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How Public Policy Continues to Drive Corporate Immigration Practices

Lynn Shotwell, GMS - Oct 20 2022
Published in: Public Policy
Austin Fragomen Jr. of Fragomen informs his outlook for modern-day business immigration with decades-long experience.

I recently had the chance to sit down with Austin Fragomen Jr., partner and executive committee chairman at Fragomen, for a One Take conversation about the developments in business immigration policy driving corporate relocation and migration today. Reflecting on an incredible, decades-long career at the forefront of modern-day business immigration law, Fragomen provided an in-depth analysis of the policy decisions that have shaped our current migration landscape, as well as his insights into future corporate immigration practices.

We began by discussing the initial development of business immigration as a distinct field of immigration policy. Drawing from his own experience as staff counsel for the House Judiciary Committee in 1968—the place where immigration laws are made—Fragomen highlighted the impact of the landmark 1965 Immigration Act and the many contributions immigrants have made since it was enacted.

“Of course, on the contribution level, I think the facts speak for themselves with all the Nobel laureates, scientists, and accolades received by immigrants,” Fragomen said. “So, I think we’re all aware of that.”

Our conversation then turned to the challenges affecting the U.S. immigration system today, from extensive backlogs to strict caps on H-1B visas, Fragomen outlined how comprehensive immigration reform has largely been stymied by partisan politics over the last decade. With immigration policy among the most controversial issues facing modern American politics, he emphasized the need for corporations and service providers within the talent mobility industry to advocate for necessary policy changes.

“I think the voice of business is really key, and I think we’ve lost a little bit through the corporate community not being unified enough and speaking with one voice,” Fragomen said. “I think that the big issue right now where we could really make progress is on the per country limitations, which cause these massive backlogs for applicants for permanent residence, particularly from India and China as well.

“And I think that’s an issue that corporate America should really make a big effort to get resolved,” he continued. “I think, once again, that that’s an issue where there’s a consensus by both parties that this should really happen.”

Fragomen also took a moment to highlight the progress countries across the globe have made in modernizing their immigration systems as a result of the pandemic, describing how a number of governments digitalized and updated their immigration processes before projecting that this trend of technological advancement may even streamline adjudications. He went on to discuss a few of the positive developments in immigration policies as countries become more attuned to the global competition for talent, specifically citing initiatives in Canada, the United Kingdom, the United Arab Emirates, and Singapore as successful examples.

“At the end of the day, what we see here is, we see countries coming up with systems to attract top talent, without requiring employer sponsorship, to build a pool of highly talented persons who are employable, and then basically allowing them to stay in the country,” Fragomen said. “And I think we [in the United States] have a lot to learn from this.”

In addition to these developments, Fragomen anticipates that, despite the challenges posed by remote work to immigration systems built on employer sponsorships, practices such as remote work and nomad visas are here to stay, and governments are slowly responding to these changes.

“I think you’re going to see countries working together in partnerships … where companies and those countries will enter into contracts to educate and train persons for emigration to a new host country that might fund that education,” he said. “So, I think we’re going to see that kind of partnership, and we’re going to see overall migration numbers much higher.”

It is this wealth of experience and expert familiarity with critical issues that Fragomen brings to the advice it gives clients on business immigration and corporate relocation policy. And as the mobility industry continues to advocate for commonsense reforms to our nation’s immigration policy, I know that Fragomen’s insights will prove invaluable.