Rules for G-4 Employers

There are few nonimmigrant visa categories that allow nonimmigrants to engage in household employment, and these visa categories are restrictive. One of the most common is the G-5 visa, which allows personal employees, attendants, domestic workers, or servants of individuals who hold a valid G-4 visa to enter the U.S. to work for the G-4 visa holder in their home.

G-5 Visa Qualifications

This type of visa is specific to employees of a G-4 visa holder who is sponsored by the World Bank, IMF, United Nations, and other non-governmental organizations. A G-5 visa holder can only work for a G-4 employer in their home. There are a variety of suitable household positions for a G-5 holder, including cook, butler, valet, maid, housekeeper, governess, janitor, launderer, caretaker, handyman, gardener, groom, chauffeur, babysitter, or companion to the aged or infirm.

The principal G-5 visa holder’s immediate family members also qualify for the G-5 visa. These family members are defined as:

  • Household worker’s spouse who will reside with the worker
  • Unmarried sons and daughters of the worker who are under age 21 (or under age 23 if attending higher education full-time), and will reside with the worker
  • Any other person who will reside with the worker and is not a member of a different household or someone recognized as an immediate family member by the employer’s government and has proper documentation

Applying for a G-5 Visa

An applicant is required to be interviewed at the embassy or consulate prior to receiving the visa. Proof that the applicant will receive a fair wage, sufficient to financially support themself, comparable to that being offered in the area of employment in the United States is required. In addition, the applicant needs to demonstrate that he or she will perform the contracted employment duties as set out in a signed employment contract with the employer. Household employees should understand that their contracts provide working arrangements that the employer is expected to respect according to law. Employers and employees should review the Nonimmigrant Rights, Protections, and Resources pamphlet provided by the U.S. Department of State.

Employer Responsibilities Summary

The G-4 employer is required to:

  • obtain a Social Security number prior to registering as an employer with the U.S. government
  • pay their household worker for at least 35 hours of work per week, providing they are able to perform the job duties
  • retain timesheets signed and dated by both the G-4 employer and G-5 domestic employee
  • report termination of their employee to the sponsoring organization
  • comply with any request from the sponsoring organization for an audit of employment records
  • create, sign, and submit an employment contract also signed by the employee
  • report and file federal, state, and any required local city or county taxes for all wages paid to their employee
  • retain records as required by the Department of State
  • pay for their employee’s travel expenses
  • provide health insurance for their employee
  • provide meals and lodging if the employee lives in the G-4 employer’s residence

The Employment Contract

The employment contract must be in English and, if the employee does not understand English, also in a language the employee understands. The employment contract must be signed by both the employer and the employee, and must include the following statements, among other items:

  • description of job duties
  • hours of work
  • wages to be paid, which must be greater than the federal or state minimum wage
  • whether wages will be paid either weekly or bi-weekly
  • overtime be paid for any hours worked in excess of the normal number of hours worked per week, including hours in which the employee is “on-call”
  • wage payments must be made by check or bank transfer to the domestic worker’s bank account
  • the employer will adhere to all U.S. Federal, State, and local laws
  • the household worker will retain sole possession of their passport and visa
  • a copy of the contract and other personal property of the household employee will not be withheld by the employer for any reason
  • the household worker will not be required to be present in the employer’s residence except during working hours
  • the employee will not accept any other employment while working for the employer

It’s important to note that employers and personal employees are advised to keep their passports and copies of employment contracts. Employees should not give either item to their employer.

Reporting and Filing Taxes

All G-5 employees must file income taxes. It is the G-4 employer’s responsibility to make sure their household worker files taxes according to U.S. law. G-5 employees can file tax returns in two ways:

  1. Resident Alien – complete Federal Form 1040 (or 1040EZ)
  2. Non-Resident Alien – Form 1040NR (or 1040NR-EZ)

A portion of the G-5 wages paid needs to be withheld and paid as Social Security and Medicare taxes. Both the G-4 employer and the G-5 employee are required to pay a percentage (7.65%) of the gross wages. The employer may pay the entire amount and list the employee’s share as additional taxable gross income. The IRS, realizing that many employers will not want a large tax liability at the end of the year, strongly recommends quarterly estimated payments.

G-4 employers must pay federal and state unemployment insurances as an additional cost to the employee’s gross wages. Employers pay these taxes on a preset amount of the employee’s annual wages.

Record Retention

The Department requires that the employer retain records of employment and payment for three years after the termination of the employment in order to address any complaints that may subsequently arise. Also, the bank account must be in the United States so that household workers may readily access and utilize their wages. The following records are required to be retained:

  • all relevant circular diplomatic notes
  • all Social Security payments made for the employee
  • all health insurance payments made for the employee

Travel Expenses

The employer must pay their worker’s initial travel expenses to the United States, and subsequently, upon termination, travel back to the employee’s country of normal residence. In addition, the employer must demonstrate that he or she will have sufficient funds to provide a fair wage and working conditions, as reflected in the contract. The G-5 holder can generally stay in the United States for a period of up to three years. After that, he or she has to apply for an extension of stay with an increment of two years.

Health Insurance

It is required that G-5 employees have health insurance that meets the standards of the Affordable Care Act, and the employment contract must state whether the employer or the employee will be responsible for the cost of the policy.

Note: the G-5 application can be denied if it appears the employee’s wage after medical insurance costs will not be sufficient to be considered a “living wage.”

Health insurance can be a non-taxed item if the insurance is in addition to the employee’s compensation and if the premium is paid directly to the insurance carrier. In general, most G-4 employers will assist the G-5 employee in finding health insurance and then deduct the premium from the employee’s pay. The employee’s insurance premium is deducted from his/her net pay, not gross, and is considered an “after-tax” deduction.

For more information, visit the U.S. Department of State’s website, or contact us at (800) 929-9213.

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