Recently we – with help from the folks at BLR® – surveyed 557 employers about immigration management. Among other issues including a trend toward noncompliance, global travel compliance was a hot topic.
Employers told us what some of their biggest concerns were as they expand to include a global workforce. Here are some of the biggest trouble areas for organizations in terms of global travel compliance and some possible solutions:
Business visa vs. work permits
One of the biggest mix-ups in the realm of global travel compliance is distinguishing between business visas and work permits.
When do employees need visas and when do they need work authorizations? Lots of companies mistake one for the other, and send employees across borders without the correct legal status. This puts employees at risk of fines or, worse, incarceration (yikes), and it puts the company at risk of missing out on business in specific regions.
Though specifics vary from country to country, the fundamental difference is that a business visa is for tasks that are not considered work or gainful employment, whereas a work permit is meant for services that would be considered a job or labor.
It’s critical, though, to understand that each country has a very unique set of rules as to what is considered labor or worth compensation. If you have questions, you should consult your immigration counsel.
Employees stuck at the border
Employees and clients, invited to the U.S. for meetings, training, conferences, events and other work-related reasons sometimes get stuck at the border for one reason or another. It happens, and when it does, it’s best to be prepared to help resolve the situation as quickly and seamlessly as possible.
To keep border issues from turning into hours- or days-long fiascos (talk about an HR nightmare!), start with establishing an emergency contact system. You need a clear, no-fail communication system between employees, HR and legal counsel that’s available 24-hours. That’s something easily achieved with the right immigration technology.
Notifying HR of international travel
How many times do you think employees at your organization have traveled for work without notifying HR? If you’re in HR, you may not even know the extent of the problem, but whenever employees cross borders and you don’t know about it, it’s a problem.
HR, or whichever department manages global mobility, should be the hub for international travel. Employees could be sent overseas for a conference, sales event or project without attaining the proper permit first. That could lead to employees being caught out of compliance with immigration laws in any given country. Even if you may not have even been aware, the responsibility of being a world-ready organization falls on your department.
The solution? Find a way to ingrain in managers’ minds that global travel compliance is critical and that international travel plans must be ran by HR first. Remind them clearly and remind them often.