Maintaining the quality of an immigration program in times of political change means being proactive and staying in the know
For employers today, uncertainty can feel like a consistent theme in immigration. In the first few months of 2020 alone, employers had to react to the ongoing rollout of the H-1B electronic registration system and the recently upheld Public Charge rule. In fact, 50% of employers said that unpredictability resulting from frequent changes in government policy has become more challenging under the current administration. Despite these conditions, human resources professionals can extend their organization's foreign talent pipeline by thinking ahead.
Three practices to help companies navigate and succeed in the changing immigration landscape
Stay up to date with credible news sources
With immigration constantly changing, HR professionals need to stay aware of the current legal landscape and their own organization's place within it. "Understanding external and internal circumstances can help you stay ahead and ask your immigration counsel important questions, even if you're already communicating regularly," says Sara Herbek, Managing Partner at Global Immigration Associates. In addition, following credible news sources, including The New York Times, Reuters and BBC can help relevant stakeholders stay informed about changing immigration policies, trends and other noteworthy developments.
These outlets also have robust coverage of global immigration, which is important for employers who send employees abroad. In addition to keeping up with changing immigration policies and laws, consuming this kind of information will alert employers to geopolitical developments—such as protests or illness outbreaks—that could impact their deployed talent. To get both U.S. and global immigration news delivered to your inbox every Monday, sign up for Envoy's Immigration News Digest.
Herbek notes that while external immigration policies cannot always be controlled, employers can control how prepared they are with their own internal programs and best practices. To avoid feeling unprepared for a site visit, a change in policy, an audit or an RFE, it's critical to develop thorough and strategic immigration processes for every employee that include responses to potential "what if" scenarios. Working with an experienced immigration counsel can help organizations do so, as can implementing technology into the process.
"Part of being prepared is making sure that your documentation and internal compliance records are up to date, including Public Access Files and PERM audit files," Herbek says. Implementing a secure document storage method as well as a strong compliance tool can eliminate paperwork and reduce the chance or errors.
Explore global opportunities
New immigration restrictions have made securing common employment-based visas (such as the H-1B) more complex for employers and their sponsored talent. As a result, savvy companies are exploring alternative destinations to place foreign national employees that still allow them to fill key roles at the organization. In this year's Trends Report, 48% of employers said that placing high-skilled talent unable to secure work authorization in the U.S. was the primary driver behind their outbound immigration work.
The top destination of the list? Canada. Thanks to its proximity to the U.S. and its business-friendly immigration policies, 61% of employers are now either sending more people to or hiring more people in the country. Employers also reported that the process for sending talent to the U.K., India and Germany have become easier over the last two years. Nevertheless, HR and mobility teams should consider both their organization's unique needs and changing global immigration policies when deciding on international placements.
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