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An HR Perspective: 5 Ways to Implement a Successful Immigration Program

Georgia Miller
Client Services Associate

Global mobility, the function within a business that is dedicated to ensuring that talent is sourced internationally, speaks to a cognitive and cultural commitment to diversity. Having a diverse workforce is not only a nice-to-have based on ethical and moral standards, but is a must for employers seeking a competitive edge in hiring top tier talent.

With 17% of the US workforce being foreign-born, establishing a comprehensive and cohesive immigration program demonstrates to current and prospective employees that your company measures success to a significant extent by its people and their professional abilities celebrating where they come from.

In 2019, The World Economic Forum stated, “[t]he coming together of people of different ethnicities with different experiences in cities and societies is a key driver of innovation.” A Boston Consulting Group study echoed this when they found that companies with more diverse management teams have 19% higher revenues due to innovation. 

Here are 5 things to keep in mind when creating and developing a strong immigration program:

1. Strategy and Compliance. It’s good to aspire to have a globally diverse workforce, however, without a clear, well laid-out plan and policy in place, employers risk disappointment. 

It is critical that HR teams create an immigration policy early on that establishes the roles and experience levels for which international employees might apply. Things like qualifications and seniority must be taken into consideration to determine the types of roles which would most benefit from international talent and the degree to which this would be economical in the long term. Although some companies might ideally look to accept global candidates for all roles, it is important for them to be realistic and ensure that such a policy fits with company goals. 

2. Consistency and Communication. With a compliant strategy in place, it is time to put it into practice. This strategy should not be a secret or kept under wraps by the HR department. Instead, it should be transparent and consistently communicated across the company, in order to make sure it is well understood and gathers insight from the broader business. For example, buy-in and insight from the company at large can help to solidify and concretize the global mobility plan.  This should not only be clearly communicated to current talent, but also to prospective talent, which can act as an incentive. 

3. SMART Objectives. Along with a consistently communicated strategy that is compliant, it is essential that businesses have SMART objectives backing their immigration strategy. Is your policy specific? Measurable? Realistic? Timely? This helps ensure that your strategy is in line with your company fiscally and philosophically. Metrics which companies should consider in this context include full time equivalent (FTE) needs and budgetary limitations. 

4. Partner with Excellent Legal Counsel.  A company and its HR department should consider focusing on ensuring its employees are properly cared for, and global mobility is one component of this. As a company looks to go global, they are faced with a multitude of immigration standards and labor laws which are not easy to keep up with. In order to stay ahead of the law, and to allow your HR team to focus on your mission, it is prudent to bring on legal counsel whether it be in-house or external. 

5. Big Picture Thinking. It’s easy to miss the forest for the trees. Getting caught up in the day-to-day management and intricacies of any company’s immigration program can easily allow one to forget about the broader picture. Along with overseeing individual cases and addressing specific concerns, it is equally important to be mindful of how each and every international employee adds up to a larger whole and contributes to the company’s future.

Global mobility is key to drive innovation and exceed company goals. Planning your immigration strategy and forecasting potential needs can set you ahead of the curve for competing for top tier international talent. Get specific on the bigger picture, develop consistent communication backed by expert legal counsel and you'll be well on your way to success.

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