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Immigration as a self-service system of accessibility and controls

Bridge Team Member

HR teams are always looking for ways to meet employee needs while also balancing competing company resources. Traditionally, employees requested a more personalized touch and HR teams governed with a one-size-fits-most approach. 

However, with advances in the workplace, many employees have moved from tech-enabled to tech-dependent and prefer self-service tools to allows them to have more autonomy and flexibility in their roles. A recent survey found that an overwhelming majority (73%) of full-time U.S. workers today expect their employer to provide a high level of employee self-service, allowing them to independently complete a variety of HR-related tasks. 

As HR professionals grapple with this shift they’ve adopted a one-size-fits-one approach that focuses more on empowerment and enablement initiatives than on compliance and administrative tasks. This change in focus for HR teams has meant that many HR vendors must now also enable the employees to have their own access, portals, and resource centers to use their products and services. 

For services such as updating personal information, managing PTO, viewing payroll information, clocking in/out, and viewing work schedules many of these tasks are already fully self-service. 

Immigration Self-Service

Along with ensuring employee records are up to date, improving HR productivity, and making employees happier by improving accessibility, what else can we learn from the digital transformation of payroll and timesheets in the immigration space. 

By enabling international employees to track their own dates, as well as upload their own information you can greatly augment the HR’s teams ability to ensure correct data entry while also improving productivity. You might also have more engaged employees and see a decrease in status update emails if you choose to implement a cloud-based portal. Taking it one step further, giving employees direct access to counsel via a portal could also further improve HR productivity on immigration tasks.  

But could too much self-service be a bad thing? Perhaps. For example, if an employee can log 168 hours in a week and that doesn’t raise any flags with HR, you might need to rethink a better controls system and maybe focus more attention to the learning and development side of the equation. 

Similarly, if when starting an application for a work permit your hiring manager wants a candidate to start today or perhaps your Talent team creates an obscure job description that has a high likelihood of an RFE you might want those scenarios to get flagged by counsel for review. 

Self-Service as a Tool 

Often situations arise in immigration by someone indirectly making a decision that has cascading consequences in immigration’s complex parameters. Companies can take a few simple steps to both enable employee self-service while also maintaining the integrity of their immigration program through learning and development resources to create the best possible outcome for their employees. 

  1. Have your People Team monitor blogs from subject matter experts, government agencies, or stay connected to industry-focused communities.
  2. Identify relevant stakeholders that may need to be informed upon important immigration events such as policy changes, employee hiring/terminations, salary changes, or case approvals/denials.  
  3. Consider adopting technology that can serve as an immigration knowledge base or for systems that can enable immigration self-service

You won’t get to a fully optimized immigration management system right away. It will take time to first make self-help more predictable. But you can send a very clear message that you care about your international employees, and that you’re working hard to build a workplace culture that is willing to invest in its employees and also is forward-thinking. 

Content in this publication is not intended as legal advice, nor should it be relied on as such. For additional information on the issues discussed, consult a Bridge-affiliated partner attorney or another qualified legal professional.


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