The H-1B visa program was designed to help companies find skilled workers in instances where there wasn’t a sufficient supply in their local, American workforce. However, abuses of the system have led to a series of changes, and one of the most recent ones takes aim at the outsourcing industry.
Form ETA-9035 & 9035E from the US Department of Labor (DOL) now have questions that could force employers to state whether the H-1B visa holder will be assigned to a “secondary entity” as part of their employment. Additionally, it requires employers to identify who those companies are, effectively forcing them to reveal their clients.
The Updates to Form ETA-9035 & 9035E
On the new version of the form, employers applying for H-1B visas first have to answer whether the workers “will be placed with a secondary entity at this place of employment.” Essentially, the DOL is determining whether the visa holder will actually perform duties for a third-party, acting as a contractor.
If the answer to the question is “yes,” the employer applying for the H-1B visas then has to identify the “entities,” providing a legal business name, pay rates and prevailing wage rates for the work for every third-party worksite.
H-1B applicants aren’t the only ones who have to address these questions. The new form also applies to H-1B1 and E-3 petitions.
Who is Impacted by the H-1B Change
While the most obvious group impacted by the change to the H-1B process is companies that contract out their employees to other business, the impact will actually extend beyond those businesses. Anyone who uses firms that rely on H-1B visa holders to function as contractors for the firm may also feel the sting.
Exactly what impact the changes will have, aside from requiring employers to reveal information about clients they provide contractors to, isn’t entirely clear. However, the US government hopes it will help them combat H-1B visa fraud, which is actually beneficial to companies who use the program properly.
Some organizations that need H-1B visa holders to maintain operations have previously had difficulty securing enough visas, and some suspect that large contracting firms played a significant role in those challenges landing the majority of the visas. If those activities are even somewhat curtailed, the impact may be positive for companies that previously struggle.
Additionally, businesses that rely on reputable staffing firms for contract or contingent workers likely won’t see any difference. Many recruitment agencies don’t rely on (or even use) the H-1B visa program to secure enough workers to handle their client’s needs. Instead, they focus on the existing US workforce, using their recruitment and hiring skills to obtain top talent.
Contact The Armada Group for Questions About H-1B Hiring
If you would like to learn more about how the H-1B visa change may impact you, the team at The Armada Group can help. Contact us with your questions or concerns today and see how our services and H-1B visa program expertise can benefit you.
Most tech employers are at least familiar with the basics of the H-1B visa program. However, not as many companies are fully aware of where these visa holders are actually working. And some may be surprised to discover that the number one spot doesn’t go to a city traditionally associated with tech.
If you are wondering where H-1B visa holders are actually working, here’s an overview.
The Number One Spot
Based on a Pew Research Center study that analyzed data associated with H-1B visa approvals between 2010 and 2016, the city with the highest number of approved workers was College Station, Texas. In total, approximately 32 of every 100 H-1B visa applications made it through, reflecting a much higher rate than anywhere else in the nation.
Out of the approved visas, 99 percent of those workers went to Cognizant’s headquarters, which is located in College Station.
Other Major Cities
Overall, the east coast of the US has more H-1B visa holders approved than the west coast. For example, Durham-Chapel Hill, North Carolina, had around 4 for every 100 applications approved, and New York-Newark-New Jersey City’s rate was 2.5 per 100. The Trenton area had just shy of 5 approvals per 100 applications while the Washington DC metro area saw 2 approvals for every 100 applications.
In contrast, the San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara area had just over 2 H-1B visa approvals per 100. Other west coast cities, like Seattle, had less than 1 approval per 100.
Ultimately, this shows that, while H-1B visa holders are certainly present, they may not be as common as some people would think. The numbers represent only a tiny fraction of the total number of employees in the workforce, even in areas like College Station.
Even though College Station has the most H-1B visa holders working in the area, it doesn’t take the top spot when it comes to salaries. That honor goes to Bridgeport, Connecticut, with an average salary of $100,200.
Seattle came in second with $98,100, and Phoenix was third with $97,100.
In comparison, College Station had an average salary of $82,600.
H-1B Program Changes
President Donald Trump has expressed an interest in overhauling the H-1B visa program, though sweeping changes have yet to occur. Various federal agencies have been tasked with reviewing H-1B policies with the goal of revamping the system, though measures in Congress that would alter the program have mainly stalled.
Some smaller actions have impacted the H-1B visa program, including a measure that prevents H-1B visa holders’ spouses from gaining access to H-4 visas. However, even though a larger action hasn’t gone forward, that doesn’t guarantee that they won’t come along in the near future.
