Immigration law firms need a Foreign National Portal to succeed

Posted by: Umesh Vaidyamath | Date: March 31, 2020

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!

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