A Guide to Multidisciplinary Collaboration
Companies seeking global talent must necessarily contend with immigration matters, but HR needn’t go it alone. Envoy’s Lindsay Dagiantis shares her expertise on issues around immigration compliance.
The responsibility of hiring global talent often falls squarely on the shoulders of HR. Because of the significant legal and compliance requirements associated with hiring foreign nationals – and because 55 percent of employers expected their foreign national headcount to increase this year – HR teams shouldn’t be expected to manage the entire process themselves, even at a time when HR staffing ratios are at an all-time high.
In order to achieve positive outcomes for the hiring company and its foreign national employees, members of various parts of the organization must be involved: recruiters, hiring managers, legal counsel, HR, IT and the employees themselves. Here’s a look at what each group’s role should be.
Recruiters & Hiring Managers
Immigration compliance considerations arise at the very beginning of the hiring process for companies recruiting foreign talent. While recruiters and hiring managers are tasked with getting necessary information about a candidate, they need to be mindful of the questions they’re prohibited from asking. This includes questions about a candidate’s citizenship and national origin.
In addition to being familiar with the questions they are and are not allowed to ask, recruiters and hiring managers must also be well-versed in the visa requirements for working in the United States. If an offer of employment is extended, it must strike a balance, without stating or implying that employment is tied to their immigration status.
Recruiters and hiring managers aren’t the only ones who need assistance from immigration attorneys to do their jobs and be compliant. Both HR team members, foreign national employees and recruits are likely to have questions about the hiring process, visa applications and more.
A company’s legal counsel can support these team members by answering questions as they come up and by proactively educating recruiters and hiring managers on how to conduct interviews with foreign national candidates without breaking any laws.
In addition, a legal professional can offer ongoing compliance support by helping HR ensure that they’re ready at all times for a site audit. That means all paperwork is up to date and ready to share with proper authorities and that affected parties have been briefed about what to expect. It’s also beneficial to have legal counsel present during site audits, whether in person or by phone.
This type of support helps prevent unforeseen errors, meaning those of the “you don’t know what you don’t know” variety. HR professionals may not be aware of the latest immigration laws and requirements that affect the workplace, but immigration lawyers likely are, and part of their role is to communicate these laws and requirements to everyone they affect.
Managing foreign national employees’ status is much easier with software designed for that task. Choosing the right software and ensuring that it’s compatible with an organization’s tech suite requires input from the information technology department.
In an ideal world, your immigration management software would provide the following benefits:
- Help you manage deadlines by issuing automatic reminders of when materials must be filed. In today’s increasingly strict immigration environment, this can mean the difference between approval and rejection of a visa petition – and therefore an employee’s ability to work.
- Provide document storage that is secure, compliant and readily accessible in the event of a site inspection. This can be transformative, especially for companies currently relying on paper documents or a piecemeal file storage system.
- Offer employee logins so employees can see the status of their paperwork. This can translate to great efficiencies for HR teams, because when employees can check on the status of their applications themselves, HR doesn’t have to spend as much time answering questions and looking things up.
- Consolidate communications among HR teams, foreign national employees, legal teams and local experts so no one is forced to toggle between email, phone calls and in-person meetings to keep information up to date. This also gives teams access to constantly updated, secure communications on all immigration-related issues.
- Offer automated reporting dashboards that reflect a company’s current sponsored workforce, case management status and budget. Having everything together makes it easier to see the big picture, supports budget transparency and facilitates accurate immigration cost forecasting for future years.
Even with help from around the organization, HR teams still have plenty to do to properly manage compliance for foreign national employees. In an ideal scenario, the role of the HR team becomes that of project manager for the other team members.
HR and talent acquisition professionals do the ongoing work of supporting foreign national hires from the early stages of the hiring process and throughout their tenure as employees. In addition to all the typical support work, that might also include global mobility activities such as providing supplemental resources to help foreign national employees and their families adjust to life in the United States. This includes helping them manage the stress of a living in a new country and working with their managers, teams and the entire organization to develop a culture that’s welcoming and inclusive.
In Immigration Compliance, Teamwork Makes the Dream Work
HR teams are responsible for a lot, even in companies that don’t recruit foreign national talent. Immigration is specialized and complex; asking HR to take it on unaided could set your company up for compliance lapses that could lead to fines and even jeopardize the legal status of your employees. But avoiding foreign talent altogether can be detrimental to the growth and expansion of a company.
Don’t let the challenges of hiring foreign talent scare you away from hiring the most talented candidates. When representatives from around the company share their expertise, the organization as a whole can operate more efficiently, save money and enjoy better outcomes for everyone involved.