Helping Your Immigrant Colleague in the Workplace

Being an immigrant in the workplace can be challenging not only due to government regulations and work permit issues but also due to uncertainties about immigration status as policies keep changing. Add to this adjusting to all the cultural differences and it’s a time when supporting an immigrant colleague in the workplace can be very meaningful.

Find out more about their immigration journey

Don’t ask immigrant colleagues about their work permits, as this can be an uncomfortable trigger for them. Create a safe space instead that gives them the opportunity to open up if they feel comfortable doing so. Learn more about the process immigrants have to go through to obtain visas, work permits, and green cards.

Experienced immigration lawyers from can help immigrants needing assistance to transition to the U.S. They will help them to fill in immigration papers and deal with the whole process of getting visas which can be intimidating, especially for those who don’t speak English well.

Create a workplace that’s inclusive of the immigrant experience

Validate the experience of immigrants and do what you can to make them feel included. You can ask them questions like “Do you have any suggestions about how the company can communicate any changes to immigration policies?” or “Do you know who to approach if you have a problem in the workplace?”

Change the way you promote any events to include them. If a colleague successfully secures a work permit, green card or citizenship, it is a reason to celebrate (with their permission, of course!).

Establish trust so they can be more transparent

Immigrants struggle to speak out for fear of retaliation which could impact their work status and ability to stay in the country. The thought of having to go back to their country of origin may be a scary one. It will help if you can establish trust with immigrant colleagues so they don’t fear speaking up and they can be honest and transparent.

Be mindful of the difficulties they face

Settling in a new country can be very challenging. Everything from the immigration process, where Abogados de Inmigración can help, to opening a bank account, getting a driver’s license, finding health care etc., can be intimidating, especially for non-English speakers.

In addition, they have to face different cultural norms. Ask your immigrant colleagues if they need help with any of the logistics and give them the opportunity to talk about their anxieties. Understand that immigration news in the media is often negative and this can affect the emotional and mental health of immigrants.

Value different languages and cultures in the workplace

Understand that your immigrant colleagues may communicate differently with you. Language barriers can make it harder to express opinions and it is easy for misunderstandings to occur. Take the time to make sure you understand what they are saying correctly.

Managers should take the time to learn work-related vocabulary in the language of immigrants. A different language can be a benefit in the workplace because the more languages employees speak, the more customers your company can communicate with. Training in the workplace can teach communication skills to both immigrants and other employees that help them to interact with colleagues or customers.

Share your knowledge openly and proactively 

Immigrants can have difficulty decoding unwritten rules and policies, as well as subtle cultural norms. They may feel vulnerable and desire to prove themselves professionally, which can inhibit them from asking for help or communicating their challenges.

You can act as a mentor and provide emotional and informational support. You can even help connect immigrants to the local professional and social community.