How New H-1B Visa Legislation Impacts the U.S. Hiring Landscape

Monday, November 19, 2018


Immigration is a hot button issue in the United States, but one development is taking center stage in the conversation, especially for hiring teams: The H-1B visa. Tightening qualifications in H-1B issuance is having a major impact on how companies attract, acquire and retain qualified talent.

H-1B visas are critical for U.S. organizations because they enable companies to employ highly skilled non-U.S. workers in roles that domestic candidates can’t fill – whether that be due to a skills gap, lack of talent supply, or low interest in the role. This is particularly true in the technology sector, such as computer-related and engineering roles, as well as higher education/PhD candidates and health related jobs. Foreign employees make up a large portion of these industries because they bring highly specialized and niche skill sets to the table – all of which are critical to the success of organizations in these sectors.

For example, 82 percent of H-1B workers immigrate from India and China, with others hailing from various Asian and European countries. These candidates possess specific software engineering, computer and IT skills that are not as commonly practiced or developed in the U.S. Without this niche talent, companies would suffer competitively if they couldn’t source from abroad.

In addition to stricter rules on who can enter and legally work in the country, the government has become stricter on the number of H-1B visas that it allots. The bottom line: the number of visa approvals is decreasing, and the number of specialized job openings is increasing, leaving many organizations stuck.
Where do employers go from here?

With American talent availability currently unable to fulfill demand, employers find themselves in a tough situation. Many wonder how they’ll find the right candidates to fill jobs in an already tight labor market with the visa restrictions working against them.

This year alone, employers saw a 30 percent increase in non-U.S. requisitions from 2017, which speaks to the high demand for talent – but companies can’t find the people they need, which takes a toll on the bottom line through project delays and increased budgets.

As regulations continue to grow and develop, companies need to be proactive in finding talent. Identifying and equipping your hiring team with tools that alleviate the burden of finding candidates and managing the hiring process is a great first step. Tech capabilities can help companies filter through pools of candidates to find the most qualified applicants – whether domestic or international – for strategic requisitions. Artificial intelligence (AI), for example, is helping hiring managers more proactively and quickly screen workers on both hard and soft skills, so they can make smarter and faster hiring decisions, rather than spend precious time sifting through resumes and CVs. AI also aids hiring teams in dealing with the complexities involved with visas and other hiring-related regulations.

Inevitably, we must consider what regulatory changes mean for global business and the effect on United States’ workforce management programs. Organizations must chart a new course in finding the appropriate talent, and while it might not be easy, it is manageable with the right tools, partners and knowledge. The time to act is now – if businesses don’t take proactive steps in addressing the shifts, they risk losing out on incredible candidates in the battle for talent.

Fatime Doczi is Chief Human Resources Officer for Workforce Logiq. She is responsible for preserving the organization’s culture of positive engagement, driving a culture of continuous improvement and operational excellence strengthening the HR function’s alignment to business strategy. As a key member of the executive team, she provides strategic leadership and direction in the areas of organizational effectiveness, succession planning, performance management, talent acquisition, total rewards, and diversity and inclusion.

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