June 1, 2022

Is Immigration Support Helping or Hurting Your Recruiting Efforts?

Recruitment in the current age is tough. The pandemic has caused upheaval in numerous industries -interrupting old ways of working and driving spikes in demand and changes in buyer behaviour.

Workers have struggled, with many re-evaluating their career choices and questioning their path forward. More so than ever, prospective employees are scrutinizing the benefits and company culture that come with a potential offer, rather than just the financial compensation.

Is Immigration Support Helping or Hurting Your Recruiting Efforts?

What role does immigration play within the future of work?

The obvious consideration is whether someone needs immigration permission to undertake the employment in question. But also consider how immigration can act as an incentive or demonstration of an employer’s commitment to its workforce. Employers may find that immigration support can enhance attraction to:

    • Specific roles
    • The organisation
    • A job location

How can an organisation use immigration services to entice and retain talent?

For roles based in the United States, the support of “green cards” has a long history of use as an employee retention tool. This symbol of obtaining permanent residence in the U.S. has quite literal origins: from 1946 – 1964 permanent U.S. residence cards were green in colour.

For roles based in the United States, the support of “green cards” has a long history of use as an employee retention tool. This symbol of obtaining permanent residence in the U.S. has quite literal origins: from 1946 – 1964 permanent U.S. residence cards were green in colour.

With lengthy processing times, a candidate is usually ‘tied’ to the organisation for at least two years. The green card process typically entails three steps and involves two separate government entities. Processing times for these steps are constantly fluctuating, recently growing longer due to the pandemic.

Employers typically take on costs in the region of USD $10,000 - $15,000 for the green card process. Whilst this is not a light option to undertake from a total rewards perspective, it nonetheless offers a clear path to securing much needed talent for roles based within the U.S.

Why this approach for U.S.-based roles?

It is interesting to compare this to behaviours within other countries, all competing for the same top tier of talent.

Within most countries, support of permanent residency is seen as a luxury with many organisations agreeing to support only established employees, not recent hires. The benefits of permanent residency are broadly the same within the U.S. and other countries, with the individual becoming free from immigration control once it has been issued. This permits the permanent resident employee to work for any employer they choose. They can also start their path to gaining citizenship of that country if they wished to do so.

So why the difference in approaches? On one hand it reflects the competitiveness in U.S. recruitment, but do not underestimate how it may provide assurance to job seekers in a country where within recent years migration has not been encouraged. To secure a green card is to be allowed to settle, and by extension to earn a measure of security in a country where the immigration landscape changes frequently and unpredictably.

How else can immigration be used to aid recruitment?

There are a variety of work visas typically available, some of higher preference to candidates than others.

In the U.S., an H-1B visa is still seen as the ideal for professional employment. H-1B is a professional work visa for specialty occupations, however, preference for it may stem from familiarity (mere exposure effect), misinformation or desire for status, rather than it being truly optimal for each employee situation.

There are indeed situations where an H-1B is the optimal – or only – option, however there is also a range of other work visas available such as L-1s and E-2s.

L-1s are for employees who have worked at an organization’s office outside of the United States for at least one year and are being transferred to an office location within the U.S.. E-2s are for people from certain treaty countries who plan to invest their money in a U.S.-based business. Both will allow work, and potentially more importantly can be precursors to a successful green card application at a later time. These visa categories may not encourage new hires to an organisation but can be attractive for encouraging assignments in the U.S.

Supporting the family experience supports successful assignments

Immigration may also be used as a consideration for meeting the whole family’s satisfaction with relocation. The ability for a partner or spouse to work may be just the right incentive to recruit an employee for a permanent role or international assignment.

The majority of immigration categories allow for partners or spouses to qualify as a dependant, subject to meeting the requirements. Whilst not having the automatic right to work, it is possible to apply for work authorisation via a secondary process. The ability for a partner to bring in a second income or maintain career progression, should a prospective employer support the same, can make an offer more appealing relative to a recruit’s other choices.

Be intentional: immigration can be a help to your recruiting efforts

Immigration is often seen as a barrier to recruitment, or at least a necessary hurdle. Use immigration support strategically in your total rewards mindset – it can be one of your most effective tools.

Contact us to help you discern how to make immigration an effective tool for your business.

Sterling Lexicon brings our caring and personalised approach to your relocation programme needs, while Graham Adair has the experienced, helpful, and dedicated team to deliver visa and immigration expertise and compliance. See our inbound-U.S. Immigration support services at U.S. Visa and Immigration.


Leanne Cottrell

Leanne Cottrell

As Head of Immigration with Sterling Lexicon, Leanne leads a team of specialists who are responsible for ensuring the entire immigration process is smooth and stress-free for clients, assignees and their accompanying family members. She brings over ten years of experience in strategic immigration management, planning and consultation to her role, and has cultivated invaluable knowledge and experience in processing countless global migration applications. As a trusted partner, she consults with clients on everything from policy considerations and cost or efficiency improvements, to the impact of opening offices in new locations. Leanne is a frequent presenter and author on global immigration topics and trends.

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