Several hundred H-1B visa holders have been impacted by multiple layoffs announced by the technology industry.
The H-1B visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows US companies to employ foreign workers in speciality occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise.
Laid off employees hired by other firms
A survey report released by Envoy Global – a worldwide immigration services provider – has found that nearly 89% of companies surveyed have hired one or more foreign nationals who were laid off by another company in the last six months.
Such workers have been left in the lurch, leaving them to scramble to find another job within the 60-day grace period.
Many have been forced to switch to a tourist visa or even return home.
The survey was conducted during February and got 443 responses from HR professionals engaged in immigration functions in their companies.
It covered a wide variety of industries and company sizes.
The report titled ‘2023 immigration trends” notes, “About 78 percent of companies instituted a hiring freeze while 58 percent companies laid of foreign nationals.”
However, many companies benefited by recruiting foreign talent impacted by the earlier layoffs.
Employer demand for foreign talent is higher now
Despite difficult economic conditions, employer demand for foreign talent is higher now than in early 2022, when the Department of Labor recorded an all-time high in foreign employee sponsorship.
That was when the Department of Labour witnessed an all-time high H-1B sponsorships.
71% companies report recruiting more foreign nationals in the first quarter of 2023 than during the same period last year.
Hiring momentum forecast to continue
Speaking of hiring, the survey also highlighted that 89 percent of employers are currently hiring foreign national employees in the US.
Envoy believes that this momentum will continue this year as well.
It expects employers to submit slightly more H-1B registrations than they did in 2022, which saw a record of 483,000 submissions.
The survey report points out that despite the high demand to sponsor foreign talent in the US, immigration barriers are forcing employers to relocate foreign employees overseas and outsource jobs.
Last year, 81 percent of companies transferred foreign national employees to an office abroad because of visa-related issues in the US while 80 percent of companies relocated employees to work remotely overseas because of visa-related issues.
Other reasons like slow and uncertain government processing, government regulations and paperwork, and costs related to sponsoring a foreign national employee also act as hurdles.
Canada stood to gain, with 62% of the respondents stating that employees were relocated to this neighboring country.
It is followed by Mexico and the UK (with 48% affirmative responses).
Employer-friendly immigration systems
Other countries like Germany, Australia also saw relocation with 31 percent and 25 percent respectively.
Respondents also viewed other countries’ immigration systems as more employer-friendly than the US, with Canada being the most employer friendly with 87 percent, followed by UK (83 percent), Ireland (78 percent), Singapore (79 percent) and European Union (81 percent).
Setting up a Global Employment Company
In addition to establishing one or multiple offices outside the US, American companies are also exploring the creation of a Global Employment Company.
Through this they can move employees to other countries using an ‘Employer of Record’ or a ‘Professional Employer Organisation’ or other contracting method to continue to indirectly work with them.
The online registration period for H-1B specialty occupation visas opened on March 1.
As always once this period ends a lottery for selection of candidates will begin since the number of registrations far exceeds the annual H-1B cap quota of 85,000 visas.
Indians main H-1B beneficiaries
Typically, Indians are the main beneficiaries, bagging more than 60% of the new H-1B cap allotments.
While 84% of the respondents approve of the Biden administration’s handling of employment-based immigration, 51 percent felt the immigration process in the US is more difficult than in previous years.
While some employers expressed approval, many felt the system continues to become more difficult for businesses.