The Way Forward on Migration



After several weeks abroad, I am happy to be back home for the holidays.  I was in Berlin for the B20 meeting, in Dhaka where I delivered the GFMD’s Business Mechanism’s recommendations on labor migration, and in Mumbai and Delhi where I met with CHROs whose global operations are sometimes hampered by inefficient migration policies and procedures.  The one thing everyone wanted to talk about was “what’s going to happen under Trump,” and, more than a few times I was told that “everyone in the world should get a vote on the U.S. president because he has such impact over all of us.”  The first of those statements was easier to respond to than the second.

With regard to what is Trump going to do – well, we still don’t have many details on his plans for immigration reform or enforcement, but I am encouraged that he has nominated pragmatic, pro-immigration business leaders to his cabinet who understand the importance of global talent mobility in today’s economy.  These leaders will clearly recognize that our laws, last reformed in 1990, and our paper-based application systems are sorely out of touch with how the world works today.  I hope they will think creatively about how we not only bring our policies and practices in line with the needs of today’s world but that they create an environment that is flexible enough to respond to the unforeseeable demands of tomorrow’s workplace. 

What will those demands be?  Well many organizations are currently looking at “the future of work” but they all agree that the nature of work and the nature of the employer-employee relationship are changing.  As more workers move to contract or gig work, or hold multiple positions at one time, or have the ability to perform work from anywhere in the world, our immigration, tax and other laws will need to evolve.  One of the more interesting discussions at the GFMD was the idea of facilitating circular migration – e.g. enabling people to move seamlessly between multiple jurisdictions as their talents and interests allow – rather than seeing migration as a one-way ticket.  It is a new way of looking at the world but one that will impact all of us – perhaps even more than who is the U.S. president.

Best wishes for a peaceful and prosperous 2017.



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