How to be productive while working away from the office

INSZoom has the tools immigration professionals need to stay productive while traveling.

For numerous reasons, more immigration professionals like yourself are working away from their offices than ever before. Some are choosing to work from home while others have taken on travel responsibilities that have them working all over the globe. Whatever the reason for being away is, you need strategies and tools to ensure you're as productive outside of the office as you are in it.

"You need tools to ensure you're as productive outside of the office as you are in it.

Use technology for unlimited access to files and forms
It can be risky business to travel with physical client files, whether you're driving home or taking a day-long flight from Los Angeles to New Delhi. By taking paper files, you chance losing them or having them destroyed in an accident. You also make them unavailable to your coworkers for a significant period of time. Not to mention, an issue may come up regarding a file you didn't bring with you or require a form you don't have on hand.

Instead of relying on paper files and documents, cloud-based case management software like INSZoom ensures you can access whatever you need, anytime and anywhere. You simply need to log in to the secure platform, and everything is available, whether its a client file, business report or specific immigration form.

Invest in a helpful mobile device
Almost everyone has a cell phone theses days, but can you get any work done on it? While you likely take your laptop everywhere to work, it can be cumbersome to pull it out while you're waiting to board a plane. Instead, purchase a tablet or state-of-the-art mobile phone that allows you to work even if you only have a few minutes.

INSZoom works great on tablets and smartphones, all of which will keep you connected to work with just an Internet connection and login.

Immigration professionals can stay productive on the go with INSZoom. Immigration professionals can stay productive on the go with INSZoom.

Continue to collaborate with coworkers
When you're working at home, in a coffee shop or a hotel in a foreign country, it can be easy to become an island and lose track of what your coworkers are doing. However, many of your cases require you to work with your coworkers, and you shouldn't let being away from the office get in the way of that.

INSZoom is an important collaboration tool because it allows you and your coworkers to work on the same project at the same time, even if you're on two different continents.

INSZoom integrates with your calendar program so you can all quickly see each other's schedules and set up conference calls and virtual meetings. Additionally, you can leave notes in client files for your coworkers, ensuring you're always on the same page.

In the modern immigration industry, you can't always sit still. You work when and where you have the opportunity to work, whether it's your kitchen, an airport lounge or a hotel room. By using INSZoom, you're as connected to your office and colleagues as you would be if you were only a few steps away at your desk, ensuring you can remain productive wherever life takes you.

Use INSZoom to build strong relationships with your clients

Building strong relationships ensures client satisfaction and business growth.

Every new client you take on comes with the chance to pave a two-lane road. In one direction you provide a service. You not only help this person navigate complex immigration processes, you ensure he or she has someone to turn to if worried or needing answers. In the other direction, the client's satisfaction leads to referrals and business growth. 

"Every new client you take on comes with the chance to pave a two-lane road."

By viewing your relationships with your clients in this way, you create a focus on client satisfaction based on your sincere desire to help them as well as boost your own reputation in the long term.

While you have the chance to establish a strong relationship with every new client, it can be difficult to do so when you're responsible for dozens of cases at a time. You only have so much time every day, and staying in contact with all of your clients and making sure they have what they need is challenging.

Consistent and open communication is key to building your two-lane road, and INSZoom's comprehensive case management software provides the tools you need to ensure you can deliver superior services and be available without being glued to your laptop or phone all day.

The client portal
INSZoom's secure client-facing portal is one of the most important and beneficial aspects of the program as it allows you and your clients to have a safe place to talk and work together as a team. From the minute you agree to take on a new client, that person should be given unique login credentials. Once he or she can access the portal, he or she can fill out digital forms, upload information and documents and pay bills.

The portal also gives you a place to store FAQs and other educational materials your clients may need. No matter what the immigration matter is, clients are often unsure of the projected timeline and what to expect. You can have important information such as what clients will need to do in the future and how long they may have to wait during each step of the process.

Template emails and letters
With certain kinds of immigration matters, you provide different clients with the same information. Instead of wasting time typing out the identical messages over and over, INSZoom lets you create templates. Establishing form communications allows you or your staff to quickly and efficiently keep in touch with all of your clients.

