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Stress management tips for your next H-1B season

posted by: INSZoom date: Apr 27, 2015 Compliance, Immigration case management, Money and time saving tips comments: Comments Off on Stress management tips for your next H-1B season
Use technology and start early to reduce the stress of your next H-1B season.

Was the stress of the most recent H-1B season too much to handle? If you came into work early, stayed late, felt like you had too much on your plate – or worse – if you didn't get some of your applications in on April 1, you need to better prepare to manage your stress next year. 

"Case management software is the biggest favor you can do for yourself."

Follow these tips to look forward to a more manageable H-1B season:

  • Start as early as possible. The end of any year is a great time to get organized and connect with your clients and potential hires. December may be too early to know who will need an H-1B application, but it's not too soon to start figuring it out. By the end of the January, you should have your H-1B application needs solidified.
  • Touch base with other stakeholders. You may be responsible for completing H-1B applications, but others in the company may know eligible candidates or have other information. Check in with human resources, recruiters and employees to ensure you know whose applications to move forward with.
  • Invest in necessary technology. Manually tracking numerous H-1B applications is tedious and stress-inducing. Investing in immigration case management software is the biggest favor you can do for yourself, as it allows you to set up new case files, easily gather client information, establish the most efficient workflow and track deadlines.
  • Set a clear schedule for your clients. Initial hold up can come from your clients not providing the documents you need right away. Use your CMS to set due dates and send reminders to your clients.
  • Prepare for delays. Start early and expect something to hold you back. If you submit your Labor Condition Applications and other pre-H-1B forms as early as possible, your entire schedule isn't delayed if something unexpected comes up.
  • Take stock of your work at the end of each day. Starting in January, you should check in with your H-1B applications regularly. It's best to spare 10 minutes at the end of each day to check your calendar, see what you're waiting on and what you need get going on the next day.
  • Leave work behind. It can be tempting to check your work email during the evening or bring files home, but it's best to give yourself a work-free zone. It's easiest to do this after work each day. Make yourself a nice dinner, catch up on your favorite show and get a good night's sleep.
date:  Apr 27, 2015 comments:  Comments Off on Stress management tips for your next H-1B season
by:  INSZoom category:  Compliance, Immigration case management, Money and time saving tips Read More

New grant opportunity from USCIS [Video]

posted by: INSZoom date: Apr 14, 2015 Compliance comments: Comments Off on New grant opportunity from USCIS [Video]
New grant opportunity from USCIS

U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services is accepting applications for the Citizenship and Integration Grant Program, which allows organizations that prepare permanent residents for naturalization and promote increased knowledge of English, U.S. history and civics. The program offers up to $10 million in grants for citizenship preparation around the country. Applications are due May 15.

Many organizations need these types of grants to keep everything running smoothly, but applying for them is complicated. Fortunately, INSZoom can help. Immigration case management software helps businesses keep all the data they need for grant applications and reporting in one place. 

Securing grants helps organizations provide services to their clients. 

date:  Apr 14, 2015 comments:  Comments Off on New grant opportunity from USCIS [Video]
by:  INSZoom category:  Compliance Read More

Improve accuracy and efficiency in the H-1B application process

posted by: INSZoom date: Mar 19, 2015 Compliance, Immigration case management comments: Comments Off on Improve accuracy and efficiency in the H-1B application process
INSZoom immigration case management softwa

There's little certainty when applying for H-1B visas, but creating an accurate and efficient workflow is the only way to ensure your applications stand a chance of being reviewed and approved.

Not every H-1B application will be reviewed by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, and even fewer of those will be granted a visa. Numerous factors come into play for H-1B visas.

"To establish an accurate and efficient workflow you need technological help."

Reduce the element of chance
USCIS receives more H-1B petitions than it can approve every year, and while there will always be an element of chance to the situation, you can minimize the risk of USCIS rejecting your applications. To give your applications the best opportunity to be reviewed, you need to have a strong H-1B petition workflow – one that is methodical and supports accuracy.

Only by following the proper steps closely can you feel confident you haven't missed anything and that your petitions have a high chance of success after you hit send.

