Traditionally, U.S. firms in highly competitive industries like technology and health care have accessed international talent through the H-1B visa program. But with President Donald Trump's executive order on immigration, there are now questions surrounding the future of the H-1B visa program.

Immigrants and Tech

Many technology organizations including Google and Intel were founded by immigrants and more than half of all firms started in Silicon Valley between 1995 and 2005 were founded by immigrants, according to Inc. These firms have been at the forefront of the global war for talent and have sought top tech talent everywhere — including overseas.

A Shortage of Doctors Is Growing in Health Care

Another industry that relies on the H-1B visa program is health care. Growing shortages of doctors and nurses could impact patient care in the U.S., especially in underserved rural areas. The Association of American Medical Colleges estimates that the shortage of doctors in the U.S. could be as high as 94,000 by 2025. The U.S. often fills this skills gap with foreign-born medical professionals, many of whom practice under an H-1B visa. In fact, NPR reports that one out of every four doctors now practicing in the U.S. studied medicine outside America.

The Impact of Potential H-1B Visa Reforms on Talent Management

The ability of U.S. firms to tap into foreign talent pools through work visa programs has allowed U.S. organizations to close talent gaps and improve their performance. But If your organization suddenly can't access needed talent overseas, you'll have to make retaining the talent you already have even more of a strategic priority.

Should the number or accessibility of H1-B visas shrink, taking a proactive approach to engaging your talent is a wise way forward. This could require investments in your HCM systems and big data capabilities, however. In addition, you'll more than likely need to focus more of your efforts on internal learning opportunities, diverse recruiting efforts and leadership development programs as filling your needs from the outside gets more challenging. Keeping and enhancing the talent you already have has never been a more strategic imperative for organizational growth than right now, and a reduction in H1-B visas will only see that necessity grow.

The ensuing talent gaps could cost your organization dearly, impacting your competitiveness and bottom line. So as with any shortage in talent, the most cost-effective way forward should be to make the necessary investments in retaining and developing the talent you already have.

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Tags: change management