April 7, 2020 11:42 pm
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Immigration law firms capture and store an enormous amount of data. Different types of data, stored in different places and captured in different ways – client communications stored in emails, foreign national and corporate documents in folders on local drives, a case management cloud or a third-party service like Dropbox or Box.com, hard copy government notices and other types of folders in office cabinets and more.

Under normal circumstances, having all this information spread across multiple locations isn’t that big of a deal. Let’s say a beneficiary’s H-1B was approved – you scan their approval notice and save the scanned image into your local “G” drive, update that beneficiary’s case in your case management platform of choice, send an update to the beneficiary via email or text, and call it a day.

But today, circumstances are far from normal.

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to freeze the US economy and has forced nearly everyone to work from home, law firms have scrambled to put systems in place that are allowing them to continue to operate. The reality is, though, that one of the most effective systems is already being used by most law firms, though not to its full extent – immigration case management.

Because now that law firms are settling into a fully-remote work environment, organizing and centralizing your data in a case management platform is the easiest way to move forward. Here are the top ways you can leverage your case management platform as your central remote office.

Use your case management cloud for document storage.

Lawyer firms are in the document business. This used to be much more evident back in the day when every document was paper-based and they were all stored in filing cabinets, on desks or in the case of high volumes, storage units. Today, while the document count may have gone up, many of them are digital and therefore stored in the digital versions of filing cabinets (computer folders), desks (your computer desktop), or third-party storage units (cloud-based storage).

In other words, while firms have much less paper clutter these days, there’s probably as much, if not more digital clutter.

And just like in the physical world, it’s important to properly organize, and most importantly centralize all your documentation. Law firms that use cloud services were and are certainly ahead of the curve in many respects, but if those same firms are also using a case management platform, most of whom are, it still means information must be tracked, retrieved and often transferred between multiple systems, causing delays or mistakes.

So the first major work-from-home best practice is to organize and more importantly centralize as much of your law firm data as possible. You’re likely already doing most of your casework in a case management system – did you know that most case management platforms provide cloud storage too? INSZoom, for example, provides cloud storage for all its users, enabling them to store everything from corporate petitioner documents and information to beneficiary and dependent photographs, files, dates and biometric data.

This means that when you’re working from home, which is the current MO (modus operandi) of nearly all law firms across the US due to COVID-19, you can work on one system and avoid trying to find, pull and transfer documentation and information from disparate sources like emails, Dropox/Box.com or shared folder in a network.

Move correspondence away from email and toward your client portal.

Another best practice for newly remote law firms is to correspond with your client through your case management’s client portal, whether with a corporate contact or an individual. Yes, email is still one of the most popular methods of communication, and in many cases, there’s also attorney-client discussion via text or phone. But as much as possible, communicate through your case management client portal Here’s why.

First and foremost, much like document storage, this allows you to keep all correspondence in one place, which is extremely helpful during busy, hectic periods of time. Law firms that have never or rarely had remote employees are not scrambling to get their remote infrastructure set up, all the while continuing to work with their clients who are probably more anxious and have more questions than ever before.

This makes it challenging to keep up and there’s a lot of time lost trying to juggle between communication channels. By communicating largely or solely through your client portal, you have the entire conversation history in one place so you can spend less time piecing together client discussions and more time providing value.

Second, and in some ways, more importantly, client portals are simply safer. Against the backdrop of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), email and other unsecured forms of communication are some of the most common forms of digital communication actually expose immigration professionals, and their clients, to potential data security breaches. Now that law firm employees are all working remotely, at least for the time being, it’s harder than before to ensure that internet connections are secure, that devices are sufficiently locked, etc., which means that potential breaches are theoretically more likely. Using a client portal for communication, therefore, can help alleviate these problems without worrying about how and where your employees are working remotely. INSZoom, for example, takes GDPR and CCPA very seriously, and one of the ways is through the Foreign National portal.

So it’s clear that organizing law firm documents and data as well as client correspondence is important for newly remote law firms that are still working to set up their “WFH” infrastructures.

But there’s one more thing that law firms can do to really streamline their practice and focus on getting used to the “new normal,” and that is automating high-volume administrative tasks with the help of a bot.

Streamline your newly organized data tasks with the help of a “bot” as you get used to working remotely.

Bots are becoming more popular than ever. Nearly every website has a simple self-help chatbot somewhere on the screen to help guide you through the website, and more sophisticated bots exist that can actually provide some level of substantial help like to fight a parking ticket.

Well bots are a reality in the immigration world too, because INSZoom has rolled out the immigration industry’s first process automation bot, Zoomi

Zoomi is an intelligent process automation bot for immigration teams. As a virtual assistant, Zoomi can take care of tedious administrative processes that are often done by overworked paralegals or legal assistants, such as updating a case after getting a receipt notice in the mail. This might sound trivial at first, but when you think about it, receiving, scanning, and entering hard copy receipt notice info into your case management platform takes a lot of time, especially during H-1B cap season. But it’s important work that needs to be done and done right.

But with Zoomi, you can have it done for you with guaranteed accuracy with a bot that knows your case management platform – well, that is if you’re using INSZoom. That means if you’re still in the process of getting your firm set up for remote work, especially if you have a large team, you can focus on educating your team on all the new teleconference systems, laptops and tablets and other WFH solutions to ensure a smooth transition while Zoomi does important but time-consuming case work on the side.

In the end, organize and automate!

During these uncertain times, as law firms are uprooted and forced to go fully remote, there’s a silver lining – an opportunity, however, forced, to streamline your firm’s processes. Yes, this isn’t the ideal situation, but on the other hand, remote work not only provides employee flexibility and is where work is heading anyway, but it’s also a sort of emergency measure for future emergencies, disasters and other scenarios we don’t like thinking about but nevertheless should plan for.

So if you’re in the middle of getting your firm set up for a fully remote practice, remember that by organizing and centralizing, you can cut out a lot of unnecessary admin work, automate it when possible and redirect time and effort to the new reality of today. Once you’re set-up, you’ll be ready for anything.

And if you have questions about how to best leverage INSZoom, especially during these challenging times, please reach out to your rep or via the company website.

Stay safe, and remember to wash your hands!

March 31, 2020 10:18 pm
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Today, more than ever before, companies that use B2B software are starting to demand a better user experience (UX). UX, broadly defined as the sum of all aspects of an end user’s interaction with a certain platform, system or other product or service. From the tech perspective, this isn’t limited to how an application looks (its interface) but also includes how intuitive that application is, whether it’s easy to find needed information, whether the information is there in the first place, customer support and more.

In the immigration context, for the longest time technology was centered around case management – automating government forms, tracking corporate and individual client profiles and documents, creating alerts and so on. It was function over form – as long as it worked, there wasn’t much push-back.

But as broader consumer technology has progressed, the pressure to innovate and create a first-rate technology experience in the immigration space has increased too. Think about it – immigration lawyers, in-house HR staff, and especially foreign nationals who are at the core of what we do, all at some point Lyft to get a ride, Seamless for to get a meal delivered, Airbnb when booking a trip and more. Those companies and many others have raised the bar in more consumer-facing industries, and that expectation of top-notch UX has impacted the immigration space as well.

How? By shifting the focus more toward the end-user of immigration technology – the foreign national.

Why don’t immigration law firms use their foreign national portal?

First off, what is a foreign national portal (FN) portal? Basically, it’s a distinct view of an immigration case management platform that’s made specifically for the FN, whether the beneficiary themselves or their dependents, to be able to log in and perform various functions such as add personal information, upload documents and in some cases see the status of their case and interact with their law firm.

Sounds like it would be a great tool for a law firm to use, right? After all, the FN can add their own files, fill in their own information, all on their own time.

The reality is, though, that many immigration law firms don’t use their FN portal. Why you ask? Well, the reasons vary.

In some cases, law firms feel that using a FN portal will actually generate more questions and create more work. If the FN uploads the wrong document, fails to enter some piece of important information or otherwise does something wrong, the lawyer has to spend time fixing the mistake and entering the data manually, which, going forward, they end up from the start.

In other cases, law firms don’t train their client service reps on the FN portal, which means that when someone does call in with a question, the service reps can’t answer them and inevitably route the call to the lawyer. In still other cases law firms are so used to sending and receiving documents and information via email that even if they do have a FN portal, they simply forget to use it and enforce its use.

But here’s the thing, not using the FN portal can actually be bad for the law firm:

  • It may not be compliant. Sharing client data and documents via email may not be GDPR or CCPA compliant since email is not generally a safe means of communicating personally identifiable information.
  • It ends up increasing the cost of doing business. Law firms end up spending more time, cumulatively, fielding calls from FNs about the information that they can theoretically find themselves. And given that immigration is mostly billed on a flat-fee basis, that eats into the law firm’s bottom line.
  • It can be off-brand, especially when working with tech clients. Not utilizing a FN portal may come off as being behind-the-times on tech, which can be particularly noticeable to tech clients.

So how can using a FN portal actually benefit a law firm?

What are the benefits of using a FN portal?

Immigration case management is not just about the law firm, or even the corporate client anymore. The beneficiary, whether in a family or business immigration context, is as crucial to the case preparation process as the legal professional. So naturally including them in the software ecosystem is just as crucial.

Here are the benefits of actually using a case management FN portal:

  • Fewer calls to the law firm, if done right. If the law firm provides instructions on how to use the FN portal from the beginning of a case, and properly answers any questions at the outset, the net result is much more self-service on the part of the FN.
  • Reduced anxiety for the FN and their family. When a FN, or really any party to an immigration case has control over their information and can get answers quickly and easily, the inherent anxiety that’s present during most immigration journeys can be greatly reduced. Sure there will be questions that need lawyer intervention, but with case status updates and other vital information right there in the portal, the FN can breathe easy.
  • Increased client satisfaction. A happy end-user is a happy client, especially in the business immigration context. When a case is initiated, a lot of the correspondence happens between the law firm and the beneficiary, but of course, the actual paying client is the employer that sits in the middle but may not be part of the day-to-day discussion. So if the beneficiary is happy, the client is happy.
  • GDPR and CCPA compliance. By enabling FNs to enter personal data, upload sensitive documents and otherwise interact directly with a secure, cloud-based portal, there’s greater data protection and security built right into the process.
  • Increased brand awareness and business development. Ultimately, people talk. if a law firm is known to provide a tech-savvy solution and bring convenience and next-gen tech to the table, that’s great for branding and ultimately business development.

You guessed it, INSZoom’s FN portal is leading the way.

We know all of this because we’ve been learning from our clients for the past two decades, and building solutions for everyone in the immigration process – law firms, employers, and ultimately the foreign nationals and their families. After all, guiding people through the complex and often stressful immigration process is why we get up and go to work every single day.

We first wrote about INSZoom’s FN portal back in 2015, but we thought we’d revisit it. End-user experience is growing in importance, particularly in the immigration industry, and INSZoom is proud to be ahead of the game.

If you want to learn more about how INSZoom makes the immigration process easy for immigration law firms, companies and foreign nationals, reach out to your Zoom rep, or visit our website to learn more!

March 19, 2020 7:54 pm
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Now that the coronavirus has forced most immigration law firms to figure out how to “work from home” (WFH), it’s more important than ever to do it the right way – to ensure that clients continue to be served, casework goes on and business disruption is minimized. Now more than ever it’s becoming clear that remote work capabilities are technology capabilities.

But of course, no immigration law firm is the same, and there’s a big distinction between business firms – those that handle work visas, employment-based green cards, investment visas, and other similar matters, and those that handle family, asylum, deportation defense and other non-business immigration cases.

So, in this article, we’ll break down a few key differences between these two types of firms within the context of coronavirus changes, discuss some of their unique demands and offer a few suggestions as far as how to adapt to a fully remote workforce.

Business immigration firms

We’ll start off with business immigration firms. This category is quite broad, but generally, these are immigration firms whose clients include for-profit and nonprofit organizations, sole proprietors, investors, and high-net-worth individuals. In many instances, correspondence and information transfer with these clients tends to be digital – law firms use robust immigration case management platforms that enable these sophisticated clients to log into their own portals, fill in some if not all their own information, upload important documentation, etc.

There’s email exchange, video conferencing, virtual document review and usually little, if any, human contact. Indeed, immigration law firms and their corporate clients are often located in different states, sometimes even on different coasts. The point is that these business relationships have been virtual for some time already.

So, with the current coronavirus pandemic forcing both law firms and businesses around the country to start working remotely, client correspondence with corporate clients actually hasn’t changed much. But that doesn’t mean that work can now go on as usual – from court filings to the proper use of technology, here are a few things that business immigration firms should be thinking about now as they transition over to a fully remote business.

●     Create shifts for printing and shipping applications. While the US isn’t in total lockdown – at least not yet – only those employees who absolutely can’t do their work remotely, including healthcare providers who work with patients, sanitation workers, police officers, and others, should be leaving their homes for work. In the business immigration context, while much of the work can be done remotely, many visa applications still need to be printed and shipped out by mail. The H-1B for example, cannot be e-filed, which means once all the documents are drafted and gathered, the full petition must be printed and mailed to the USCIS for adjudication. If you are in this situation and you must designate someone from your firm to print and ship applications, try to create shifts so that only one or two people are in the office at any given time printing, preparing and shipping out these applications. If you can print it at home, you can also schedule a FedEx pickup to make it easy and minimize time outside.

●     Digitize paper-based compliance processes. Some processes are traditionally paper-based and must be done in order to stay compliant. Staying with the H-1B visa, the one that comes to mind is the labor condition application (LCA) process, whereby employers must post an LCA notice at worksites where their H-1B worker will be working for a minimum of ten days, and then create a public inspection file called a public access file (PAF) to keep on-site as well. This is a traditionally paper-based process that must be completed, and companies that have traditionally relied on hanging hard-copy posting notices that their employees can see will no longer be able to do that since they won’t be in the office to hang these notices and the rest of the company won’t be there to see them. Luckily, at least in this instance, the US Department of Labor allows for compliance digitally, which means that companies can consider electronic LCA compliance, which can be done remotely.

●     Use immigration case management solutions more effectively. Even though business immigration firms already tend to be heavy immigration case management software users, they don’t always use every feature and function, meaning a lot of the process is still left to back-and-forth email, phone calls, etc. And while phone and email are also remote, they can be much less effective. As law firms transition to being fully remote, replacing email with, say, a client portal will allow HR staff members or, to continue with our example, H-1B candidates, to securely upload documents and information, which will lead to less time spent on back-and-forth emails, less information and files getting lost in the digital shuffle and less headache during an already hectic period of transition. INSZoom has multiple features that can help law firms leverage the platform to more easily transition to a fully remote team – from the client portal mentioned above to our Zoomee virtual assistant that can take on administration work while your human staff work on more important and pressing matters.

Family, asylum and other non-business immigration firms

Non-business immigration law firms use case management tools to manage their documents and case docket too, but their client relationships tend to be different. Whether it’s asylum seekers who feel more comfortable sharing their case history in person or a family trying to get a set of green cards, these client relationships are often more personal and, because of that, in-person. Therefore, this presents its own set of challenges.

So, in addition to some of the suggestions noted above, here are a few more considerations for firms transitioning to a fully remote staff to keep their business running as smoothly as possible.

●     Fully virtual client meetings or very limited staff. First, try to make all your client meetings virtual – whether through services like Zoom, Bluejeans or Google Hangouts, or even just through a Whatsapp or Facebook video call – to keep the face-to-face interaction while taking human exposure into account. In more sensitive cases, clients may prefer to see your face when talking to you, so keeping as much of the “humanness” of an in-person meeting as possible is a great way to keep meetings effective. If it’s absolutely impossible to make the meeting virtual, and if it’s imperative to have the meeting now because of, say, a looming deadline, consider asking just one or two staff members to come into the office – the lawyer or staff member to speak to the client and maybe one administrative staff member to help with other tasks. And during the client meeting, make it clear that you won’t be shaking their hand, that you may sit on the other side of a long table, etc., as a safety precaution and not out of disrespect.

●     On-demand virtual translation services. If you do manage to get your clients to meet over the phone or virtually, and if you would normally have an in-person translator handy, you can either conference that person in to translate or use a translation service not unlike what’s used in courtrooms or hospitals. Whether you dial them in or have them join your meeting, you can continue working with your clients who may not be English speakers without the traditional office setting.

Stay flexible and see what works – we’re all in this together

Coronavirus has turned the immigration industry on its head. From travel restrictions and USCIS office closures to suggested, or in some cases mandated, work-from-home quarantines, immigration lawyers, employers, and individual applicants are all trying to figure out what’s happening at the same time.

As we navigate these changes together, it’s important to keep an open mind and to stay flexible in terms of work capabilities. If an employee or even a client suggests something new to keep the firm’s business going, give it a try. If you have to, buy your employees’ laptops or tablets to help them get set up at home. Give them some time to get used to working from home, and be understanding of frustrations that may come up, likely from all sides.

As for INSZoom, we’re making day-to-day changes as well – you can read about it here. And we’re working with our clients to deliver the best possible service now that it’s more important than perhaps ever before. So if there’s anything we can do to help you, or if you have any questions as to how INSZoom can support your law firm or team, please reach out to us today.

March 10, 2020 6:19 pm
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The situation with COVID-19 is changing quickly. As a product company, we are preparing for a wide range of outcomes. Our priorities are to keep INSZoom employees safe, to support our customers, and to ensure that INSZoom does not contribute to the spread of COVID-19.

Ensuring the safety and well-being of our employees, customers and partners is always our top priority.

We have set up a task force as part of the business continuity plan to mitigate the impact that the Coronavirus may have on our operations.

Encouraging—and, in some instances, mandating—employees to work from home

Implementing flexible work arrangements for employees and a rotating roster of workdays/shifts for on-property employees whose jobs are more manual in nature and do not easily lend themselves to remote working. During an infectious disease outbreak, it is critical that employees do not report to work while they are ill and/or experiencing the following symptoms: fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Currently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that people with an infectious illness such as the flu remain at home until at least 24 hours after they are free of fever (100 degrees F or 37.8 degrees C) or signs of a fever without the use of fever-reducing medications. Employees who report to work ill will be sent home in accordance with these health guidelines.

Pausing all business travel and discouraging personal travel

We have paused all non-essential business travel, globally, and advised employees to avoid large gatherings. While it remains an individual decision, we are encouraging employees to reconsider personal travel.

Identifying critical business functions and employees as part of the business continuity plan

We have set up alternate teams of employees (e.g. Team A & Team B) who can be deployed at different work schedules (e.g. Team A working in the office at alternate weeks, while Team B telecommutes). The teams have been physically segregated to avoid the risk of infection between teams. We have cross-trained employees and established covering arrangements are made to minimize disruptions.

We don’t yet know how severe COVID-19’s consequences will be. While its impact may be limited, we would like to take precautionary steps before they’re required. We will continue to monitor the situation closely and send out communications to our customers on a need basis. For a detailed overview on our business continuity plan in this unusual time, please follow the link INSZoom Disease Outbreak Business Continuity

March 9, 2020 6:39 pm
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H-1B registration has been the talk of the town over the past few months. First we weren’t sure if it was actually going to happen. Then when USCIS announced it was happening, we weren’t sure when and how. Shortly thereafter USCIS answered those questions too, sending immigration law firms and employers around the country scrambling to learn as much as they could about the process and figure out how the registration portal was going to work.

On Sunday, March 1, 2020 H-1B registration opened. Some lawyers experienced glitches and hiccups while others had a smooth experience. But at the end of the day, H-1B registration became yet another step in the H-1B process. It’s also not the most efficient – there’s double data entry, system errors, etc. – and while not that much information is needed to complete an H-1B registration, it’s repetitive and, if volumes are high, time-consuming.

As soon as the registration instructions were published, however, automation was on our minds. INSZoom has been pioneering immigration case management and other software since 1999, and with this large process change, we knew we had to take action.

The INSZoom team got together to brainstorm automation. There had to be a way to make it happen, right? But how?

Turns out the answers were looking right at us. Figuratively look at us, but in some ways literally as well. That’s because the answer was INSZoom’s first-ever bot, the Zoomee virtual assistant http://bit.ly/INSZoom-Zoomi 

What is Zoomee again?

Zoomee is an intelligent process automation bot for immigration teams – it’s the immigration industry’s very first virtual assistant.

As a virtual assistant, Zoomee can take care of tedious administrative processes that are often done by overworked paralegals or legal assistants. A few examples include reading USCIS receipt notices and other paper documents through optical character recognition, automatically updating corresponding foreign national (FN) cases in INSZoom, bulk case creation and more.

Powered by artificial intelligence, Zoomee learns too. So the more tasks Zoomee completes, the more it knows its user’s processes and preferences and therefore gets more and more efficient as time goes on.

So when the H-1B registration system was announced, we knew there was a way to create automation around it, and we knew Zoomee was perfect for the job.

Zoomee (Skill #2) automates the H-1B registration process?

If you’re handling the H-1B registration process, whether you’re an immigration law firm or in-house immigration team, Zoomee can help, particularly if you have a high volume of registrations.

How does it work? It breaks down into four basic steps:

1.      Zoomee receives your data in a standardized Excel format – we provide the format, you populate the data.

2.      Zoomee then updates the data in INSZoom, namely by:

a)      Creating a corporation and entering relevant petitioner information if it’s not in the INSZoom system already, and

b)     Creating the FN record under the corporation’s profile and entering relevant FN data.

3.      Zoomee then logs in to myUSCIS. Zoomee does need a bit of your help here to complete multi-factor authentication for the first login attempt, so be sure that a lawyer or case manager will be available if there are login issues.

4.      Zoomee then follows the registration process, creates profiles for your FN registrants and enters the data you gave it.

Once all the FN profiles are created and the initial data is entered, you complete the registration and submit it.

By using Zoomee to create FN registration profiles and fill in crucial data, you can be certain that the data was entered correctly, that nothing was missed, and that all fields are included. Imagine the alternative, particularly in a high-volume situation – you or your staff are creating dozens if not hundreds of registrations in myUSCIS, so you need to be efficient somehow. One way is by using copy & paste to avoid typing in the same text over and over, but pasting the wrong information can be an H-1B death sentence.

There could be lots of other mistakes, such as typos or skipping an important field altogether.

So why risk it?

The H-1B registration system is new, requires double-data entry and most importantly takes time. But it’s the only way to get into the H-1B lottery. Given the importance, shouldn’t you do whatever you can to minimize the risk of error?

Because at the end of the day, automation helps avoid error, promote efficiency, and increase speed. That’s right – INSZoom’s Zoomee is here to the rescue.

Want to learn more about Zoomee? Visit the Zoomee information page at https://www.inszoom.com/zoomi-bot/ or reach out to your INSZoom representative at sales@inszoom.com.

February 26, 2020 8:07 am
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This year, H-1B cap season is a little busier than usual. That’s because for the first time ever, USCIS will run an electronic lottery through a new online registration portal. This means that both immigration lawyers and employers must, to some extent, get acquainted with and learn an entirely new government-run technology portal and then implement a process around it.

As a quick summary, here are some important points about the registration process per USCIS:

  • The registration period will be open Sunday, March 1 @ 12 PM EST and concludes Friday March 20, 2020 @ 12 Pm EST.
  • During this timeframe, H-1B cap-subject petitioners will be required to register electronically with USCIS and pay an associated $10 fee for each beneficiary submitted.
  • Prospective petitioners will then have to electronically submit a separate registration for each desired H-1B cap-subject petition.
  • If more than a sufficient number of registrations are received, USCIS will randomly select as many registrations as needed to reach the FY 2021 H-1B cap.
  • Petitioners with selected registrations will then be able to submit full H-1B visa petitions.
  • The actual submission period will begin on April 1, 2020 and will last 90 days, through June 30, 2020.

We know that law firms and their clients have been strategizing different approaches to this new H-1B registration process, which is why the INSZoom team responded to these changes quickly, building out a process of our own.

INSZoom responded quickly to the new H-1B registration system

Since this is the first year of the new H-1B registration system, we, just like you all, are learning as we go. But building technology is in our blood, so in response to USCIS, the INSZoom team cooked up some new and updated workflows for our clients and the immigration industry more broadly.

We broke it down by phase: pre-registration, registration, selection and filing.

Pre-registration.

While the registration process technically opens on March 1, 2020, registering is possible through March 20, which still gives us just over three weeks to get everything together pre-registration. During this phase, an INSZoom user would gather the name and other required information of each registrant and upload that data in one shot right into INSZoom, at which point the system checks the information for completeness and automatically creates or updates INSZoom records for that registrant.

The idea here is that while not every registrant might get a full H-1B petition created for them, creating their INSZoom record right away allows the user to (a) make sure they have all the information they need for the registration process and (b) have a head-start for every registrant that’s chosen in the lottery and will have an H-1B petition filed on their behalf.

Registration.

Between March 1st and March 20th, when the user is ready, they would initiate the registration right from INSZoom. Yes, it still needs to be submitted through the USCIS portal but going through INSZoom allows for re-checking of the data and fast application creation. Once in the USCIS portal, the user has to complete the G-28, pay the $10 fee and submit the registration.

Selection.

After March 20th, the selection process begins. As the user monitors the status of their applications within the USCIS portal, they can easily transfer that status data into INSZoom to keep the INSZoom records up-to-date. That way, when a registration is accepted or rejected, the accompanying INSZoom record reflects that and can communicate that status to the registrant and kick off next steps as needed.

Filing.

Ultimately, H-1B cap cases still go through a lottery system. That means some cases will be selected while others will be not selected or denied (duplicated). When a case is selected in the lottery and the user gets the green light from USCIS to move forward with putting together a full H-1B visa petition, they are already steps ahead via the registration process, and can proceed with next steps during the extended 90-day window.

Looking ahead

Whenever a new government procedure is put in place, there is a desire to create an efficient and effective process around it as quickly as possible to enable law firms, employers and ultimately the individuals who are applying for their H-1B visas to have the smoothest possible immigration journey. At INSZoom, we always balance our proactive approach to creating efficiency and process around such new government procedures with input from our clients.

The new H-1B registration process is the prime example of this. As we all go through the H-1B registration process together for the first time, we will be learning from our clients, tweaking our process, and building the best possible H-1B registration technology solution.

If you’re a current INSZoom client and you want to learn more, reach out to your INSZoom rep. And if you’re not an INSZoom client but are interested in leveraging our technology to support your law firm or corporate immigration program, visit us today to see why we’re been leading the way for the past twenty years!

 

February 21, 2020 6:58 pm
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When companies invest in enterprise-level software such as case management, the value they get out of that software is directly proportional to how well they know it. Typically, well-trained staff who know how to use software without making mistakes, how to find information quickly and perhaps even know some shortcuts are the go-to “super-users” at organizations.

Take Microsoft Excel. Most people have used it one way or another, yet there’s a big difference between, say, knowing how to make a simple list or chart and knowing how to perform complex calculations, create pivot tables and program macros. Given Excel’s wide range of capabilities, how well someone “knows” the platform can be the difference between a project taking hours with lots of mistakes and taking minutes with automated workflows and flawless execution. And when you boil it down to its core, this can mean the difference between, say, providing good client service and upsetting or even losing a client.

That’s why Microsoft, along with many other software companies, have certification programs that officially train, test and certify users, ensuring that these users learn how to use the software correctly and proficiently.

So we’re excited to announce INSZoom’s very first certification program!

After talking to many of our clients, we realized that creating a certification program would bring tremendous value to three specific groups: lawyers, paralegals and end clients, all of whom interact with INSZoom one way or another. Here’s the value an INSZoom certification will bring to each of these groups.

How is INSZoom certification valuable for lawyers?

When lawyers hire paralegals or even attorneys, one important skill they look for is whether they know how to use case management software. For law firms that use INSZoom, it’s important that their hires are well-versed in INSZoom as well, especially for more senior roles.

Talking to law firms, however, we’ve learned that even though candidates may say they know how to use a certain platform, how well they know it ends up being the determining factor. Indeed, some candidates stretch the truth in terms of their INSZoom proficiency. Others do in fact know the software but use it incorrectly or inefficiently. All of this ends up costing lawyers time and money, whether around further training new hires that ultimately are not as proficient as needed, or via turnover if someone is hired to hit the ground running and they simply can’t.

With an INSZoom certification, that all changes. If a candidate is a certified INSZoom user, that certification shows an objective level of proficiency with and knowledge of the platform. Rather than hoping a candidate’s self-evaluation of their knowledge of INSZoom is aligned with what the hiring attorney is looking for, certification creates built-in confidence in the candidate’s skill level and ultimately their success at the firm.

How is INSZoom certification valuable for paralegals?

On the flip side, paralegals can benefit from INSZoom certification in various ways as well. When looking for a job, if a candidate can point to a certification showing their proficiency in relevant industry software, it makes that candidate much more valuable and ultimately more hireable.

We’ve spoken to numerous lawyers who have been burned by candidates promising they’re INSZoom experts while actually barely knowing the software. With an INSZoom certification, it takes the guesswork out of whether a paralegal candidate knows the software and can use it effectively. So when a paralegal is on the market for a new job, having certification makes hiring attorneys more confident in their skill, and in turn makes them more hireable and able to demand a higher salary.

And if a paralegal isn’t looking for a job, they can still leverage this certification internally. Asking for a raise or promotion, or maybe stepping into a management role training other employees on INSZoom, may be more likely with official INSZoom certification.

How is INSZoom certification valuable for end clients?

Finally, having well-trained staff ultimately trickles down to better client service. As we spoke about in this article –  Reimagining Law Firm Customer Support with INSZoom Certification about law firm customer support, being able to easily and correctly answer a client’s question can be the difference between mediocre-to- good customer service and great customer service.

Particularly in a high-volume practice with hundreds of clients in and out of the immigration process at any given time, it’s nearly impossible to have each client’s lawyer answer every question they have. Yes, some questions are technical or legal in nature and require setting aside some lawyer time. But very often, clients call to ask about whether something was filed or not, when it was filed, the status of their case, and so on. These are more administrative questions, and if the answers can be found within INSZoom, training staff on how to use the system will enable them to easily locate the right answer and complete the client’s request.

So when a client calls in and reaches an administrative assistant or dedicated customer service representative, if those employees are trained in INSZoom, they can answer client questions quickly and correctly, thereby ensuring that lawyers, paralegals and other staff can concentrate on their case work while clients are left happy and satisfied.

Learn more!

Interested in learning about the new INSZoom certification?

Check out our certification page INSZoom Certification for more information, chat with us on our website, or reach out to your INSZoom representative.

February 14, 2020 10:18 pm
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Customer service is a universal experience – whether you’re calling your bank, cable company, or any other everyday service provider. You go through a series of automated prompts, key in a few digits, indicate your language of choice and maybe even agree to take that quick 2-minute survey at the end of the call.

If you’re lucky, you might be put through to someone right away. Though more often than not you’re put on hold.

At the end of the day, customer service can be frustrating to say the least. But amidst the frustration, we tend to take for granted one important thing – the fact that systematic customer service exists at all.

Imagine calling your cable company and hearing a “call waiting” sound because too many people are calling in at that time. Or having someone pick up at the bank and make you wait for the branch manager to answer a simple question. This is the experience many people have with law firm customer service.

So we wanted to share our thoughts on how law firms can re-imagine customer service, both through their hiring as well as the technology they use.

Law firm customer service today

While there’s certainly a spectrum in terms of law firm customer service, it’s safe to say that for the most part calling a law firm to inquire about an ongoing case is not the same as calling Verizon about your latest phone bill.

Here’s how it usually works.

Unless the firm is really small, there’s probably a secretary or administrator who answers the general phone number. Let’s assume for a minute that we work at a mid-size immigration firm with a secretary, and that a current client is calling to inquire about the status of their H-1B transfer. The secretary picks up, asks the caller a few questions such as their name, whether they’re a client, why they’re calling and who their lawyer is.

Once the secretary gets those answers, they put the client on hold, reach out to the relevant attorney, tell them who’s calling and what about, and then go back to the caller and probably tell them that the attorney will call back within the next few hours.

Is anyone tracking to make sure the lawyer calls that client back? Probably not.

If the question is small, can it be answered without bothering the client’s lawyer? Not always.

Are there processes in place around measuring customer satisfaction around micro-interactions such as a follow-up call? The answer is likely no.

Law firms do tend to ask how service was at the end of the case, but that takes into account dozens if not hundreds of interactions which are not, in and of themselves, individually tracked. However they don’t typically track every client interaction and therefore aren’t keeping their pulse on the firm’s true level of customer service.

So how do we make it better?

How can law firms get better at customer service?

First and foremost, it may be time for law firms to take a page out of the phone company customer service handbook – hire someone specifically trained in customer service. If the firm is big enough, perhaps someone who is a designated full-time customer service rep can even be necessary. But even a small immigration firm can use this – you might be a 10-lawyer shop but do high volume H-1Bs and therefore have hundreds if not thousands of clients at any given time.

Customer service professionals, or individuals who have customer service training and experience, have certain skills that lawyers, paralegals and other law firm employees don’t necessarily have – persuasive speaking, empathy, clear communication and so on. It’s not to say that law firm staff don’t have these skills per se. But customer service professionals have honed these skills specifically within the context of talking to clients.

By having someone on staff either focusing exclusively on customer service or with prior experience and training in customer service, and putting that person or team on the front lines to deal with incoming client calls, emails, chats and visits, law firms can create a better experience for their clients, especially in a high-volume environment.

But hiring someone with customer service skills alone isn’t enough. These individuals need to be able to answer their client’s questions. This is where leveraging law firm tech comes in.

How technology can help law firm customer service

When a client has a question that can easily be answered by a secretary, admin or designated customer service rep, it’s important for that law firm employee to have the right tools at their fingertips to be able to easily and accurately pull up the requested information.

The best way to ensure this happens is to train your non-legal staff to use your law firm’s case management platform, because often times law firm staff who are not directly involved in cases don’t get access to their case management platforms which is why they have to pass the call along to a lawyer or other staff member.

At INSZoom, for example, we know that many of our users are immigration lawyers, case managers, paralegals and others working directly on immigration cases. But we also help train and encourage existing INSZoom clients to train non-legal employees on the system so that they can navigate it when needed, especially when they are customer-facing. This way they can help their customers quickly and efficiently, not have to bother lawyers and case managers who are already busy with other cases and ongoing work, and generally feel more involved with the law firm’s work and perhaps even be inspired to want to eventually step into a more legal position.

One way of encouraging law firm staff to become acquainted with case management technology is to create a certificate program that trains, tests and rewards users for their proficiency. This isn’t new either – Salesforce, Microsoft and many other large tech companies have certificate programs that not only ensure proper platform training, but also make the certificate holders more confident and, in the event they choose to leave their job and go elsewhere, more marketable.

Well INSZoom is now joining those ranks.

We’re really excited to launch the first-ever INSZoom certification program. Not only are we providing INSZoom training, we will also be awarding those that go through this training with certification. This way, we can ensure that every INSZoom client has the tools and resources they need to not only use our platform in the most effective and efficient way, but more importantly to pass those efficiencies into their clients in the form of top-notch customer service.

If you have any questions about our certification program, want to learn more, or want to sign up, please visit our certification program page https://www.inszoom.com/inszoom-academy/, reach out to your INSZoom representative, or chat with us right on our website!

February 3, 2020 11:08 pm
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Artificial intelligence. Machine learning. Process automation. To immigration lawyers, these terms might sound like buzzwords from faraway industries. After all, immigration lawyers, particularly in the US often still file hard copy petitions, receive paper receipts, approval and other notices, and otherwise deal with a variety of manual government processes.

But recently, there’s been a major shift. Innovations in immigration technology are coming out more rapidly than ever, and we have strived our very best to be on the forefront of immigration technology since our inception in 1999.

After spending several years building, testing, tweaking, and testing again, INSZoom has rolled out the immigration industry’s first process automation bot – Zoomee. Learn more here.

What is Zoomee?

Zoomee is an intelligent process automation bot for immigration teams. In other words, Zoomee is the immigration industry’s very first virtual assistant.

As a virtual assistant, Zoomee can take care of tedious administrative processes that are often done by overworked paralegals or legal assistants. Here’s an example: updating a case after getting a receipt notice in the mail.

Here’s how it works with Zoomee. When you get a receipt notice in the mail, scan and upload it into INSZoom, and let your new virtual assistant – Zoomee handle the rest. With the power of optical character recognition (OCR)/ AI (Artificial Intelligence)/ ML (Machine Learning) technology, Zoomee reads your receipt notice, identifies the corresponding foreign national and updates their case status right in the INSZoom platform.

And it’s not just receipt notices that Zoomee can read, parse and work with. Approval notices, Application Support Center appointment notices, requests for evidence and denial notices are all recognized by your new virtual assistant – Zoomee!

But how smart is Zoomee really?

When we set out to build an intelligent virtual assistant, we had to make sure that it could operate in less-than-perfect scenarios too. Because let’s face it, we’re human and sometimes we make mistakes. A fellow human can catch and fix our mistakes, but can Zoomee?

We say yes, and here are some examples of how.

Have you accidentally made a duplicate foreign national (FN) record in your system, or does that FN have multiple records from past cases? Worry not – Zoomee finds the correct record by searching through and identifying relevant case information, and updating the data accordingly for the right FN record.

Did you get a receipt notice and only then realize you forgot to create a record for the FN client in the first place? Zoomee will create that record for you, populate it with the right FN information, and immediately update it with the receipt notice information. And if you already have a FN record in INSZoom but haven’t opened the specific case for which you got the receipt notice, Zoomee will create that case within the appropriate FN’s record.

Maybe you marked that FN’s record or case as inactive. Zoomee will catch that, activate the case and update it with the new receipt notice data.

And in the rare case when Zoomee can’t figure out exactly what the problem is, you’ll get an exception report for some good old fashioned human intervention.

Here’s the kicker, though. Zoomee isn’t just pre-programmed with knowledge and tasks – it also learns along the way. So the more it works and the more skills and rules it picks up, the more efficient and effective it becomes.

Other than updating reading and updating Receipt notices, what else can Zoomee do?

Aside from OCR and case update skills, we’re really excited about Zoomee’s bulk case creation. Today, we’re able to create bulk H-1B cap cases, non-cap cases and extensions, I-485 adjustment of status applications, and even bulk registrations for the new USCIS electronic H-1B registration system which will open its initial registration period from March 1, 2020 through March 20, 2020.

How does this work?

First, you need a workflow spreadsheet. INSZoom has generic workflows that can map to the petitions mentioned above, though you can also create custom workflows per your firm’s processes as well. For bulk case creations, Zoomee goes down the workflow you’ve created and generates cases one by one, validating your existing records for errors, duplicates, etc. along the way.

Where a FN record doesn’t exist for a particular case, Zoomee creates it in your INSZoom account as well.

As with receipt notices, if there’s an issue that can’t be resolved, Zoomee generates an exception report, along with a broader report of all transactions. So you always know what Zoomee’s doing, what it’s accomplished, and when it needs some help figuring out.

At the end of the day, we’re incredibly proud of what we’ve already built and excited for what’s to come. As we learn more from our clients and teach Zoomee more skills, we’ll continue to push the boundaries of artificial intelligence and process automation within the immigration space.

Interested in learning more? Visit our Zoomee page here or reach out to your INSZoom representative at sales@inszoom.com.

