Poll: US Companies Will Hire More Foreign Talent This Year (If They Can)

Poll: US Companies Will Hire More Foreign Talent This Year (If They Can)

Forbes contributor Kenneth Rapoza flags a new survey showing that many US employers still plan to hire from abroad this year, despite President Donald Trump’s efforts to tighten US immigration policy:

Some 55% of the 442 employers surveyed recently said they will hire from workers overseas, an increase of 21% over 2016 levels, according to a Harris Poll. Most of those foreign hires will come into the U.S. on H1-B and L-1 visas, which are used primarily by the computer sciences industry. The poll was commissioned by an immigration legal firm called Envoy.

“Despite uncertainty surrounding how the current administration will restrict legal immigration or trade, the Envoy survey results reveal that the desire of, and necessity for, employers to hire and mobilize a global workforce remains very real,” says Dick Burke, president and chief executive officer of Envoy in Chicago. “The continued ability of employers to acquire and develop global talent is vital and plays a crucial role in helping our country remain competitive in today’s economy. Our country’s political leaders must keep this in mind while considering any immigration or trade policy changes.”

The poll found that most employers consider global talent a strategic imperative. 63 percent said sourcing foreign nationals was important to their talent acquisition strategy, up from 42 percent last year. Over 70 percent said recruiting an international workforce helped their company fill skills gaps, improved its global competitiveness, and brought valuable new perspectives to the business along with knowledge of international markets and business cultures.

A full 83 percent, meanwhile, said the US immigration system affected their hiring and retention strategies. Polled about what changes they would like to see in the immigration system, 84 percent of employers said quicker processing times were highly important, while three-quarters said raising the cap on H-1B skilled worker visas was important. Demand for visas like the H-1B, H-2B, and L-1 greatly exceeds each program’s annual cap, but the number of requests appears to be spiking in anticipation of policy changes to come: For instance, employers have submitted more petitions for H-2B visas for this spring and summer than are available for the entire fiscal year.

All of those visa programs, however, are prime targets in the Trump administration’s crackdown on both legal and illegal immigration to the US, particularly the H-1B. In a webinar last week, CEB Corporate Leadership Council members heard from a panel of experts in immigration law about what to expect from the administration and how to prepare for the coming changes. One of their key insights was that Trump’s views on business-related immigration are much more negative than those of any other president in recent memory, meaning that an agenda of restricting the use of these visas will likely be an enduring feature of his presidency.