Automatic messages
In addition to template messages, INSZoom lets you set up automatic alerts and emails. For specific deadlines or other important compliance-related, you create a message with the information your clients need and the system ensures it goes out on time.

Service requests
INSZoom provides you with multiple ways to ensure your client is always on the same page as you in regard to their case, but it goes even further and allows your clients to request more from you.

Just like the road you're building, INSZoom provides two-way communication. Not only can you send messages to your clients through the portal, but they can reach out to you, and that includes by requesting additional services. Selfishly, this helps you gain new work, but it's equally beneficial to your client who doesn't have to look elsewhere for their immigration needs.

It's up to you to build strong relationships with your clients, and doing so requires consistent communication. If you strive for client satisfaction, you'll be rewarded with more than appreciation, but good standing in the immigration industry.

Contact INSZoom today to learn how it can help you develop good relationships with your clients.

Get your LCAs in early [Video]

Have your LCAs in as soon as possible to be ready to submit H-1B applications on April 1.

Transcript

H-1B season is nearly upon us, which means you should have your Labor Condition Applications submitted to the U.S. Department of Labor.

On average, the Labor Department needs seven business days to process an LCA. However, the Labor Department will occasionally require additional information from a company, extending the process from days to weeks.

To ensure you get your LCA approved before H-1B petitions can be submitted on April 1, send in your applications as soon as possible.

If you haven't submitted the necessary LCAs to the Labor Department yet, have them out by the end of the first week of March.

Thank you and check back for more immigration news from INSZoom.

Improving communication and transparency in the immigration process

Immigration professionals can stay connected with their clients around the world through INSZoom.

Every immigration process takes multiple steps and a whole lot of time, which means foreign nationals waiting for good news are often out of the loop for weeks during various stages. It's easy for busy attorneys and immigration case managers to move forward with a matter as is needed without keeping their clients up to date or with only brief communications when necessary. This way of doing things creates a lack of transparency – a veil between the professional and the client – that often leaves foreign nationals and their families unnecessarily worried about the chance of receiving the outcome they need. 

But the process doesn't need to be this way. While distance may feel like a barrier to communication, immigration-specific case management software like INSZoom provides attorneys and case managers with the tools they need to ensure their clients are 100 percent in the loop and never unsure of what's going on with their case.

One platform for all
One of the main benefits of INSZoom is that it creates a private, secure and collaborative environment. Through personal logins, clients can access information about their cases, see an estimated timeline of events and know where they are in the multi-step process.

Instead of worrying about when they're likely to hear back from a government agency, their attorney or case manager, clients can simply log in to the case management platform and see for themselves.

A two-way street
If clients are still worried or simply have a question, the secure client portal allows them to reach out to their attorney or case manager. There's no need to use unsecure email or making a call when they can message others directly through the platform.

"With INSZoom, there are no more barriers to consistent communication."

Additionally, professionals can make notes regarding the case to share with clients, or other staff members if necessary.

With INSZoom, there are no more barriers to consistent communication. It doesn't matter where the immigration professionals and foreign nationals are located – they can talk and work together at any time of day through the case management system.

Efficient communication
For the immigration professionals, INSZoom offers numerous tools to keep clients up to date without wasting precious minutes within their busy days. Automatic notifications and emails regarding specific dates, appointments and deadlines can be set up, and professionals are able to broadcast messages to all of their clients ensuring important news reaches everyone.

It's understandable that in certain circumstances communication between immigration professionals and foreign nationals can lapse. Attorneys and case managers are responsible for complicated tasks for many clients at once. However, transparency and consistent communication is key to ensuring client satisfaction. By using INSZoom's many communication tools, immigration professionals know their clients are always up to date with what's going on in their cases. 

Why multi-location organizations need the cloud

Immigration organizations with multiple locations need the cloud to centralize their operations.

Many immigration law firms and not-for-profits that have locations across the U.S. and world need case management software that makes any geographic distance seem insignificant. The global nature of immigration means professionals are needed everywhere. But, this spread of information requires a central system to keep everyone on the same page whether they're on their second cup of coffee in Chicago or wrapping up for the day in London.

INSZoom provides the comprehensive case management software large immigration firms and organizations need and does so by utilizing the cloud.

