The most experienced People teams become confused by ever-changing U.S. immigration policies and enforcement. Imagine how international employees feel?
International employees and applicants will have questions during the recruitment, application, and visa process. That’s to be expected. Unfortunately, the multi-step process is redundant and inefficient, and there’s little People teams can do about it except offer visibility, information, and compassion.
One of the most important parts of the process is that your team, including your immigration provider, responds to employees’ questions. Quick, accurate answers make all the difference to an anxious employee.
If your team is struggling with a chaotic immigration program given changes in U.S. policies in recent years, you may not offer international employees the visibility and education they want. Thankfully, it’s possible to provide greater legal accessibility during the process and transform it into an emerging immigration program.
The Pitfalls of Legal Inaccessibility
To put it simply, your international employees may want your immigration provider to answer their questions during the process. These may be specific or nuanced questions your People team can’t confidently answer.
Your international employee may need legal advice about visa eligibility for a spouse and children. Long-term employees might need advice about extending their visas, marrying U.S. citizens, or becoming permanent residents.
If you lack a direct pipeline between your international employees and provider, you likely find yourself running into several issues. These are signs of a chaotic immigration program.
Burdening your People team
If your immigration program doesn’t offer direct communication between your international employee and immigration provider, the responsibility falls on your People team’s shoulders.
Your People team becomes responsible for emails and phone calls back and forth between the employee and provider. It’s time-consuming, to say the least. A team member may have to contact your immigration provider, then follow up with your international employee. When there are new questions, they repeat the process over and over.
Relaying conversations between your international employees and provider is another task for your team to tackle despite their already full workload.
Risking inaccurate answers
Relying on your People team to navigate international employees’ questions and provider’s answers leaves room for human error.
Despite your team members’ best efforts, your international applicant or employee might not receive a full, accurate response. Poor quality responses are a particular risk if a team member doesn’t fully understand the question or answer, or if there’s a language or cultural barrier among the parties.
Difficulty tracking conversations
Most likely, your team and international employees rely on email to communicate. Unfortunately, despite the legal field’s ongoing dependence on email, it isn’t a trustworthy or efficient communication platform.
Emails can be difficult to track, especially as the subject of a thread changes or recipients join or leave the conversation. Worse yet, answers to your employee’s questions can get lost in long threads. It’s difficult to find the information again once it’s lost, which could lead to repetitive questions.
Starting employees off on the wrong foot
Company culture is important, not only for your current employees but also for recruiting top talent. Yet it’s difficult to maintain a healthy culture when international employees endure a difficult immigration process before their start dates.
When international employees can’t communicate directly with your immigration provider, they may feel confused, frustrated, and anxious. In the worst-case scenarios, a new employee may start with lingering resentments or pass on the job offer to accept a different position with fewer hassles. That isn’t how your People team wants anyone to feel in the months leading up to becoming a full-fledged team member.
Grow into a More Accessible Immigration Program
Some access to your immigration provider is better than none. Everyone involved in the immigration process benefits from connecting international employees with the immigration provider.
You may not be able to provide full legal accessibility immediately, but you can take steps to improve the situation:
- Survey your international employees: Ask whether they experienced any confusion or frustration during and after the application process, and if so, when and why.
- Develop ways to inform: You can limit international employees’ questions by offering as much information as possible upfront. That could be through internal materials you give applicants, blog posts, and working with a provider with a deep knowledge base.
- Consider new communication channels: Gather your internal stakeholders and brainstorm scenarios and channels through which your international employees could directly interact with your immigration provider — preferably in a way your team stays in the loop.
Use Technology to Advance
You won’t evolve from a chaotic to predicable immigration overnight. Yet, in the coming months, you can develop a more stable and efficient workflow.
You’ll find it helps to take advantage of technology solutions, including collaboration tools. Technology, other than your typical email provider, can keep your international employees and immigration provider in touch and ease your People team’s workload.
In time, your team would benefit from considering a comprehensive, best-in-class immigration solution that offers transparency and accessibility.
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.