Even As Immigration Becomes More Challenging, Employers See Increased Demand and Competition for Foreign National Talent

Envoy survey reveals that seven out of ten employers place critical importance on foreign national workers with in-demand skill sets, despite a tumultuous immigration environment.

CHICAGO – February 7, 2018 – Even as the Trump administration places tighter restrictions on work authorizations and more closely scrutinizes individual visa applications – and borders tighten around the world – U.S. companies report that sourcing foreign talent remains critical to their success.

That is among the findings of Envoy’s Third Annual Immigration Trends Report. Conducted by The Harris Poll, Envoy’s Immigration Trends Report reflects the insights of 401 human resources professionals and hiring managers across different industries and company sizes on inbound and outbound global immigration processes and challenges.

“The nuances of global work authorization remain in flux as policies rapidly change. Our survey shows that, while demand for foreign nationals in the workplace is higher than ever, navigating the challenging political climate remains a hindrance and a source of anxiety for employers and employees alike,” said Envoy CEO Richard Burke. “In the same vein, relying on outdated methods and in-house procedures is no longer sufficient. Companies must modernize global work authorization processes to remain in compliance.”

The report looks at many different facets of immigration management, including demand, complexity and technology adoption.


Employers anticipate an increase in foreign talent utilization, prioritizing the global perspective and individual skills these employees offer.

  • 53 percent of employers expect their company’s foreign national headcount to increase in 2018.
  • 59 percent of employers expect their demand for work authorization globally (outside the U.S.) to increase.
  • 7 in 10 employers say that having a global workforce is very or extremely important to their talent strategy (up from 63 percent last year) and cite the following as reasons why a global workforce is very or extremely important:
    • 78 percent: bringing valuable new perspectives.
    • 77 percent: filling skills gaps.
    • 76 percent: having knowledge of industries or business practices outside the U.S.


2017 saw numerous policy changes and proposed legislation regarding the status of foreign national workers. HR professionals must be attuned to proposed legislation, executive orders and enforcement updates around the world to adequately manage a foreign national workforce.

  • 85 percent of employers say the current U.S. immigration system has impacted their hiring and retention strategies:
    • 28 percent had to increase staff.
    • 26 percent had to delay projects.
    • 22 percent are relocating work overseas.
  • 42 percent of employers say the biggest change they have noticed over the last year has been increased foreign national anxiety and questions.
  • 98 percent of employers changed their green card policy over the past year and 31 percent say they are sponsoring green cards faster.


Uncertainty and long wait times yield higher levels of anxiety among foreign national workers, while increased enforcement means business leaders must follow shifting laws to the letter.

  • 81 percent of employers are experiencing challenges securing work authorization for their employees globally (up from 66 percent last year). Among their key challenges:
    • 31 percent have trouble deciphering different regulations in each destination country.
    • 31 percent report difficulty maintaining accurate records.
  • 44 percent of employers say U.S. visa applications have become more difficult (up from 35 percent last year). Key reasons why:
    • 61 percent report increased complexity.
    • 51 percent report increased length of time to prepare applications.
    • 41 percent say increased Requests for Evidence (RFEs).
  • 58 percent of employers say their RFEs have increased.
  • 85 percent of employers say quicker processing time is necessary to improve the visa application process and 83 percent want improved insight and transparency for their employees.


Increasing complexity and enforcement mean HR professionals are incentivized to evaluate their immigration programs, automate processes and digitize paperwork whenever possible to facilitate compliance and ease uncertainty for foreign nationals.

  • 43 percent of employers have had a site visit or audit from the USCIS or another government agency in the last two years.
  • 61 percent of HR professionals reevaluate their immigration program once per year.
  • 56 percent say employee experience is a deciding factor in evaluating new immigration partners.
  • 62 percent of employers say more of their foreign nationals are requesting technology like mobile apps.
  • 48 percent of employers are investing in technology-enabled platforms to manage the immigration process.
  • 62 percent of employers are investing in increased immigration data security.

Survey Methodology

The national survey was conducted online by The Harris Poll from Nov. 13 to Dec. 13, 2017, with 401 HR professionals and hiring managers participating across a variety of industries and company sizes. Questions covered internal and external global immigration processes and challenges. The data is weighted; a full methodology is available.

About Envoy

Founded in 1998, Envoy is a global immigration services provider offering the only immigration management platform that makes it seamless for companies to hire and manage an international workforce by combining expert legal representation — for both inbound and outbound immigration — and proprietary technology. Envoy empowers companies to acquire the best talent regardless of where they are in the world; helps mobilize employees around the world to take advantage of business opportunities; and enables the management of entire global workforces, providing a strategic, proactive view into workforce and financial forecasting and compliance. Envoy has managed more than 30,000 cases and served more than 2,000 customers in a broad range of industries.

Website, technology platform and administrative services are provided by Envoy Global Inc., a Delaware corporation. Legal services are provided by attorneys at one of the two U.S. Law Firms who provide services through the Envoy Platform. Please visit envoyglobal.com for more information.

About The Harris Poll

The Harris Poll is one of the longest-running surveys in the U.S. tracking public opinion, motivations and social sentiment since 1963 that is now part of Harris Insights & Analytics, a global consulting and market research firm that strives to reveal the authentic values of modern society to inspire leaders to create a better tomorrow. We work with clients in three primary areas; building twenty-first-century corporate reputation, crafting brand strategy and performance tracking, and earning organic media through public relations research. Our mission is to provide insights and advisory to help leaders make the best decisions possible. To learn more, please visit www.theharrispoll.com, and follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn.