Navigating U.S. immigration for international employees requires a strategic and data-driven approach. Inaccurate or mismanaged data during the immigration process can lead to serious consequences, including government fines, employee job loss, potential visa cancellation, and the loss of valuable talent for employers. Additionally, it’s crucial for employers to be aware that, in some cases, this can also result in civil or criminal fines and penalties.
To streamline the immigration process and ensure compliance, it is crucial to maintain clear, organized records and leverage data-driven insights. In this blog post, we’ll explore key U.S. immigration data points that all HR professionals should track for effective case management, application timing, and compliance.
Here are some key data points to track when it comes to immigration case management for your international employees:
- Number of International Employees: Be sure to keep track of the number of foreign workers your company currently employs.
- Case Status Tracking: Regularly monitor the status of each immigration case to anticipate any delays or issues. Utilize USCIS case tracking tools and platforms to stay updated on application progress. Boundless put together a guide on how to navigate USCIS’ online case tracking here.
- RFE (Request for Evidence) Trends: Track the frequency and nature of RFEs to enhance the quality of documentation in future applications. Develop strategies to address common RFE triggers. Learn more about RFEs and how to avoid them in our guide.
- Attorney Fees: If your company utilizes an external law firm or consulting immigration attorneys, be sure to keep track of all billing schedules and attorneys fees, as they may vary depending on application type and case complexity.
Here are some key data points to consider when it comes to application timing:
- Visa Bulletin Updates: Stay informed about monthly Visa Bulletin updates to understand visa availability and potential wait times. Plan application submissions based on visa category and priority dates. You can learn more about how to read the Visa Bulletin here.
- Distinguish Between Non-immigrant Status and Immigrant Status: When tracking the immigration status of international employees, it’s essential to understand the difference between a non-immigrant visa (NIV) and permanent (IV) status. A non-immigrant visa is typically valid for three years, extendable up to six years, while permanent (IV) status refers to lawful permanent residents, or green card holders. Adjusting status from a non-immigrant work visa to a green card is a significant step, and a mistake in this process could determine whether an employee receives their green card or faces a notice of visa violation.
- PERM Timing: The PERM labor certification process is a crucial aspect of obtaining an employment-based green card for an international employee, and timing is critical. Check out our PERM timing guide for more information on how to track this step for your employees.
- Monitoring Time Left in Status: By keeping track of visa expirations and the time remaining in your employees’ immigration process, you can steer clear of unwelcome surprises and ensure a smoother transition between visa statuses. You may consider implementing a system for timely alerts regarding visa expiration dates so you can proactively initiate the renewal process to avoid lapses in status for your employees.
Stay compliant with immigration rules and regulations by tracking the following data points:
- I-9 Compliance Audits: Regularly audit I-9 forms for accuracy and currency. Implement a system for timely verification of work authorization. You can learn more about Form I-9 in our guide. We also put together some helpful tips on how to improve your company’s I-9 process.
- Maintaining Public Access Files (PAF): Ensure thorough maintenance of Public Access Files (PAF) with all required documentation and be sure to conduct periodic audits to address any deficiencies. Learn more about how to create and maintain PAFs here.
- Address Verification: Outdated or incorrect addresses are a cause for concern with immigration authorities. It’s crucial to maintain current addresses that align with official documentation to prevent processing delays.
- Salary Management: Salary adjustments can occur multiple times a year, such as during hiring, after an initial employment period, at appraisal time, to address pay compression issues, or for changes in work hours. International employees must receive prevailing wages in compliance with governmental requirements.