trump presidency

What To Expect Under a Trump Presidency When It Comes To Recruitment, Taxation and Immigration of Talents

The victory of president-elect Donald Trump stunned all sides of the political spectrum not only in the United States but globally as well. As a result, many in the electorate are now grappling to imagine the U.S. under his governance. Global mobility specialists in particular are asking, how will this new administration bode for their sector, especially when it comes to recruitment, taxation, and immigration?

Lisa Johnson, a global practice leader for Crown World Mobility’s Consulting Services, gives the four areas global mobility specialists and their partners should look at: globalization, immigration, tax, and corporate global citizenship.

Globalization:  The Harvard Business Review reminds us that Trump opposed globalization because it supposedly threatened U.S. industries and the employment of millions of Americans who are also wary of the way technology is automating their jobs, predominantly the manufacturing sector.

In his campaigns, the president-elect had promised to impose taxes on countries with whom the U.S. has the largest bilateral trade deficits. After his win, he has mentioned imposing a 45% tariffs on imports coming from China, and 35% on some products from Mexico. Multi-national companies — both U.S. companies doing business on foreign soil, and foreign companies which have established a base in America —  will be caught in the crossfire of the tensions that are sure to arise from these new arrangements.

Possible effect on global mobility:  If the organization you work for has businesses with the countries that Trump has targeted, regularly check the flow of business, the dynamics of future transactions, and the quality of the relationships. A rise in tensions might mean a freeze of assignees coming from that country, as well as expansion of your organization’s business in their shores.

Immigration: The president-elect had been vocal about building a wall — symbolic and/or physical — across the U.S.-Mexican borders that would prevent immigrants from crossing. He also promised to be more stringent on the immigration of Muslims to safeguard the U.S. against terrorism. Another hardline approach was to deport undocumented immigrants, especially those with criminal records, which the current administration estimates at 1.9 million. Again, all these promises were to secure employment for Americans who, rightly or wrongly, believe that jobs were going to foreign workers.

Another area that may be affected is the HB-1 or work visa, which permits qualified foreign talent to fill in work that supposedly are in shortage or could not be supplied by the locals. While U.S. companies require proof first that it had tried to hired an American before requesting an HB-1 visa for a foreign talent, companies now may think twice about renewing this type of visa, if it will cause a problem with Trump’s administration.

Cherlynn Low, a Singaporean who carries such a visa is one of those who are worried about this scenario. Certain things can allay that fear: If Trump’s own companies also use the HB-1 visa in hiring other employees in his many corporations on top of the international treaty, the General Agreement on Trade and Services, that still requires 65,000 HB-1 visas to be processed a year at the risk of penalty.

Silicon Valley, the center of technological innovation, will be directly hit by any squeeze on foreign hiring. Bloomberg estimates that two-thirds of its leading talents in mathematics and computing have been born outside the U.S. Two of its powerhouses are led by immigrants: Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft Corp. and Sundar Pichai, the CEO of Google. It’s not clear if Trump’s chief strategist Steve Bannon was referring to them when he reportedly suggested that there are too many Asian CEOs in the US in this report.

Possible effect on global mobility: It is prudent to watch and wait to see how things unfold right now. The enforcement of any limitation on HB-1 visa still deserves to be seen. However, better prepare for it by doing your homework to see which states are fueled by immigration — and thus will have a greater incentive to appeal against any restrictions when the time comes. One example is Northern California, a state that welcomes diversity and whose assignees are regularly supported by community organizations like churches, schools, embassies, relocation companies, and firms that supply furnished apartments like California Corporate Housing.

Yes California, a grass-roots organization, has in the past been trying to urge Californians to take up the cause of secession which gained another leash on life after the elections. However, it seems implausible given that it would require two-thirds of the House and Senate plus the 38 state legislatures to approve it.

Tax: Expect a lot of changes to taxation, says the Global Tax Network. Trump’s proposed changes will cut down income tax rates and remove four tax brackets from the current seven. Tax reimbursement policies will also be affected and can be unpredictable; Americans working in high-tax countries like Germany can experience higher taxes while those in low-tax nations like Singapore may experience tax reductions. KPMG cites as an example high-earning American citizens living and working in Australia — the net investment income tax (NITT), also known as Obamacare tax, could be repealed, and along with it the 3.8 percent additional tax paid by these Australian-based Americans on their income tax.

Possible effect on global mobility: Study the tax laws of your assignees, based on their country or region of origin and how the new laws will apply to them. Get additional consulting from a financial expert, if possible, to make matters more clear to him. The last thing your assignee needs is to panic, about his income, financial security, and professional standing. Find the silver lining in each situation, and always reiterate your organization’s support for him.

Corporate global citizenship: Johnson voices her concern that Trump may not abide by previous U.S. commitments such as climate change, pro-diversity employment policies, and gender equality. This might lead to U.S. organizations with set policies on these matters either alienated from the current administration’s new direction, or in direct or indirect conflict.

Possible effect on global mobility: Changes do not happen overnight. Have your corporate lawyer go through the legalities, especially when it comes to agreements with your assignees. Soberly address if any of the past policies can be changed quickly, and by what mechanism. Determine the adjustments, if there are any. If there are none or the wheels of change are proceeding on a snail’s pace, then adhere to the standards your organization has set, with your usual consummate professionalism.