Posting USA

How to successfully send employees abroad

More and more foreign companies are present on the U.S. market, which is why the assignment of employees to the U.S. has also gained in importance in recent years. However, HR departments responsible for employee assignments to the USA have to face difficult challenges. We can help you make your assignment to the U.S. a success - arrange a no-obligation consultation with our visa experts now.


Basic information on employee deployment in the USA

The aim of an employee secondment abroad is for the necessary know-how to be imparted and applied locally by foreign employees. A posting to the USA is usually referred to as being for a period of three months or more. An expatriate assignment to the U.S. usually even lasts several years. On average, expatriates spend three years in the United States working locally for their employer.

The term expatriate assignment, on the other hand, is usually used when the employee works in the United States for an indefinite period of time.

Success factors in employee secondment

When an employee is assigned to the United States, the selection of the employee is of great importance. Expatriate assignments of employees are terminated or do not have the hoped-for benefits for employers if the employee cannot meet the requirements specifically placed on him or her in the foreign country and cannot adapt in the foreign environment.

It is also of great importance that the employee's family is brought on board. If spouses or children have adjustment problems or go to the U.S. with false expectations, it often has a negative impact on the employee's assignment. One of the main reasons why an overseas assignment is terminated prematurely is because of the employee's family.

Unternehmen entsenden Mitarbeiter für eine bestimmte Zeit in die USA

Secondments to the USA are very popular

Tips for personnel selection

If the employee to be posted has not yet been determined, personnel selection should begin at least six months before the planned overseas assignment.

If an employee is to be sent to a U.S. location, it is not only internal company aspects that are decisive. Especially during the pre-selection process, it can be difficult for the responsible HR manager to make a decision. The eligibility or suitability for obtaining a work visa is not based solely on the company's needs.

The online magazine "Personnel Today" has created a short guide that can support an initial decision. The English acronym "COPE" (roughly: to create, to master) is used here as a guide and stands for the following initial criteria, among others, which are decisive for obtaining a U.S. work visa:

Employee Selection Criteria
Criminal and prior immigration history
Previous experience

Not all criteria should be considered with the same importance, yet they all play a role in obtaining the visa.

  1. Criminal and prior immigration history
    A possible criminal history and previous visa rejections can significantly complicate the application process or, in the worst case, lead to a new visa rejection. Of course, it is always important to consider the individual case, because the type and severity of the offense are evaluated differently.
  2. Occupation
    This refers to the position held by the employee. The higher and more qualified the position, the better the chances. For an E-visa or L-visa, for example, the employee must qualify as a Manager, Specialist or Executive.
  3. Previous experience
    Previous experience within a company is also primarily aimed at qualification. With a longer company affiliation, it can often be assumed that the employee has deeper company or specialist knowledge, which in turn is indispensable for some visa categories. In some cases, a certain length of service with the company is required when applying for a visa.
  4. Education
    Last but not least, education or studies are of course of importance. Depending on the visa category, different criteria come into play. In addition to the type of degree, the respective field of study is also decisive here.

In addition, we recommend paying attention to three further factors that can also have an influence on the success of an employee assignment:

  1. Personal suitability: is the employee independent, flexible and open-minded enough to get along in the new environment?
  2. Family situation: Does the employee have family obligations that might prevent him or her from being assigned to the U.S.? Which family members would move to the U.S. with them? How old are the children?
  3. Health situation: Does the employee have any illnesses or health conditions that would be worsened by the assignment or would lead to high additional costs?

Tip: Before a long-term assignment to the U.S., the employee should visit and get to know the future place of residence and the workplace with his or her family, if they are to go abroad with him or her.

Furthermore, the future area of responsibility should be precisely defined before each assignment. Both the required qualifications and the objectives of the assignment should be defined as precisely as possible.

Of course, we will be happy to advise you in finding the appropriate visa category and in checking the appropriate qualification of your employees.

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Bild von einem entsendeten Mitarbeiter in den USA

Employment law and tax aspects of deployment in the USA

In terms of labor law, there are the following options for a posting:

  1. In the case of a posting to the USA, the employee is typically posted from the foreign parent company or subsidiary. In this case, the parent company or subsidiary can continue to pay wages and the employment contract remains in place.
  2. The other option is that the e.g. German contract is suspended or cancelled and the employee enters into an employment contract directly with the company in the USA.

Whatever the company decides, legal and tax aspects must always be taken into account.

