This Chicago tech company says hiring foreign workers won't get easier any time soon

February 23, 2016

The technology sector likes to squabble (a lot) about an apparent lack of viable talent — specifically for roles requiring high-level applications of math, engineering, and computer science. Companies of all shapes, specialties, and sizes say they struggle to fill those particular vocational nooks with domestic talent. As a result, many businesses direct their hunts internationally in search of the top-tier techies they desire.

But according to a recent study by Chicago-based

, hiring foreign nationals isn’t exactly the quick fix they’d hoped for, either — not because the talent isn’t there, but because of what companies see as an increasingly complex visa application process.

“The results of our survey indicate that it’s crucial for employers to be able to hire and retain key foreign national employees,” said Dick Burke, president and CEO of VISANOW in a statement. “Seemingly, employers are concerned that what they perceive to be an increasingly difficult application process, citing an uptick in Requests for Evidence, slow processing times and lack of transparency, is threatening their ability to hire the highly skilled individuals they require to achieve long-term success.”

The study, an online survey by Harris Poll that garnered responses from more than 400 HR professionals, found that more than 40 percent of respondents said sourcing foreign nationals was a “very” or “extremely” important tenet of their hiring strategies, with one third of employees expecting an increase in sponsored workers during the next year.

Drawing from a pool of reasons for expanding their talent pool globally (including the lack of readily available talent and and a desire to be more competitive on a global scale), companies — particularly in the tech industry — have grown increasingly warmer to the idea of an internationally diverse workforce.

But that enthusiasm doesn’t mean the process has gotten any easier. According to the survey, the opposite appears to be the case, with 63 percent of employers saying the immigration system in the US is broken and 46 percent submitting that it’s gotten harder to navigate the application process in the past five years alone.

A major pain point? An influx of Requests for Evidence (RFE) from immigration officers — a kink 45 percent of employers say clog the overall application process.

“The current system is frustrating, confusing, stressful and inefficient,” said Jamie Gilpin, VISANOW's Chief Marketing Officer.

For tech companies, there are a number of fixes they’d like to see implemented: faster processing times, lower costs, priority to smaller businesses, and raising the cap for H-1B visas — special visas for people with highly specialized skills, like software engineering or data science, that are hired by domestic consulting firms and tech companies.

But many of those solutions require legislative action — and given the political milieu surrounding issues of immigration, an immediate fix seems unlikely. 

Political reform aside, many companies (about 49 percent of those surveyed) said platforms/services like VISANOW will be the most important source streamlining the application process in the future.

“VISANOW integrates the best of both people and technology to simplify and expedite the immigration process via an intuitive online immigration-management platform, knowledgeable VISANOW-retained attorneys and a dedicated, comprehensive support team,” Gilpin said.

Founded in 1998, VISANOW is an immigration service provider that marries people and technology in an attempt to rehabilitate an antiquated, application system. In addition to their online platform, VISANOW additionally provides both businesses and individuals with online resources for immigration support, including policy updates, USCIS notifications, and training and continuing education for HR professionals.

Image via Shutterstock. 

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