5 Approaches to Managing Immigration Challenges in Global Mobility

If you are a human resources or global mobility manager then you will need to help your employees meet the immigration requirements in each country where they work. The challenge lies in navigating the different rules for business visas or work permits, and making sure that every worker has the right travel documents.

Go to the profile of Tim Burgess
Feb 16, 2017
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If you are a human resources or global mobility manager then you will need to help your employees meet the immigration requirements in each country where they work. The challenge lies in navigating the different rules for business visas or work permits, and making sure that every worker has the right travel documents.

There are five approaches that can help you to overcome any immigration obstacles in deploying and maintaining workers in a foreign country.

1. Setting Up an Internal System

As a global mobility manager you want to stay ahead of any issues by having an internal system to verify visa status, based on the rules of the target countries. Whether recruiting a new employee, arranging a short term business visit or planning an foreign assignment, the exact immigration rules should be known ahead of time to plan the applications.

2. Monitoring Visa Status and Validity

Your worker’s visas and permits need to be monitored for validity and any potential changes in conditions. For example, your employee’s business visa may be expiring, or a change in their work assignment could trigger the need for a long term work permit. Cumulative days spent in a country should also be tracked to avoid any unintended tax residency for your employees.

Sometimes an unplanned exit from the country could become necessary as a quick fix for visa violations, and then you might need to start looking for other solutions.

3. Educate Employees and Contractors on Immigration Rules

Workers on assignment can assist you with monitoring changes in the rules, and should be aware of how their work or time spent in the country could affect their immigration status. An employee may not realize that their success in obtaining new customer contracts could also mean they now need a work permit.

By keeping your employees and contractors informed, you can help them avoid any issues and enlist their aid in tracking their visa status. They will have a natural interest in this part of the assignment, since the worker is the one often stopped by immigration and questioned about their visa status.

4. Tracking and Routine Checks of Immigration Policies

Tracking business travel has become a priority for many companies, as foreign immigration authorities are clamping down on the overuse of business visas for long stays. If your company operates in multiple foreign countries, a tracking system complete with triggers and alerts becomes essential to ensure ongoing compliance.

Some of the items to track include:

  • Planned length of stay by the employee
  • Length of business visa and allowed renewals
  • Types of business activity that risk falling outside business visa restrictions
  • Previous business visas by the employee in the country
  • Post-departure review of days spent in the country and visa renewals

5. Professional Guidance and GEO Solutions

There are global mobility and immigration specialists who can help you with these tasks, by focusing on the host country laws and regulations for each assignment.

They can assist in very specific ways, including:

  • Planning and research prior to the assignment
  • Monitoring employee transfers and movement
  • Keeping abreast of immigration policies and changes
  • Implementing tracking systems for ongoing compliance
  • Communicating with the employee, company and other experts

This type of support can be useful in monitoring multiple foreign assignments or when entering a new market to initiate business activity.

As an alternative, companies often use a Global Employment Organization (GEO) or an International PEO (Professional Employment Organisation) to comply with host country laws and obtain the required visas or work permits. This can be an especially cost-effective method in a new market for a company. The GEO actually becomes the local employer of record, and saves you the time and expense of trying to juggle multiple levels of immigration and employment law.

Summary

Managing immigration laws and tracking employees on international assignment is more crucial than ever to ensure compliance with both local immigration and employment rules. Tracking systems that have integrated alerts for HR can minimize the potential for non-compliance, and allow for seamless communication and travel planning. In the end, professional guidance or third parties may be required to satisfy all of the requirements, and avoid immigration penalties.

Shield GEO makes international employment simple. Our customers use Shield GEO to employ and payroll hundreds of workers in over fifty countries. Find out more

Go to the profile of Tim Burgess

Tim Burgess

Director, Shield GEO Services Ltd

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