- A possible solution to the current STEM candidate shortage may be bringing on more H-1B Visa holding foreign workers, says Leslie Stevens-Huffman who reports for Staffing Industry Review. She adds that a recent DICE survey indicates a 26-day lag in hiring for these positions and that contractor salaries have been driven up by demand by around 5% year over year.
- Michael Hammond, an immigration attorney with Hammond Law Group advises that the chances of getting foreign workers approved for H-1B Visa is very good, but he adds that due to the volatile political climate and added scrutiny from the U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services, the process is fraught with hurdles.
- Stevens-Huffman offers up four possible approaches to hiring H1-B contractors. Employers have the choice to sponsor a contractor for up to six years, hire an existing approved contractor, subcontract to Visa holders, or recruit foreign STEM graduates for permanent placement. She encourages the use of a trusted staffing agency to handle the red-tape of all of these processes.
Costs to go one of these routes are $5,000 plus relocation and training fees. The Optional Practical Training program makes it possible to defer at least some of the costs of hiring H-1B contractors for 36 months if they are in the middle of college studies.
During the STEM candidate shortage, there has been a movement towards extending recruitment and training efforts to include more foreign contractors. This can be a viable method to bring skilled workers on board, but it may not be sustainable. Consider that any new college graduates are not going to have the ability to go directly into leadership positions without extensive training.
Some of this training can take place on the job site using mentors and on-demand training modules, but it may require modification to overcome language and cultural barriers. Employers are tasked with determining if hiring outside of the U.S. is the best option for increasing diversity or if it's better to invest in alternative training and development programs offered to U.S. college students.