An Undefined Immigration Program is a Launchpad for Improvement
As a U.S. business seeking talent outside of the country, you face a tough immigration process. Knowing international employees have the knowledge and skills you need isn’t enough. Your People team has to walkthrough the complicated process defined by federal law.
Whether the undertaking runs smoothly largely depends on whether you’ve established and refined your immigration program and workflow — a constant challenge in an ever-evolving field.
Without clear steps, well-defined roles, and helpful technology, your team members and international employees may suffer through an anxiety-ridden journey. However, through intentional process management, you can take steps toward a more predictable and efficient process.
The Consequences of a Chaotic Immigration Process
Right now, you may work within a confusing immigration process because the organization has yet to define its immigration program and workflow.
A chaotic immigration process often looks like:
- Your company may not have a set policy on which positions are open to international employees and which individuals are eligible.
- People teams and recruitment may not be on the same page about who the company would sponsor for a visa.
- Without predefined rules, you consider candidates on a case-by-case basis.
- Case-by-case decisions are time-consuming, and many ineligible applicants may get further into the interview process than they should.
No clear workflow
A chaotic immigration program is most obvious by the absence of an intentional workflow.
Your team should have a roadmap through the immigration process relevant to each visa, such as an H-1B, H-2A, H-2B, L-1, or O-1. Every step within that workflow should be assigned to a specific stakeholder and have set procedures and due dates. Every team member’s role and responsibilities should be clear.
Confusion and inconsistencies
If you’ve yet to formalize the immigration workflow and each team member’s role and tasks, you’re likely suffering from inconsistencies and mistakes given the challenges of the U.S. immigration system.
Without established procedures, there’s too much room for human error and non-compliance. As a result, despite every stakeholder’s best effort, they may end up duplicating tasks, making mistakes, missing deadlines, and failing to secure visas.
Email Isn’t a Reliable Process
The immigration process relies heavily on communication among the immigration stakeholders, from gathering information at the beginning to onboarding a new employee. Without a well-defined workflow, it’s up to individual employees to do their best to populate the correct forms, follow the complicated federally required process, and meet deadlines.
To do this, they rely heavily on email and phone calls.
Many professionals live and die by their email. It’s often the default method of communication for attorneys.
But the truth is that email isn’t a robust or dependable primary channel of communication because:
- Emails often derail collaboration and foster miscommunication.
- Emails become disorganized as they shift from topic to topic, and individuals join or leave the thread.
- Important information is lost among thousands of other emails, making it unreliable for storing information or tracking the history of an immigration case.
Poor Communication Lowers Employee Morale
From the international employee’s perspective, a chaotic immigration process is challenging and stressful. When relying on email, the applicant or employee has no way of knowing what’s going on unless they receive a specific update from your People team or ask.
There’s a distinct lack of visibility and transparency, which can be tough to swallow as an international employee waiting weeks or months for word on whether they can begin work. This disorganized process is a less-than-ideal way for someone to start or continue a career with your organization.
Inadequate Process Management Hinders Compliance
Compliance isn’t simply a benefit of a well-organized immigration process. It’s essential for any organization that hires international employees.
Without defined processes and secure, centralized storage, it may be near-impossible to gather clean data, run reports, and assess whether you’re consistently complying with federal immigration laws. Unfortunately, your company may be unprepared for a DOL or USCIS audit.
A federal audit regarding I-9s, PAFs, or PERM applications could turn up instances of non-compliance. The best-case scenario is civil fines, while the worst-case scenario is being barred from certain employment-based immigration programs.
Start the Journey Toward a Predictable Immigration Program
The complex immigration landscape makes it difficult for any organization to build a well-oiled immigration program. The struggle is an inherent part of expanding and seeking talent outside the U.S. But it can lead the way to a better defined and consistent program that benefits employees and international applicants.
- Define the stakeholders in your immigration program. Their input will be essential in establishing your policies regarding international employee’s eligibility for open positions.
- Establish eligibility requirements. Begin to define which positions international employee’s may fill and draft eligibility requirements your recruiters can consistently apply during their efforts.
- Map your typical immigration processes. Creating a defined workflow is a critical part of your organization’s journey. To evaluate what you can do better, you must have a clear picture of the immigration process and each stakeholder’s role in it. That means each step should have an assignee and due date to establish ownership and accountability.
- Gain your stakeholder’s input regarding pain points. Ask your People team members and international employees who’ve gone through the process, “How can we improve?”
Once you’ve carefully defined your immigration program and established a set workflow, the process becomes more predictable and consistent for your People team and international employees. These small improvements can go a long way in boosting morale and providing data.
Consider an Immigration Technology Provider
As you move toward a predictable immigration program, you may start to take advantage of ad hoc technology solutions, such as employee collaboration tools or secure cloud storage. These solutions will no doubt help your team. However, you’ll find they fall short of the advantages that an immigration-specific platform and service provider offers, including automation, collaboration, and process visibility. In time, you can consider the platform best suited for your organization and immigration program.
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.