From the Executive Director - June 2014

6/19/2014
"In the Know" Updates

​​June 2014

As I said in my opening remarks at our recent Symposium, our theme this year could not have been more on point: Now, more than ever before, you must “Stay Ahead of the Curve in U.S. and Global Immigration.”

Latest case in point: Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s loss in the Republican primary. This result caught many political “experts” in Washington by surprise, and it led to all sorts of speculation about the fate of immigration reform this year.

But that chatter missed the point: The chances for getting a reform measure through the House always looked difficult. This fact was confirmed for us at Symposium – where we welcomed almost 300 immigration professionals from over 130 companies, 35 universities and six countries – by former U.S. Representative and current President and CEO of the Main Street Partnership (MSP) Steve LaTourette, who described in detail the dysfunction of politics in DC. We also listened as congressional staff engaged in a lively discussion that showed just how complicated moving even a little part of immigration reform may be.

And so our Symposium theme continues to ring true: we must be prepared for anything. As we learned in our global sessions, this is true everywhere you do business. Governments around the globe are making it more difficult to timely access the talent you need while stepping up their efforts to scrutinize your work. We also learned how immigration issues are increasingly intersecting with broader policy issues. Deputy Assistant Secretary for Private Sector Exchange at the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA), Robin Lerner, enlightened us on how well-run exchange visitor programs help advance international public diplomacy, while CIS Ombudsman, Maria Odom, talked about the role of employers’ responsibility to combat human trafficking within their supply chains.

These novel issues must be addressed alongside our traditional issues of access to talent and an efficient immigration system. In that spirit, we at the Council will be ready to take advantage of any legislative opportunity to advance bipartisan reform in the United States while working with the agencies, foreign governments and international governmental bodies to advocate for policies that facilitate the international movement of talent. Bottom line: We will be positioned to be part of a solution wherever we can find them.

It’s a solution that can’t come fast enough. The frustration you all feel has even given rise to a new vocabulary to describe some of the negative side effects of the failed immigration system. For example, I heard talk about the “H-1B grim reaper” and your most recent “H-1B casualties.” Those morbid phrases sum up the loss our members and America suffer when highly educated foreign nationals lose the H-1B lottery and must leave – a story we heard all too often at Symposium this year. A number of companies even reported multiple employees who had lost the lottery three times. For them, STEM actually means, “Sorry, Tomorrow Evening Move out.”

Another song we heard too often was about the on-going challenges with Requests for Evidence (RFEs). CIS Ombudsman Maria Odom noted that her office continues to track RFEs and we may see just how high these rates are when her annual report is released at the end of the month. Employers may begin facing similar challenges in Canada as the new ICT guidelines are implemented. Frustration with such unpredictability is understandable, particularly when you are spending more money than ever on immigration compliance. The sneak peak at our Employer Immigration Metrics survey showed that the average Council member spent over $1 million managing the immigration function in 2013. The full results will be released later this year and we anticipate that, as with our inaugural survey last year, you will be able to use the results to work with your managers to ensure your organizations are staffed to align with competitors and the marketplace.

There was other news at our Symposium. First, we were very happy to introduce three new members of our board of directors – Sunday Rubenstein, Ernst & Young; Peter Schiron, Deloitte; and Jennifer Shapiro, JPMorgan Chase. We also announced that we are seeking volunteers for two task forces: Symposium Planning and Educational Products and Services. Please contact me if you are interested in learning more about how you can get involved in these task forces or other Council activities. Finally, we debuted new Symposium features and benefits, including a bookstore and conference app to help you navigate all the exciting sessions and resources available during our annual event. Check out our photos and tweets from this year’s event as well as our YouTube video on the benefits of membership, then save the date for Symposium 2015, to be held June 8 – 11, 2015 in Washington, DC!

All in all, despite the lack of action on immigration reform over the past year, the 2014 Symposium was a notable success for me, and I hope for you as well. As for the rest of 2014, we will be working hard to develop new programs and services, to connect you with colleagues and government officials, and to advocate for efficient immigration policies around the globe. One thing is for sure: By working together, we can and will stay ahead of the curve.

Best regards,

Lynn

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