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Trump Immigration Ban – How to Employ Your Workers Remotely

The widely-publicized immigration ban imposed in the US on citizens of select countries is having a real effect on companies whose employees could not re-enter the US.  This has presented both a logistical and compliance challenge for US-based companies who had employees on assignment abroad when the ban was imposed.  It signals a change in immigration policies, not only in the US but in other countries as well, as governments are reviewing work visa and residency requirements.  

Last Minute Immigration Policy Changes Require a New Approach

If your company has an employee now outside the US, you have the option to employ them locally and legally through a GEO in the foreign country for the duration of the immigration ban (or longer).  This saves you the need to attempt to renew a business or tourist visa in that country, and avoids the compliance risk of overstaying a visa or work permit.  Even if the legal challenges to the ban succeed, there remains uncertainty about the future of US immigration policies, and multinationals need to respond to with flexible international employment solutions.

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Here’s What We Know About Trump’s Immigration Ban

When President Trump signed an executive order for the immigration ban, the world was caught by surprise.  The order banned entry to the US by anyone arriving from Iran, Syria, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen for the next 90 days.  These are all predominantly Muslim countries that the administration believes present a security threat to the US. 

The fact that there was no notice given of the impending ban, left many travelers stranded and unable to board their flights to the US.  Even airline personnel from the banned countries were not allowed to work on US bound aircraft.  At first, US permanent residents (green card holders) were also prevented from returning home, but that part of the ban was rescinded.  Nonetheless, as many as 100,000 people with valid US visas are now unable to travel to the US for either personal or business reasons.

While there have been protests and legal challenges, one of the very real business effects of the ban is the fact that high value employees of US businesses may be unable to travel to the US for at least three months.  The question for these companies is how to handle their stranded employees until the ban is lifted permanently.

How Companies Are Responding to Immigration Ban

Chief executives of several major US companies lodged complaints with the Trump administration about the ban, and how it might affect business operations.  Google had as many as 100 workers potentially stranded abroad when the ban was imposed, and voiced concern that they would not have access to these employee’s skills if the ban continued. Google emailed its employees to assure them of support in finding a solution.

However, other companies have been more reticent to openly criticize the administration about the ban given the range of business and regulatory issues currently under debate.  Most companies are contacting their employees to give them support and recognition of the importance of diversity, but are falling short of denouncing the ban.  

At this point, companies with employees from the banned countries are advising those workers not to leave the US until the immigration ban is lifted or clarified through legal opinion.  Obviously, this has an impact on companies that are used to sending employees on assignment to foreign locations, either short or long term, and creates uncertainty about future immigration restrictions that could be imposed.

How to Employ Your Workers Remotely

There is a simple and efficient solution if your company has one or more workers that are unable to return to the US.  If they were traveling on a business visa for a short trip, those usually have 30-60 day expirations, and are often difficult to renew while inside the host country.  In other words, they would non-compliant and unable to stay in the country and carry out their duties.

The alternative is to simply employ the stranded workers in the foreign country through a third party, local employer of record.  Shield GEO can quickly and easily employ your worker through one of our local partners, ensuring both immigration and employment compliance for as long as it is needed.  This gives your company some insurance against sudden immigration changes, and is a preferred way to secure an employee’s status in the host country.

The GEO service handles obtaining work permits, setting up a payroll and complying with local employment laws to avoid any interruption in work activity and avoiding problems with authorities.  This allows your employees to remain in the host country as long as it is necessary, and can be an ongoing solution to your assignment challenges.

A Short Term Solution and a Long Term Strategy

Employing workers on assignment through a GEO should now be a long term strategic option for companies with international operations.  As we are seeing, changes to immigration laws and the right to enter any country can change at a moment’s notice.  Even those employees with valid work permits and visas may be prevented from returning to company headquarters, and need to have some means to continue working in any global location.

If you have questions about how a GEO solution can be used as part of your global mobility program, or if you have the urgent need to employ a stranded worker abroad, please contact us.

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