Take a look at some of the many advantages cloud-based CMS provides to organizations based in multiple locales:

Shared files
When an organization relies on paper documents and files, only one person can access that case at any given time. This slows down everyone's workflows and increases the risk of an immigration professional not getting work finished on time because he or she couldn't get ahold of the file he or she needed. The worst case scenario is that a paper file is lost or destroyed, pushing back a professional's work even further.

INSZoom takes care of all that by ensuring shared access to documents and files through the cloud. Digital information means multiple people can work on one file at the same time no matter what location they're in.

A cloud-based case management platform allows coworkers stationed around the globe to easily share information and files.A cloud-based case management platform allows co-workers stationed around the globe to easily share information and files.

Comprehensive reporting
Prior to the cloud, each location would have to share important data with the others, most likely by emailing spreadsheets. Using spreadsheets to gather and track important reporting data creates a lot of work for the person within the organization responsible for sorting and compiling all of the information.

Instead, the cloud ensures data needed for compliance and grant reporting needs only to be entered into the CMS once and is then available for any location that needs it. Organizations can fully integrate their CMS with their websites, email, calendars and billing systems to ensure all the information they need for reporting makes its way to their central management platforms.

INSZoom provides comprehensive and customizable reporting capabilities to ensure organizations can run any report they need at any time, whether it's going to a government authority, a parent organization or a grant-funding body.

Improved scalability
For any immigration organization, it can be difficult to expand operations without a significant financial investment upfront, but using the cloud helps with that. For law firms and not-for-profits that want to open a new location, INSZoom can provide additional storage space, ensuring that your new hires have room to work in the cloud-based CMS.

Improve your disaster recovery plans

Be prepared for a disaster by reducing your reliance on paper and backing up your data regularly.

The chance of a natural disaster isn't a topic you want to dwell on every day. But, it's something you need to sit down and think about before it's too late.

"Failing to establish a response plan actively puts your entire business at risk."

As an immigration professional, your office houses thousands of important documents for you and your clients. As dramatic as it may seem, it only takes one catastrophe to destroy these documents. Failing to establish a response plan actively puts this information – and your entire business – at risk for failure.

Take these steps to build a disaster plan:

Analyze what you back up
So much of what immigration professionals do these days relies on digital forms and documents. However, many attorneys and human resources departments still use paper files as well. Both of these file types need to be backed up on a regular basis to ensure information is redundant and never lost.

You might be wondering how you back up paper. All significant documents should be scanned and saved to your cloud-based case management software. There should not be a single important document in your office that is the only copy.

Your information stored in the cloud should also be redundant. You should talk with your cloud provider to ensure your data is backed up to a different data center. Data stored in only one place is as susceptible to disaster as paper files in your office.

You should backup your data on a daily basisYou should back up your data on a daily basis

Determine how often you back up
Once you've figured out what is and is not backed up, you should determine the frequency with which you perform the procedure. Your system should be backed up daily. Incoming paper should be scanned the day it's received and any internal servers and hard drives should be scheduled to back up at the end of each work day.

Reduce paper use
After you analyze your current backup processes, you may realize you rely too heavily on paper, which must be scanned into your system to be protected. To make your life easier going forward, you should work to reduce the use of paper in your office and rely more on digital documents. Data stored in the cloud can easily be backed up on a daily basis, ensuring your backup is always up to date.

By using an immigration-specific CMS, you can dramatically decrease paper correspondence. For instance, client onboarding documentation can be digital and transmitted through email. Invoicing and payments can also be done online: Clients receive a bill through email and can go online to pay their bill with a credit or debit card.

Prepare for the worst
Once you've updated your office backup policies to ensure all of your important information is digitally saved to the cloud, you need to plan for how you'll work if a disaster actually occurs. If a fire or natural disaster destroys your office, you'll need a place to work and equipment including laptops, Internet and eventually desks, chairs and office supplies.

Create a formal plan for if your office becomes unusable so that your staff knows where and how it should continue to work. This plan may include a set phone or email chain to pass information, instructions on which clients to contact first and a list of duties for individual staff members to get the office up and running as quickly as possible.

