The winds of change are blowing with respect to the H1-B visa program that has been integral in easing the perennial shortage of skilled IT workers in American businesses. The pandemic has greatly increased reliance on information technologies and has further exacerbated the deficit of available IT talent – the very type of talent the H1-B visa program was designed to bring to US markets. Executive orders issued by the Trump administration had further stressed the pipeline of IT talent in the US by tightening the flow of immigrant IT talent coming primarily from India and the far east. As the end of the Trump presidency nears though, the tide is set to turn on the US government’s posture toward immigration.
To wit, a group of nearly two dozen attorneys recently filed an amicus brief in Virginia courts against the Trump administration’s ongoing efforts to curtail legal immigration via work visa programs such as the H1-B. In his brief, Virginia attorney general Mark Herring specifically called out the executive order signed in June 2020 banning non-immigrant H1-B workers like those working on H1-B visas from entering the US. While set to expire at the end of 2020, the order could be extended, as Trump will remain in office until January 20, 2021.
The incoming Biden-Harris administration is widely seen to be far less hostile to immigration in general and is expected to reverse much of the immigration policy changes made by the outbound Trump administration. Workforce management industry watchers largely suggest this would benefit American companies that engage in outsourcing of IT functions. Easing of rules governing the movement of talent across borders, particularly in the IT skills areas has been proven to reduce transaction costs and accelerate projects.
Writing for Forbes on the topic, Peter Bendor-Samuel notes that given the outsized deficit between IT resources needed and those available in the global market, it is unlikely that the easing of restrictions on H1-B visas would be impactful enough to make significant difference to the margins or growth vectors of workforce service providers. Bendor-Samuel suggests the changes wouldn’t significantly impact the underlying economics of the services industry in the near term.
In the longer view though, a departure from the anti-immigration posture that define the Trump presidency is expected to have a positive effect on the ability of American business organizations to leverage resources sourced outside the US. Bendor-Samuel says, “The more impactful market aspect of a Biden Administration is that the US will no longer have a president who actively shapes public sentiment against the outsourcing industry. Trump was very vocal in his opposition to outsourcing and the use of labor arbitrage. Biden likely will lessen or eliminate this rhetoric, which will help drive a more favorable public sentiment and make new outsourcing decisions less of a political liability. This potential change in public sentiment could help accelerate growth for the services industry.”
With the record demand for IT skills not showing any signs of easing, the change in posture on this particular issue – as well as the broader issue of outsourcing and immigration in general – represent significant relief to businesses struggling to find needed IT resources. Are you currently seeking to bring contingent IT workforce resources on to support your organization’s projects or operations? nextSource can help.