Projecting the New Administration’s Impact on Foreign National Talent Engagement — Part 1

visa applicationBased on what I’ve witnessed in the mainstream media, the United States’ public commonly interprets the use of foreign national talent and potential immigration reform as one big issue, while it actually involves many separate but related elements. However, I would like to clarify the misconception that relying on foreign talent leads to a loss of American jobs, depression of wages and a proliferation of worker abuse.

The new administration may propose executive orders or legislation surrounding foreign worker visa programs. To best understand potential impacts for organizations, I have divided the issue related to foreign talent into two specific use cases, which I will address in separate posts:

  1. Hiring foreign national workers for “point in time” or adhoc needs
  2. Engaging large outsourcing firms to contract out entire functions

Today I will discuss the first case, in which I see the potential impacts of reform orienting largely around cost, compliance and speed to hire. Simply put, there are not enough qualified US citizens or individuals eligible to work without sponsorship, let alone fill the demand that US organizations have for software developers, data scientists, business intelligence analysts and others. It can even take twice the amount of time to fill jobs that require specialized skills given fewer candidates compared to available jobs. Therefore, organizations frequently hire individuals on H-1B visas for such roles based on necessity, not on preference. Citizens or green card holders with these skill sets are scarce, rarely need to post their resumes between assignments and almost always have multiple offers in which bidding wars persist.

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I think that the new administration understands this situation and appreciates the tangible impact of restricting skilled resource availability would have on organizations, productivity and innovation in this country. As such, I would be surprised to see any significant reduction in the visa allotment number each year.

However, I do expect that the administration will put forth more burdensome requirements that will impact the speed at which organizations can make these hires. Organizations may have to prove jobs were posted for qualifying time frames before a hire was made – showing proof that US citizens were considered or that an acceptable talent pool was not available. Organizations may have to react accordingly to legal directives in this space, increasing time to hire for specialized skills and the administrative cost around tracking and defending process compliance. Furthermore, the government may impose strict financial penalties if non-compliance is discovered via audit.

In my next post, I will address possible reforms to the outsourcing of entire functions such as call centers, helpdesk, technical support and software testing.

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Chris Benson

Chris Benson
Chris Benson is senior vice president, strategic account portfolio, at Pontoon

Chris Benson

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