A company-specific corporate immigration policy is the codification of the rules, policies, and procedures that a company has adopted with respect to sponsoring employees for immigration status. Corporate immigration policies address what types of immigration visas the company is willing to pursue, when the company will initiate permanent residence process, who is authorized to initiate immigration work, what level of financial contribution the company will seek from the employee, whether the company will pay for dependents, and whether the company will require an employee to sign a “pay-back” agreement should the individual voluntarily terminate his/her employment within a specified period of time.
Creating and implementing a company-specific immigration policy has a number of benefits.
FACILITATES EMPLOYEE LOYALTY
First, sponsoring employees for non-immigrant visas, and especially for green cards, creates an extremely high level of loyalty on the part of the employee and enhances the company’s reputation in the immigrant community, including university programs with high percentages of foreign students.
AVOIDS RESENTMENT AND CONFUSION
Having a well-articulated company-specific immigration policy will also avoid resentment and confusion that can be caused by the inconsistent treatment of foreign-born professional employees. The policy will also make it clear that the sponsored individual remains an employee-at-will and the fact that the company is sponsoring the individual does not create a contract for employment.
ENHANCES THE COMPANY’S REPUTATION AND RECRUITING ABILITIES
Having a well-articulated policy will also enhance the company’s reputation and ability to recruit highly talented non-American citizen professionals. It is estimated that approximately 50% of all master’s and Ph.D. students in the areas of science, technology, engineering, and math are foreign students. When these individuals apply for jobs, the potential employer’s immigration policy is often a more important factor than the offered compensation or the nature of the work. Therefore, companies that have a well-articulated company-specific immigration policy will have a significant advantage in attracting these employees.
CLEARLY ARTICULATES WHO HANDLES COSTS
Immigration law sets some limits on what costs and expenses can be paid by the employee. At the same time, there is ample opportunity for companies to share expenses with the sponsored employee. The sponsored employee can always be asked to pay for the costs and expenses related to immigration visas for dependents. In addition, the company can enter into an agreement with potential and current employees regarding the reimbursement of fees and costs should the employee voluntarily terminate his/her employment within prescribed time periods.
Creating a comprehensive company-specific immigration policy avoids confusion, builds morale, fosters long-term employer-employee relationships, and helps a company attract and retain highly-qualified non-citizen professional employees.
In this era of globalization and immigration visa caps and backlogs, and given the growing level of competition for highly-qualified professionals, we believe it is not enough for an immigration law firm to limit its focus to proficiently handling immigration visas. Rather, a full-service firm must offer assistance in a number of other areas such as those discussed in this handout. At Curray York & Associates, we pride ourselves in being leaders and innovators and bringing additional value to our clients.