January 27, 2020 11:20 pm
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Data privacy is and has always been important. Most of the times data privacy is only associated with private information like account number, contact number, contact address, social security number, passwords, emails etc. People protect this information to prevent identity thefts. But for businesses, data privacy goes beyond that. It includes information that helps firms grow and operate, such as customer records, process documents, financial information. As more data is getting digitized, data privacy is gaining more importance. Customers expect data privacy and now it’s equivalent to a consumer’s trust in a company. Laws and regulations such as GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) and CCPA (California Consumer Privacy Act) are brought into practice to protect individual’s privacy as well as unify the way personal data is protected, stored, distributed and used.

Gartner (Source: Gartner Report – April 2019) expects that by the end of 2019, more than 30 percent of technology providers’ new software investments will shift from cloud-first to cloud-only and through 2022, the market size and growth of the cloud services industry at nearly three time the growth of overall IT services. With increase in cloud usage, data becomes accessible from anywhere and anytime. In order to protect your customers’ sensitive information, your firm must embrace a culture of privacy.

We at INSZoom take data privacy and security very seriously. INSZoom, Inc. is a Privacy-by-Design company and possesses ISO/IEC 27001 certification. We are committed to supporting our customers’ trust and confidentiality in their case management work on behalf of their clients. We continue to review and act accordingly to changes in this regulation and serve our customers as they strive to do the same. We work on utilizing the latest in technology and devoting ourselves to best practices ensuring that your data is always secure and always available.

With SaaS applications like INSZoom, responsibility to protect your customer’s data is a shared responsibility of you as a firm and cloud platform provider (INSZoom). GDPR and CCPA provide different rights to individuals such as the right to access, right to delete, right to restrict processing, right to portability and several others. The key here is identifying and setting up your responsibilities, processes, INSZoom application and any other tools from your ecosystem that can enable you to manage these regulations and provide trust to your customers.

INSZoom has multiple features that can aid you in data security and privacy procedures. Here are some key features,

  1. e-Consent module – Allows you to define and take user consent for Terms of use, Terms of Service during the case lifecycle.
  2. User access and role management – Manage your firm users and what level of access they can have to the data.
  3. Foreign National (FN) and Human Resources (HR) Portals – Provide secured data access to your foreign nationals and corporation contacts.
  4. Multi-factor Authentication (MFA) – Enable more than one mode of user authentication to ensure right user has access to the data
  5. Single Sign-On (SSO) – Apply your network authentication or access management to access INSZoom data. Provide this ability to your corporation customers as well.
  6. Policy and Guidelines Module – Publish your general and corporation client specific policies on HR and FN portals.

Use INSZoom as your single record management system to reduce complexity and size of managing compliance.

How can a firm prepare for GDPR and CCPA?

  1. Centralize your compliance efforts
  • Identify key business stakeholders
  • Define the core compliance team
  1. Update and maintain your privacy policy
  • Map data collected by your firm and update your privacy policy, so users understand what information you are collecting and how it’s being used. Policy must tell users what personal information is being disclosed or sold and give consumers the right to opt-out of data selling. Policy should also include a description of users’ rights.
  • Align the policy with the GDPR and CCPA regulations and disclose it to the public.
  • Update “Terms of Use” in INSZoom with your policy language. System will prompt it and collect the consent from your customer when they access the system using HR and Foreign National Portal.
  • You can subscribe to e-Consent module which allows you to manage all policy consent documents/templates. Prompt the “Terms of Service” or other consents while collecting data and documents from customer. It’s an online seamless process and system will track the consent log for you. e-Consent module allows you to notify and prompt the consent again for any changes in policy language.
  • You can also use INSZoom’s “Policy and Guidelines” feature to publish your general and corporation client specific policies on HR and FN portals.
  1. Implement and maintain reasonable security practices
  • Build and maintain inventory of all the personal data collected by your firm. Maintain data in secure environment that allows the necessary personnel to quickly and easily access user information to respond to any customer request.
  • Identify internal or external resources for information technology and data security.
  • Determine any contractual information security requirements.
  • Determine best practices for securing information collected, stored or used by the firm.
  • Regularly review internal information security practices and document them; prepare a data breach notification plan.

With INSZoom as your record management system, your data is secured, and all measures are put in place to maintain the security and privacy of data. All you need is to define your operational procedures. Refer to the shared responsibility model explained earlier in this article.

  1. Develop a process for responding to customer requests such as access to personal data and specific pieces of information, delete personal information, opt-out of sale of personal information
  • Develop processes to address these requests. Processes should be thoroughly documented; the relevant employees should be well trained.
  • Implement templates for customer service communications.
  • Log and track requests from customers and retain copies of responses.

With INSZoom, you can maintain all data, documents and communications of an individual in one profile. Use HR and FN portals to grant access to the requested data. You can delete the profile with just one click. Your policy document can include these procedures and using INSZoom’s e-Consent module you can convey it to customers. INSZoom has a Broadcast Module. You can mass-communicate to different groups of customers with your policies and procedures. You can also use INSZoom’s Policy and Guidelines feature to publish your general and corporation client specific policies on HR and Foreign national portals.

  1. Update vendor contracts to comply with CCPA, GDPR
  • Identify vendors or third parties that receive personal information from your business and include appropriate contract terms to address GDPR and CCPA requirements.
  • Review vendors and their privacy and data security practices.

We have our updated privacy policies published on our website right here and in  the INSZoom application in compliance with GDPR and CCPA regulations.

  1. Train your staff on compliance
  • Offer appropriate training to your staff.
  • Prepare templates and checklists for your staff.
  • Document the training process and how compliance with your policies is evaluated for each employee.

Establishing a robust privacy and security framework is the key to developing a long-lasting and trusting relationship with your customers and INSZoom is and will be your trusted partner in getting there successfully.

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