How To Develop A Coherent Questionnaire Completion Strategy – General Immigration


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An accurate flow of information is essential for avoiding delays
in the submission of immigration applications. Although often
overlooked, gathering accurate information upfront through the
legal questionnaire paves the way for a smooth and timely
submission of an immigration application.

To avoid delays and streamline the immigration process, HR teams
can develop and implement a coherent questionnaire completion
strategy that fully consolidates the responsibilities of the
foreign national employees, hiring managers and others within the
organization.

Gathering the Information Required for an Immigration
Application

Like the different U.S. visa options, the information required
to prepare and submit an immigration application varies. While visa
applications like the H-1B and TN require general employment and
personal information, applications like the L-1 and PERM can
require extensive detail and research. Most legal questionnaires
can be broken up into four parts requiring varying levels of
detail:

  1. Personal and family information about the foreign national.
    This typically includes the foreign national’s biometric
    information, address and information about their spouse and/or
    children, if applicable.

  2. Employment history, education credentials and immigration
    history of the foreign national. This information about the
    employee’s background is key to exhibit eligibility for the
    desired visa category. This includes the highest level of education
    they have achieved, as well as any relevant licenses, etc.

  3. Information about the company sponsoring the foreign national
    for the immigration application. The company must show that they
    meet the criteria to be eligible to sponsor the employee for the
    desired visa category.

  4. Details on the company’s proposed position for the foreign
    national. The position that the employee will hold if the
    immigration application is approved must be within the scope of the
    desired visa category. A detailed job description and a list of
    skills required to perform the role are essential for this
    determination.

In addition to this information, the employee and company are
typically required to provide supplemental documents such as
scanned copies of passports, university degrees, offer letters, and
company financial documents, to name a few.

Providing accurate information and adequate detail in these
areas is crucial for legal counsel to prepare and send a strong
immigration application to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration
Services (USCIS) and other government agencies.

Stakeholders in the Immigration Questionnaire Process

For most organizations, the HR team or a dedicated mobility team
drives the immigration process for employees and candidates in
coordination with legal counsel. That said, hiring managers and
other individuals within the organization may need to play a direct
or indirect part in the process as well, especially in the
information-gathering phase.

Here is a look at the different responsibilities stakeholders
within an organization may hold in the questionnaire completion
process:

  1. HR/Mobility Team is typically responsible for
    completing the legal questionnaire directly or facilitating its
    completion by connecting the legal counsel with the internal
    stakeholders relevant to the immigration case (foreign national,
    hiring manager, etc.).

  2. Foreign National is responsible for providing
    personal details – including family information, previous
    employment, education credentials and immigration history, if
    applicable – either directly to the legal counsel or to the
    HR and mobility team.

  3. Hiring Manager can be responsible for directly
    or indirectly providing varying levels of detail – depending
    on the visa category – about the proposed position for the
    foreign national, as well as the attributes that make the employee
    best suited for the role.

  4. Recruiters may be the first stakeholder within
    an organization to gather the personal and employment details of a
    foreign national candidate and may directly or indirectly share
    this information with the legal counsel to get a jump start on the
    immigration process.

  5. Finance/Accounting Team may need to provide
    up-to-date company financial information that is required to submit
    immigration applications for multiple visa categories.

Understanding the distinct roles of each of these stakeholders
provides HR teams with the ability to establish an efficient
process to gather the information required for the legal
questionnaire and push the immigration application forward.

A Structure for a Coherent Questionnaire Completion
Strategy

While there is no one-size-fits-all approach for establishing a
questionnaire completion policy, there are several strategies that
make up the foundation of an information-gathering process in a
strong immigration program. These strategies include:

  1. Establishing consistent responsibilities for internal
    stakeholders and a cadence for when information should be
    gathered.
    For some organizations, this strategy could mean
    that at the onset of an immigration case, the foreign national and
    hiring manager are directly responsible for providing the
    information required in the legal questionnaire. For others, it
    could mean the HR or mobility team gathers the relevant information
    from the foreign national, hiring manager and other internal
    stakeholders and then provides it to immigration legal
    counsel.

  2. Organizing secure and efficient lines of communication
    between internal stakeholders and legal counsel for follow-ups to
    clarify information.
    Some information will inevitably be
    lost in translation in the questionnaire process, be it gaps in a
    foreign national’s immigration history or a lack of detail in a
    hiring manager’s job description for the proposed position. To
    keep the preparation of the immigration application on track,
    it’s crucial that legal counsel be able to gather or clarify
    the additional information needed to push forward.

  3. Implementing a system to track and manage the progress
    of questionnaires to ensure timely completion.
    If multiple
    immigration cases are in progress at the same time, it’s
    essential to be able to quickly reference the progress of a
    questionnaire to ensure applications are on track.

  4. Leveraging the offerings of immigration or HR
    technology systems to manage and organize questionnaire completion,
    including:

    • Direct access for HR teams and other internal stakeholders to
      complete legal questionnaires.

    • Storing reusable employee and company information and
      documents.

    • Secure communication on immigration matters compiled into one
      platform.

    • High-level view of the progress of questionnaires for all
      immigration matters.

These strategies are flexible and can vary to fit the size of an
organization and the scope of its immigration program.

However, delays are a major pain point for HR teams managing
immigration cases, regardless of the size of the organization.
Gathering accurate information upfront through the legal
questionnaire helps create a smooth and efficient application
preparation process and can be the difference between an
immigration application taking weeks to complete versus months.

For HR teams, developing a coherent questionnaire completion
strategy is the crucial first step in ensuring a seamless
transition into what’s most important for the employee and the
organization – enabling the employee to begin work.

For more content on strategies for managing an immigration and
mobility program, check out Envoy’s HR Strategies page.

Originally published 10 October 2022

The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.

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