Why the Immigration Bill Is Not Good for You or Your Company

When it comes to talent, you and your company have your own ideas about identifying the most valuable employees. That’s the way it should be, since your company’s need for talent depends on its strategy and circumstances. So it stands to reason that your company is in the best position to decide what talent is needed and when.

Now along comes the proposed immigration bill that, if it becomes law, will make that determination for many employers. This bill should be of concern to all those in the recruiting profession, especially those of you recruiting for advanced skills. Here’s why.

The bill’s key provision is a proposed points-based system for awarding work-related visas. A visa applicant would be evaluated on a 100-point scale, with about 50% based on employment criteria, 25% on education, 15% on English proficiency, and 10% on family connections. Minimum qualification: 55 points.

The bill proponents claim the current system gives the most weight to families and relatives and doesn’t do enough to bring in much-needed skilled professionals. This may sound like a good idea in theory, since it would favor people with more critical skills. But on closer inspection it appears that not all is as it seems.

An analysis by the Los Angeles Times showed that the proposed system can produce some rather odd results. For instance, an unskilled, illegal alien can score 21 points with three years of agriculture experience, while a legal skilled immigrant with an MBA, MD, or graduate degree gets only 20 points. Regulation of the points system would be managed by the federal government.

What this essentially means is that bureaucrats would determine what skills are important to business and industry, rather than the employers and, of course, you. So if your company wants employees who do not pass the points test, well, tough. The message from the bill sponsors to employers is: “Trust us, we know what’s best for you.”

Other countries’ experiences with a similar approach have been far from positive. Canada implemented a similar system in 1967. Under that system, a person did not need to have a job offer but just meet the requisite number of points (67). Points are awarded for meeting criteria in categories such as education, work experience, occupation, language ability, and age. Bonus points can be earned for “adaptability.” That is, if the applicant’s spouse is highly educated, or if the person has a relative in the country. (See if you qualify to become a Canadian).

Australia and Britain have similar systems. The limitation of this approach for awarding work permits is that it doesn’t allow for people with unconventional skills or those who might be highly skilled but lacking in professional qualifications. Under the Canadian system, Bill Gates would not qualify for immigration to Canada because he lacks a degree.

I suppose he could just buy the place if he really wanted to. Of course, if Bill really wanted to be a subject of the Queen, then someone in Ottawa would find a way to bend the rules to make it happen, regardless of what the points system allows for. Much the same would likely happen here, as was done for Rupert Murdoch.

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Worse yet, these systems create huge backlogs of people wanting to immigrate but without jobs waiting for them. That is, employers are not necessarily looking for the skills they possess. If the system worked in matching people’s skills with jobs, then there would be no backlog.

Under the proposed U.S. bill, and with bureaucrats running the show, it is highly unlikely that the system will keep up with skills in demand. Given Congress’ propensity for being slow to act (immigration laws change on average every 15 to 20 years), we could also be stuck with a system that was antiquated before it even started.

The new approach would also perpetuate the games that are played with the current one when it comes to getting work permits. Anyone who has applied for an H1-B visa knows that it’s basically an exercise in creative writing. The applicant, or his lawyer, needs to convince the Labor Department that he holds a unique set of qualifications. So a job description is created that ensures that no one but the applicant is qualified for it.

The agencies certifying the applications have neither the resources nor the capabilities to verify or challenge them beyond checking educational credentials. And no one ever verifies that the person receiving a work visa actually does the work their application specified they would do. As many employers know, one of the surest predictors of turnover is the date an employee receives a green card. So if the new bill becomes law, immigration lawyers will just have to find creative ways to get over the points hurdle.

The current immigration bill should be of concern to all those in the recruiting profession, especially those recruiting for advanced skills. The shortage of skilled workers will continue into the indefinite future. A solution is needed beyond what exists today, but this is not it.

The current process is far from perfect, but this bill would just make a bad situation worse.

Raghav Singh, director of analytics at Korn Ferry Futurestep, has developed and launched multiple software products and held leadership positions at several major recruiting technology vendors. His career has included work as a consultant on enterprise HR systems and as a recruiting and HRIT leader at several Fortune 500 companies. Opinions expressed here are his own.