While there will be many issues to worry about, having the client and office information you need won't be one of them. Because your information is backed up with your cloud-based case management system, you and your colleagues can access client data with a mobile device and Internet connection.

US welcomed 5,000 new citizens this Presidents Day [Video]

The U.S. welcomed 5,000 new citizens this Presidents Day.

Transcript

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced the country received 5,000 new American citizens this Presidents Day. Across the U.S., naturalization ceremonies were held to celebrate these immigrants' important day.

For the fiscal year 2013, 779,929 immigrants became U.S. citizens. Since 2010, the number of people naturalizing has steadily increased. California, New York and Florida are the top three states in terms of the number of immigrants who become citizens.

According to USCIS Director León Rodríguez, citizenship creates a sense of belonging for immigrants.

Thank you for watching, and check back with INSZoom for more immigration news.

Federal judge halts Obama's immigration reforms [Video]

A federal court issued a temporary injunction against the expanded DACA and DAPA programs.

Transcript

A federal judge issued a temporary injunction against President Barack Obama's immigration reform programs on Feb. 26.

U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen granted 26 states' request to temporarily stop the expansion of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents programs.

Hanen issued the injunction to enable states to avoid irreparable harm as the case moves through the courts.

U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh C. Johnson stated the department would comply with the order and not accept applications for the program as it planned to do starting Feb 18.

Johnson also stated the department would appeal the court's decision.

Thank you for watching and check back with INSZoom for more immigration news.

DACA and DAPA: A timeline of events

A federal judge issued a temporary injunction against DAPA and DACA.

In November 2014, President Barack Obama made a much anticipated announcement that he would provide immigration reform through numerous executive actions. Two of these actions were to expand the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent resident programs. By broadening the eligibility criteria for both of these programs, millions of immigrants would be able to apply for valid visas, leading them to be able to obtain work permits, social security numbers and drivers licenses.

The beginning of reform
In late January, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced it would begin accepting applications for the expanded DACA program Feb. 18., and anticipated it would be ready to accept applications under the broader DAPA program in May.

"A federal court issued a temporary injunction."

Legal woes for Obama's plans
However, a lawsuit by numerous states has stayed the start of the president's immigration reform. On Feb. 16, the United States District Court for the Southern Division of Texas issued a temporary injunction against the Department of Homeland Security implementing the new programs.

The states argued the president's DAPA Memorandum violated the Administrative Procedures Act, and after showing that they are likely to succeed on the merits of their case, U.S. District Court Judge Andrew Hanen determined a preliminary injunction was appropriate as the matter proceeded through the courts.

Political opposition
Following the ruling, DHS Secretary Jeh. C. Johnson issued a statement saying he disagreed with Judge Hanen's decision. Despite the disagreement, the DHS will not accept applications for the expanded programs under the order, but the U.S. Department of Justice will appeal the ruling. The appeal will be heard by a three-judge panel in the 5th Circuit, mostly likely in late summer or early fall.

"Secretary Jeh. C. Johnson issued a statement saying he disagreed with Judge Hanen's decision."

Not all avenues stalled
Both Secretary Johnson and the USCIS have reminded immigrants that while the expanded programs are on hold, those who qualify under the original DAPA and DACA initiatives can still submit applications. Immigrants can also renew their current DACA status if it's set to expire.

While what will happen in the courts is unknown, INSZoom can help immigration professionals with reminders, extensions and managing relationships with more prospective DAPA and DACA clients. If the programs are re-established, INSZoom's immigration case management software will have workflows ready to ensure attorneys and human resources are able to submit their client's applications the first day they're allowed.

New hotlines available for immigrants [Video]

The Department of Homeland Security set up new hotlines for immigrants to call if they have comments or complaints.

Transcript

If your immigration clients believe they’ve been mistreated, the government wants to know.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security created a new hotline system this February following the Obama administration’s new immigration policy.

The purpose of the various hotlines is not to merely gather complaints, but also to create a way for people to learn about new DHS guidelines, including updated and expanded deferred action and visa requirements.

Under the new system, there is a phone number to call regarding U.S. Customs and Border Protection issues, a line for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and another for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Your clients can also contact these agencies online with complaints or comments.

Thank you for watching and check back with INSZoom for more immigration news. 

           
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