The rise of remote work won’t impact many companies’ decisions around sponsoring more foreign nationals for employment, according to a new study by Envoy Global, a global immigration services provider.
Envoy Global based its report on surveys with more than 500 HR professionals and hiring managers across the United States. Despite the widespread adoption of remote work in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, which in theory will make it easier for companies to find specialized talent wherever it exists in the U.S., some 41 percent of respondents said they’d likely sponsor more foreign nationals for employment.
Meanwhile, 30 percent said that remote work won’t impact their sponsorship levels, and 28 percent said they’d likely sponsor fewer foreign nationals for employment (another one percent weren’t sure).
If increased remote work opens up a bigger pool of domestic talent, why do many of these companies feel the need to pull in technologists and other specialized workers from overseas? In the study, 57 percent of those who said they’d sponsor more foreign nationals due to remote work “indicated that it is because they still could not find enough skilled talent even with fully remote work.”
In a worrisome twist for domestic technologists, of the 28 percent of respondents who said they’d sponsor fewer foreign nationals due to increased remote work, some 45 percent “said they would outsource the roles or move the jobs outside of the U.S.” That’s almost as many who said they’d hire more domestically (54 percent).
HR managers also indicated they’re interested in reforming some aspects of the current immigration system. “The majority of respondents also said both the Department of Labor (DOL)’s final rule to increase prevailing wage levels and changes to the H-1B specialty occupation visa program would have a positive impact on their organizations (69 percent and 71 percent, respectively),” the report noted, “underscoring support for certain immigration reforms.”
The U.S. Department of Labor is currently asking for public input on determining H-1B levels, which hints that the Biden administration is interested in potentially enacting a Trump-era proposal to assign H-1B visas based on wages as opposed to a lottery. That’s in addition to Biden’s Citizenship Act of 2021, which would prioritize visas based on wages, as well as give both the Secretaries of Homeland Security and Labor the ability to determine the appropriate wage levels (provided that Act actually becomes law, of course).
H-1B visas tied to higher wages would disrupt the business model of consulting and outsourcing firms, which generally pay H-1B workers lower average salaries than technology companies. It would also force companies with smaller talent budgets to prioritize how many foreign nationals they potentially try to sponsor. That could lead to quite a bit of debate and commentary should this higher-wage requirement continue to build momentum.