With a distinct talent shortage plaguing the industry, it’s hard enough to find solid technology talent for open roles. On top of that, all the talk surrounding immigration reform is having a distinctly negative impact for hiring managers, making recruiting even more difficult. With so much going on in this area, it’s necessary for businesses to take a step back and focus on a successful hiring strategy despite changing H-1B visa laws.
Keep an Eye on Changes
With an overwhelming number of headlines and opinion pieces making their rounds in the news each day, the current state of H-1B law can be quite confusing. While much has been discussed, so far there have been no sweeping or big changes to legislation outside of a few tweaks.
Premium processing for H-1B visas, which expedited the application process for a fee, has been suspended. A provision allowing the spouses of H-1B visa holders to work is likely to be revoked. Additionally, the House Judiciary Committee has recently passed a bill to make it harder for H-1B dependent companies to obtain work permits. Finally, the government is rejecting H-1B applications at a rate 44% higher than last year. Until more concrete changes are clearly spelled out and passed into law, it’s necessary for business owners to keep abreast of what’s coming down the line.
Understand the Repercussions
Even though there hasn’t been much official change to law, all the uncertainty surrounding H-1B reform has shaken the foundation of the IT hiring landscape. Today, especially in the countries outside of the United States that produce a great deal of tech talent, there is a distinct fear and hesitation when considering immigrating to America. It’s the very reason why this year’s 199,000 H-1B visa applications represent a dramatic drop over last year.
At the same time, a program that grants foreign science and tech graduates two years of work authorization could be eliminated. Engineering schools have seen a 30% year-over-year drop in international student applications, a figure that is startling considering international students compose 55% of those studying engineering and computer science in America. These direct effects mean that the talent shortage in tech could get even worse as fewer individuals graduate from technology-based college programs and enter the workforce.
Recognize the Signs of H-1B Abuse
The majority of H-1B visa applicants are honest, hard-working, and talented individuals that are vital to IT departments across America. Unfortunately, within the current chaos and confusion, there are a number of opportunists looking to take advantage of the situation. Theoretically, tighter H-1B laws should help catch abuse, but hiring managers still need to pay extra attention to the warning signs.
There are a number of ways someone with ill intent can try to “game the system.” Fake interviews have exploded in frequency this year. This is where a knowledgeable person acts as the candidate for the interview but then a different, unskilled person shows up for the first day of work. Similarly, a video interview might allow for a candidate to receive answers from someone off camera. Combined with a concerted effort to create robust forged resumes, the lengths disreputable people will go to are more alarming than ever.
Combating H-1B visa abuse at the organizational level requires careful candidate screening. There’s no question that a deceptive hire will get noticed when they show up and fail to fulfill the role’s responsibilities, but waiting that long to catch abuse wastes a vast amount of time and resources and requires restarting the recruiting process for that role.
Scrutinize information during every step of the process, beginning with the application and resume. Does anything seem intuitively off? Do dates, titles, and responsibilities make sense, or were they copied and pasted from your job description? Fact check by visiting the applicant’s LinkedIn page, requesting official transcripts from schools, or calling references and previous employers.
While many people might be able to fake a resume or pay off friends to act as references, few will be able to fake their way through an interview. The difficulty lies in the fact many interviews will be conducted via video as the candidate will be overseas. Some may purposely use a slow, choppy internet connection to conceal the fact they are talking with a friend off screen. During the interview, look for signs of the candidate looking to a friend or listening to an ear piece, as these could be indications that they are being fed lines. Ask the candidate direct, technical questions they should be able to answer and see if they can respond immediately while looking into the camera.
Hiring Despite Changing H-1B Visa laws
It can become easy to obsess and worry over H-1B changes to the point it sabotages your hiring and recruiting. But you don’t need to make it any harder for yourself to hire in an already-tight labor market. Stay focused on your business expertise, employees, and environment with the knowledge that any formal law changes will be communicated well in advance. Plus, should hiring become too difficult in today’s tense environment, rest assured that partnering with a proven staffing firm can be a quick and cost-effective solution.