Want to Streamline Corporate Immigration? Get Your Hiring Managers More Involved.
For a foreign national who has accepted a role at an organization based in the United States, members of the HR or talent acquisition team are often their first point of contact at their new employer — but they shouldn’t be the only points of contact. Hiring managers who understand the immigration process — and especially the challenges that foreign nationals can face during it — can be better advocates for their foreign national employees. Importantly, that helps lay the foundation for a solid relationship between the hiring manager and their employee in the future.
Here’s what hiring managers should know about their role in the corporate immigration process:
Hiring Managers and the Visa Application Process
First and foremost, hiring managers have details about and access to current employees on their teams. That means hiring managers are well positioned to inform HR teams about existing employees or interns on F-1 student visas who are eligible for other types of employment-based visas, such as the H-1B specialty occupation visa or an L-1 intracompany transfer. Hiring managers also need to communicate with HR teams during the hiring process to make sure that the position’s requirements and the sponsored employee’s qualifications align, as that alignment is key to meeting the eligibility requirements of a specific visa.
To facilitate a smooth process, HR teams should ensure hiring managers are aware of the timelines and processes surrounding the securing of work authorization for foreign national workers. When HR teams set proper expectations for hiring managers, that helps hiring managers plan properly and communicate with the new employee to avoid potential frustrations for all parties involved. In addition, keeping hiring managers aware of how they can help and consistently updating them on important milestones can mitigate any unwanted surprises.
Hiring Managers and the Green Card Process
Sponsoring an employee for permanent residence in the US is a powerful talent retention tool, especially in our newly remote work world, but the process is complex. Hiring managers can play a key role here, too.
Hiring managers are often the first to set expectations and timelines for sponsorship with their employees. HR teams should be sure to get in front of managers early to help them understand the company’s broader green card sponsorship policy.
In addition, before sponsoring an employee for permanent residence, employers must complete the program electronic review management (PERM) labor certification process. This process tests the labor market to ensure there are no minimally qualified US workers available to perform the job for which a foreign national is seeking sponsorship. The process essentially serves as proof that the employer was unable to find any US citizens who were a match for the role. Having hiring managers complete a template as part of the PERM process can help the company highlight which hard-to-find skills and qualifications are needed for the job. Having this information on hand makes it easier to prove that no qualified US workers are available.
There is often a disconnect between what the manager deems the minimum requirements for the role and what the potential employee’s actual qualifications are. It’s important for the HR team, the hiring manager, and the potential employee to meet and discuss the match. That way, the company can make sure the job description used during the PERM process is in line with the sponsored employee’s qualifications.
Improving Communication With Hiring Managers
Due to the long and complex nature of the immigration process, communication between all stakeholders, including hiring managers, is key. Face-to-face meetings — typically held virtually these days — bring an element of humanity to the process and allow the HR team to build a relationship of trust with the hiring manager.
Once an offer of employment is made, host a kick-off meeting with the hiring manager, sponsored employee, and any other partners involved. Use this time to assign points of contact, determine information storage methods for employee documents and paperwork, and provide facts about and projected trajectories for the visa application process.
In addition, HR teams can leverage practices like virtual town halls to educate managers on the immigration process. Newsletters can also be sent to both hiring managers and foreign nationals to provide updates on company policy and changes in immigration regulations.
Hiring managers have the best understanding of the skills they need to keep their departments running effectively. When they are true partners in the global talent acquisition process, they can help streamline the immigration process for both HR teams and new hires.
Lindsay Dagiantis is vice president of human resources at Envoy Global.