Senior Associate (England & Wales)
Where Has Your Workforce Gone?
Considerations in light of changing UK and US immigration policies
Immigration is a topic that directly touches all of us, including businesses on both sides of the Atlantic that need to recruit and retain a talented workforce.
We are starting to see what a ‘hard Brexit’ might mean as European agencies, banks, and other key employers with business hubs in the UK consider moving their operations and people elsewhere. While that may assist the UK government to reduce net migration, the talent drain could hurt your ability to maintain and build a top tier workforce.
We are also seeing the practical effects of President Trump’s Executive Orders targeting highly-skilled workers (note the April 18 2017 Executive Order). Businesses already face extensive delays and uncertainty when hiring and staffing, resulting from temporary suspension of premium processing for all H-1B petitions, for up to six months by USCIS.
Here are 3 broad areas to think about to prepare for the rapidly shifting immigration landscapes in the US and UK:
- What percentage of your workforce is from overseas? Who and where do you look to recruit and why? Businesses relying on global talent are more at risk, such as those in the PR, Marketing and Communications sectors who need to reach all of their clients’ intended markets, or those with specialized needs in engineering or information systems.
- What infrastructure and budget do you have in place to attract and retain top talent? Does your workforce skew towards millennials, who expect to have opportunities to travel and work in different countries? International hires and transfers are costly, involving relocation packages, and legal and government filing fees. In the UK, sponsorship costs have substantially increased with higher minimum salary requirements, expansion of an Immigration Health Surcharge, and a new Immigration Skills Charge. In the US, depending on the visa application, immigration costs can range from $2,000-10,000 per employee (inclusive of legal and filing fees).
- Audit the immigration status of your workforce! Do your overseas nationals have or need visas to do their jobs, and when do those visas expire? Don’t end up with an abrupt vacancy or a missed travel assignment because a visa application has not been filed in time. Reassure your current and prospective employees that you support their and their families’ immigration needs.
Taking the initiative now can mitigate your talent risk in the current immigration environment.