The San Francisco Bay Area tech lobby -- including Silicon Valley -- has long championed the practice of hiring foreign nationals, regularly pressuring Congress to increase the cap on the number of H-1B visas issued annually, especially for tech workers. But, a recent poll, conducted by Harris on behalf of Envoy, a Chicago-based body shop dedicated to expansive immigration policies, revealed that tech companies don't need foreign-born workers as much as they've led the public to believe.
Their mantra is always the same: There just simply aren't enough qualified American applicants for these positions. We MUST hire more foreign nationals who have the skills, education, and experience that is so grossly lacking in the American workforce.
But, do these employers really need more foreign workers?
Despite the lobbyists constantly claiming business would suffer greatly without the almighty H-1B, the poll indicates there is a gaping discrepancy between the rhetoric and the actual priorities of these companies.
The poll, which asked 171 Bay Area employers a series of questions pertaining to their companies' recruitment and hiring of foreign-born employees, revealed that a mere 8 percent say they are actively seeking to hire foreign tech workers. It also revealed that 33 percent of San Francisco employers are admittedly hiring LESS foreign nationals than in the past.
Furthermore, tech companies' responses to the questions show that a startling majority -- some 54 percent -- of Bay Area employers say that "sourcing foreign national employees" to their company is "not important," while 70 percent of employers nationwide say it is "important."
These poll results beg the question, "what has changed?"
Where's the overwhelming need for more foreign employees? What happened to the concern of Silicon Valley employers for their foreign tech force?
Perhaps the proverbial "Trump factor."
A story in Forbes about the poll notes that a previous survey by Envoy earlier this year found that most companies still wish they could choose staff from a global pool of engineers. I have to suspect the problem for them is that in the age of Trump, it has become more difficult for their wishes to come true, causing them to be less enthusiastic about substituting foreign workers for American workers.
The Trump Administration's improved vetting of the H-1B application process, has made it more challenging for employers to hire foreign nationals. But, when push comes to shove, San Francisco employers are growing increasingly unwilling to jump through the new hurdles of the H-1B visa petition process and are instead opting to staff their tech force with high-skilled Americans.
The H-1B visa is largely to blame for the age discrimination and increased competition for jobs that has left high-skilled American workers jobless or under-employed. But Pres. Trump's "Buy American, Hire American" Executive Order may have begun to shift business attitudes.
JADE HANEY is the Digital Content Manager for NumbersUSA
Updated: Wed, Jul 18th 2018 @ 5:49pm EDT