Compliance with immigration laws, especially those concerning H-1B visa workers, has long allowed firms to find and hire talent internationally. This is particularly valuable in situations where there may not be a readily available pool of talent based in the U.S. marketplace. However, potential restrictions on visas may impact an organization's ability to achieve its objectives.

The H1-B Visa Program

As The New York Times notes, every year the U.S. government offers 85,000 H1-B visas to businesses. These special visas allow employers to hire critical talent from outside the U.S., opening up a world of ability and ingenuity beyond our borders. According to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, a person must meet the following requirements to be considered for an H1-B visa:

  • The person has an employee relationship with the petitioning employer
  • The job is a specialty occupation
  • The specialty occupation must be related to the person's field of study
  • The person is paid either the actual or prevailing wage for the occupation
  • There is an H-1B visa available

The challenge can be that the program is an expensive extra step in the process to hire talent. Some firms skip it in hopes of winning the competition for local workers, and others don't participate because it seems too complex. However, there's an incredible amount of interest in the program and it has spiked to historic levels in recent years, as noted by The New York Times.

A Case Study in H1-B Visa Usage

One industry that makes use of these visas is the technology sector. In order to remain competitive, many firms compete for these credentials in order to hire foreign workers with the requisite skills necessary to accomplish the organization's goals.

For instance, consider a small tech firm that needs to hire someone adept at coding in a specific language. Upon searching for the right talent, the firm realizes that the local market for these workers is incredibly competitive, forcing the organization to consider other alternatives. While leveraging a staffing service or a recruitment process outsourcing provider are options, they are usually not seen as a long-term fix for the issue. However, the organization's executive team knows that the H1-B visa program would allow them to hire a qualified worker from overseas, bringing the individual to the United States to join the team.

The firm applies for and is granted the H1-B visa for the worker, and then it brings this person into the U.S. to start working. This is the picture perfect version of the H1-B visa process at work. However, it isn't always this easy.

The Inherent Challenge of Limited Visas

When there is a limited number of an item and the demand is high, there will be a shortage. That's exactly what is happening with the H1-B visa program. According to The New York Times, in recent years there have been more applications than visas awarded. More than 230,000 applications were put in for H1-B visa workers in 2016, and the congressional limit on visas is 85,000. In that case, smaller businesses are often disadvantaged because they have limited budgets and resources to pour into visa applications.

The bottom line is that, without the availability of this specific talent pool, the skills gap could spiral out of control, leaving economic challenges in its wake. As firms seek methods to stay competitive in an increasingly globalized marketplace, tools like the H1-B visa can help them to level the playing field, if they are leveraged appropriately.

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Tags: Compliance employment regulations