With the holidays comes preparation for the H-1B Cap Season. While attorneys and human resources professionals may be ready to take a vacation and break bread with their families, they have to ensure they start H-1B season prep strong – a disorganized or inefficient effort only brings headaches during what should be a time of cheer.

“To reduce the number of aspirin professionals need to take to get through the H-1B preseason, they should invest in or learn to fully utilize their immigration case management platform.”

To reduce the number of aspirin professionals need to take to get through the H-1B preseason, they should invest in or learn to fully utilize their immigration case management platform. H-1B visas require multiple documents and steps to stand a chance of being submitted the day U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services begins accepting applications, which is generally April 1. Anything submitted later than this date has less of a chance of winning one of the only 65,000 visas given each year. In fact, for the past two years, visa limits were hit within the first week of the filing periods.

Identify potential employees and create accounts

An immigration case management with a secure client portal is essential to starting the H-1B cap season off with a bang. Employers should be identifying their potential employees no later than December. Once a candidate is chosen, he or she should be given login credentials to the client portal. This provides a way to streamline communication and the information-gathering process between attorneys, HR professionals and the candidate.

Clarify the application pipeline and set calendar reminders

The many parts of the H-1B application process can create a tangled web of confusion, or, can be laid out in a neat workflow through your immigration case management system. Applicants can submit their petitions for the fiscal year 2016 on April 1, 2015, which means by then, the employers must have their Labor Condition Applications certified and have gathered all necessary information from the potential employee.

The U.S. Department of Labor can also take up to 10 days to certify an LCA – another timeline issue applicants must take into account.

Attorneys and HR professionals merely need to follow the H-1B petition workflow and create calendar deadlines with reminders within the case management system to ensure the proper documents, like the LCA, are submitted as soon as possible and any necessary information is requested. Alerts sent to the professionals’ email will ensure they never miss a beat when going with the flow.


Immigration case management systems can ensure HR professionals stick to a strict H-1B season schedule.

Figure out if wage determination data is needed

The LCA states employers ensure the wage offered to the candidate matches or exceeds the prevailing wage for that position in that geographic area. To be able to make this determination and promise, businesses must have a large amount of salary data. If a company needs federal wage information, it should request it as soon as possible because it can take up to two months to receive.

Do you have the software you need?

Firms and businesses that lack immigration case software platforms to move them swiftly and painless through the H-1B preseason and cap season are in for a rude awakening – they may not get the visas they need. While applications can be submitted anytime after April 1, immigration professionals recommend petitions are are mailed to be delivered to the USCIS on exactly April 1 to have the greatest chance of winning a visa.

Companies without the help of a strong software program risk not getting their H-1B petitions in on time, or even if they do, they risk taking more aspirin than is healthy to get through the process.

Transcript

To maintain effective and cost-efficient human resources departments, businesses need their immigration case management and human resources management systems to interact smoothly.

Large U.S. businesses hiring numerous non-U.S. citizens particularly need their two systems to work together to quickly get through the labor-intensive process of hiring these professionals. These platforms are necessary to gain pertinent information from the prospective employee, fill out applicable documents and apply for the proper visas with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Companies’ immigration case management systems should be able to integrate with whatever human resources platforms they use. This way, information doesn’t have to be added to both systems separately but can be shared cohesively between them.

Check back for more information on how INSZoom can help you manage your immigration cases.

In less than eight weeks, this year’s H-1B visa filing season begins. While many immigration attorneys and human resources professionals have already begun their application prep, others many need to utilize their immigration case management software to catch up.

What to expect this year

Fragomen predicts demand for the 85,000 available H-1B visas will be greater this year than it was last year, which is impressive considering U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services received 172,500 petitions last year.

The 172,500 applications submitted in 2014 were all received in a one-week period, and USCIS used two separate lotteries to decide which petitions to process. Of those who applied, 20,000 filled the cap for workers with U.S. advanced degrees. This left 152,500 people to be selected for the 65,000 bachelor degree-level spots.

“HR departments and attorneys need to have their H-1B petitions in on April 1, 2015.”

