3. Set clear expectations with a standardized green card sponsorship policy

Seventy percent of visa holders said a green card sponsorship policy is very or extremely important in deciding whether they’d work for an organization. Not having a program in place can cause to you lose out on top talent.

Earliest – Immediately

26% of expat workers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) industry had their green card sponsored right away, compared to 37% of expats in non-STEM fields.

Latest – One year after start date

18% of expat workers in STEM fields had their green card sponsored after one year of service, compared to 26% for non-STEM expat workers.

4. Cover all immigration fees

72% Percent Company-Sponsored Green Cards

Green card sponsorship fees can seem like a hefty expense for a company, but employers are finding it worthwhile to foot the bill, as it encourages expat employees to remain with the company long term.

5. Monitor workplace satisfaction

When employers are oblivious to workers’ needs, workplace dissatisfaction inevitably follows.

To ensure expat employees stay happy at work, offer:

  1. Robust orientation training, such as meeting with department heads with extensive overviews of goals and upcoming projects.
  2. Cultural assimilation training, such as language classes and invites to local cultural events.
  3. A mentorship program, such as finding a successful individual either within the company or outside to provide guidance and serve as his or her support system.
  4. Additional amenities, such as prayer/mediation room authentic cuisine, etc.

In Global Talent Perspectives 2016, we also found that the following elements help reduce attrition.

  1. Fair compensation
  2. Challenging job duties
  3. Great people
  4. Well-defined company’s mission, vision and values
  5. Enticing benefits package
  6. Ability to stay in the United States
  7. Career development opportunities
  8. Immigration-perk package
  9. Desirable company culture

Find additional insights on how to create the ideal expat experience in Global Talent Perspectives 2016.

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