With use of business visas on the rise, more countries are making changes to their rules and processes for these popular visas. While business visas may have shorter processing times and more lenient requirements than work permits, Pro-Link GLOBAL urges companies to apply the same focus on compliance when planning international travel utilizing business visas as is used when planning an assignment that requires a work permit – especially in this era of increasing business visa use and scrutiny.
Stricter Work Permit Rules Leading to More Business Visa Applications
Pro-Link GLOBAL is seeing two significant and related trends in the immigration policies of many nations:
- Greater protection of local worker hiring and an increase in requirements for foreign national work permits and visas, and
- A resulting significant increase in the volume of business visa applications in many countries.
These trends are combining to bring numerous changes to the business visa rules and processes in many countries, of which companies should be aware.
Narrowing Definitions of Permissible Business Activity and Increased Scrutiny of Applications – Pro-Link GLOBAL reminds companies that business visas and work permits fundamentally differ in their purpose and requirements, and should not be viewed as interchangeable alternatives. In many countries, we are now seeing the applicable scope of business visas being narrowed by revised definitions of permissible activities or the “re-interpretation” of current definitions. Companies should take special care to evaluate whether planned international travel may utilize a business visa, or if the activities in which the employee will engage requires a work permit. It is always important to note that the primary determining factor as to whether a foreign national requires a work permit or business visa is their proposed activities in the country, not how long he/she will be staying in the country.
Changing Application Processes – While some countries have responded to the increasing business visa volume by implementing new or streamlined application processes, other countries are scrutinizing applications more thoroughly to ensure that activities fall within the proper scope of a business visa and that all requirements are met. Therefore, it is imperative that companies attempt to anticipate assignment and international travel needs early in the planning process, and not view a business visa as a “last minute” solution where time is deemed insufficient to obtain a work permit.
Recommended Action Steps
Pro-Link GLOBAL recommends the following action steps to facilitate a successful short term assignment or business travel utilizing business visas:
- Foster a company culture that embraces immigration compliance at all organizational levels;
- Your company immigration policies should have a clear, established procedure for making sure business travelers are in compliance when it comes to business visas, work permits, or any other type of authorizations, before they travel;
- Start assignment planning and business visa application early to prevent delays due to changing processes and increased scrutiny of applications in some countries; and
- Make an early determination of whether an assignment will require a business visa or a work permit. For general guidance on this important topic, download our helpful reference sheet “Business Visas vs. Work Permits” here.
Have specific questions about whether your business travelers are remaining in compliance? Need guidance on how to review or build your company immigration policies to make sure your global mobility program has visibility on all international travel? Please reach out to your Pro-Link GLOBAL Immigration Specialists for specific assistance.
Caveat Lector | Warning to Reader - This is provided as informational only and does not substitute for actual legal advice based on the specific circumstances of a matter. We would like to remind you that Immigration laws are fluid and can change at a moment's notice without any warning. Please reach out to your immigration specialist or your client relations manager at Pro-Link GLOBAL should you require any additional clarification. This alert was prepared by Pro-Link GLOBAL's Knowledge Management team.