Consider how the process really works
For every H-1B season, there's a maximum number of applications USCIS accepts. USCIS will begin taking H-1B visa applications on April 1, but it will stop accepting them once applications hit the 65,000 limit, which is usually within five days, according to the USCIS website. If there's an excessive amount of applications in the first five days, USCIS uses a lottery to determine which applications are reviewed. The petitions not selected by the lottery or are received after USCIS closes the application period are automatically rejected.

However, not every application received will count toward the cap or the lottery. The first 20,000 H-1B petitions for foreign workers with the equivalent of U.S. master's degrees or higher are exempt from the total 65,000.

It's always important to get your H-1B applications in on April 1, but you also have a slightly better chance of receiving a visa if your foreign workers' petitions aren't part of the cap.

In addition to worrying about whether your application will be submitted in time and selected for review, it's crucial your applications are complete and entirely accurate. Small mistakes can cause USCIS to deny petitions if they aren't rejected due to the cap.

Manually keeping track of the H-1B application process can lead to a mess. Manually keeping track of the H-1B application process can lead to a mess.

Let INSZoom help 
To establish an accurate and efficient workflow you need technological help. While it's technically possible to keep track of the many steps of an H-1B petition by using spreadsheets, a calendar and paper files, it's inefficient and risky. Trying to juggle the many preapplication filing tasks for dozens of clients by using old-fashioned tracking methods is asking for trouble and could lead to displeased clients.

Without tools like INSZoom's immigration case management software, you run the chance of losing track of dates, misplacing important paperwork and taking up precious time by searching for forms, organizing information and checking what comes next.

Instead of relying on slow processes that increase the risk you'll miss a step, INSZoom's platform offers template workflows and gives you the ability to create custom processes. Once you implement INSZoom, you can immediately start working with your H-1B clients through the platform. You can also create specific workflows for H-1B applications with special needs, such as applicants with spouses and children who need to apply for H-4 visas or employment authorization.

By investing in automated workflows and cloud technology, you improve your chances of remaining 100 percent compliant with immigration application guidelines, having your petitions in on time and receiving H-1B visas for your clients. With INSZoom, you can do all of this while saving time and reducing the stress of the application process. 

date:  Mar 19, 2015 comments:  Comments Off on Improve accuracy and efficiency in the H-1B application process
by:  INSZoom category:  Compliance, Immigration case management Read More

How mergers and acquisitions can affect H-1B petitions

posted by: INSZoom date: Mar 12, 2015 Compliance, Immigration case management comments: Comments Off on How mergers and acquisitions can affect H-1B petitions
INSZoom ensures the H-1B process goes smoothly even after a merger or acquisition.

When foreign nationals apply for H-1B visas, their employers warrant the position follows the federal regulations that control foreign workers in the U.S. These businesses have submitted information regarding the location, responsibilities and wage associated with the position. These details are crucial to an H-1B application being approved, as U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has to be sure the foreign national will have a fair wage at a safe job and that the company isn't using the H-1B visa to break up a strike.

What happens if the employer changes?
Mergers and acquisitions mean a change to the employer, and possibly a change to the terms of the foreign national's employment, which can have serious implications to an H-1B visa application or a current H-1B visa.

The Labor Condition Application
If a merger or acquisition creates a new employer while an LCA is pending, the new employer becomes the successor-in-interest, and will need to wait until the U.S. Department of Labor makes a decision because the DOL doesn't allow modifications. If the LCA is accepted, then the new employer can continue with the employee's application and file a Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker, with USCIS along with proof the new employer is the rightful successor-in-interest.

However, if the new employer will have the foreign national work in a different location that is not in the same statistical metropolitan area, than it will need to submit a new LCA with that new location's information.

"A successor-in-interest will have to file a new Form I-140."

Form I-140
In general, a successor-in-interest will have to file a new Form I-140, even if the previous form is pending or has been approved. Form I-140 is for the purpose of a foreign national worker to become a permanent resident of the U.S. As it's generally filed by the employer, USCIS needs to have the actual employer's information.

The H-1B Petition
While the LCA and Form I-140 may need to be refiled by a new employer following a merger or acquisition, pending H-1B petitions do not need to be resubmitted. The successor-in-interest assumes all of the liabilities of the H-1B petitions and continues with the process.

