Qiyin Chuah of QC Immigration tells us how they navigate the complex immigration laws to give you peace of mind.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Qiyin Chuah: Fortunately, we have maintained health and safety throughout this period. Naturally, we have all learned to improve our wellbeing habits, re-evaluate our life priorities, and most importantly, learn how to appreciate nature and the intangibles that truly matter every day.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded QC Immigration.
Qiyin Chuah: My childhood was spent in Malaysia and my adulthood in the UK. Like many of our clients, I came to the UK to attend university. I completed my Bachelors and Masters in Law from the University of Manchester. My initial experience had been in Corporate Law; however, I pivoted into Immigration Law after being inspired by the deeply meaningful work of an immigration lawyer I hired to overcome a personal immigration issue.
My company, QC Immigration, is celebrating its 10th anniversary! I founded this business purely from spotting a gap in the market through my personal lens as a UK migrant and professional lens as an immigration lawyer. When I decided to set up QC Immigration, the economy was still recovering from the ‘Credit Crunch’ recession. I made an intuitive ‘gut’ decision almost overnight to strike out on my own from frustration in the service quality and culture I had observed within the industry. I realized that there is an obvious gap in the market to deliver far superior service and results to paying clients who deserve better.
QC Immigration specializes in UK Visa and Citizenship matters. We are an immigration law firm providing full legal representation and strategic advice to private individuals and businesses. We are both a B2C and B2B business. We set out to create value and positive business impact to stand out in a market saturated with conventional law firms. We are known for our exceptional success rate, multilingual expertise, and bespoke service. We are:
• Accredited at the highest Level 3 by the OISC (Office of the Immigration Service Commissioner)
• Voted’ Best Visa & British Citizenship Firm – the UK’ (Global Mobility, Immigration & Logistics Awards)
• Member of ILPA (Immigration Law Practitioners’ Association)
I now have over a decade’s experience running my own business. I have leveraged my multilingual skills and international network in both practicing immigration law and growing the business. At QC Immigration, my team’s ability to understand and empathize with the complicated circumstances and high expectations of clients have earned us a loyal and fast-growing client base.
With a firm belief in inclusiveness and inter-dependency, I am also actively involved in promoting female entrepreneurship and diversity in business.
How does QC Immigration innovate?
Qiyin Chuah: The following is what we do to innovate:-
1. Listen to our clients
Reputation is key in any industry, especially in the legal sector. Clients come to us not just for our expertise but also for our tailored, professional, yet caring service. Clients hire us to be their problem-solvers and to provide peace of mind. We need to always reflect on how we can make the process more seamless for our clients.
2. Listen to our colleagues
I refer to our team members as ‘frontliners’ because they are essential pillars of support for our clients. They are able to convey to me real-time feedback gathered from clients and also from their own day-to-day experience on the job. We believe that happy staff makes happy clients. We regularly reflect on our company culture and internal processes to improve the journey for our own team members.
3. Use the right technology
It is important to regularly edit the tools that we use. We advocate secure, tried-and-tested technology in every part of our work so that our lawyers have the support and capacity to do what they do best-providing efficient intellectual expertise to our clients. We are constantly asking ourselves: ‘How can we use more technology yet humanizing further our work?’
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Qiyin Chuah: As we have always been keen users of technology on a daily basis with the remote working option available to staff prior to the pandemic, the transition had been rather seamless. I was truly impressed by how well our team members have maintained productivity and professionalism, with some even outperforming than before!
Nurturing relationships and supporting clients have become ever more important. After all, we are in this together.
Many of our clients are businesses that hire foreign employees. They are at 2 ends of the spectrum. On the one hand, we have clients, like many businesses, who are dealing with furlough and redundancies. Many of these businesses are struggling themselves, but they are still doing all they can to keep people on the payroll. Making these employees redundant could mean the end of their Visa sponsorship and their lives in this country; these are life-changing decisions weighing upon our clients. Clearly, our clients are businesses who care enough to want to do the right thing. We provide them with up-to-date legal advice on these crises management and how we can plan a timeline strategically to deal with such sensitive matters. On the other hand, we have several companies in the STEM sectors who are fortunately expanding and recruiting talent. We help these growing companies put in best practices to recruit employees from abroad and ensure compliance with the latest, rapidly-changing immigration rules. These best practices will ensure that they maintain a good reputation with their stakeholders, such as the Home Office.
With our individual and family clients, the global travel restrictions have naturally led to clients hesitating and delaying their plans. Nevertheless, the post-Brexit world also opens up opportunities for investments and businesses hiring from abroad.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Qiyin Chuah: Certainly, we immediately had to rethink our priorities and restructure. We continue to remind ourselves to:
1. Be there. Respond and reach out to your people. These are your clients, suppliers, stakeholders, colleagues.
2. Put goodwill and purpose before profit; look at long-term relationship building. We can create social wealth and not just commercial wealth.
3. Finally and most importantly, walk the talk. When companies publicize goodwill initiatives, we should start by checking internally if we are living up to our own standards. Within our team at QC Immigration, we have been redefining our core values. We are reflecting if and how everyone is genuinely aligned with these values on this journey that we are taking together.
What specific tools, software, and management skills are you using to navigate this crisis?
Qiyin Chuah: Effective communication and sincere leadership will help us weather challenging times. We mainly use Microsoft Teams as a secure way to communicate and collaborate with colleagues and clients whilst preserving privacy. In the summer of 2020, at the height of the pandemic, our business was selected to join the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program, and that provided great exposure to hone my management and leadership skills. As a leader, this crisis has been an invaluable period of personal and professional growth.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Qiyin Chuah: Our key competitors are well-established immigration law firms. Finding and hiring a lawyer is a big commitment for anyone, especially when looking to migrate and settle in a new country. All of our team members have been through this journey ourselves; hence we empathize with the stress and uncertainties clients face in navigating the process. We have built this experience into our client journey, and we try to ensure that our clients feel at ease and reassured from the moment they engage with us, from our website to receiving successes in their case. We aim to make the process of engaging us more transparent by proactively sharing information, communicating our support throughout, which appeals to clients in choosing us. Our company culture and brand personality convey openness and a personable approach. Results indicate that our clients find greater value from our services; hence more of the market could benefit from the same.
Your final thoughts?
Qiyin Chuah: Behind every problem is an opportunity. We have found that being there for our people when they need it the most, at times of crisis, have really helped in advancing their life goals which in turn creates goodwill all around.