In the past, only Fortune 500s and other large firms possessed the capital to build teams abroad or win talent through nonimmigrant worker visas. Innovation equalized that playfield. Hiring foreign technical workers became a feasible talent source for organizations of all sizes. Shifts in technology and national policy are making business leaders rethink and rework the ways they utilize foreign IT workers.
Which Roles Can Go Global?
Many tech workers telecommute as a matter of course. A good majority of IT roles only require dependable hardware, job-specific software, and a reliable internet connection. Cloud platforms and software enable IT professionals to work from any geographic location (that augmented flexibility makes hiring for the cloud so important). That’s why a growing number of hiring managers question placing restrictions on their candidate searches with arbitrary borders.
Hiring foreign technical workers allows companies to satisfy certain hard-to-fill IT roles. However, some positions benefit from stateside talent more than others. The average UX/UI developer delivers the same level of quality coding or wireframing whether he or she is in your office or remoting in from Hyderabad. IT workers suited for an international telecommute tend toward roles where completing deliverables are more hands-off.
Which types of roles are less suited to hiring foreign technical workers?
A few categories stand out:
Leadership Roles – Management depends on more direct involvement. When Project Managers are several time zones away, their ability to coordinate deadlines with employees, vendors, and clients is limited.
Roles Requiring Extensive Communication – Beyond leadership, IT professionals acting as intermediaries or coordinating extensive changes need to be stateside. Change Management or Data Analyst candidates prosper from proximity to the resources, business processes, and budgets they strive to improve.
Roles Subject to Security-Level Clearance – Cybersecurity threats run rampant worldwide. Many organizations are hiring foreign tech workers to mitigate cyberattacks until domestic talent shortages abate. However, any governmental organization, company bidding for government contracts, or business requiring security clearance is better off hiring domestic talent.
H1B Visa Challenge
Laws pertaining to nonimmigrant workers are dynamic and polemic on a good day. Each nation sees the issue in a different light. The European Union allows for EU nationals to work in any other EU country while North Korea restricts the movement of workers in all but extreme conditions. The United States has fallen in between the two poles, but the Trump administration intends to shake up the status quo, especially for H1B visas.
Working to fulfill one of his campaign promises, President Trump signed an order to review and reform the H1B visa program. The program currently allows companies hiring foreign tech worker to submit applications to enter into the H1B lottery. Current application caps rest at 85,000 and the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) received 199,000 applications in five days. What will happen to the H1B visa program after the President’s review is still uncertain, but experts expect drastic changes.
At the very least, the Trump administration intends to do away with premium processing, which accelerates the review process and provides responses to applications in 15 days. The USCIS temporarily suspended all premium processing as of April 3rd, a measure which has the potential to last for six months or more. And that’s just a starting point.
Hiring foreign technical workers will increase in complexity. For the time being, the TN1 visas will remain an option for companies looking to fill IT positions affected by domestic talent shortages. However, President Trump’s avowal to renegotiate or terminate NAFTA, which allows TN1 visa holders from Canada and Mexico to work in the United States, threatens that visa status as well.
The Future Outlook for Hiring Foreign Technical Workers
In spite of that, expectations about hiring foreign technical workers aren’t dwindling in the United States. According to Dick Burke of Envoy Global in his Capitalize on Illinois Conference 2017 presentation, 55% of companies intend to increase their foreign IT worker headcount this year and 91% believe hiring foreign IT workers is an important part of their future talent acquisition strategy. With demand remaining high, new strategies will emerge to satisfy it.
As companies in Silicon Valley and other corners of the country try to find top technical talent, sourcing strategies will demand greater commitment. Hiring foreign technical workers may become difficult using certain tactics. However, organizations implementing a recruiting process that incorporates the latest trends will continue to find game-changing domestic and foreign trained IT workers.