2020 IMMIGRATION TRENDS

“As the innovation economy continues to be even more global, it is imperative that policymakers, CEOs, industry leaders, and anyone who understands the need for a smart, sustainable immigration system, educate themselves on the problem so that together, we can build the solution. The 2020 Immigration Trends Report is a valuable and illuminating first step to doing exactly that.
– Hanna Siegel, New American Economy

For the past five years, we’ve partnered with The Harris Poll to conduct Immigration Trends.
In that time, we’ve seen trends evolve and government policies grow more restrictive in some destinations and more progressive in others. One fact persists, however: immigration remains imperative to employers and the economies they support.

The demand for foreign talent remains high as the skills gap persists and labor markets remain exceedingly competitive. More companies are using Immigration to address these challenges and foster a diverse workforce.

Immigration is becoming more critical to employers as high-skilled labor shortages intensify in both the U.S. and globally. This year’s survey found that 85% of employers expect their company’s foreign national headcount to increase or remain the same in the next year, a 6% increase from 2019. Meanwhile, it has become clear that organizational diversity is playing a significant role in the competition for talent: 40% of employers reported that recruiting a diverse workforce was the primary driver in the growth of their immigration work, the single largest reason among respondents.

85%
of employers expect their foreign national headcount to either increase or stay the same in 2020

93% of employers said that sourcing foreign talent is important to their company’s talent acquisition strategy

Q: How important is sourcing foreign national employees to your company’s talent acquisition strategy?

GOVERNMENT SCRUTINY OVER IMMIGRATION REMAINS HIGH, AND EMPLOYERS ARE MOST CHALLENGED BY A LACK OF EFFICIENCY, TRANSPARENCY, AND VISA AVAILABILITY

Only 16% of employers said the visa application process has become less difficult under the current administration

Q: Under the current administration, has your company’s visa application process (including external, or USCIS-related, AND internal processes) become less difficult, more difficult or stayed the same?

41% and 38% of employers pointed to uncertainty of outcome in cases and a rise in application denials, respectively, as two of their biggest pain points with the U.S. immigration application process

Q: What are your biggest pain points surrounding the U.S. immigration application process?

0%
UNCERTAINTY OF OUTCOME
0%
RISE IN APPLICATION DENIALS
0%
LACK OF TRANSPARENCY INTO THE PROCESS
0%
FOREIGN NATIONAL ANXIETY

MORE EMPLOYERS ARE SPONSORING FOREIGN NATIONALS FOR GREEN CARDS, AND THEY’RE STARTING THE PROCESS EARLIER IN AN EMPLOYEE’S TENURE

Employers are looking to provide foreign nationals with the stability and security that comes with  permanent residency, particularly in the face of political uncertainty. This year, 71% of employers said their company has sponsored a foreign national for permanent residence before, up from 66% in 2019. As green card applicants face an unprecedented backlog and long wait times, employers are starting the green card process much earlier in an employee’s tenure: 81% of employers that sponsor green cards start the process within or upon the first year of an employee’s service, up from 66% in 2019.

71% of employers said their company has sponsored a foreign national for permanent residence

Q: Has your company ever sponsored a foreign national for permanent residence (a green card)?

81% of employers who sponsor green cards start the process within or upon the first year of an employee’s service, including 26% that do so immediately

Q: When does your company typically start the green card application process for your sponsored employees?

Of the 81% who started the green card process within the first year of service, respondents stated their timeframes as follows:

Leading up to the 2020 presidential election, legislators have proposed changes that have the potential to impact U.S. work authorization

Click here to read the full chapter on government policy and legislation.

36% of employers said that if passed, the Fairness in High-Skilled Immigration Act will make their hiring and retention of foreign nationals easier. 31% said it would make hiring and retention harder

Q: How do you think the proposed legislation to change per-country green card caps (e.g., The Fairness in High Skilled Immigration Act) would impact your business?

71% of employers said that they would support the creation of a visa that would encourage foreign nationals to consider working outside traditional coastal hubs

Q: Would you support the creation of a new visa that would encourage foreign nationals to consider working outside traditional East and West coast hubs?

Canada continues to establish itself as a compelling destination for the world’s top talent, and employers are targeting the country as an alternative to U.S. assignments

While some countries restrict immigration, Canada is taking full advantage with new, fast-track immigration pathways (e.g. Global Talent Stream) to encourage more high-skilled immigration, and it’s working: 74% of employers surveyed in our report said they considered Canada’s immigration policy to be more favorable than the U.S. and 51% of employers said they were considering Canada for their company’s expansion, up from 38% the previous year.

51% of employers are considering Canada for their company’s expansion

Q: Are you considering Canada for your company’s expansion?

74% of respondents consider Canada’s immigration policy to be more favorable to employers than that of the U.S.

Q: Do you consider Canada’s immigration policy to be more favorable to employers than the policy of the U.S.?

ABOUT THE REPORT

The purpose of the 2020 Immigration Trends Report is to provide HR managers, talent acquisition teams, CHROs and CEOs with information and resources to help them benchmark their immigration programs and improve internal processes. In doing so, we hope to empower them to develop, implement and scale a global mobility program that will attract and top tier talent.


ABOUT THE SURVEY

The national survey was conducted online by The Harris Poll from Oct. 30 to Nov. 19, 2019, with 433 HR professionals and hiring managers participating across a variety of industries and company sizes. Each respondent is a U.S. resident, 21+ in age and involved in hiring decisions at their company. Their companies have experience in either the visa or green card application process and they are familiar with sourcing foreign nationals for employment. Questions covered internal and external global immigration processes and challenges. Questions relating to international (outbound) immigration were limited to the 255 respondents who indicated they had direct experience handling it at their organization.

DOWNLOAD THE REPORT



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Founded in 1998, Envoy is the technology leader in global immigration services. Envoy combines expert legal representation — for both inbound and outbound immigration — and proprietary technology, making it seamless for companies to hire and manage an international workforce. This platform empowers companies to acquire the best talent regardless of where they are in the world, mobilizes employees around the world to take advantage of business opportunities, and enables the management of their entire global workforce. Envoy has handled more than 30,000 cases and served more than 2,000 customers in a broad range of industries.

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