Too Many Cooks in the Kitchen? Tips to Successfully Manage the Corporate Immigration Process
It is not uncommon for our clients to reach out to us and ask for guidance on how best to internally manage the immigration process for its foreign national employees. Some of our clients are just venturing down this path for the first time and others are struggling to manage the internal demands of a growing immigration need within their companies. As a result, we thought it might be helpful to provide some general guidance on the challenges and the best practices we see on daily basis from the interaction with our clients which range in size from small startups to large, multinational corporations.
(1) Having “too many cooks in the kitchen” is not advisable. It is best to have a designated individual or a team that is responsible for managing the immigration process for the company. Having too many individuals involved can lead to confusion internally and an inefficient duplication in efforts.
(2) Take advantage of immigration training sessions. The assigned team should partake in any offered training sessions from reputable sources. The immigration process is complex with many different laws and policies to navigate. LAC routinely provides training sessions on the various visa types, the employment-based green card process, and I-9 and other compliance issues.
(3) Screen new hires for immigration issues during the recruitment process. We have seen many clients get blindsided with the need for work authorization after the candidate has already signed the offer letter. Building in a way to screen for immigration issues during the recruitment process, as well as consulting with your immigration legal counsel to evaluate any immigration concerns, will help alleviate this issue. LAC is available to provide immigration assessments of our clients’ prospective employees where we address legal issues and strategize with our clients to successfully onboard key employees.
(4) Communication and managing expectations is key. It is important to understand that the U.S. immigration system does not function with the utmost efficiency and it is not uncommon for new facts to come to light which impact the immigration process and overall timelines. With new hires, it is best to ensure that both the prospective employee and the hiring manager understand that it may take several weeks to get the necessary documents in place for the start of employment. With existing employees seeking renewals or pursuing a green card, communication is essential. The green card process can be extremely lengthy so keeping everyone up to date on where the process is and what challenges, if any, are being faced will keep the anxiety to a minimum.
(5) Establish a corporate immigration policy. This is a great way to ensure that everyone in the company is on the same page. It is not uncommon for employees to want to start the green card process immediately after hire or to request assistance with fees needed for a spouse’s or child’s visa. Defining the company’s policies on such issues assists in keeping the function streamlined. LAC is available to assist our clients in defining and drafting a structured corporate policy document on immigration.
(6) Take advantage of offers from legal counsel for onsite visits or employee forums. In our experience, employees appreciate the company providing access to its legal counsel to address their questions and overall concerns on the immigration process. Additionally, just meeting the attorney who is assisting with their immigration matters can go a long way towards alleviating anxiety and building trust.
The LAC team is always available to assist in any way we can to make the management of this important yet challenging function as painless as possible. We are always open to ideas on how we can assist in making the process more manageable for the company through altering our firm’s management of the company’s immigration matters.
We hope this practice pointer has been helpful. As always, feel free to contact your LAC attorney with any questions on the above, or to let us know if you would be interested in attending LAC’s next training session, retaining our firm to develop an immigration policy or would like to schedule an on-site visit for an employee forum.
This article was prepared by Amanda Neher, Senior Associate, Larrabee Albi Coker LLP.
Legal Disclaimer: This article is provided for informational purposes only and does not substitute for legal advice based on the circumstances of a specific matter. Immigration laws and policies change frequently, often without notice. It is therefore important to seek direct legal counsel based upon individual circumstances.