If you are interested in learning more or are seeking tech talent to fill your vacant positions, the skilled professionals at The Armada Group can help. Contact us to speak with one of our knowledgeable team members and see how our expertise can benefit your company today.
According to recent statistics from the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) division of the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS), an increasing number of H-1B applications are being challenged by the agency. Even though the Trump administration hasn’t implemented formal reforms in the program, one study claims that “requests for evidence” has increased by 44 percent year-over-year, marking the highest levels experienced since right after the financial crisis in 2009.
Many tech companies claim that they rely on the program to help them find the skilled workers they need, stating that they aren’t always available in the local talent pool. The additional level of scrutiny leaves many such businesses concerned.
The major question regarding the program is why the applications are being more closely evaluated even if significant changes have not been made. Here’s what you need to know.
A Call for Review
In April, President Donald Trump issued an executive order that required DHS and the Labor, Justice and State Departments to review the existing H-1B policy in an effort to eliminate abuse and fraud within the program. While their exact approach isn’t thoroughly revealed, making the process more rigorous is likely a sign that the departments are attempting to live up to the requirement.
USCIS has also made the process of renewing H-1B visas more challenging, increasing the amount of proof required to determine if a worker is actually eligible for the program. This move may have at least partially been responsible for the increased number of “requests for evidence.”
The Debate Surrounding H-1B Visas
Advocates for the program, including numerous large tech firms, insist that the visas are necessary to obtain a fully capable workforce. With unemployment numbers being low, particularly among IT professionals, many fear that restricting the program will only make the talent shortage worse.
Critics of the H-1B visas state that the program takes jobs away from American workers who could otherwise fill the roles, even though the program is supposed to bar that from happening. They also suggest that tech firms should invest in the education of their workforce to manage skill gaps, and not default to bringing in foreign labor.
H-1B Program Changes
While President Trump vowed to make changes to the program during his presidential campaign, it is unknown if or when such reforms could take place. However, it should be anticipated that using the H-1B visa program could continue to become more challenging as numerous Congressional bills have targeted the system in various ways.
If you are looking for a highly skilled IT professional to join your team, the recruitment specialists at The Armada Group can connect you with some of the area’s leading tech talent. Contact us to see how our unique approach to recruiting and hiring can benefit your company today.
Most of Silicon Valley rely on the H-1B program to find skilled foreign workers to fill their vacancies. It has been a great source of quality talent for skills that can be challenging to find, like software developers and engineers. But the current administration, led by President Donald Trump, have begun taking a different stance on the program, looking to make sure that employers aren’t favoring H-1B visa holders over qualified US workers.
The H-1B program was designed to help companies grow and succeed when suitable American workers weren’t available. However, not every company has used the program in that matter, leading to concerns that businesses are being discriminatory in their hiring and may be favoring foreign workers who have the necessary skills but are willing to work for lower wages.
Part of this shift in policy involves the Department of Homeland Security scrutinizing the program. And the immigration enforcers are poised to increase the use of site visits to evaluate how companies are hiring.
But what do these changes truly mean to Silicon Valley employers? Here’s what you need to know.
Defining Required Job Skills
The new policies put in place will require companies to clearly demonstrate a need to look outside of the US for candidates, especially for computer programming positions. This involves showing that specialized skills are needed for the jobs and that they are somewhat unattainable when examining available job seekers from the US.
Companies will need to carefully examine how they define must-have skills and whether they are available within the current pool of candidates before looking for H-1B job seekers for potential employment.
Individuals are now being encouraged to file H-1B abuse complaints, with specific information regarding how to use the process being released by both the Department of Justice and the Department of Labor. This step may impact a US workers likelihood of stepping forward if they believe they were inappropriately displaced by an H-1B employee. This could increase the level of scrutiny some companies will experience, especially if a complaint is filed against them.
While a complaint isn’t a guarantee anything was done incorrectly according to the law, it does mean a great level of involvement from the government agencies tasked with investigating such complaints.
The Bottom Line
While many companies with H-1B employees have little to fear, as they are using the program in the manner it was intended, any company with foreign workers obtained through the program may be subject to increased scrutiny. It is important to prepare accordingly and to make sure that all hiring through the H-1B program follows the letter of the law.
It is also critical to look for local talent when filling technology positions. If you are interested in finding top talent in the Silicon Valley area, The Armada Group has the industry expertise you need to select ideal candidates. Contact us to discuss your hiring needs and see how our services can work for you.