U.S. employers are eager to hire foreign talent for their workforce, and they expect this trend to increase even more down the road, according to Envoy's 2022 Immigration Trends Report.
In 2021, 82% of employers said their sponsorship levels met expectations or were higher than projected compared to their expectations at the beginning of the year. Respondents cited stronger economic conditions and unanticipated turnover of the Great Resignation as reasons for higher sponsorship levels last year.
However, employers face challenges attracting and retaining foreign talent due to visa caps and declining levels of enrollment in U.S. colleges and universities.
Employers Expect Foreign National Headcount to Increase in the Next Year
During the next year, 82% of employers expect their foreign national headcount to increase or stay the same.
Survey respondents (90%) said sourcing foreign national employees is important to their company's talent acquisition strategy, with 55% indicating very or extremely important.
Diving deeper into employer sentiment, we asked employers about their specific decisions to sponsor employees for employment-based visas. Employers believe foreign nationals help fill skills gaps in the U.S. and offer valuable cultural and business perspectives.
While the demand and need for talent remains high, current visa numbers are not keeping pace.
In fiscal year (FY) 2023, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) received 483,927 H-1B registrations, which is a record high number of applications. This number is a 56.8% increase over the volume of H-1B registrations that USCIS selected in the first FY 2022 H-1B cap lottery.
Yet, annually, the government issues 85,000 total visas. This number is broken down into two groups: 20,000 visas are reserved for H-1B beneficiaries with master's degrees and 65,000 are for everyone else.
Employers Lean on U.S. Universities
Employers focus heavily on targeting foreign talent from U.S. universities. When asked to select their top three recruiting sources, employers most frequently cited U.S.-based universities and U.S.-based graduate schools as their top two most important sources.
These responses make sense because a 2021 Migration Policy Institute report shows that many foreign students graduate with advanced degrees in high-demand fields including engineering, math, computer science, business and management at U.S. colleges and universities.
As such, employers are eager to hire this foreign talent because of their skills and knowledge. Respondents (40%) anticipate a greater reliance on university and exchange programs as a talent source in the future.
However, while U.S. colleges and universities have traditionally been a lucrative source of talent for employers, data from the State Department shows that the average yearly issuance of F-1 student visas has decreased by nearly 300,000 since 2015.
Restrictive immigration policies and competition from universities abroad are key contributing factors to this concerning trend. More so, these factors showcase the U.S. immigration system's constraints that employers and foreign nationals must navigate.
To learn more about the demand for foreign talent and other important immigration trends, download our 2022 Immigration Trends Report.
Originally published 16 June, 2022
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