Despite some uncertainty over how the Biden administration might adjust the H-1B visa (and visas in general), a majority of companies expect their foreign national headcount to increase or stay the same next year.
Envoy Global, a global immigration services provider, came to that conclusion after surveying more than 500 HR professionals and hiring managers across the United States. While that’s not a huge pool of respondents, it nonetheless hints that the turbulence around visas over the past few years hasn’t curbed companies’ willingness to engage in the visa-application process.
Specifically, some 59 percent of respondents expected their foreign national headcount to increase next year, up from 53 percent in last year’s survey (and 46 percent the year before that). Some 96 percent said that sourcing foreign national employees was important to their company’s talent acquisition strategy, up from 93 percent the year before.
Around 54 percent of employers said that lack of visa availability was a challenge under the Trump administration, which did its best to institute policies designed to curb visa use. Many of those policies slowed down visa processing times within U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), which is likely one reason why 95 percent of employers surveyed by Envoy Global said that quicker USCIS processing times and expedited filings were their top requested changes of the U.S. immigration system.
During the Trump administration, the denial rate for H-1B visa applications rose steadily before leveling off in fiscal year 2020. How the denial rate will adjust under the Biden administration is an open question. The U.S. Department of Labor currently wants public input on determining H-1B levels, suggesting that Biden is interested in potentially enacting a Trump-era proposal that would assign H-1B visas based on wages as opposed to a lottery.
Higher wages could change how companies apply for H-1B visas. For example, it could force companies with smaller talent budgets to prioritize how many foreign nationals they try to sponsor. It could also majorly disrupt the budgets of the consulting and outsourcing firms that apply for thousands of H-1B visas, then subcontract those workers to other companies. Critics of the H-1B, who claim the visa is aggressively abused by companies, would no doubt be pleased by such a development.