Virginia, US
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| Mitch Wexler

4 New Year Resolutions for Global Immigration Program Managers

‘Tis the season to formulate resolutions to identify and KEEP in the upcoming new year. For global mobility managers, immigration program managers or even those who have as one of their job responsibilities the company’s visa/immigration program, whatever its size, there are several compelling professional resolutions to consider:
 
1. Design an Efficient Case Initiation System:  Mature programs typically have systems in place that allow them to quickly initiate a case with their immigration counsel. Smaller companies struggle with this and often waste time that can either lead to losing the candidate or starting and stopping the process as new information is made available. Less mature immigration programs should consider creating a process that includes getting the candidate’s resume, assembling the job title/duties/requirements/salary for the job and quickly having it vetted with immigration counsel for advice as to whether there is a work visa solution at all and, if so, which one would be the fastest and most cost effective.
 
2. Execute Immigration Program Efficiencies:  The larger the immigration program, the more opportunity there will be for the implementation of program efficiencies that can not only speed up the process but reduce costs. A few common ones are:
 
  • Group LCAs: Labor Condition Applications (LCAs) are a necessary component to the filing of H-1B petitions. If sufficient commonality of jobs can be identified, a group LCA can be filed and certified that can service multiple H-1B petitions.
  • Electronic Posting of LCAs: There is a requirement that the LCA be physically posted in order to put the public on notice of certain elements of the H-1B petition filing. This is commonly achieved by a physical posting for 10 consecutive business days. This posting can also be done quite efficiently electronically, typically housed in a certain portion of the employer’s web site.
  • Job Ladder Descriptions: Many companies have defined job ladders that are used for employees’ career progression. By working closely with immigration counsel, such job ladders can be integrated into the immigration application process, which eliminates significant back-and-forth communication with HR and managers. 
  • Automatic Visa Extension Rules: Visa status extensions for most work visas can be filed up to six months early. Rather than notify immigration counsel that you would like to seek an extension for a given foreign national, often quite late, a rule can be established that instructs immigration counsel to initiate extensions seven months out with a view to getting it filed as close to the six-month mark as possible. Some foreign nationals on the list might no longer be working for the company or may no longer need a status extension for one reason or another. Outliers can be identified by this system as well.
  • Automatic Green Card Initiation Rules: Similar to the above, it can be a significant time saver to have a rule whereby foreign nationals on work visas will be eligible to apply for green cards at an identifiable point in time, after one year for example.  It is common for a “Review Rating” to be incorporated into the calculus as well.  Immigration counsel can then reach out after the prescribed amount of time and confirm the review rating has been achieved and then immediately initiate the green card process.  Starting the green card process too late risks losing the foreign national resource if the process is not completed within the validity period of their authorized work visa status. 
 
3. Track Spend: Depending on the size of a company’s immigration program, the total “spend” on all things immigration can be significant. Getting reports, typically from immigration counsel, on the legal fees as well as other significant program costs such as USCIS filing fees, mandatory advertising costs, credential evaluation costs can be quite illuminating. It can help identify trends that can help with budgeting and possible cost reduction. 
 
4. Look Ahead: A noble immigration program related New Year’s resolution should be looking into your organization’s near- and longer-term future.  Are any business spikes, acquisitions, divestitures, facility closures, RIFs, possible international expansion and the like expected that might impact the company’s immigration program? If so, it would certainly be good to get in front of it to plan accordingly.
By taking a more holistic view of your company’s immigration program, you can not only enhance its effectiveness and efficiency but also bring more positive attention to this critical function.