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How to Handle Increasing Immigration Restrictions

One of the current realities in global mobility is that many countries are increasing immigration restrictions for non-resident workers.  Usually this is in response to protecting jobs for local residents, who are being passed over for cheaper foreign labor.

According to Envoy Global Inc.’s survey, “Immigration Trends Report 2017,” 21 percent of respondents are relocating work overseas, 30 percent have had to increase budgets to address immigration challenges and 25 percent have increased staff in response to these issues.”

Unfortunately, these restrictions affect companies who are trying to expand into new markets or regions, as well as hire workers for home operations, regardless of whether local talent is available.  Here are a few examples of specific country measures:

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  • US: The H1B work visa program in the US is undergoing changes to limit the number and type of worker that is allowed.  Specifically, entry level IT workers are being barred and there is a review of minimum salary levels and screening processes for all non-immigrant workers.
  • Singapore: With a large foreign work force already in place, Singapore is taking similar actions to limit unskilled or unqualified foreign workers from entering.
  • UK: The UK’s Brexit from the EU was spurred by the perception that the local job market was being swamped by foreign workers, affecting the ability of locals to find positions.  The UK will no longer be a part of the EU’s right to travel policies once Brexit is finalized.
  • Australia: Australia just changed it’s 457 work visa, to make it more difficult to obtain permission to work as a foreigner in the country.  As in the US, this was done despite the outcry from Australian businesses that claim local talent is simply not available.

Satellite Offices

Companies with their headquarters in immigration restricted countries are taking a new approach to work around those limits, to hire skilled workers from abroad.  By opening a satellite office in a nearby country with fewer  immigration restrictions, a company can still access foreign talent while avoiding the time, expense and controls to obtain work visas in their own location.  If the satellite office is nearby, workers can be brought in for training on business visas while doing the majority of work in the satellite location.

US companies are looking to Canada and Mexico for satellite offices, and UK-based businesses are already shifting to other EU countries that maintain the right to travel and obtain work visas.  These companies still have to go through the process of setting up a local entity for employment purposes in the satellite location, or may elect to use a third party GEO service for quick deployment.

Hiring Local Employees 

Another solution is to hire local residents in the destination country for needed positions, especially if foreign market expansion is the goal.  It is easier to hire a resident as an employee than to send employees on assignment, however this requires either a legal entity to handle employment and payroll or the use of a third party such as a GEO service.

If your company is planning on entering new markets, and wants to either employ locals or send employees on assignment, Shield GEO can set up the local employment for you.  In this way, you can avoid the time and expense of establishing a branch office and using a DIY employment strategy.

This method can also be used for staffing a new satellite office with foreign employees, either short or long term. Even with increased immigration restrictions, Shield GEO can make international employment simple for your company.

We’ve received some great suggestions on how to handle these increasing immigration restrictions. These include improving project planning to account for immigration processing times, being aware of work permit exemption categories, and pro-actively securing work permits for key personnel to ensure they are able to deploy on short notice. We love hearing from others in global mobility and if you’ve more to share on this topic join the discussion here or send us a message here. 

If you'd like to know more about how we can help make international employment simple, please get in touch


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