ABOUT THE 2022 IMMIGRATION TRENDS REPORT

We surveyed over 300 HR professionals across the country and found that demand for foreign talent is at an all-time high in the wake of a severe labor shortage. Yet, the flow of accessible foreign talent to the U.S. remains obstructed by enduring regulatory barriers imposed by the federal government. In our report, we explore how employers are reacting to the constricting access to foreign talent along with other pressing challenges.

We release the 2022 Immigration Trends Report with the hopes that it will allow HR managers, talent acquisition teams, CHROs and CEOs alike to benchmark and reevaluate their immigration and mobility strategies. We look forward to hearing your own thoughts and experiences and stand by ready to help your organization succeed.



The Demand For Foreign Talent

Sponsorship remains imperative for U.S. employers today and moving forward

Green Card Sponsorship

Employers look to offer peace of mind in an uncertain time

Immigration Policy & Reform

Visa availability and costs are corporate pain points
Remote Work

Immigration in the New Era of Remote Work

Employers are taking a range of approaches to adapt their immigration programs to address the continued mass adoption of remote and hybrid work

Global Immigration & Mobility

Despite the lingering effects of the pandemic, employers expect to increase outbound immigration and source more foreign talent to work in alternative hubs abroad

Immigration Program & Partners

Enduring pain points like frequent government policy changes continued to place pressure on immigration programs

Employer demand for foreign talent remains high, but declining levels of immigration to the U.S., combined with restrictive visa caps and stalled government reforms, may diminish employer access to key sources of foreign talent in the U.S. and lead to more outsourcing of work abroad.

After nearly two years of variability due to pandemic-related border closures, green card sponsorship is stabilizing and remains a key strategy for employers to retain foreign talent.

Since 2017, at least 50% of respondents to our survey expected their company’s foreign national headcount to increase in the following year, including this year with half of respondents expecting an increase versus only 15% expecting a decrease.

82%
of employers expect their foreign national headcount to either increase or stay the same in 2022

82% of employers saw sponsorship levels of foreign national employees that were higher than projected (26%) or met expectations (56%)

Q: How did your company’s sponsorship levels in 2021 compare to your expectations at the beginning of the year?

After nearly two years of variability due to pandemic-related border closures, green card sponsorship is stabilizing and remains a key strategy for employers to retain foreign talent.

Respondents indicated that their green card policies stabilized in the last year, with 29% indicating they had made no changes versus only 8% the year prior

Q: In what ways has your company changed its green card policy over the past year?

0%
are sponsoring more green cards
0%
are starting the green card process sooner
0%
are paying more for the green card process
0%
sponsoring green cards for the first time
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The top three most important factors were Border or consular closures due to COVID-19, Overall business performance resulted in cutbacks and Government processes have become too difficult, time consuming or costly

Q: Why did your organization make these changes? Please rank the following that apply from MOST impactful to LEAST impactful

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83% of employers who sponsor green cards start the process before the employee’s first H-1B renewal, and 66% do so before their first anniversary

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

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Chart by Visualizer

Employers generally support the direction of employment-based immigration under the current administration. However, the lack of significant reform to the immigration system continues to stifle employers’ ability to source sufficient candidates from a gradually diminishing supply of foreign talent in the U.S. and is leading them to seek overseas alternatives.

Despite taking measures to mitigate the costs and risks associated with the green card process, this year’s survey shows that many employers are seeking to bolster green card sponsorship to retain foreign talent.

70% approve of the current administration’s handling of employment-based immigration

Q: Do you approve of the current administration’s handling of employment-based immigration?

Employers emphasized quicker USCIS processing times increased transparency and further digitization as the most important reforms they would like the U.S. government to implement in the immigration system

Q: Using the scale provided, how important are each of the following items in terms of what you would most like the U.S. government to change within the immigration system?

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Employers are taking a range of approaches to adapt their immigration programs to address the continued mass adoption of remote and hybrid work, while confronting significant challenges around compliance and communication that are exacerbated by a remote work environment.

Two years into the mass adoption of remote and hybrid work, employers report very different
experiences with regard to their immigration programs with 31% sponsoring more foreign nationals for employment in the U.S. versus 26% who said they are sponsoring less

Q: How has the adoption of remote work impacted sponsorship levels at your organization?

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Among the employers that sponsored more foreign nationals since the adoption of remote work, 51% said that even with the ability to hire outside their local markets, their company is still unable to find sufficient available talent and are thus still sponsoring more foreign national employees

Q: Why has the adoption of remote work caused your company to sponsor more foreign nationals in the U.S.?

