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USCIS to begin accepting petitions under expanded DACA [VIDEO]

posted by: INSZoom date: Feb 13, 2015 Immigration case management comments: Comments Off on USCIS to begin accepting petitions under expanded DACA [VIDEO]
USCIS will accept petitions under the newly expanded DACA program starting Feb. 18.

Transcript

Individuals waiting to apply for a visa under the expanded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program finally have their chance.

U.S Citizenship and Immigration Services announced it will accept petitions under the broadened DACA program starting Feb. 18.

Under the new program, the deferred action period and employment authorization is extended from two to three years. People of any age who entered the U.S. when they were younger than 16, have lived in the country continuously since Jan. 1, 2010 and meet all other DACA requirements are eligible.

Previously, people had to have lived in the U.S. continuously since June 15, 2007 and been born after June 15, 1981 to apply under the program.

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

date:  Feb 13, 2015 comments:  Comments Off on USCIS to begin accepting petitions under expanded DACA [VIDEO]
by:  INSZoom category:  Immigration case management Read More

Make Outlook work for you

posted by: INSZoom date: Feb 12, 2015 Money and time saving tips comments: Comments Off on Make Outlook work for you
Use Outlook to its fullest potential by learning shortcuts.

Do you rely on Outlook, and if so, are you using it efficiently?

You're probably thinking these are unnecessary questions, and that Outlook is efficient in and of itself. However, simple tips and tricks can really make a difference in what you can do within the program and how quickly you can do it. 

Now you might be saying you don't need to be faster in your inbox – you sign in, read emails, reply to colleagues and clients and move on. But, if you truly considered everything you do within the platform, you'd realize you could save hours every month if you did things just a little bit differently – those are hours you could have slept in, had dinner with your family or hit the golf course.

Use these tips to make Outlook work for you and free up some of your time:

Shortcuts
You probably haven't considered your typing speed in years, but learning keyboard shortcuts for moving around in Outlook is a great way to give your mouse a break and save time. Try these for a start:

  • Ctrl+R = Reply to email
  • Alt+R = Reply to all in an email
  • Alt+S = Send email
  • Alt+W = Forward email
  • Ctrl +2 = Switch to calendar
  • Ctrl + 3 = Switch to contacts
  • Ctrl + E = Go to search
    Give your mouse a break but learning Outlook keyboard shortcuts.Use your mouse less by learning Outlook keyboard shortcuts.

Automation
While there are many preset Outlook shortcuts, you can also configure or create your own custom tasks with Quick Steps in Outlook 2010 and  more recent versions. If you go to the Home tab in Outlook mail, you'll see the Quick Steps group. In the Quick Steps group, you can either create new steps or manage the Quick Steps already in place.

Organization
You can save yourself time from scanning dozens of emails at a once by having rules set up. Rules can filter emails from a specific person or groups and send them to designated folders. Now it'll only take you a few seconds to look at your folders and see which ones have new correspondence.

"Save yourself time setting up Outlook rules."

Tasks
Outlook tasks are the perfect way to keep track of your schedule and to-do list. You can easily create tasks while reading an email or looking at your calendar. Merely hit Ctrl + Shift + K, drag an item to the Task tab or drag an email to the To-Do Bar and click one of the preset tasks you've created. You'll never forget to call someone back or check on a case if you get in the habit of making tasks from emails right away. 

These all may seem like simple tips, but a majority of people don't utilize these features. There will be an adjustment period, but after a week or two you'll find you've made Outlook a strong weapon in your organizational arsenal instead of simply using it as a mailbox.

date:  Feb 12, 2015 comments:  Comments Off on Make Outlook work for you
by:  INSZoom category:  Money and time saving tips Read More

6 tips to convert your email from a burden to a blessing

posted by: INSZoom date: Feb 12, 2015 Money and time saving tips comments: Comments Off on 6 tips to convert your email from a burden to a blessing
Don't get overwhelmed by your inbox - get organized and delete junk mail to save time and your sanity.

Legal and business professions run on email nowadays. In fact, it's impracticable to go through an eight-hour business day without checking your inbox. Unfortunately, as your email history builds and you become more popular, it can be stress-inducing thinking about trying to find an old email, searching for someone's phone number hidden in a long thread or just anticipating opening your inbox.

Email can quickly turn from a godsend to a demon if your inbox gets out of hand. Instead of your email being a tool, it becomes overwhelming and a waste of your time.

