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Making a Plan for Your Immigration Budget

Nov 29, 2023


Challenges to Expect

Budgeting for employee work visas can be tricky, especially given the volatility of the market and the ever-changing state of governmental regulations. There are a few basic challenges any employer can expect when seeking immigrant visas for prospective workers:

Business Policy

Every company implements its own set of policies around work-related immigration. These may, in some cases, serve more as obstacles than catalysts in the effort to bring new talent into the U.S. Without a detailed understanding of the company by-laws, it can be difficult to accurately predict immigration-related spending.

Budgeting Paradigms

In the early 90s, U.S. businesses shifted away from the traditional paradigm of incremental budgeting toward zero-based budgeting — a technique developed by Peter Pyhrr, an accounting manager at Texas Instruments, in 1977. Under the former model, companies can effectively re-use budgets from previous quarters while making small adjustments to account for changes in policy or mission. While seemingly intuitive, this model leads to issues such as unnecessary spending and unaccounted-for externalities. Zero-based budgeting, on the other hand, requires businesses to start essentially from scratch with each budget. In practice, this means every single line item must be justified anew.

Expenditure Variables

While filing fees are relatively predictable, there are a number of expenditures that may change from case to case. These include:

These challenges need not stand in the way of a successful (read: accurate) immigration budget. To predict the future of immigration spending with some level of precision, employers can follow these 4 basic action-steps:

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Develop a Coherent Immigration Policy

Before diving into the nitty gritty of budgeting, it’s important to develop a clear set of standards for funding immigrant work visas. Knowing ahead of time when work visas can be acquired and where funding will come from can help establish a solid foundation for accurately forecasting expenditures.

Gather Metrics Around Existing Immigrant Workers

If a company has already gone through the process of hiring non-U.S. workers, they will likely have relevant data somewhere on file. These data may not, however, be in one central repository. If so, it’s important to collect all the metrics scattered throughout the company into one easy-to-search database.

Create Individualized Immigration Plans for Employees

With a keen understanding of company policy and a bird’s eye view of pertinent data, a business can chart a course for every single existing non-U.S. worker. This means having a clear timeline for visa renewals, green card application requirements, and pertinent fee structures.

Use Past Trends to Predict Future Costs

With the data in hand and a personalized account for each non-U.S. worker, employers can more effectively predict variables that affect costs. For example, to determine the amount of potential legal fees, companies can find the average number of dependents for current work-visa employees. They can also analyze company and governmental policy to develop cost-reducing strategies. They could, for instance, combine PERM applications to save on the government mandated advertising expenditures.

In brief, U.S. companies can capitalize on the data they already have at their disposal to make more accurate predictions about future expenditures.