Trump’s “Buy American, Hire American” Executive Order Sends a Strong Signal to Companies Dependent on H1B Visa Holders
On Tuesday, April 18th, President Trump signed his “Buy American, Hire American” executive order.
This order was designed to directly target perceived abuses in the H1B visa program. There is now a near endless stream of commentary on the daily machinations of this new administration, and while I will attempt to mask my own political leanings in this piece, I can’t help but scratch my head at this latest move.
I am reminded of a line I frequently used when raising my children.
“In life, it’s not what you do, it’s how you do it.”
Too often this administration get things wrong, then tries to iterate themselves out of the hole they dug themselves into. This executive order looks to be much of the same.
The administration’s attempt to create more jobs in the country is actually just scaring some of America’s largest employers, most of whom haven’t exactly jumped on board with these new policies.
In point of fact, there is little the President can do to directly affect the H1B program, which is controlled by Congress more directly. The President can, however, order increased audits and enforcement, tweak the lottery system used to award visas, and put political pressure on companies reliant on this labor pool.
The bottom line is simply this: If your company is dependent on foreign-born workers in any critical way, begin to look closely at your options.
Political pressures on companies who rely on H1B visa holders is reason enough to reevaluate your staffing options.
The political pressures alone mean the visa program is destined to change in some way, and likely not for the better. Most companies would readily admit they need more talent, not less. This disconnect seems very much in line with other white house initiatives thus far, still barely 100 days into the new administration.
The white house has already called out the large H1B visa shops and put them on notice.
There will be, for the first time in US history, spot checks on the large outsourcers with the greatest number of visas held.
In addition, there will be a review of the program itself, in an effort to assess its efficacy.
Given the breadth of the program, it’s probably true that there are abusers. Yet we are looking at an inevitable game of whack a mole unfolding. There will be a slew of unintended consequences flowing out of this executive order.
If companies can’t hire the H1B talent they depend on, their options will be: hire American (likely at a far greater salary then is palatable) or shift work overseas.
Which brings me to my next point…
The true repercussions of “Buy American, Hire American”
If the problem the white house is working to address is lack of available jobs, this isn’t the way to address it. This approach is just going to shift the problem from Peter to Paul.
In the short term, companies (yes, like mine) with a bench of US based resources will benefit.
In the long term, water finds its own level. Jobs won’t come back to the United States. Rather, they will shift in greater numbers off shore.
Automation, better education systems overseas, all contribute to the loss of US jobs.
The most direct action we should take to fix the jobs problem would be to look at our education system; a discussion that I wouldn’t dare to open in this piece.
What should you do if you are depending on H1B workers?
If you are dependent on H1B workers, start looking for companies like TxMQ that provide similar talent and capabilities, yet with American teams. The cost models are a little different, but not necessarily more expensive. Historically, we have found our highly trained staff can perform far more cost effectively than most outsourced teams can.
Try us out…there’s no obligation, and we can assure you of immediate peace of mind.
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