HR Strategies to Guide Recruiters on Immigration

Last Updated on February 23, 2023

Human resources and mobility teams shoulder the bulk of immigration-related responsibilities. However, other internal stakeholders like recruiters can play a key role in the immigration process.

To avoid delays and ensure a streamlined immigration process, HR and mobility teams can provide clear guidance to new seasoned immigration recruiters to ensure they possess a full understanding of their unique role and responsibilities within an immigration program.

The Role of Recruiters in Immigration

Recruiters are at the forefront of sourcing talent for their organizations. In the U.S. and in countries abroad, foreign talent represents a substantial portion of candidates that recruiters often encounter. These candidates may include foreign nationals already authorized to work in-country on a visa or candidates residing abroad who would require new sponsorship to work. When engaging with any foreign candidate, it is crucial for recruiters to possess a firm grasp of their organization’s immigration program and mobility offerings.

Immigration is a highly sensitive matter for foreign nationals who often rely on company sponsorship to work and make a living in the country they reside in. As such, recruiters seeking to attract foreign candidates should be prepared to answer a variety of questions about how their organization will handle the immigration process for that candidate, if hired.

Recruiters should possess at least a basic knowledge of the immigration system and visa options applicable to their organization. For corporate recruiters in the U.S., comprehension of common visas like the H-1B and F-1 is key to effectively sourcing foreign talent. Moreover, recruiters should understand essential processes within their organization’s immigration program, such as:

  1. The main Point-of-Contact(s) for on the HR and mobility team for immigration matters at the organization.
  2. A line of communication with the organization's immigration counsel in case a “visa assessment” is required for the foreign candidate.
  3. Transitioning the foreign candidate from the hiring phase to any necessary immigration action with the hiring manager, HR and mobility team and/or immigration counsel (most commonly an H-1B transfer/change of employer case).

Establish Clear Immigration Responsibilities for Recruiters

For HR and mobility teams, establishing clear responsibilities and guidelines for recruiters can help streamline the immigration process to ensure a new hire is enabled to work without unforeseen delays.

To achieve this goal, mobility and HR teams can start by establishing a straightforward process for recruiters at their organization to follow when they encounter a foreign national candidate.

Here are five strategies to consider for guiding recruiters on the immigration process:

1.  Compile a checklist of initial information that the recruiter should gather when they encounter a foreign national candidate. The information gathered through these questions can be provided to your organization’s immigration legal counsel to help identify any immigration-related issues with the foreign national candidate and to organize an immigration strategy in advance for if the candidate is hired. These questions may include, but are not limited to, the following*:

  • Do you currently possess a visa to work in the U.S. (or another country, if applicable)? If yes, what is your status and how long have you held this status?
  • What country are you a citizen of?
  • What is your highest level of education?
  • Do you have an approved I-140? If so, what is your priority date?

*Discuss best practices with immigration legal counsel, as immigration related questioning may trigger allegations of discrimination, if not raised.

2.  Provide recruiters with FAQ responses for common immigration questions that may be posed to them by foreign national candidates. This enables recruiters to quickly respond to basic immigration questions to avoid potential delays in the hiring process. Organizations with formalized immigration policy should share any relevant materials with recruiters, if applicable. Recruiters can also present or defer detailed questions to your organization’s immigration legal counsel.

3.  Grant recruiters' access to the immigration functions in your organization’s HR information system or directly to an immigration technology platform. This access allows recruiters to log any relevant information about a foreign candidate in a shared database that the HR and mobility teams can track and manage. The information from the candidate could also be helpful for immigration legal counsel to develop a case strategy.

4.  Organize a line of communication between your recruiters and your immigration legal counsel. While recruiters can engage with foreign national candidates on the initial steps of the immigration process, they should defer to the organization’s immigration legal counsel for potential visa assessments, detailed questions from the foreign national candidate and any additional questions.

5.  Offer regular immigration training to recruiters and provide relevant knowledge resources. These training offerings can be hosted by the HR and mobility teams or by the organization’s immigration legal counsel. Providing regular immigration training to recruiters ensures they are prepared to answer basic questions from foreign national candidates about the immigration process, or they can defer relevant questions to the appropriate teams or legal counsel.

These five strategies offer the building blocks for guiding recruiters on immigration, but additional or more detailed policies may be required depending on the scope of an organization’s immigration program.

Successfully equipping recruiters with the knowledge and understanding of the organization’s immigration program enables foreign national candidates to experience a smooth hiring process from the start. Moreover, incorporating recruiters alongside HR and mobility teams and immigration legal counsel can help streamline the immigration process and combat against unnecessary blockers, miscommunications and delays.

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

Envoy is pleased to provide you this information, which was prepared in collaboration with Waleed Salaheldin, who is a Supervising Attorney at Corporate Immigration Partners, and Amrita Jolly-Sodhi, who is a Managing Attorney at Global Immigration Associates. Corporate Immigration Partners and Global Immigration Associates are the two independent U.S. law firms Envoy exclusively works with on the Envoy Platform (the "U.S. Law Firms"). 

Content in this publication is for informational purposes only and not intended as legal advice, nor should it be relied on as such. For additional information on the issues discussed, consult an attorney at one of the two U.S. Law Firms working with the Envoy Platform or another qualified professional. On non-U.S. immigration issues, consult an Envoy global immigration service provider or another qualified representative.