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Updated 10:00 AM February 20, 2006
 

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New system improves service
to international faculty, staff and students

The International Center (IC) will implement a new Web-based system March 1 that will improve services to U-M international employees and hiring departments. The system, called INSZoom, will be used to process and manage all University H-1B employment visa petitions and H-4 dependent applications.

INSZoom replaces a paper-based process with online questionnaires, thereby reducing the need for duplicate data entry and the risk of errors, says Victoria Green, INSZoom project manager.

"With fewer instances of paper moving between the International Center and departments, reliance on campus mail and courier service is also reduced," Green says. In addition, the INSZoom system will improve communication between the IC, hiring departments and foreign national employees. "INSZoom sends automatic e-mail reminders to the employees and departments if steps are not completed by due dates, and enables them to view the status of the case at anytime," Green adds.

To ensure a successful campus implementation, the center piloted INSZoom with 19 departments from August-December 2005. Feedback from administrators and foreign national employees was very positive and indicated a more streamlined process campus-wide.

"Based on our pilot results, we anticipate that INSZoom will reduce departmental staff effort and International Center turnaround time," says Meghan Covino, manager of faculty and staff immigration services.

Associate Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students Susan Eklund, who oversees the center, says she is extremely pleased INSZoom will enable the IC to offer enhanced services to departments and foreign national employees.

"I know the International Center staff members have expended much effort to ensure that the INSZoom system and our U-M processes work effectively together," she says.

To prepare users for the INSZoom, the IC Web site provides information on training sessions scheduled for Feb. 27-Mar. 6, INSZoom simulations, job aids and forms.

The INSZoom implementation is only one part of the International Center Improvement Project (ICIP), established to improve immigration processes and institutional policies across U-M. The project, led by Frances Mueller, senior project manager, was designed to implement recommendations made last summer by the Faculty and Staff Immigration Task Force, a group convened by Vice President for Student Affairs E. Royster Harper.

The Retained Immigration Counsel policy was the first major policy and process change implemented as part of the ICIP and is working very well, says Assistant General Counsel Donica Varner. As of October 2005, all new immigration petitions for which U-M is the petitioner are being prepared either by IC staff or one of five firms retained to provide immigration services by the Office of the Vice President and General Counsel.

"With the addition of INSZoom, we are now in an excellent position not only to provide good service to our foreign national staff and students, but also to ensure compliance with applicable federal government laws and regulations," Varner says.

Other policy initiatives currently underway as part of the ICIP involve forming partnerships with other key central offices and units to review and improve the University process for hiring foreign national employees, and implementing University guidelines on volunteerism. In addition, the center is redesigning its Web site to provide information in an easily navigable format.

Information on the INSZoom implementation is at www.umich.edu/~icenter/admin/INSZoom/index.html or by e-mailing ICfacultystaff@umich.edu. For questions about the ICIP, contact Mueller at francesm@umich.edu.

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