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Labor Shortages, Layoffs, and Legislation Are Poised to Make an Impact on Immigration Policies in the New Year

Lynn Shotwell, GMS - Dec 15 2022
Published in: Public Policy

Kelli Duehning of global immigration firm BAL provides a snapshot of the trends currently driving immigration policies in global mobility.

Following the 2022 Global Workforce Symposium (GWS) and on the heels of the U.S. midterm elections, I had the opportunity to sit down with Kelli Duehning, partner at global immigration firm BAL, for a One Take conversation about some of the major trends driving immigration in the United States. BAL was recently named “2023 Law Firm of the Year in Immigration Law” by U.S. News & World Report and Best Lawyers, and Duehning shared her expertise by providing valuable insight into the current state of immigration policies impacting global mobility.

We started off by acknowledging the potential effects of technology-sector layoffs on labor certifications and H-1B visas in the U.S. Duehning noted the challenges for both workers and companies as employers grapple with the decision to reduce staff and addressed the impact on workers whose immigration status is complicated by changes in employment. She went on to discuss trends in visa issuance around the world.

“We talked about this at the Global Workforce Symposium during our Global Immigration Policy discussion—there is quite a slowdown globally to get visas, especially in the EMEA (Europe, the Middle East and Africa) countries,” Duehning said. “We heard a lot of issues with people trying to get visas, due in part to staffing shortages and COVID issues, but also because of the conflict in Ukraine.”

The conversation then turned to continued labor shortages and how companies are addressing them. We also discussed the impact of, and challenges associated with, new pay transparency laws enacted in several U.S. states. Duehning noted that companies need to be aware of the appropriate ways to disclose wages, update their PERM recruitment policies and understand how these laws might affect company culture.

“These new state and local job transparency laws are one more reason for in-house corporate professionals to reevaluate their PERM programs,” Duehning said. “It’s really important for them to take a look at their programs and understand the challenges related to these pay transparency laws.”

Drawing from discussions at GWS about incorporating diversity, equity, and inclusion principles into mobility programs through skills-based hiring processes, Duehning also underlined a growing “legal tension” between the move towards skills-based recruitment and existing H-1B visa programs, primarily due to strict degree requirements. However, despite this and perennial hopes for the government to adopt electronic filing for immigration petitions, Duehning expects few legislative fixes for these pressing issues in the new Congress.

Duehning concluded by highlighting a new platform for in-house immigration professionals called BAL Community. The forum is a community space for in-house HR professionals to make industry connections, hear from government officials and policymakers, benchmark, and share best practices.

“We created BAL Community with the mindset of helping in-house professionals manage their day-to-day immigration programs and giving them the opportunity to engage with leaders in the field,” Duehning said.

Amid the many upheavals affecting immigration policy today, both domestically and across the globe—from layoffs and labor shortages to the implementation of new policies—BAL is well-positioned to support companies and in-house professionals as they further their immigration programs in the upcoming year.