Solving the problems of H-1B staffing

Solving the problems of H-1B staffing

Making placements with H-1Bs can be overwhelming for even the most seasoned staffing professionals. Candidates flood in from all corners, supplied by questionable vendor partners, while misrepresentation, and even candidate fraud, run rampant.

The H-1B visa mandates that candidates can only work for the firm that is sponsoring them. In the 30+ years that the H-1B visa has been in place, more staffing firms than actual employers have brought in H-1Bs to be on their bench for IT contract work. 

Some estimate that there are now over half a million of these IT contractor H-1Bs who are sponsored by a whopping 20,000 different staffing firms.

Most H-1B staffing sponsors are small and hold less than a handful of H-1B visas. They don’t have direct access to contract jobs, so their only hope is to partner with other prime vendor firms who are in client programs. This barrier in job access creates layers of partnership risk and loss of income for the candidate. Candidates become desperate and then misrepresent themselves in order to get work. 

The H-1B market is chaotic, and there is a real chance it could collapse as more and more clients who get burned are no longer allowing sub-vendors in their programs. But fear not: a solution is here, and you don’t even have to leave Bullhorn to access it. 

Solving the problems of partnering

The only way to untangle the H-1B mess is to partner with a verified and trusted network of sub-vendors. Up to now, this meant that staffing firms had to find and vet sub-vendors one by one and then get them to sign their own partnering agreements, all before a candidate could be submitted. For growing staffing firms, this process can be challenging and burdensome.

All this work – and risk – means that prime vendor firms could only properly manage a small number of sub-vendor partnerships and only access a tiny percentage of the available H-1B candidates in the market. The other alternative is for firms to cross their fingers and submit candidates without verifying the sub-vendor and partnership terms, which means it’s only a matter of time before they get burned. 

Earlier this year, Fuse Cooperative acquired Gustav VMS, a Bullhorn Marketplace partner and the world’s largest sub-vendor marketplace and VMS platform, which has over 5000 staffing firms that have shared over half a million candidates with each other. 

Fuse is the staffing industry’s first and only platform cooperative. Legally structured as a Limited Cooperative Association, Fuse is owned and managed by the staffing firms who are its members. This creates a trusted relationship between prime vendors who have the jobs and the sub-vendors who are the sponsors of the H-1B candidates. Both parties are equal members of the co-op, and there are real consequences for any bad behavior.

IT requisitions with low bill rates often cost firms more money in recruiting than they make in placements. Fuse tackles this by extending the prime vendor’s recruitment team to bring in revenue without adding headcount costs.

Verifying H-1B sub-vendors and candidates

Using the Gustav technology and Fuse Cooperative’s Verified H-1B Program solves all the H-1B staffing challenges without ever having to leave Bullhorn. Fuse verifies the business registration, W-9, and Certificate of Insurance for every sub-vendor, and all sign a unified MSA so that prime vendors can have confidence in their dealings without having to chase down signatures on an MSA.

Then each H-1B candidate has their identity and work history verified by the Bullhorn Marketplace partner Terefic, and the H-1B visa is verified via a digital ID and selfie scan. This ensures that contractors are who they say they are and work for a verified sub-vendor sponsor.

Gustav’s two-way Bullhorn integration means that the prime vendor’s recruiters post jobs and receive candidates from the verified sub-vendors, all within their normal Bullhorn workflow. You never have to leave Bullhorn, and verified candidates get submitted immediately. 

This turns the often chaotic environment of H-1B staffing into an efficient and effective partnering ecosystem that is governed by the rule of law and the spirit of cooperation. 

Differentiation in a crowded market

One of the biggest challenges facing IT staffing firms is standing out in a saturated marketplace, where all firms look and sound the same to clients. Joining Fuse and using the Gustav VMS in the Verified H-1B Program is an opportunity to differentiate and address one of the biggest concerns that IT clients have today: candidate misrepresentation and fraud. 

Everyone who has operated in H-1B staffing knows that there is something wrong here, but few understand what the source of the problem is and how to fix it. Staffing firms that educate clients about the risks and issues in the current H-1B market will be seen as the solution rather than enablers of the problem.

Clients can also be a part of the solution and improve their programs by requiring: 

  • Verification of the identity, work history, and valid H-1B visa of the candidates
  • That the sub-vendor is the direct sponsor and employer of the candidate
  • That requirements like the certificate of insurance also flow down to the sub-vendor
  • That the candidate is paid a minimum amount

Staffing firms who help clients make these improvements will have the inside track in making more placements and being a trusted strategic partner. 

The human impact

The final, but maybe biggest beneficiary, of an improved H-1B staffing process are the hundreds of thousands of candidates who can only work for their staffing agency sponsor and lack direct access to contract job opportunities.

There are hundreds of thousands of people with IT skills who deserve the attention and help of the staffing industry. All we need to do is partner together more effectively, and it’s a true win-win-win. The clients get access to an untapped talent pool, the agencies get placements, and the candidates can realize their dream of finding meaningful work in America.  

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