Technology has made great strides in streamlining and simplifying immigration, and Bridge continues to lead the way. Our core innovation, the Bridge Platform, provides clients with a unified hub for all immigration activity. The Platform serves as a central workspace for storing documents, recording and updating processes, and conducting communications. Everyone has access — the company team, Bridge personnel, our attorneys, and of course, the immigration-bound employees themselves.
Beyond bringing order and harmony to a disjointed process, the Bridge Platform creates a new dimension of visibility and transparency that is especially helpful for employees. Gathering together a lifetime of documents and data can be an arduous process for them, and having a central place to store everything relieves a great deal of the burden. But the Bridge Platform supports their aspirations even further.
Our Timeline feature provides a schedule of the entire immigration journey for each employee, presenting all information relevant to their current application and prior history. Starting with the individual’s country of origin, Timeline chronicles their authorization documents (including passports), application history, international travel, and the education and work history that qualify them for different roles. Going forward, their relationship with your company is spelled out, including their current status, and anticipated future trajectory.
This contextual background informs the immigration process with a fuller understanding of the employee’s personal journey and the range of validity and parameters available for them. Advance planning becomes much more transparent. Visibility into future events, such as anticipated promotions and green card sponsorship, serves to ease employee stress and replace fear of the unknown with motivation and loyalty.
The Timeline also has nuts-and-bolts utility. Suppose, for example, an employee has a conversation with her manager about sponsorship for a green card. Later on, the manager leaves his job for a position elsewhere. How does the employee then show that the subject arose and a commitment was made, thus establishing a basis to revive the conversation?
Similarly, let’s say a government agency changes the requirements for a milestone that’s relevant to a number of in-process employees — at different times for each. How does HR quickly identify individuals who need counseling to make sure they understand the revamped rules and can respond in the required timeframe? In both these cases, the Bridge Timeline provides an easy solution.
With numerous visa types, multi-year applications, and employees at different process stages, it’s easy for documents, milestones, and due dates to fall through the cracks. Trying to monitor everything with an array of sticky notes can quickly become a muddled mess. And scheduling apps entail the nuisance of constantly toggling back and forth between your calendar and the system where the immigration work actually gets done.
This is why the Bridge Platform includes dashboards showing the current status of each employee and their open tasks. Payment history is also tracked to keep you informed about cumulative spend. And there are robust reminders and proactive notifications to help you stay on top of future appointments and due dates.
Teamwork is an important enabler for immigration processes and one of the hardest aspects to keep straight, given the continual dialogue among employees, company HR, service provider personnel, and attorneys. With Bridge, no one has to exit the workspace to send messages, share information, or ask questions. Built-in collaboration software allows everyone to communicate right inside the flow of work. The messaging layer cuts across the entire system — you can pop-up a communications thread in the corner of whatever screen or process you happen to be in.
Yet another advantage of the Bridge Platform is our audit history tool displaying who did what, and when, in every employee’s flow of events and milestones.
Planning and Strategy
I’m really excited about two soon-to-be-deployed capabilities that take immigration in a proactive and predictive direction. Our Policy Builder enables you to configure immigration program rules that will then auto-set due dates and events in employee timelines, and assess your ongoing progress in meeting targets. The second new toolset, Cost & Budgeting, lets you forecast future spend based on anticipated employee population, and also make projections of headcount objectives and future hires.
This is perhaps the most obvious area where technology can impact conventional immigration services. Bridge has been creating automation tools for the better part of a decade, and though government regulations place some limits on what we can digitize, our platform embodies an array of streamlined immigration best practices. This month’s new release integrates custom-tailored workflows for dozens of visa types. In all instances, we maximize the reuse of data and documents to eliminate redundant requests.
Case in point: with Bridge, compliance is entirely paperless. The required documents are digitized and stored for you, including public access files and PERM audit files. The platform also provides a compliance dashboard that highlights hot spots needing attention.
Over the long term, Bridge is working to establish data and networking standards across the immigration industry. Our Timeline capabilities are the first step toward this goal. As in the insurance and healthcare fields, substantial benefits will accrue from universalizing electronic formats for immigration processes and documents. Standardization is one of my passions and a vision I love talking about — but that’s a subject for another blog.