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How Silicon Valley visa changes could affect the Australian IT Recruitment market

The United States is often regarded as the hub of all things technology. From the booming companies in Silicon Valley to the countless university research departments, thought leadership and innovation almost go hand in hand with the nation – recruiting the best and brightest from around the world.

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However, over recent months, new measures have been introduced from the Trump administration that could impact the future of foreign IT workers to Silicon Valley and beyond. In this article, we’ll outline the scope of these changes, explain how they could affect getting a job in the US and how it might impact recruitment of candidates from overseas to Australian business.

America First policy and the H-1B visa

President Trump campaigned on an ‘America First’ policy and this philosophy has carried over to many announcements in his first term. While the immigration ban hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons, it’s the potential changes to the H-1B Visa which make cause recruitment issues for Silicon Valley.

Each year, there are 85,000 spots allocated for the H-1B visa program – a three-year non-immigrant visa used to temporarily employ foreign workers in speciality occupations. This visa category is notably used by tech firms who recruit talented IT professionals from around the world to bolster their workforce.

Of course, in theory, this could take away jobs from US workers which is why the the Trump administration has released stricter guidelines around the skill levels for computer programmers, among other professions.

Acting assistant attorney general, Tom Wheeler, explained that this move was to stop “fraud and abuse” in the H-1B visa program.

“The Justice Department will not tolerate employers misusing the H-1B visa process to discriminate against US workers,” he said. “US workers should not be placed in a disfavoured status, and the department is wholeheartedly committed to investigating and vigorously prosecuting these claims.”

While the executive order is still yet to be signed, it’s concerning for the Silicon Valley tech industry which is already struggling with a severe skill shortage. Facebook, for example, had more than 15 per cent of its US-based employees on the H-1B visa – higher than Google, Apple, Amazon and Microsoft, according to Fortune.

What does this mean for Australia?

There is no doubt that possible visa changes in the US will have an impact here in Australia.

Obviously, the first issue will be that talented Australian workers may struggle to get the right visa level to enter the US. An IT career overseas can be a great springboard for a resume and with higher salaries and perks, skilled migrants always add to the talent pool.

Secondly, the US changes could coincide with the Australian government’s decision to abolish the 457 skilled work visa and replace it with new Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) visa in March 2018. Authorities Down Under are also looking to “strengthen the integrity and quality” of its visa and ensure businesses with “genuine skill shortages” can access the best talent available.

This also means Australians will have more opportunities at home in the tech industry. Australian companies could invest more in homegrown talent and train them up rather than relying on foreign workers who have already been trained in Silicon Valley.

With both Australia and the US rethinking its visa strategies, it will be important for candidates to work with an accredited recruitment provider such as Talent. If you’re looking for an IT career to fast track your future, get in touch with our team today.