“President Trump’s Immigration Plans Jolt Staffing Strategies”

3/3/2017
SHRM


“The Trump administration's approach to immigration is forcing companies to rethink and revise their talent acquisition strategies.

“As of March 1, employers were awaiting a revised executive order on travel to the U.S. from several countries and anticipating guidance from the White House on H-1B visas and other visas that allow foreign nationals to come to the U.S. to work.

“These changes…are adding uncertainty to an already fierce battle for talent. ‘Recruiters are very concerned about making a commitment to someone,’ said Austin T. Fragomen Jr., chairman of the executive committee of law firm Fragomen, Del Rey, Bernsen & Loewy. ‘There's a tremendous amount of consternation about where this is going to end up.’

“During the 2016 presidential campaign and since Donald Trump was elected, he has emphasized an ‘America first’ agenda intended to create jobs for U.S. workers…the executive order has created turmoil for recruiting and business travel. Promised changes in visa policies would have an even greater impact on staffing strategies…While the White House prepares its plans, several bills designed to restrict work visas have already been introduced in Congress. Greater use of the E-Verify system to screen potential employees might also be on tap.

“…However, the uncertainty engendered by the administration's approach to immigration ‘is affecting us. It will continue to affect us for some time.’

“Foreign nationals are a critical source of talent in the tech sector but also in other industries, including finance, health care, education and hospitality. 

“…A central issue is whether there are enough people already in the U.S. who can perform the jobs that many companies have been filling—or trying to fill—with foreign nationals.

“…It remains to be seen whether the changes that the White House favors will actually help more U.S. workers get jobs. Experts say that companies are going to fill vital positions and perform essential tasks any legal way that they can. Among their options: hiring more employees to work overseas, moving or expanding offices outside the U.S., or shifting tasks to firms and individuals outside the U.S.

“…Because of the Trump administration's efforts to restrict people coming to the U.S., business travel has been impacted. Some firms are unwilling to send certain employees abroad for conferences or short-term assignments because of the fear that they…will not be able to return. 

“…Hiring foreign nationals is one way to support diversity in U.S. businesses, but that will suffer if hiring foreign workers is not clearly supported by U.S. policy, Fragomen said. ‘If you make the U.S. an undesirable location because of the unpredictability, it sends a very negative message. Big corporations represent the attributes of their employees. What will be the impact on them? They may be asking: 'What's coming next?'’

“‘The big issue now is the prioritization of H-1B visas,’ for which demand already far exceeds supply, Fragomen added. ‘It will be potentially of much greater consequence to business than the travel ban.’”

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