A national survey of more than 500 human resources professionals from various industries and company sizes found that immigration restrictions are causing more jobs, labor and resources to move out of the United States. The poll results come as no surprise to immigration attorneys and members of the business community, but contradict claims made by many analysts, viewed as questionable by opponents of H-1B visas and immigration. The survey was conducted in February 2023 by Envoy Global, a global immigration service provider, and Cint, a digital insights and research company.
The survey results raise questions about the purpose of government restrictions placed on employers trying to grow their business and workforce in the United States. According to the poll:
– Employers are sending jobs abroad in response to visa restrictions. “86% of companies are hiring outside the US for positions originally intended to be based within the country because of visa-related uncertainties.” (Emphasis added.)
– Companies send employees to other countries due to US immigration policies. “82% of employers saw a foreign worker being forced to leave the US because they were unable to obtain or extend a work-related visa in the past year.”
– America’s loss is the gain of other countries, according to the results. Of the companies surveyed, 62% relocated employees to Canada, 48% to Mexico, 48% to the UK, 31% to Germany and 25% to Australia. Canada has no annual limit on high-quality temporary visas and an easy path to permanent residency for most working immigrants.
– The problems are expected to continue. “93% of companies expect to use nearshoring or offshoring to fill overseas jobs due to immigration barriers and US labor shortages”
Academic research supports the survey findings. Britta Glennon, an assistant professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business, concluded in a study that restrictions on H-1B visas are likely to result in more jobs leaving the United States: “[A]Any policy motivated by concerns about domestic job losses should recognize that policies aimed at reducing immigration have the unintended consequence of encouraging firms to offshor jobs abroad.”
About half of the employers in the survey cited the “limited number of available H-1B visas” as a top immigration barrier for companies. 13% cited slow and uncertain regulatory processing, 15% cited regulatory requirements and paperwork, 4% cited sponsorship costs, and 21% cited “all of the above” as issues.
Another recent poll of 2,006 registered voters, conducted by the Bipartisan Policy Center and Morning Consult, also showed support for more liberal policies on international students and high-skilled immigration. “More than half of voters say increasing immigration of highly qualified workers (57%) and allowing foreign students with in-demand degrees to stay and work in the US (56%) would have a positive impact on the economy “, according to the survey. Only around 12% to 13% believed more welcoming policies would have a negative impact.
Economists (and their research) overwhelmingly support the liberalization of United States rules for international students and immigrant workers. Economists Giovanni Peri, Kevin Shih, Chad Sparber, and Angie Marek Zeitlin found that the annual limit on the number of H-1B petitions is hurting job growth for US-born professionals: “The number of jobs for US-born workers in Computer-related industries would have grown at least 55% faster between 2005-2006 and 2009-2010 if it weren’t for so many applications being rejected in the recent H-1B visa sweepstakes.”
The poll found that language matters: “Regardless of political party and race/ethnicity, voters are more likely to say that employment-based immigration would have positive effects when using the term highly skilled, compared to immigration in general.” The poll also revealed: “Among Republicans . . . The most impactful messages focus on competitiveness with China and an economy for the future.”
The poll comes as efforts to liberalize rules for foreign-born scientists and engineers were blocked in Congress, most recently in 2022 by Senator Charles Grassley. Grassley blocked green card exemptions for foreigners with masters and doctoral degrees in science and engineering from being included in the CHIPS and Science Act of 2022. The number of Indians immigrating to Canada has more than tripled since 2013, in large part due to that country’s more attractive policies for businesses and high-skilled immigrants compared to the United States.
Polls cannot determine policies. However, surveys and the real-world experiences of companies combined with in-depth analysis can show a better way.