Five Steps to Creating a Company Immigration Policy

June 2, 2020 Nidhi Madhavan

Clearly defining and communicating a company’s immigration policy is the first step towards effective foreign talent acquisition

Organizations looking to fill highly skilled roles often turn to the global marketplace, which also entails navigating the U.S. immigration system. For companies with strong foreign talent needs, establishing a formalized immigration policy can help streamline the talent acquisition process. Every organization’s immigration needs are unique, but consistent policies and clear communication are the cornerstones of an effective immigration program that delivers a positive employee experience throughout the process.

Five steps to creating a formalized immigration policy that will impress foreign talent

Understand the different employment-based visa categories and the eligibility requirements for each

There are more than 20 non-immigrant visa categories available to employers looking to sponsor foreign talent. Although some may be more common than others, immigration professionals should have a high-level understanding of all potential options. Some popular work visa options include the H-1B specialty occupation visa, the L-1 visa for intracompany transferees, the O-1 visa, the TN visa, and the E-2 and E-3 visas. Each has a specific set of eligibility criteria and different validity periods, and working with an immigration services provider can help employers determine which visa types best fit their needs.

Learn about green card sponsorship options and determine the best fitting strategy

Green cards establish permanent residency in the U.S. and offer a path to citizenship for foreign nationals. They can also be a useful retention tool for employers and a powerful perk for employees. According to Envoy’s 2020 Immigration Trends Report, 71% of employers have sponsored an employee for a green card before. HR teams should familiarize themselves with the green card categories, which are organized based on the education and experience required of the position.

Organizations that choose to sponsor green cards also must decide when to begin the application. Immediate sponsorship helps employees get a jump start on the process, which can span years due to long waiting periods. However, some employers choose to create a probationary period of 3-6 months to evaluate an employee’s performance and overall fit at the organization. Either way, HR teams should formalize a sponsorship date and clearly communicate it with foreign national employees upon hire.

Develop payment and reimbursement guidelines

Work visas and green cards both come with various processing costs and fees, which can vary widely by visa type. While employers are legally required to cover costs such as LCA filing fees and costs associated with PERM recruitment, they can pass others onto the sponsored employee. However, many choose to cover the full costs of visa and green card sponsorship as an added perk for employees: 84% of employers in Envoy’s 2020 Immigration Trends Report said they did so. Of these employers, 49% said that they implement a contractual payback stipulation if an employee leaves their organization before a certain date.

The guidelines for every company will vary based on their immigration budget and talent needs, so HR and finance teams should align to determine what strategy is best for the organization.

Select which employment-based immigration perks to offer

Immigration-related perks are specific benefits given to foreign national employees outside of typical employee benefits. Perks generally help alleviate the stress of immigrating to a new country and, like green card sponsorship, can be a tool for talent acquisition and retention. Envoy’s 2020 Immigration Trends Report found that nearly all employers offer some sort of immigration-related benefits to their foreign national employees.

Common immigration perks include temporary housing, relocation expenses, transportation services and payment for dependent visa or green card sponsorship.

Draft your organization’s immigration policy

An organization’s written immigration policy should begin with an introduction to the different sponsorship services offered to employees, as well as any immigration services providers with whom the organization may work. This document should also clearly state the organization’s policies on green card sponsorship timelines, payment guidelines and perk package options.

Want to learn even more about creating a top-tier policy from a trusted immigration services provider? Contact Envoy today to learn more about how we’re helping organizations streamline the immigration process for their international workforce. 


Envoy is pleased to provide you this information, which was prepared in collaboration with Ryan Bay, who is Partner, Legal Operations at Global Immigration Associates, P.C. (www.giafirm.com), Envoy’s affiliated law firm.

Content in this publication is not intended as legal advice, nor should it be relied on as such. For additional information on the issues discussed, consult an Envoy-affiliated attorney or another qualified professional.

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