Prior to COVID-19, Immigration practitioners across the US were already grappling with ever-changing immigration policies, rapid increases in Requests For Evidence (RFE) and heavy spikes in denials. Now, in just a matter of weeks, the 2019 novel coronavirus has taken a dramatic toll on people and businesses across the globe, including an unprecedented impact on immigration worldwide.
As America begins to slowly reopen, many immigration practitioners are shifting their focus on how to best move forward, how to promote safe and sustainable growth across their organization and how to best service employees and clients. The fact of the matter is, the immigration landscape will be forever changed, and those organizations that are planning, adapting and transforming now will be the same organizations thriving into the future.
In an effort to support immigration practitioners in these unprecedented times, we’ve compiled a list of 10 best practices for immigration practitioners in the wake of COVID-19.
- Implement important health and safety measures
Many immigration practices conduct in-person meetings and consultations, as well as collect information that is hand-delivered to the office. As the health and safety of employees and customers remains the primary concern, organizations must adhere to local conditions and changing guidelines related to reopening, and may need to adjust their office protocols as needed. After determining when to reopen, it’s essential to plan, prioritize and implement important safety measures. According to the CDC, these would include critical plans and actions such as: encouraging social distancing, promoting handwashing, wearing face coverings, implementing strict cleaning and disinfecting protocols, as well as getting a training plan in place for employees on these new protocols, ongoing monitoring procedures in place, developing procedures to check for signs and symptoms of employees daily upon arriving, and having a plan in place if an employee gets sick.
- Survey your employees
While America is reopening, it’s important for organizations to remain adaptable and pay close attention to the latest local conditions and guidelines. It’s also critical for organizations to value and recognize the opinions of employees, and one of the best ways to gauge this is to survey your employees. As stated by Great Places to Work, an employee survey is an essential listening tool. An employee survey could address key topics such as: the employees’ work from home experience, were they able to perform their job duties, did they have access to the supplies they needed, did they have access to important client and firm documents, opinions on safely returning to work, etc. Asking for feedback showcases to employees that you value their opinions. In addition, the results from the survey might better equip your organization to navigate the return to work scenario and adapt as needed.
- Go electronic
Leading immigration practitioners know that in order for their organizations to thrive in COVID-19 and beyond, implementing and leveraging electronic immigration case management software, as well as other essential technologies, is critical. For instance, having a cloud-based immigration case management system in place, like LawLogix Edge Immigration Case Management, will allow immigration practitioners to instantly and securely access important case information, safely from anywhere in the world. In addition, users can get case status updates, run critical reports, access electronic forms and questionnaires, interact with clients and facilitate new client intake….anytime and anywhere. Moreover, with a premier electronic immigration case management system, clients are able to directly enter data into the system, upload important documents, easily and efficiently communicate with the organization and keep their case moving forward.
- Implement an effective client communication strategy
Although businesses are in fact slowly reopening, it remains essential for immigration practitioners to have technology and processes in place to effectively communicate and meet with clients in a remote capacity, when needed. For example, does your organization have the tools and technology to quickly and efficiently conduct a remote client meeting? Are your employees trained on this technology to ensure they can conduct professional, efficient remote client meetings if, and when, needed? If not, now is the time to perform your due diligence and get important client communication software in place.
- Emphasize collaboration and get key tools in place
Similar to establishing an effective remote client communication strategy, organizations may want to consider putting strategies, tools and technology in place to promote and enable internal collaboration across the organization. In a recent Forbes article, it was stated that championing a culture of collaboration is essential to growth. Remote work may still be a major focus even as organizations take steps to reopen, and businesses need to be able to facilitate vital communication and collaboration that would otherwise happen in-person. Moreover, premiere immigration case management software like LawLogix Edge, can provide a central shared workplace within an organization. Communication, document archives, and collaborative tools for form preparation can help facilitate your communication and collaboration strategy.
- Develop a contingency plan
COVID-19 has upended the world, but chances are, this won’t be the last thing to disrupt your organization. It’s important to get a solid plan in place for next time. Instead of being reactive, a contingency plan sets your organization up for success by being proactive.
This is why contingency plans are a crucial part of your overall organization’s continuity strategy because they help ensure your organization is ready for anything.
- Prioritize Innovation
As the world adapts to the new normal, it’s important to not forget about innovation in these challenging times. For instance, how will you get new business? How must your organization pivot now to ensure you are successful down the road? Are the plans you are putting in place now agile and adaptable? The mobile intake function in LawLogix Edge lets new consultations keep flowing into the system, and creates opportunities for growth using a simple yet flexible path to collect prospective client information.
- Communicate and train on your go-forward strategy
Once your organization has a strategy and plan in place for how you will move forward in the wake of COVID-19 and beyond, it will be imperative to communicate these plans and train your employees on any new procedures, processes and technologies. Communicating with employees and ensuring proper training will help prioritize the safety of your clients and workforce, build trust among your staff and equip your organization to handle the challenges today and down the road.
- Engage in government advocacy
In a very short time, the 2019 novel coronavirus has made unprecedented impact on immigration worldwide. Even prior to the pandemic, Immigration practitioners across the US were already wrestling with evolving immigration policies, rapid increases in RFEs and major spikes in denials. Now, many leading immigration practitioners are stepping up to advocate for legislative and policy reforms that will shape the immigration landscape into the future.
- Stay on top of the latest industry updates
COVID-19 has changed the world, and now, more than ever, in these unprecedented times, it is critical for immigration practitioners to stay connected, get educated, be agile and plug into a community of reputable immigration practitioners, and provide support and resources to one another.
The current global climate has created numerous obstacles for businesses across the globe, including the immigration world.
Below are several recommended websites to access the most current and accurate information regarding COVID-19, as well as plug-in to valuable immigration-related industry information and resources:
- Occupational Safety and Health Administration website: www.osha.gov
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website: www.cdc.gov
- National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health website: www.cdc.gov/niosh
- American Immigration Lawyers Association: www.aila.org
- The Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc., CLINIC: www.cliniclegal.org
- American Immigration Council: www.americanimmigrationcouncil.org
Go Electronic with Edge Immigration Case Management
Ready to take steps now to go digital, streamline your case management processes, promote sustainability across your organization and better service your clients? Contact an Edge Specialist to learn more about how Edge Immigration Case Management Software enables seamless processes and workflows, elevates client satisfaction, and propels organizations forward now and into the future.