What you need to do

Considering the intense demand for H-1B visas, HR departments and attorneys need to have their petitions in on April 1, 2015. Petitions submitted to USCIS after the 85,000 cap has been reached will automatically be rejected and not part of the lottery. The longer you wait to submit an H-1B petition, the more likely you are to miss the cut off, which is a moving target.

Last year, the chance of receiving a H-1B visa was 42 percent, down from 62.5 percent in 2013, Fragomen reported. If demand for these visas is even greater this year, the likelihood of getting your visa processed could be less than half.


Immigration professionals should take advantage of their CMS to get their H-1B visas in on time.

It isn’t all doom and gloom

While the need for H-1B visas may make you slightly pessimistic about you clients’ chances of receiving a visa, there’s no need to believe you can’t get your petition in immediately on April 1 and have a stronger chance of getting approved. There’s an element of chance with the lottery, but not in the preparation.

The many benefits of your immigration-focused CMS can prepare you to file your clients’ petitions right away.

The H-1B workflow within the case management platform ensures you don’t miss any critical steps of the process leading up to April. This will keep you on track while you gather wage information, which can include union and government data, and submit Labor Condition Applications with the U.S. Department of Labor. You can also set calendar reminders when you need to move to the next step.

Through the secure client portal, you can collect the information and official documents you need from your clients to prove they meet the education and specialty occupation requirements for the H-1B visas.

H-1B seasons is almost here, and there’s good news for the spouses and children of workers who receive an H-1B visa. U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services recently published a final rule that will allow certain spouses of H-1B workers to apply for employment authorization starting in May.

Events leading to this reform

As of right now, foreign nationals who receive an H-1B visa can bring their spouses and children under 21 to the U.S. using H-4 visas. While these family members are legally allowed to live in the U.S., spouses cannot apply for permission to work in the U.S. under these visas, which has had crucial and often damaging implications for these families.

“Families often must survive on only one salary.”

Without the ability for both adults to work many couples face economic hardship. Families often must survive on only one salary, which can affect their desire to stay and work in the U.S. in the future. The issue came to prominence when an online petition began circulating online a few years ago, with H-4 visa holders and Americans asking the government to extend work eligibility to H-4 spouses.

Understanding the financial difficulties associated with being unable to work and wanting to encourage skilled workers to come to the U.S., the U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced the potential to allow H-4 visa holders to gain eligibility in 2012. The final rule to allow eligible H-4 spouses to apply for employment authorization was issued this February.

“Allowing the spouses of these visa holders to legally work in the United States makes perfect sense,” said USCIS Director León Rodríguez, according to a USCIS release. “It helps U.S. businesses keep their highly skilled workers by increasing the chances these workers will choose to stay in this country during the transition from temporary workers to permanent residents. It also provides more economic stability and better quality of life for the affected families.”


A new rule will allow qualified spouses of H-1B workers to apply for employment authorization.

Who qualifies under the new rule?

Not every H-4 spouse will be able to apply for employment authorization, but the new procedure will benefit many. To qualify for work authorization as an H-4 spouse, he or she must be married to an H-1B worker who is a) the principal beneficiary of an approved Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker, Form I-140, or b) has been granted H-1B status under sections 106(a) and (b) of the American Competitiveness in the Twenty-first Century Act of 2000 as amended by the 21st Century Department of Justice Appropriations Authorization Act, which allows him or her to work in the U.S. beyond six years.

What this means for immigration professionals

The news isn’t just important to current and future H-1B visa holders, but also to immigration attorneys and human resources managers who help foreign nationals navigate the process of acquiring H-1B visas.

Many clients of immigration professionals will have spouses who also want to work in the U.S. while they live there, which means attorneys and HR managers can expect their clients to come to them for guidance. In addition to taking on these additional clients, immigration professionals face a new process that will require a new workflow.

INSZoom is the tool attorneys and HR managers need to handle this change efficiently. INSZoom stays up to date on new application processes, providing professionals with the necessary documents and automated templates they need. Professionals can also create custom workflows to fit their specific internal process for H-1B visa applications with spouses who will seek employment authorization.

USCIS will begin accepting employment applications from eligible H-4 spouses May 26, through Form 1-765, Application for Employment Authorization with the necessary documentation and fee.

