Posted by Scott Turner on 7/7/21 1:15 PM

As the pandemic slows across the world, businesses and the law firms that manage immigration cases for them are anticipating a time when work travel opens up again. When this happens, of course, immigration programmes will be restarting in a changed world.

The places where businesses source labour and skills may have changed, as may the places they send their workers. Travel restrictions between countries put in place due to health risks could continue for some time, making it difficult or even impossible to tap traditional geographies for workers. The resurgence of COVID-19 in variant forms may also threaten further shutdowns of worker supply or transit, sometimes at short notice.

All of this means an increased level of unpredictability around workforce movement, and an increased need for flexibility and responsiveness in your immigration systems and processes.

We look at how business needs around immigration have changed – and how new technology can help your firm meet the challenges you and your clients are facing in this new world.

Business has changed

During the pandemic, most businesses have changed the ways they work and communicate to remain productive. Many have shifted to remote or hybrid working patterns and learned to rely on videoconferencing and online whiteboards. 

Seeing that they can run their businesses in this way has changed leaders’ attitudes about how much travel is necessary, and how much they should spend on it. Going forward, these changed attitudes will impact which roles they believe need to be physically present in an office and which ones can be performed remotely. This will in turn affect the number and type of immigration cases that you are asked to handle on behalf of your clients.

Changes to supply chains, organizational structures and even the location of wholesale functions will also affect the kinds of skills businesses need, the volumes of workers required and where they need them to be.

The priorities of globally mobile employees have changed

The pandemic has resulted in a measurable change to workers’ priorities. A recent report from Lane Clark and Peacock showed the top priorities for UK employees in 2021 were ‘health of loved ones’ followed by ‘social distancing’, compared to ‘financial health’ and ‘physical health’ in 2020.

Workers’ risk appetites may have changed, too. Executives may now feel less willing to be separated from their families for long periods of time and to travel to places where they’re less confident in healthcare provision. Many workers have also grown fond of remote working and may prefer carrying out their duties in their home office rather than spending time in airports and hotels.

If workers begin to resist relocation, it could dramatically reduce the number of immigration cases your firm processes. It could also increase the importance of rapidly progressing applications to make arrangements as smooth as possible for your clients and their employees.

Now your tools need to change, too

Dealing with the increased complexity of these changing forces will be doubly challenging if you are operating with antiquated systems for managing immigration cases. Relying on email for communication and time-consuming manual data processes for completing applications will prevent you from reacting with the necessary agility. If border restrictions change, for instance, you may have to act fast and restart applications on behalf of your clients so they can redeploy staff where they’re most needed.

A new generation of immigration tools digitize workflow to provide a seamless experience for all parties. They automate and streamline end-to-end immigration processes and provide dashboards with all the relevant data your firm needs to best serve clients’ needs.

The tools can pull data from your clients’ HR systems, inform applicants if more information is needed, generate easy-to-use questionnaires to get information from your clients’ employees and identify workflow bottlenecks.

Along with managing case workflow, the data captured by these tools can be analyzed to generate business insights that could add value to your client’s HR function and contribute to their overall success. It could also provide your firm with ideas about how to further speed up your case handling and thus allow you to offer an even more efficient service to your clients.

With flexible tools and technology, you’ll be able to navigate the challenges of our new world of work, deliver value for your clients and make the most of the opportunities this changed business landscape brings.

Stay tuned for part 2 of this blog, which will explore some of the actions and tactics that immigration teams can adopt to prepare for the new world of business immigration.

If you’d like to know more about Equus PinPoint Immigration and the next generation of immigration case management tools, get in touch.