Toca Case Study
Automating Visa Processes: LaborCI Overcomes Regulatory Hurdles & Cuts Hours
Founded in 1998, Labor Consultants International specializes in supporting businesses through the United States H-2A, H-2B, and EB-3 visa processes, helping organizations fill temporary vacancies. With almost 500 clients across the United States, LaborCI is the number one provider of H-2B visas in the country, processing over 18,000 visas every year.
Huge worker shortages impact critical industries, such as Landscaping, Forestry and Seafood, across the U.S. However, only limited numbers of guest worker visas are available each year to fill acute gaps, with demand far outstripping supply. With tight deadlines for when applications must be filed through the Government’s Foreign Labor Application Gateway (FLAG) system, there is intense pressure on the LaborCI team to ensure that applications are processed in a timely and accurate way.
“If we miss a deadline, or the data integrity is of a poor standard and we get a NOD (Notice of Deficiency), that can be devastating for our clients – it could take them out for an entire season,” comments Stephen Ward, Business Integrator at LaborCI. “As FLAG is not API-enabled, the process of transferring information from our database into the system is very time consuming and prone to human error – we have to spend a lot of time double-, triple-checking everything, putting a lot of mental strain on our team.”
“We want our clients’ experience to reflect the experience they get with other digital service providers – the Googles and Amazons of the world. Using low code, we can update more rapidly to keep up with what people are used to seeing. This will help us to grow the business and really lead as the first truly digital-first business in our sector.”Stephen Ward, Business Integrator Labor CI
Having a Partner You Can Trust
Direct Impact is a global leader in the development, integration, consulting, and optimization of custom-made digital solutions. The Direct Impact team had worked with LaborCI for several years, having helped to build LaborCI’s Hub database. After seeing a demo of the Toca low code development platform, the Direct Impact team were impressed by its capabilities and saw potential for Toca to solve the data transfer challenge between FLAG and Hub.
“If it hadn’t been the Direct Impact team coming to me with this, I probably wouldn’t have taken the meeting. They really know our business and had done an excellent job with Hub, so when they came to us with Toca we were keen to listen. After seeing the demo, I instantly came up with 13 potential apps right away,” Ward continues.
Creating a Digital Bridge with Toca
After an initial meeting, the teams landed on two applications to road test the Toca low code development platform on. The first was to create a bridge between LaborCI’s Hub database and FLAG. The second used Optical Character Recognition (OCR) to scan visas and passports and pull information, such as wage requests.
“Normally the process of transcribing information from Hub into FLAG can take anywhere between 3 and 20 hours, while scanning documents can take 15 minutes to 2 hours. We had to sit around all day manually transcribing. With Toca, we can use a bot to break down the wall between Hub and FLAG – essentially turning the user interface into an API. We can queue it all up, go to bed and come back in the morning and it’s done – that’s 2000 team hours potentially saved.”
By reducing the time needed to process applications, the LaborCI team will have more time to focus on data integrity. “One of the big challenges we face is data integrity. Our account managers need to spend a lot of time extracting information from people, to ensure they meet the criteria for the visa. This platform will give them back time to do this and make sure that the information in Hub is correct. As it is all automated from a single point of truth, we dramatically reduce the risk of human error.”
Building on Toca—LaborCI Takes Control of its Digital Destiny
As a next step, LaborCI is keen to bring development in-house to help the team stay ahead of regulatory changes in requirements. “The government has been making changes to requirements and how they are interpreted with greater frequency in recent years. Sometimes we only have 24 hours to apply the changes—having a low-code platform will enable our internal team to adapt much faster.”
The LaborCI team is also keen to build customer-facing apps to facilitate better data collection and overcome language barriers. “Our clients have multiple workers from across Central and South America, most of whom do not speak English as a first language. The process for collecting their information can involve multiple long questionnaires, which the employers must then decipher—so we struggle to capture accurate data. If we had a bilingual interface, we would be able to collect much more accurate details, so that is certainly high up on the list!”
A Google-like Experience for Customers
With Toca, LaborCI aims to transform the visa application processing industry. “We want our clients’ experience to reflect the experience they get with other digital service providers – the Googles and Amazons of the world. Using low code, we can update more rapidly to keep up with what people are used to seeing. This will help us to grow the business and really lead as the first truly digital-first business in our sector.”