How will possible changes to H1B visa law affect Biotech Recruiting?

There has been a lot of discussion about the H1B visa program since the election of Donald Trump back in November but we are starting to hear word that any drastic changes may be on the back burner for the time being. Sean Spicer, White House Press Secretary, maintains that illegal immigration will be at the forefront for the White House while systemic changes to the immigration process will be reviewed at a later date.

The USA typically awards 85,000 visas to skilled temporary foreign workers under the H1B visa program starting in late Spring every year. In years past there has been a fast track application option that incurs an additional $1,225 fee on top of the $3,000 normal application fee. The fast-track option has been temporary suspended by the new administration

A number of Fortune 100 companies (Google, IBM, Microsoft) and Indian owned IT firms (Infosys, Wipro, Tata) are the largest consumers of H1B talent while the majority of the skilled temporary foreign workers hail from India and China. After that, Canada, Philippines, and South Korea are the next three countries on the list and their totals, when combined, fail to reach that of China’s.

In Life Sciences there were over 100 companies that filed Labor Condition Applications (LCA) for H1B visas in 2015. Pfizer lead the way with 100 applications while BMS, Amneal Pharmaceuticals, Abbvie, Actavis, GSK, Quintiles, Herbalife, Abbot Laboratories, and Biogen Idec round out the top 10. The average salaries listed on the applications among those 10 companies was over $130,000. These numbers do not include H1B consultants hired through 3rd party firms like Tata.

Overall, Biotech and Pharma companies do not hire a lot of H1B employees and the companies that do, are of similar size to the ones listed above. We don’t expect there to be a lot of fallout over the H1B visa issue but we have yet to see what will happen with the OPT visa (Optional Practical Training) which allows international students to remain in the USA after completing their University programs. STEM graduates with OPT visas are allowed to work for 36 months after graduation which is 7 months longer than graduates with other degrees. We will take a look at the OPT program in a follow up article.

We created a 5 question survey (multiple choice) related to current hiring practices regarding H1B visa holders and if talk of possible changes to the program will change your company’s hiring plans. Click here to take the survey.

The biotech recruiters at Paragon Search Group have experience placing US nationals into offshore roles for major American and European Biotech organizations as well as recruiting current H1B visa holders to domestic positions for our clients.

Paragon Search Group is an American biotech recruiting firm specializing in permanent positions in Process Development, CMC/Reg Affairs, Manufacturing, Project Management, and Quality for companies ranging in size from startup to Fortune 50.

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