Nearshore Americas
Ukraine

Ukraine War Reorients Tech Workers’ Mobility

The world is moving on from the Covid-19 pandemic as the main factor affecting the narrative of global economic performance. As vaccines increase in availability and the strength of more recent strains of the virus weakens, governments have been lifting restrictions and allowing businesses to resume activities and return to the offices.  

The pandemic is not over, as demonstrated by recent outbreaks in various Chinese cities. However, the discourse about the economy already changed. New issues, such as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, inflationary pressures and human talent shortages, today dominate the concerns of CEOs and government officials.  

Even when the pandemic fully normalized remote work and extended the acceptance of international remote hiring among industry leaders, businesses still need to maintain their personnel’s ability to physically move internationally; from tech workers looking to move to the US or any other tech hub after securing a job, to executives needing to meet people or visit secondary offices abroad. The challenges of mobility are steeper after the pandemic.  

Nearshore Americas has covered these issues in he past. From delays in US visa appointments, which has affected a large number of Latin American and Caribbean entrepreneurs wanting to expand or explore business opportunities abroad, to anti-migration rhetoric in the US and Europe. As the bottom-line of the outsourcing business relies deeply on international contacts, we usually ask the question: what is not working when it comes to international mobility? What are the challenges to a freer system to move human capital?  

This time, Nearshore Americas had the opportunity to chat with Anastasia Mirolyubova to go beyond the basic challenges to international mobility and instead show light on her initiative to support migration needs of tech workers in particular. 

Mirolyubova is the Co-Founder of Immigram, a business which self-describes as an “immigrant-focused end-to-end global mobility platform helping streamline and automate immigration complexity”. 

We spoke with Mirolyubova about her platform and tech worker migration trends and opportunities.  

 

The Need to Overcome Migration Bureaucracy 

Mirolyubova and her partner have been building Immigram for the last two years, motivated to upgrade the migration experience of talented tech workers. The platform has focused on the UK as a destination, but it is now expanding to other markets.  

The main idea we have is to build a borderless space — Anastasia Mirolyubova

“We both have experience in immigration and law firms in the UK. In that way, we saw that even talented professionals still had to face significant bureaucracy to secure their relocation projects. When people invest so much time, effort and sometimes are not even able to overcome the challenges of migration, this often has important repercussions in their careers.  

Sometimes they wouldn’t be able to relocate just because of a bureaucratic standstill. We started helping others in the UK, particularly talented IT specialists, scientists and entrepreneurs. The main idea we have is to build a borderless space. Immigram is a platform and facilitator for individuals to achieve this,” said Mirolyubova.  

Anastasia Mirolyubova, Co-Founder of Immigram

Immigram works primarily with individuals from Russian, Belarus and Ukraine. However, recently they’ve been working with professionals from many other locations, such as Brazil, Nigeria, South Africa, Kenya and Singapore. Most of these tech professionals are engineers, designers or work as product managers or in business development for leading companies.  

“The majority of the people we work with are senior directors in companies like Facebook, Google or Goldman Sachs. We also have entrepreneurs and talented young individuals that have won tech contests or are emerging as stars in the industry,” added Mirolyubova.  

 

Ukraine-Russia War Opens a Path for Latin America  

When the conflict in Ukraine started, Immigram had most of its team of 76 people working from Russia. The situation has deteriorated since then, presenting significant complications for the continuity of basic business processes. Beyond the internal challenges for Immigram, the war is changing mobility prospects for both Russian and Ukrainian tech talent.  

“The situation is shifting. In the UK, Ukrainians now can fast-track their visas. For Russians, it is a bit more difficult. However, we see the UK and Europe working to secure the tech talent coming out of these countries. Tech guys are still very much appreciated,” said Mirolyubova.  

Since the beginning of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, tens of thousands of IT specialists have left Russia. A report by the New York Times noted that by the end of March, between 50,000 and 70,000 tech workers had left Russia. Mirolyubova believes that the number now is getting near 200,000.  

“This is a significant trend we’re observing. Russia’s tech talent is fleeing the country,” added Mirolyubova.  

Immigram, like many other companies, is moving its workers out of Russia. The brain drain that this major exodus is provoking will have long term effects for Russia’s economy. However, other regions might benefit from an influx of talent.  

“Latin America should seriously try to take advantage of this trend” — Anastasia Mirolyubova

“Many Russians are moving to Mexico and Central America already. The US could also benefit, though the political issues are particular there. We are researching opportunities to offer the US as one of our markets, because immigration there is extremely complex even for talented people here,” said Mirolyubova.  

Bloomberg recently reported that the Biden administration is preparing a relaxation of visa requirements for Russians with a degree in STEM fields. This is a clear response to the current brain drain coming out of Russia. The danger is that, once again, Latin American countries would be too slow to capitalize on the opportunity to attract necessary talent.  

Countries such as Mexico have received thousands of asylum applications from Ukrainians fleeing the war. But, so far, the Latin American region is falling short in understanding the possibilities behind specifically attracting talented IT professionals from both Ukraine and Russia.  

“Latin America should seriously try to take advantage of this trend,” concluded Mirolyubova.  

Bryan Campbell Romero

Bryan Ch. Campbell Romero is the Investment and Policy Editor at Nearshore Americas. He also contributes to other publications with analysis on political risk, society and the entrepreneurial ecosystems of Cuba and the Latin American region. Originally from Cuba, Bryan holds a Bachelor’s degree in Philosophy (Licenciatura en Filosofía) from the University of Havana.

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