The successor-in-interest may need to amend a petition if there are changes to the foreign national's position, such as changes to location that would require a new LCA.

How INSZoom can help
Mergers and acquisitions frequently lead to corporate and staff restructuring, layoffs or new positions. With all of the changes and tasks assigned to the human resources department, it can be hard to keep track of H-1B applicants and where they all are in the process.

INSZoom can help successors-in-interest know exactly what's going on with foreign national workers, and determine if any forms need to be amended or resubmitted to a government body.

Instead of manually pulling files, the HR department can run a report regarding current and potential H-1B workers, and can see in an instant what work lies ahead.

date:  Mar 12, 2015 comments:  Comments Off on How mergers and acquisitions can affect H-1B petitions
by:  INSZoom category:  Compliance, Immigration case management Read More

Questions to ask before choosing a cloud vendor

posted by: INSZoom date: Feb 11, 2015 Compliance comments: Comments Off on Questions to ask before choosing a cloud vendor
Immigration professionals can find the right cloud providers for them by asking important questions.

While the cloud offers you many everyday benefits as an immigration professional, it can also pose a security risk if you aren't careful. In the right setting and with a strong provider, cloud-based case management software is one of the safest places for you to store your immigration clients' information. In the wrong setting, it sets you up for lost work time and potentially leaked information, which in a legal setting, could be a violation of attorney-client privilege. 

Knowing the use of the cloud is a balancing act, you're probably wondering how to tip the scale in your favor and ensure it's beneficial to you and clients.

"Using the cloud is a balancing act."

The best way to do this is to start off on the right foot from the beginning, by asking potential cloud providers certain essential questions.

Where are your servers?
The location of servers matters because the laws of the country or state in which they reside control how the data stored within them is treated. Other nations have different privacy and information security regulations than the U.S., which could inadvertently open up your immigration clients' information to third parties. It's critically important your clients' information is stored in data centers in America, so you can ensure the cloud provider follows U.S. laws and that you don't make your client a target for cyberattacks.

Additionally, you might not think of it this way, but when you store and retrieve information from the cloud it travels, potentially crossing state or international borders. International regulations can affect what type of information can cross these borders, and you could unknowingly cause your clients' data to be unnecessarily regulated. 

How will my and my clients' data be protected?
It's essential the information you store on a cloud provider's servers is both physically and electronically secure. A strong cloud provider will limit who can physically access its centers and will have disaster recovery strategies in place, including fire retardant technology and data redundancy in geographically separate locations.

While it's standard for data to be encrypted while being stored and on the move, you should ask for specifics regarding the provider's encryption protocol to ensure it meets your needs.

Immigration professionals need to know how their cloud providers protect information on their servers.Immigration professionals need to know how their cloud providers protect information on their servers.

How much uptime is guaranteed?
Many cloud users don't put much thought into up and downtime, assuming their information is always available. However, no cloud provider guarantees 100 percent uptime, but the amount they do guarantee is important. Providers who guarantee only 99 percent uptime in their service level agreements are allowing for nearly 15 minutes of downtime per day. This doesn't seem like much but equates to more than 87 hours each year. That's 87 hours you might not be able to access your clients' information. Providers who guarantee 99.99 percent are much better, allowing for only 52 minutes of downtime each year. 

Do you provide training and on-going support?
You generally begin working with a cloud provider because you're purchasing software. It's best to have a relationship with a company that will not only provide initial training for the new platform, but also continue to provide IT support and further training throughout your relationship. Without these services, it will be your responsibility to find IT support through a third party or have it in-house.

How long have you been in business?
While history isn't always an indicator of future performance, it's best to work with a cloud provider that's proven their worth. Ask about the vendor's history, including how long they've been around and particularly, often they've worked with clients in the immigration industry, to see if the business fully understands your particular needs.

While there is other important information you need to know before forming a contract with a cloud provider, the above questions are the foundation of a strong due diligence process. By using these inquiries, you can learn a lot about a businesses, which can help you decide to move forward with them or look for something better.

date:  Feb 11, 2015 comments:  Comments Off on Questions to ask before choosing a cloud vendor
by:  INSZoom category:  Compliance Read More
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