Companies say challenges with the current immigration process are slowing down projects and heightening anxieties
U.S. employers are looking for ways to simplify and expedite the immigration process for their sponsored talent, Envoy’s 2019 Immigration Trends Report found. Human Resources managers and foreign nationals alike are facing heightened uncertainty in today’s immigration climate. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) reported an RFE rate of 38% for H-1B visa petitions in FY 2018, up from just 21% in FY 2017. USCIS data also shows that the approval rate for H-1B petitions dropped 8% in FY 2018. Furthermore, the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) found that average USCIS case processing times for all visa types have increased by 91% since FY 2014. Without timely approvals, employees are left with less confidence over their work status, and business projects threaten to stagnate. According to the Korn Ferry 2019 Future of Work report, the U.S. could also miss out on $1.748 trillion in revenue thanks to labor shortages. For many employers, rising RFE rates, visa denials and lengthier processing times are already biting into bottom lines.
System leading to increased costs
For 30% of employers surveyed in Envoy’s report, the current immigration system has led to project delays in 2019. For 26% of employers, the system has forced them to increase their budget to address these challenges, and 31% have had to increase staff. Just 12% of employers said that the immigration system has had no impact on their hiring and retention strategies. Nevertheless, foreign talent is still a necessity for employers as the U.S. witnesses record-low unemployment and the skills gap continues. “Despite the government’s tightening of employment-based immigration policies, U.S. companies’ need and search for foreign talent hasn’t slowed,” said Richard Burke, CEO of Envoy. “95% of employers we surveyed said that foreign employees are an important part of their talent acquisition strategy.”
Desired changes to the system
An overwhelming majority of employers are looking for the U.S. government to expedite the immigration process. Ninety-seven percent of those surveyed said that they would like to see quicker case processing times, and 95% also ranked expedited case filing as an important change to the system. In addition, Envoy found that employers now want more transparency for HR teams and their employees going through the immigration process. Ninety-five percent of respondents said that improved insight for them into USCIS case processing was an important change to be made, and 93% said improved insight for employees was important. The green card process is also an area for improvement, according to the trends report, with 93% of employers citing reforms to increase the annual allotment for green cards as an important policy change they’d like to see. Doing so would decrease wait times for green cards, which currently can extend for years depending on a foreign national’s country of origin. “Our customers have proven that employers want to provide foreign nationals with the best possible, most streamlined immigration experience,” Burke said. “In today’s landscape, doing so is critical to attracting and retaining the best talent.”
Envoy is pleased to provide you this information, which was prepared in collaboration with Sara Herbek, who is Managing Partner at Global Immigration Associates, P.C. (www.giafirm.com), Envoy's affiliated law firm. Content in this publication is not intended as legal advice, nor should it be relied on as such. For additional information on the issues discussed, consult an Envoy-retained attorney or another qualified professional.