4 Comments on “Why the Immigration Bill Is Not Good for You or Your Company

  1. the June 2007 National Foundation for American Policy Brief: ‘The Point System’s Impact on Foreign Nurses and Other Potential Immigrants’, by Stuart Anderson. This can be found on http://www.nfap.com. The foundation, since 2003, has been publishing invaluable research on immigration policies. Our legislators, in their rush to legitimize illegals purely for political reasons, apparently do not see the merit of careful and prolonged consideration of the real needs of the U.S. and the world on this issue.
    Even though the bill may attempt to determine an individual’s ability to contribute via the point system, the criteria is no doubt being heavily influenced by industry lobbyists, such as the produce industry, and others who employ large numbers of ‘unskilled’ laborers. Those industries needing highly skilled and credentialed individuals will not have their needs met, and neither will the countless Americans who will need the services they provide now and in the future. Health care services will be even more impacted than they are now. And this will likely lead to the government stepping in to ‘save health care’, which is what they have wanted to do for a long time. One might even say that the bill sets the stage for societal engineering.

  2. Raghav from your article it sounds like the US government will need an ATS to manage its Applicants for Immigration and then match them to jobs but how will they be able to do that, Since all applicants will be unsolicited Applicants, are they looking for an army of recruiters?

  3. Imagine the impact of a Bush/Kennedy/Kyl amnesty, not only on jobs but on the fabric of our union, granting citizenship to 15 million plus illegal aliens?an event that the U.S. Census Bureau, Congressional Budget Office, along with many other reputable sources predicts a U.S. population increase over the next 20 years ranging from 40 to 60 million [mostly uneducated, low income people]; growing close to 500 million by 2050; and near a billion by the end of the century.

    The impacts of mass chain migration so clearly articulated in ?Immigration?s Unarmed Invasion? by Frosty Wooldridge, and the job outsourcing both affecting American middleclass labor are merely symptomatic of global epochal changes taking place?that?if left unchecked, will lead to the global collapse of civil and social order.

    Don?t take my word for it. Dr. Robert J. Bunker, considered one of the top futurists/historians of the last one-hundred years, writes about the current global epochal change that?s taking place in his book ?Non-State Threats and Future Wars?.

    A companion must read is the apocalyptic warning of a looming catastrophic crisis by Dr. Jared Diamond in his book ?Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed?. This Pulitzer Prize-winner and best selling author expose the reasons societies decline and fail, or succeed; making an extraordinary prediction about the future survival of modern contemporary civilization if by 2050 the problems he identifies aren?t addressed in a dramatic and immediate way.

    Bar none, the threat of continued unmitigated mass migration into the U.S. is the single most important issue facing America since WWII. Make your voice heard now?if you don?t get involved ?don?t complain later when your tax burden explodes as a result of the 2.5 Trillion raid on the U.S Treasury by the forty million [PLUS] new citizens in a permanent underclass, each having a net cost of $20,000/year according to government agencies and organization like the Heritage Foundation.

    The GREAT DEPRESSION of 1929 will look like a cakewalk by comparison to the fallout of what?s unfolding for our children and grandchildren. See Steinbeck ?Grapes of Wrath? for insight.

    The disastrous outcomes implicit in Senate bill S.1348 [or any bill tied to amnesty by any name] can be averted.

    To put in your 2 cents worth; go to NumbersUSA (www.numbersusa.com) a non-partisan immigration [legal/illegal] watchdog that?s been on the Hill since the mid-1980?s. Through their chief lobbyist, Harvard educated attorney Rose Mary Jenks (considered to be one of the most knowledgeable people in the country on immigration policy) you have not only access to unvarnished [truthful] analysis, but the rare opportunity to have an impact on and change the outcome of the insanity going on in Washington.

    Yesterday NumbersUSA members sent 119,286 faxes to congress in one day through their FREE email/fax alert system. They had over 6 MILLION hits on their website, and over 11,000 new members joined in the past 2 days edging the free membership toward a half million strong. This organization and its national coalition has been the primary player in stalling the various attempts to ramrod the immigration legislation insanity down America?s throat.


    Again, if you don?t?don?t complain later?

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