To avoid your email turning into a problem or to get it back to the solution it once was, follow these tips:

"There's a reason email providers offer folder and label functions – you should use them."

1. Organize your inbox. There's a reason email providers offer folder and label functions – you should use them. Set aside time one day to make folders and labels for your clients and other matters, such as newsletters and correspondence from specific bar associations or organizations. Then don't forget about them. You can ensure you use your folders and labels by setting up filters – this way emails from certain people automatically go to the right folder.

2. Integrate the program with your CMS. Your email program and case management software should work together, and if they aren't, you're wasting time and resources. Integrating these two programs allows you to move information such as contacts and events back and forth seamlessly. It also means you don't have to input the same data twice.

3. Create tasks, reminders and contacts. To save yourself from going back to find old emails, save the information you need from the correspondence right away. If there's contact information, make a new contact immediately. If there are dates and times for meetings, make a new task or calendar event. Additionally, if you just want to remember to check with a person later, set reminders. Email programs have a variety of neat tools – using them will truly help you stay on top of your workload.

4. Clear out unnecessary subscriptions. It's easy to build up a steady stream of junk mail – newsletters from organizations you don't belong to any more, advertisements from charities, etc. Reading these subject lines and deleting them one by one every day is a waste of your valuable time. Instead, when you see junk subscriptions pop up, take 30 seconds to open the email and unsubscribe. It may take a few weeks to get rid of them all, but you need to stay true to your goal of managing your inbox and not be afraid to delete.

5. Designate email checking time. You may think it's best to look at your inbox frequently but this actually distracts you and pulls you away from other important work. Instead, assign yourself times to look at email throughout the day such as when you arrive at work, before lunch, at 2 p.m. and 30 minutes before you head home for the day. Set up whatever frequency of check-ins you need, but don't make them too often otherwise you're not saving yourself time.

"You don't need to know the exact minute a new email arrives."

6. Turn off notifications. The best way to stick to your designated check-in times is to turn off email notifications. You don't need to know the exact minute a new email arrives, and sounds or extra boxes popping up on screen will just get you sidetracked from your other work.

Email is a modern miracle, but one that can become a burden if you aren't careful. By using these tips, you can create healthy email habits at work, allowing you to use email the way it was intended – as an efficient means of communication. There's no need to maintain an inbox that presents you with hundreds of unorganized emails each day – set up your filters and folders and stick with your schedule. 

date:  Feb 12, 2015 comments:  Comments Off on 6 tips to convert your email from a burden to a blessing
by:  INSZoom category:  Money and time saving tips Read More

How to hit 100% client satisfaction

posted by: INSZoom date: Feb 12, 2015 Immigration case management comments: Comments Off on How to hit 100% client satisfaction
Law firms can use their case management software to provide superior customer service.

Are your clients 100 percent satisfied with your services?

You probably think they are if their cases are going well, but your clients have a different point of view and may find your services lacking for some reason or another. Customer service is much more than obtaining a good outcome for clients at trial or in their immigration applications – it's about making clients feel respected and in the loop.

Providing superior customer service is crucial for firms that want to maintain their reputations and grow their client lists. Becoming known for stellar client services will increase referrals from clients to their families and friends, and bring more prospective clients to your firm's front door.

"Providing superior customer service is crucial for firms that want to maintain their reputations and grow their client lists."

Where to start
To provide exceptional customer service, you may have to do some home-grown research and make some changes. Begin by evaluating your current level of client satisfaction by asking for feedback from current and recent clients. A quick online survey is a great way to gain constructive criticism.

Additionally, make sure everyone in the firm is on the same page regarding customer service. Only a client-focused culture will bring about 100 percent client satisfaction ratings.

Manage expectations
One of the biggest hurdles to keeping clients happy with your services is managing their expectations of you. The services you are able to provide can sometimes differ from what the client expects at the onset of the relationship, which leads to dissatisfaction with how the case is going. For instance, some clients want you to be available late at night for questions, even though you have family obligations, or desire weekly updates on their case, though this is unnecessary at some stages of the application process. It's up to you to explain to clients your availability and the type and frequency of communications so they aren't expecting more than you're able to give.

Use your CMS
Your immigration case management software is a strong tool that can help manage client expectations. All of your clients can have personalized login credentials that will give them access to the CMS client portal. Clients can then see the progress of their case and privately contact you if they have questions. These features will cut down on unnecessary late night phone calls when clients are wondering if anything new has happened.

