The Immigration Game?

Immigration is on everyone’s mind these days. News stories about government changes – both policy and enforcement — and elections around the world shine a spotlight on the topic. For those of us in Global Mobility, immigration has always been on our minds as one of the most complex parts of relocation. It is also top on the list of things you have to get right. This is true for both the business unit originating the relocation and the host country office.

Ascertaining the proper documents and following the requisite procedure can feel like solving a puzzle or cracking the Enigma code.

Where do you turn for immigration information?

Many companies rely on immigration professionals, and this is the best route, especially for those moving lots of employees. Others may rely on a dedicated HR team member, countries’ immigration websites, or a combination.

For the individual, websites can help. Most countries’ immigration authority sites can at least provide:

* description of the type of visa required, based on purpose, length of stay, and sometimes country of origin;
* the attending documents to be compiled;
* the process timeline and fees; and
* what applications accompanying family members may need to enter the country.

Many sites are in multiple languages. An increasing number allow you to apply online, then track your application status. Others are text-heavy, with supporting PDFs to wade through. Some of the sites we like best are simple and intuitive.

Here are the websites of the countries with the highest traffic in our International Relocation Center:

United Kingdom       Australia        United Arab Emirates        Singapore     Germany       United States

This small but varied sample illustrates how departments working in multiple countries, engaged with different immigration rules and systems, are challenged to keep applications on track and supported by all the requirements.

On the receiving end, how do businesses ensure compliance with local laws regarding foreign hires? For example: In the United States, where workplace inspections are on the rise, companies need complete, up-to-date records on foreign workers. They also need a protocol for site visits by immigration officials. In the event of an unexpected audit, personnel should be designated and briefed on company procedure.

Immigration is complex, rules worldwide are constantly changing, and consequences for noncompliance are serious. With these three challenges, it’s clear that immigration is no game.

Written by Ellen Harris, GMS, International Product Director, Living Abroad