Thursday, August 3, 2017

WORK VISAS VERSUS PROTECTIONISM: WINNERS AND LOSERS

By  Erika Morphy                                         
FDI Intelligence
As global business takes stock of Brexit and headline-grabbing US policy decisions, working visas are ripe for reform. Some countries are already benefiting, as Erika Morphy reports.

At the beginning of May, Indian IT giant Infosys announced that over the next several years it would open four tech hubs in the US, hiring some 10,000 Americans in the process. It was a startling concession from the company, which has long been accused of job-stealing by the US. Through it all, Infosys had never blinked, much less revealed country-specific hiring plans.

That changed with the US presidential candidacy of Donald Trump, who rode the job stealing theme to victory, and has recently called for Congress to tighten work visa requirements so that more Americans would get these valuable jobs.
Infosys blinked.

These are strange times for the business of global work visas. In the US and countries, such as Singapore, Australia, Switzerland and most notably the UK, the requirements for crossborder work visas have been tightening, or will tighten, making it difficult for companies, both foreign and domestic, to bring in foreign workers to fill the talent gaps in the local workforce.

At the same time, countries such as Canada and Ireland are going out of their way to promote their own open borders to foreign companies perhaps looking for a more favourable labour climate.

Bolstering borders
The narrative is becoming plain, according to P├íraic Hayes, the senior vice-president for the US west coast at IDA Ireland. “Brexit has introduced a lot of uncertainty and now it seems around the world immigration is becoming stricter,” he says. “We are seeing companies really looking hard at migration and mobility as a challenge, and one that could get worse in time.”

This has been a trend brewing for at least a few years, long before Mr Trump arrived on the mainstream political scene or Brexit became a household word.

In Singapore, for example, there has been a steady reduction in work visas in recent years, according to Nasscom, India’s National Association of Software and Services Companies, but the environment has become particularly tough since 2016.

The Australian government recently moved to abolish the 457 visa, a programme that allowed businesses to hire foreign workers for skilled jobs.

Switzerland’s visa quotas have declined sharply since 2014 as part of the larger push against the free movement of workers from the EU. Although numbers have risen slightly so far in 2017 compared with 2016, they are below 2014’s level, the year the Swiss held a referendum to limit immigration.

US tinkering
Then there is the US, where both the H1-B visa and the L-1 visa are under threat. The H1-B visa is used for highly skilled foreign labour, but critics contend that it is being abused by foreign outsourcers such as Infosys to siphon off US jobs.

Essentially, the accusation goes, these outsourcing firms gobble up as many H1-B visas as they can and then market their services to US firms that want to have IT staff on hand, only not as their own employees. There is some truth to these accusations. It is also true that many companies use the H1-B visa legitimately.

Potential restrictions around the L-1 visa, which have been proposed in Congress, could have an even more detrimental effect on companies, specifically global companies that have operations in the US, because this visa is what such companies must use to transfer overseas-based employees to their US offices.

Some restrictions are already in place on the L-1 visa from 2015, when the US Department of Homeland Security issued a memo stating that the visas were to be limited to employees in speciality occupations; that is, ones that no other worker in the US could do because of the specialist knowledge or skills the employee possesses.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

No more Rene Oliveira. His behavior is very Sucio

Anonymous said...

I believe it was only a few years ago that our area had an issue with a local company providing foreign labor to local industry and in doing so had falsely filed information on many of the work visas. What was the outcome, the perpetrators walked away scott free! Of course they were well connected, responsible community citizens.

Anonymous said...

All I will say is that although El Trump esta loco, I do question why a 80
or 90 year old would want to become a US citizen. What can he still do? I
know his application for all the free stuff is ready to be turned in the
minute he receives the American flag. Pero they still chant, "Como Mexico
no hay dos" or Mexico Lindo y Querido. What are doing coming over here?

Anonymous said...

The HB-1 Visa is plain and simple a way to steel jobs that should be held U.S. Citizens by hiring non-citizens for lower pay.
There is not a talent gap, just greedy companies willing to hire HI-TECH AND MEDICAL WETBACKS.

The "TALENT GAP" is a ruse, the HB-1 Visa program needs to be done away witj....

Anonymous said...

Queso Gratis

Anonymous said...

Era Bueno que nomas fuera el queso, pero hasta telephone les dan con
la Lone Star para comer carne de vaca y no de chivo. Low income housing goes to these people when it should rightfully go to the US citizen who worked the hell out of his fingers all his life and now get $13 a month in stamps. Free
medicine, free food, free housing, free phone, y el chekecito para ir a jugar
a las Makinitas.

rita