Category Archives: Hot Topics

H-1B Visa Applications Open Up Next Week

It’s busy season for immigration lawyers. On April 3, people can start submitting H-1B visa petitions for the new fiscal year.

The popular visa, beloved by the tech industry, is a pathway for skilled foreigners to work in the U.S. It’s in high demand: Last year, the cap of 85,000 H-1B visas was reached less than a week after the application period opened up. During that time, 236,000 petitions were submitted.

When demand exceeds supply, the visas are awarded through a lottery system.

And this year, there are additional stress factors: The political environment is decidedly less welcoming to foreigners and one of the favored processing options has been put on hold.

For an additional $1,225 fee, premium processing guarantees that an H-1B petition is reviewed within 15 days (if it’s selected in the lottery). According to USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services ), premium processing filings accounted for 59% of the total H-1B filings in 2016. But in March, USCIS announced it was temporarily freezing that option on April 3.

Non-premium visa petitions can take as much as eight months before they’re approved, immigration lawyers say. USCIS hopes to reduce overall processing times with the temporary freeze.

Premium processing is also the preferred route for people renewing their H-1B visa or transferring to a new employer.

While H-1B holders can work while they wait for renewal or transfer, that period only lasts for 240 days, just under eight months.

USCIS says it will prioritize approvals for people coming up on that time constraint, pointing to an expedited option that’s available on a case-by-case basis.  Still, while waiting, foreign workers are advised not to travel outside the U.S.

About Relocation America International

Relocation America International is a full service relocation management company headquartered in Southfield, Michigan dedicated to providing innovative relocation services, value added support, and superior service to clients relocating families domestically and internationally.

Visit http://www.rainternational.com for more information about our services or contact us at mobility@rainternational.com.

Source: CNN Money

The Service Side of Relocation Expense Management

In a recent Business Travel News Survey 73% of respondents waited, on average, five weeks to be reimbursed by employers for business related expenses. Not only is this an annoyance for employees, but it also has the potential to place a burden on talent management and retention.

While relocation expense reimbursement can become a source of frustration among transferring employees, there are a few simple steps that can be taken to make the process more efficient  and successful.

Mobile Technology: One of the best practices with respect to expense reimbursement is to ensure your relocation service provider has an easy to use mobile app that allows transferring employees to quickly request reimbursement of eligible expenses at any time no matter where they are (even if on a home finding trip).  The ability to check the status of reimbursements also gives employees some visibility into the reimbursement process which makes it easy and painless.

Our own app, RA International Connect, offers an intuitive and friendly interface that features tools designed to support transferring employees throughout the entire relocation process. Among the many features included in RA International Connect is the ability to process expense reports and submit receipt photos via the smartphone’s camera.bloggo2

Urgent Reimbursement Requests Be sure to partner with a relocation service provider that has the financial wherewithal to process reimbursements weekly or biweekly if needed. If your transferring employees need to wait up to 3 weeks for reimbursement funds to arrive because your relocation service provider has funding issues then service levels will suffer and frustration levels with the relocation process will rise. Here at Relocation America International we have the ability to process expense reimbursements the same day we receive them if necessary.  From our experience the immediate turnaround time we provide adds to the positive experience our clients have when working with us.

Utilize ACH direct deposit or Wire Transfers: Automatic clearing house or ACH reimbursements allow for direct deposit of employee reimbursements and allow transferring employees immediate access to their funds eliminating the need for paper checks which delay the reimbursement process.

Consider the use of lodging and meal per diems as part of your relocation policy. Begin by understanding your client’s goals and travel needs and consider using per diems to control expenses. Per diems allot employees a fixed amount per day reducing the need for transferring employees to save purchase receipts. As long as the cost is under the per diem amount, it’s approved without the need for documentation. The biggest advantage of per diem use is it allows for predictability in travel budgeting.

Increasing the ease and timeliness of relocation expense processing can result in cost savings and increased transferring employee satisfaction.  Choosing the right provider who has the right tools to manage this process on your behalf can make all the difference in the experience your employees have when relocating.

About Relocation America International

Relocation America International is a full service relocation management company headquartered in Southfield, Michigan dedicated to providing innovative relocation services, value added support, and superior service to clients relocating families domestically and internationally.

Visit http://www.rainternational.com for more information about our services or contact us at mobility@rainternational.com.

2017 Standard Mileage Rates for Business and Relocation Announced

indexThe Internal Revenue Service today issued the 2017 optional standard mileage rates used to calculate the deductible costs of operating an automobile for business, charitable, medical or moving purposes.

Beginning on Jan. 1, 2017, the standard mileage rates for the use of a car (also vans, pickups or panel trucks) will be:

  • 53.5 cents per mile for business miles driven, down from 54 cents for 2016
  • 17 cents per mile driven for medical or moving purposes, down from 19 cents for 2016
  • 14 cents per mile driven in service of charitable organizations

About Relocation America International

Relocation America International is a full service relocation management company headquartered in Southfield, Michigan dedicated to providing innovative relocation services, value added support, and superior customer service to clients relocating families domestically and internationally. Visit http://www.rainternational.com for more information about our services or contact us at mobility@rainternational.com.