"Your immigration case management software is a strong tool that can help manage client expectations."

You can also program your CMS to do some of your work for you. The case management platform can be set to automatically email clients when deadlines are approaching or certain events occur. This way, you never forget to let a client know something important or to remind them of a specific meeting or hearing. Automatic messages save you time and ensures your clients are also up to date on their cases.

Reach out
While your CMS can do a lot of work for you, there's no substitute for showing your clients you're personally invested in their cases. If you know you're entering a waiting period on an application, set alerts for yourself in the CMS so you don't forget to call and check in with clients. Though it may take weeks or months to hear about an application, your clients shouldn't have to wait weeks or months to hear from you. Sometimes, all they need is a call to reassure them the wait is normal and that you haven't forgotten them. 

date:  Feb 12, 2015 comments:  Comments Off on How to hit 100% client satisfaction
by:  INSZoom category:  Immigration case management Read More

Questions to ask before choosing a cloud vendor

posted by: INSZoom date: Feb 11, 2015 Compliance comments: Comments Off on Questions to ask before choosing a cloud vendor
Immigration professionals can find the right cloud providers for them by asking important questions.

While the cloud offers you many everyday benefits as an immigration professional, it can also pose a security risk if you aren't careful. In the right setting and with a strong provider, cloud-based case management software is one of the safest places for you to store your immigration clients' information. In the wrong setting, it sets you up for lost work time and potentially leaked information, which in a legal setting, could be a violation of attorney-client privilege. 

Knowing the use of the cloud is a balancing act, you're probably wondering how to tip the scale in your favor and ensure it's beneficial to you and clients.

"Using the cloud is a balancing act."

The best way to do this is to start off on the right foot from the beginning, by asking potential cloud providers certain essential questions.

Where are your servers?
The location of servers matters because the laws of the country or state in which they reside control how the data stored within them is treated. Other nations have different privacy and information security regulations than the U.S., which could inadvertently open up your immigration clients' information to third parties. It's critically important your clients' information is stored in data centers in America, so you can ensure the cloud provider follows U.S. laws and that you don't make your client a target for cyberattacks.

Additionally, you might not think of it this way, but when you store and retrieve information from the cloud it travels, potentially crossing state or international borders. International regulations can affect what type of information can cross these borders, and you could unknowingly cause your clients' data to be unnecessarily regulated. 

How will my and my clients' data be protected?
It's essential the information you store on a cloud provider's servers is both physically and electronically secure. A strong cloud provider will limit who can physically access its centers and will have disaster recovery strategies in place, including fire retardant technology and data redundancy in geographically separate locations.

While it's standard for data to be encrypted while being stored and on the move, you should ask for specifics regarding the provider's encryption protocol to ensure it meets your needs.

Immigration professionals need to know how their cloud providers protect information on their servers.Immigration professionals need to know how their cloud providers protect information on their servers.

How much uptime is guaranteed?
Many cloud users don't put much thought into up and downtime, assuming their information is always available. However, no cloud provider guarantees 100 percent uptime, but the amount they do guarantee is important. Providers who guarantee only 99 percent uptime in their service level agreements are allowing for nearly 15 minutes of downtime per day. This doesn't seem like much but equates to more than 87 hours each year. That's 87 hours you might not be able to access your clients' information. Providers who guarantee 99.99 percent are much better, allowing for only 52 minutes of downtime each year. 

Do you provide training and on-going support?
You generally begin working with a cloud provider because you're purchasing software. It's best to have a relationship with a company that will not only provide initial training for the new platform, but also continue to provide IT support and further training throughout your relationship. Without these services, it will be your responsibility to find IT support through a third party or have it in-house.

How long have you been in business?
While history isn't always an indicator of future performance, it's best to work with a cloud provider that's proven their worth. Ask about the vendor's history, including how long they've been around and particularly, often they've worked with clients in the immigration industry, to see if the business fully understands your particular needs.

While there is other important information you need to know before forming a contract with a cloud provider, the above questions are the foundation of a strong due diligence process. By using these inquiries, you can learn a lot about a businesses, which can help you decide to move forward with them or look for something better.

date:  Feb 11, 2015 comments:  Comments Off on Questions to ask before choosing a cloud vendor
by:  INSZoom category:  Compliance Read More
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