How NOT to be Left Out of the Loop by Clients

Have you ever had a foreign national client leave the country only to inform you after the fact, when he encountered problems obtaining a visa? Or what about the client who tells you, after the I-485 Application has been filed, that maybe there was an arrest that may have led to a conviction… While you can’t predict what clients will and won’t do, you can prepare your immigration practice to ensure that you stay in the loop when it comes to critical pieces of information.

THE FOREIGN NATIONAL CLIENT

Foreign national clients who are not seeking employment visas require a different approach than the Corporate Foreign National Client (see below). With foreign national clients, your interactions may be limited and infrequent.  Therefore, you must ensure you obtain the most accurate data possible in order to provide the best representation you can.  Sometimes, you may only have one or two opportunities to do this. Your initial intake should therefore include a list of critical questions related to international travel, romantic partners vs. spouses, upcoming marriages, births, criminal records, divorces, in addition to other standard pre-screening questions.  It’s also helpful to provide a clear definition for what it is you seek.  For example, inquiring about marriages should indicate that the relationship has been officially recognized by a legal or cultural authority in the foreign national’s home country.

THE CORPORATE CLIENT

Corporate clients are busy managing immigration issues for multiple foreign national employees (sometimes a workforce of hundreds). A successful immigration practice is not just a “vendor,” but a true partner. When corporate clients modify job duties, change salaries, alter work hours, shift worksite locations, or conduct layoffs, these actions can significantly impact the status of its foreign national workforce and inadvertently make your job that much more difficult. You must stay informed with the client on a regular basis in order to understand the changes your corporate client may be experiencing. Scheduled, frequent and predictable status updates are the best way to learn about corporate employment changes, hiring needs, layoffs and also to ensure your clients’ needs are addressed. Once you know what their needs are, you can provide them with options, and acknowledge and act on changes to their workforce in advanced of the events.

THE CORPORATE FOREIGN NATIONAL CLIENT

Practitioners who are representing corporate clients in immigration matters usually have to navigate dual-representation issues. Obviously, one who represents a corporation would have allegiances to that company, but is the foreign national your dual client as well? If so, be sure you’ll know how to proceed when a client presents you with an “issue” which he does not want to share with his employer but may be detrimental to the employer/employee relationship. This could involve a foreign national employee potentially resigning, seeking employment elsewhere, or a past or present criminal issue. Staying in the loop also requires you to maintain communication with the foreign national. When visa petitions are approved, your approval letter should have some instructions regarding notifications to your office in the event of international travel and the need to register with USCIS when moving. Sending birthday cards is a great way to keep in touch with clients as well as ensure addresses are still current.