Special features for German companies

It should be clarified in advance whether the employee will continue to be liable for tax in Germany. Normally, the employee is not only liable for tax in the USA, but also in Germany. This is precisely regulated in the double taxation agreement concluded between Germany and the USA.

Which visa is suitable when sending employees to the USA?

The choice of the right visa is also of great importance for employee assignments. Since an assignment to the U.S. involves employees working in the U.S., it is always necessary to apply for a work visa.

Typically, the L visa is considered for an employee assignment. However, due to the comparatively uncomplicated application process, companies should consider whether the E visa can be an alternative. For example, if the majority of the company in the U.S. is German, future expatriates of German nationality can be sent to the U.S. location or deployed there in a very simplified procedure.
In some cases, the H-1B visa is also an option. However, the H-1B visa is subject to major restrictions due to an annual quota.

Under no circumstances can a posting to the USA be covered by a B visa or the Visa Waiver Program.

Which is the right visa in your case depends on several factors. These may include, for example:

  • Duration of the assignment
  • Qualification of the employee
  • Future duties of the employee in the USA
  • Nationality of the employee and the company
  • Length of service with the company and the contractual relationship with the company
  • Size and focus of the company
  • Number of employees to be posted

We will be happy to assist you with your assignment to the USA.
Please contact us for an individual offer.

Bild von einem Expat in den USA

Which visa do I need for an assignment to the USA?

Sending to the USA with the family

For most employees, taking up a job in the USA brings with it a multitude of private challenges and questions in advance. The application for the appropriate work visa can usually be handed over by the employee to a third party. But if the employee wants to bring his or her family with them, a visa application becomes necessary for all family members.

In general, relatives of work visa holders are entitled to apply for a so-called derivative visa, which in most cases even has the same validity period. Specifically, this means for spouses of the main applicant and their unmarried children under 21 years of age, that they apply for a visa, which is issued tied to the work visa.

Special case stepchildren

But what about stepchildren? That is, if one spouse has brought a child into the marriage from a previous relationship.

According to the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) Art. 101 (b), a stepchild also falls under the status of a child eligible to receive a derivative visa. The requirement is that the parents' marriage was contracted at a time when the stepchild was under 18 years of age.

Accordingly, a derivative visa can be applied for in the same way for stepchildren, even if the main applicant is not a natural parent.

We will be happy to advise you on the right visa category for employees and accompanying family members.

Cost absorption

In the case of an assignment to the USA, the employee sometimes incurs considerable costs. In order to make the move more appealing, many companies assume a large part of these additional expenses. This must be adequately clarified with the employee in advance and then recorded in writing.

Potential cost transfers or subsidies can be made at these points, for example:

  • Rental expenses
  • Moving expenses, e.g. container shipment
  • Furniture purchase
  • School or childcare places
  • Allowance for higher living expenses
  • Regular flights home
  • Language courses
  • Company vehicle

Integration in the USA

A factor that should not be underestimated when sending employees to the USA is their integration in the USA. If the employee does not feel comfortable here or is not sufficiently integrated, the assignment often fails.

The following points can therefore be helpful in the integration process:

  • Help with finding a place to live and relocating
  • Language courses
  • Intercultural courses
  • Getting-to-know-you meetings with future colleagues
  • Detailed familiarization with the new company and work structures
  • Job search for the spouse
  • School search for the children

Tip: It is a good idea to provide the employee with a kind of mentor or relocation partner. This person can help him or her to find his or her way in the new home, both professionally and privately.

Mitarbeiterentsendung USA

Reintegration after repatriation

In order for the employee's temporary assignment to be completed successfully, sufficient preparations must also be made for reintegration in the home country. This includes, among other things:

  • The proper handover or completion of tasks in the USA.
  • The organization and, if necessary, assumption of the costs of relocation.
  • A new job in the home company must be found that also fits the employee's new qualifications and experience. Agreements, such as salary or vacation days, should also be adjusted.
  • Follow-up: Was the predefined goal of the assignment achieved? What positive as well as negative experiences can be taken along for future assignments?

Your help with the assignment

We are happy to assist you with the assignment of your employees to the USA. Contact us today for a no-obligation consultation!


Checklist Secondment USA

When preparing your own assignment or the assignment of your employees to the USA, it is important to maintain an overview of all upcoming tasks. The following checklist for an employee assignment to the USA lists all essential steps on the topic - from preparation, to the assignment itself, to reintegration in the home country. Download our free checklist and be optimally prepared for the upcoming assignment.

Download checklist

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