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Despite the lingering effects of the pandemic, employers expect to increase outbound immigration and source more foreign talent to work in alternative hubs abroad like Canada, Mexico and the U.K. to bypass stifling regulatory barriers in the U.S.

82% of respondents said that their company resumed global travel and the associated outbound (non-U.S.) immigration work in 2021

Q: Has your company resumed global travel and the associated outbound (non-U.S.) immigration work?

As frustration with the inefficiency and unreliability of the U.S. immigration system increases, these responses show that employers are looking outward to bypass stifling regulatory barriers in the U.S. by relocating foreign talent to more immigration-friendly destinations abroad. Seventy-one percent of respondents indicated they have pursued at least one, if not multiple, strategies to retain employees for whom they have been unable to secure work authorizations in the U.S. by moving them to other countries, including:

Driving this return to global travel and outbound immigration work was the need to place high-skilled talent unable to secure U.S. work authorization and to support expansion into new locations

Q: If your organization has resumed global travel, what are the top three primary drivers for your outbound (non-U.S.) immigration?

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Enduring pain points like frequent government policy changes continued to place pressure on immigration programs, leading employers to place a high value on cost efficiency and data security through emerging technologies when assessing immigration providers.

Employers also frequently cited “the process of preparing visa applications/petitions” and “legal fees” in their top five biggest pain points for managing their immigration programs, exhibiting the internal cost and efficiency pressures that employers confront as they navigate government hurdles.

The top 5 biggest pain points our survey respondents cited with the U.S. immigration system were all related to how the government handled their portion of the process versus the steps handled by the company

Q: Please select what you feel are your top five biggest pain points when dealing with the U.S. immigration application process overall?

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Employers rank the lack of predictability, government and legal fees and the process of preparing visa applications / petitions as top pain points in managing their U.S. immigration program

Q: Please select what you feel are your top five biggest pain points around managing your company’s U.S. immigration program?

Chart by Visualizer

CONCLUSION

As the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic starts to diminish, access to foreign talent remains critical for employers. More than ever before, factors like outdated visa caps and lack of reform from the government are straining employers, particularly in the backdrop of an ongoing labor shortage. Nevertheless, organizations are invested in streamlining the increasingly complex process of securing work authorization for foreign talent as competition amongst employers stiffens.

Looking ahead, some actions by the current administration offer optimism for employers as steps are being taken to digitize the U.S. immigration process and provide relief to extensive green card backlogs. That said, there is still a strong appetite for broad government reforms that increase the efficiency and capacity of the U.S. immigration system. Without such reform, the flow of foreign talent to the U.S. will continue to be stifled and the U.S. will lose valuable talent as employers look abroad to countries with more favorable immigration policies. In the long run – and especially in the peak of a labor shortage – losing skilled talent to other more welcoming nations hurts the country as a whole, not only by failing to use immigration to address the labor shortage, but by leaving employers with little options except to move high paying jobs outside the country along with losing the considerable consumer spending and tax revenue those jobs produce.

ABOUT THE REPORT

The purpose of the 2022 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.


SURVEY METHODOLOGY

The national survey was conducted online by Lucid from March 8 to March 15, 2022, with 305 HR professionals participating across a variety of industries and company sizes. Each respondent is a U.S. resident, 21+ in age and holds a full-time HR or Global Mobility position. Their companies have experience in either the non-immigrant visa, green card or outbound global immigration application process. Questions covered internal and external global immigration processes and challenges. Questions relating to green cards were limited to the 245 respondents who indicated that they had direct experience handling them at their organization. Similarly, the international (outbound) immigration questions were limited to the 141 respondents who confirmed experience in that area.

ABOUT ENVOY

Founded in 1998, Envoy is a global immigration services provider offering the only immigration management platform that makes it seamless for companies to hire and manage an international workforce. By combining access to top-tier legal representation—for both inbound and non-U.S. immigration—and proprietary technology, Envoy empowers companies to acquire the best talent regardless of where they live, while simultaneously managing their entire global workforce and enabling employees to take advantage of business opportunities around the globe. Envoy serves over 1,000 customers ranging from high-growth startups to Fortune 50 corporations.

Website, technology platform and administrative services are provided by Envoy Global Inc., a Delaware corporation. Legal services are provided by Envoy-affiliated attorneys. Please visit envoyglobal.com for more information.

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