In today’s market, companies are in a war for talent. Low unemployment rates, healthy economic growth and a shortage of high-skilled technical talent has created a fiercely competitive recruiting market. Most employers cannot compete with the Facebooks and Googles of the world on compensation or perks, leaving them to seek alternative differentiators to land top-tier talent.
Many savvy HR teams are using company immigration policy and strategy to stand out among foreign national job seekers. Here are five ways your company can make immigration your recruiting secret weapon.
1. Say “Yes” to Visa Sponsorship
This might seem like a no-brainer, but you might be surprised at how many companies do not offer visa sponsorship for positions that clearly qualify. For example, as of May 11, 2017, almost 6,000 companies had open Software Engineer positions available in the United States on AngelList, a leading platform for startup fundraising and recruiting. Only 950 of those companies (16%) offered visa sponsorship for those positions. This means that 84% of these 6,000 companies were eliminating a massive segment of the potential candidate pool right off the bat.
2. Offer Green Card Sponsorship Early
A company’s Green Card sponsorship policy is often the most important consideration for a foreign national candidate when evaluating an employer. One key reason that candidates are so focused on this timeline is the current immigration policy around work authorization for spouses of H-1B holders. Without an H-1B holder reaching a certain milestone in the Green Card process, his or her spouse is not legally authorized to work. Company policies around the timing of Green Card sponsorship vary tremendously. Some companies only begin the process when it’s absolutely necessary to maintain an employee’s immigration status (18-24 months before the employee has used up the full allowable time in a given visa category). Other companies begin the process within one year of the employee’s start date, including some companies that begin as soon as the employee starts. Implementing a more “employee friendly” Green Card policy can be a key differentiator and allow you to close candidates that you might otherwise lose.
3. Bear the Cost
While some immigration costs are legally required to be borne by the employer (e.g. most H-1B expenses, all PERM expenses), some costs can be covered by either the employer or the employee (e.g. spouse/child applications, I-140 and Adjustment of Status applications, premium processing fees). These costs can be financially burdensome for an employee if passed along by the employer. Instead, build immediate goodwill and eliminate these concerns by communicating your willingness to bear all immigration-related costs over the employee’s tenure with the company. In the grand scheme of things, these costs will be well worth it if the employee works out.
4. Instill Confidence in Your Immigration Process
Candidates with an existing employer sponsor are often hesitant to switch employers, especially if they perceive any potential risk with the new employer’s ability to secure a visa or Green Card. If your company has a track record of successful immigration processes, don’t hesitate to share that success with a foreign national candidate! If your company doesn’t have a track record worth sharing, point out the credibility and experience of your immigration provider so the candidate knows their case will be in trusted hands. You can even schedule a call with the candidate and your immigration provider to confirm that the case is approvable and address the candidate’s immigration questions or concerns.
5. Be Prepared to Move Quickly
Like many aspects of a business, recruiting is all about momentum. A slow and inefficient immigration process opens up the door for the candidate to get cold feet, not to mention the business impact of a delayed start date. Make sure your immigration provider is set up to move quickly by asking them questions like “what is your average turnaround time for this type of process?” and “what processes do you have in place to help streamline the process?”. Experienced and efficient providers will even commit to a specific timeline, which can be shared with the candidate to ensure that all parties are well-coordinated.
The most successful HR teams view immigration as an important arrow in their recruiting quiver. Consider these five tips if you are looking for an edge in the war for talent.