It’s clear INSZoom helps human resource departments of any sized business handle immigration matters smoothly. The workflows and resource base INSZoom provides enable HR professionals to tackle standard business visa issues as well as unique challenges that often arise with mergers and acquisitions.

However, INSZoom does much more than deliver immigration law and application tools. The case management software offers reporting capabilities that allow executives and managers to gain visibility into the productivity and efficiency of the entire HR department.

“INSZoom works with its clients to create and implement custom reports.”

Understanding worker value

INSZoom provides standard immigration reporting capabilities so HR professionals can view the statuses of their immigration processes and audit compliance.

In addition to these immigration-specific compliance reports, managers and executives can generate reports regarding employee workloads and actions. Ad hoc reporting allows professionals to define their input and output requirements, seeing only the information they truly need to see.

Professionals can run reports in relation to specific workers, determining the workload and value of each employee – particularly important information when it comes time for annual reviews or requests for raises.

Measuring timing and efficiency

By creating specific reports and running them routinely, managers and executives can learn the average time span of specific immigration processes and determine where workflows can be more efficient and the pace quickened.

As timing is so important to immigration matters, managers can determine if specific processes must begin further in advance of particular deadlines to avoid rushing, which increases the risk of errors and being denied a visa.

Realizing success and failure

In addition to looking at the efficiency of immigration processes and determining employee performance, HR professionals can measure their success through INSZoom reporting. Managers can determine the numbers for various outcomes, such as being awarded certain visas or having applications rejected.

Routine reporting can spot troubling trends, such as a growing number of rejected applications, leading managers to make adjustments in the department to improve the situation.

The value of INSZoom as an HR tool can’t be understated. Its workflows, forms, integration capabilities and more make it an ideal platform for businesses that consistently handle immigration applications. The reporting capabilities allow HR managers and executives to gain visibility into their departments’ performance in relation to specific processes and employees.

Additionally, INSZoom works with its clients to create and implement custom reports, so HR professionals can garner all the information they need to improve their bottom lines.

Technology has changed nearly every industry and given employees the chance to boost efficiency; now it’s time for law firms to modernize. In many business sectors, employees have the flexibility to work from wherever they want. Everything they need is accessible through the cloud. However, many attorneys are skeptical that this new way of working will become a reality.

Although some law firms’ practices have stayed the same for years, lawyers need to move into the future to stay competitive and profitable. Efficiency and technology helps firms meet new challenges. Immigration case management platforms such as INSZoom enable lawyers to streamline their workflows and embrace technology to achieve higher levels of productivity.

How are technological developments affecting lawyers?

Technology isn’t optional. The American Bar Association amended its Model Rules of Professional Conduct in August 2012 requiring lawyers to be competent in technology, according to the State Bar of Wisconsin. More specifically, attorneys need to be aware of the benefits and risks of legal technology. In many cases, firms can reach new levels of efficiency by adopting relevant systems, such as immigration case management software. Delaware and Pennsylvania uphold this professional requirement, and California may require lawyers to be competent with electronic discovery or develop professionals skills in this area.

cloud
The cloud makes practicing law easier.

In addition, the cloud is more widely used across many industries. The demands of the legal industry are changing. Attorneys often need to travel to work on cases and access documents on the go. Many lawyers already check their work emails from their smartphones. Because of this trend, many vendors are rolling out new platforms for lawyers that enable them to do more outside of the office, including time tracking, accounting, billing, practice management and document management. If lawyers have to wait to get back to the office to enter their time or client notes, they are more likely to make errors.

New developments are changing the legal industry

Face-to-face meetings are crucial for building relationships with clients. In fact, clients may feel a stronger connection to their lawyers after meeting them in person. However, the demands of the immigration law profession may mean that lawyers aren’t in the same place as their clients. Firms can implement video chats for meetings or even initial consultations. This can help clients feel their attorneys care about their cases, even during the slow periods.

INSZoom’s cloud-based software helps lawyers manage all case documents on the go. Not only does the comprehensive platform offer automated templates that make handling cases easier, but lawyers can communicate with clients and easily keep track of all deadlines. Cloud-based systems enable lawyers to travel and stay up to date with all their cases. It’s easier to keep all documents in one place and not have to enter information multiple times. Plus, INSZoom integrates with email and billing software to store data in a central database so lawyers always have what they need.

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