How New Visa Rules Will Affect the Cybersecurity Industry

For many years, the American cybersecurity industry has been able to bridge the ever-expanding skill gap through global recruiting, seeking out talented professionals wherever they may live.  However, the recent “Buy American and Hire American” executive order that puts new restrictions on the H-1B visa program has companies that rely on global talent scrambling to understand how they will be impacted and investing in new strategies for future talent acquisition.

The Decline in H-1B Visa Applications

According to the US Citizenship and Immigration Services department, H1-B visa applications are already on the decline. There were 199,000 applications received for 2018 processing, down from 236,000 for 2017.  Tech companies are concerned about this decline for a number of reasons. Obviously, it means they may not be able to recruit overseas, but it also means that other countries may now catch up to Silicon Valley. The US has consistently been the number one destination for technical professionals overseas, but with tighter restrictions, they may seek employment elsewhere, allowing countries with more open and relaxed worker visa programs to catch up, if not overtake US technical innovation.

What Lies Ahead For Cybersecurity Hiring

Supporters of “Buy American and Hire American” tend to imply that companies seek out foreign workers because they can pay them less. While this may be true in some cases, the major driving factor in cybersecurity for hiring foreign workers is lack of access to talent here in the US. There are simply not enough qualified and skilled security professionals to fill open positions. And when it comes to keeping data secure, companies cannot afford to leave positions unfilled.

Because the effects of the new visa restrictions are unknown, American companies are looking at all available options to ensure access to talent. The first is settling for less than their ideal candidates and paying far more for those people, since supply will be limited. In cybersecurity, this is a far from ideal situation considering what’s at stake in infosec.

Another strategy is to open remote offices in foreign countries, which guarantees easier access to talent while simultaneously having the opposite effect of the intent of the executive order. Ostensibly, that order was created to protect American workers, but if companies simply offshore their operations, American workers will have an even bigger hurdle to climb, since they likely won’t even be considered for positions moved offshore. Remote offices can also fragment cybersecurity operations, which is not an ideal situation, as it could increase the likelihood of a security event if offshore and onshore workers are not able to work together in the same locale.

Some experts, however, think there could be an upside to the new restrictions. There has been some evidence to support the hypothesis that Americans shy away from entering the cybersecurity field out of fear of losing their jobs to foreign workers. Some believe that these new restrictions could encourage American talent to jump back in and could even encourage more women to enter the field.

Whatever lies ahead, it is certain that US companies need to take a second look at American cybersecurity talent. There are talented professionals out there, you just need to know where to find them and how to recruit them.

If your firm is seeking infosec talent, it’s time to talk to the award-winning recruiting team at Talon. Contact us today to learn about our proven track record of success and to discover the ways in which we can help you achieve your tech recruiting goals here in the US.

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