Many organizations reach a ‘comfort zone’ when it comes to creating and implementing an immigration program. They can meet their basic compliance requirements and generally meet immigration-related deadlines.
At this point, your immigration program is competent and functional. Things are getting done. You’re getting cases processed. You’re able to get international employees approved, hired, and through the onboarding process. You’ve got a handle on your I-9 process. Your employees have access to at least some basic information about the immigration system
But your program is still transactional, rather than strategic.
This is the ‘default’ mode for most companies: Your People teams are focused on getting day-to-day tasks done. They’re checking items off a to-do list. They’re putting out small fires, and generally trying to keep their heads above water. However, this also creates bottlenecks in the process when that employee wants to take vacation or takes maternity leave and no one else knows how to pick up the cases.
Immigration, programmatically managed, becomes more than just case management but rather a way to create delightful experiences and ensure that your team stays on top of your talent retention goals.
Misalignment amongst stakeholders
For most organizations, the process is reactive, not proactive. People teams are caught between constant status update requests from anxious employees and requests for documentation from legal vendors. But there’s little or no input or cross-disciplinary collaboration from other departments. There’s no long-term planning. There are no standardized procedures or automation. The emphasis is on tactics, rather than strategy, and immediate-term execution rather than long-range planning and resourcing.
As a result, People Teams are constantly ‘re-inventing the wheel,’ with improvised solutions for tasks that could have been standardized and workflows that could be automated.
Moreover, the lack of standardized compliance processes and job requirements for H-1B and Green Card holders exposes the company to audit risk. Untrained recruiters and hiring managers and inconsistent administration and benefits for international employees can even lead to employment discrimination lawsuits down the road.
Immigration training fundamentals for your People team
At this level, you've probably started to streamline and digitize your emerging immigration operations. But you still have a way to go before maximizing your immigration program to serve your broader talent goals.
- Invest in external certifications (like SHRM or ERC) and training for key HR and other stakeholders.
- Keep recruiters and hiring managers armed with up-to-date information about which positions qualify for work visas and which positions are eligible for company Green Card sponsorship. Green Card sponsorship is a major decision criteria for international employees. Training recruiters in your company immigration policies and offering sponsorship early in the relationship can help instill confidence in your organization’s ability to follow through. This not only could improve offer-to-conversion ratios; It potentially gets you in a position to make more offers to great candidates.
- Train recruiters and People Team staff on how to spot H1-B and OPT fraud.
- Document your immigration practices in a comprehensive policy guide that addresses employee needs along each stage of the immigration journey. Involve your immigration counsel in the drafting process.
Human resources professionals have spent decades working to elevate HR from a clerical and transaction-oriented ancillary function to being a strategic partner with direct C-suite representation. The benefits have been tremendous.
Ultimately, the goal is to elevate your immigration program to the same level of importance, turning it from a clerical function to a significant strategic asset that generates an enduring competitive advantage for your company and ensuring your immigration team can celebrate its' wins.
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.