Global Immigration Laws: Compliance in a Transnational Workforce
Navigate global mobility and compliance with immigration laws to ensure successful workforce relocation for your business
Erez Greenberg| Jul 06, 2023
- Compliance challenges in global immigration include visa requirements, labor laws, payroll considerations, and understanding international labor laws
- Compliance is crucial for saving time, money, and resources, as well as protecting a company's reputation.
- Different countries have specific visa and work permit requirements, and employers must follow the guidelines and submit the necessary documentation for each country.
- Compliance strategies and elevating technology can help you achieve a more successful relocation process
When it comes to relocation in your company, one of the biggest concerns businesses have is knowing how to comply with global immigration laws.
This is where global mobility and immigration law meet. From navigating the visa approval process to compliance strategies and best practices, there are several components to successfully sending your workforce across borders.
Main Challenges in Global Immigration Compliance
Understanding global immigration obstacles when it comes to relocation can save you time, money, resources, and protect your company’s reputation. Here are a few common compliance challenges to keep in mind:
1. Visa requirements
You’ll need proper documentation and visas for any country. Many countries, such as China, have stricter work visa requirements. In these cases, it’s helpful to give employees adequate time to gather documents, request, and secure a visa before they start work in the country — or your company could face significant penalties.
2. Labor laws
Each country will have their own regulation regarding labor laws. When hiring across borders, you’ll need to adhere to specific laws regarding:
- Employee contracts
- Minimum wage
- Payroll taxes
- Employee termination
- Employee benefits
Compliancy towards international labor laws and country-specific regulation will save your company tangible resources—such as money, time, and so on—but you’ll also protect your reputation by giving workers a fair salary and working conditions.
3. Payroll considerations
Local and federal wages in a country can differ according to zip code, city, or industry. In Australia, the minimum wage is $23.23 per hour for a 38-hour week. In the UK, minimum wage is £10.42. As minimum wage criteria can increase without a lot of notice, make sure you stay up to date on changes to maintain compliance, especially while managing global payroll.
You may need to put in some effort to stay compliant with each country’s immigration laws, but the benefits pay dividends.
Importance of Compliance in a Transnational Workforce
Non-compliance can have severe consequences. Each country will have legal and financial penalties for non-compliance and while you’re paying fines or fighting civil suits, you can also face reputational damages.
India for instance has various laws that govern labor such as the Industrial Disputes Act, Minimum Wages Act, and Employees’ State Insurance Act. Failure to comply with any of these laws can result in lawsuits or even criminal charges.
Compliance can help your company avoid expensive lawsuits and charges, allow you to put resources towards what will push the business forward, and develop healthy relationships with your host countries.
To achieve all that though, you’ll need to know what the country requires before you even land in their territory.
Navigating Visa and Work Permit Requirements
One of the first steps of sending an employee overseas or to another country is to understand and fulfil the requirements for getting legal authorization to work. Those who wish to work in France for a year, for instance, need to apply for a visa and present a work contract that’s endorsed by the DIRECCTE (the Regional Department of Enterprise, Competition, Consumer Affairs, Labour and Employment).
One of the best ways to ensure you’re fulfilling any requirements is by checking with the consulate or embassy of the host country. Let’s say you’re an American executive working in the digital technology field, looking to expand operations in the UK.
You plan to set up an office, train employees, and enter the UK market, all of which will take at least a year. In this scenario, you’re eligible for Global Talent Visa, one of six visas for American digital technology professionals looking to work in the UK for at least one year.
Choosing the wrong visa can slow down or even end the immigration process. That’s why it’s essential to understand the scope of the work in the host country and what information you’ll need to submit before landing.
Visa and work permits around the world
Each country has its own visa process. Let’s take a look at a few common locations for global mobility.
There are many types of work visas available in the U.S., each relating to a specific industry, job type, or reason for employment. After you choose the right visa that matches your job category and requirements, the employer needs to submit a petition at the local US embassy or consulate. Once approved, the employee needs to gather the necessary paperwork, fill out the online application, and attend the visa interview.
In Canada, employees can file for a work permit online or on paper. They’ll need to carefully fill out the form, complete the checklist items for their specific country of residence, submit a current photo of themselves, and pay the visa fee. Employees may also need to submit a Statutory Declaration of Common-Law Union.
The UK has several visas depending on the nature of the work and its industry. Employers will need to provide a certificate of sponsorship reference number. Employees will need to show proof of their knowledge of English, a valid passport or other document that proves their identity and nationality, the job title and annual salary, the job’s occupation code, proof of no criminal record, financial accounts, and more.
Once employees have applied online, proved their identity in person at a UK Visa Application Centre, and provided the documents, they will get an email about the decision regarding their visa.
As an employer, you put Australia’s work permits into two separate categories — skilled visas and sponsored visas. You can go to Australia’s Department of Home website to find out which visa your employee should apply to. If your employee qualifies for a skilled visa, they’ll need to submit an online Expression of Intent (EOI) through SkillSet, which receives and processes applications for skilled candidates.
If their profile gets selected, they’ll get a nomination from you or the Australian state territory.
Sponsored visas require employers to sponsor the employee in order for them to apply. You must be an approved sponsor with a nomination transaction reference number (TRN) or employer ID. Once you have those, the employee can apply for the visa online.
To apply for a visa in Germany, employees need forms that detail the job and salary, updated CV, clean criminal record, the completed visa application forms, declaration of accuracy, and other requirements.
From there, employees will need to submit their application at a German consulate or embassy, make and attend an appointment for a visa interview, pay the fee, and wait for the response on the visa application.
In Singapore, employers can submit an application on behalf of the employee for a work visa. You’ll then need to prepare for their arrival by buying a secutity bond, medical insurance, setting up a medical examination for the employee, print and complete the security bond paperwork,
Register the worker’s residential address and mobile number, get their finger prints and photo registered, pay the fee, and wait for the work permit card. For more details, you can visit Singapore’s work permit website.
Employers wishing to send a worker to UAE must apply for a UAE free zone visa, which requires visa quota approval from the Ministry of Labor (MoL). After getting quota approval, the employer must submit a signed work contract to the MoL for approval. The employer also needs to submit their work visa application for approval.
During this stage, the MoL confirms that the sponsor is a registered UAE corporate entity and checks whether an unemployed UAE citizen can fill the vacant position instead of the foreign applicant. The MoL must approve the work visa application before issuing an entry visa.
The employee needs to follow the steps to get an Emirates ID and obtain a work visa.
One challenge with obtaining a work visa in China is its complex requirements regarding prerequisites. China also changes their list of necessay documents quite frequently, so be sure to stay up to date with the latest requirements. Employees must file for apply for a foreign work permit notice and Z-Class Visa at a Chinese embassy or consulate.
They’ll then need to turn in the appropriate forms such as their work permit notice and visa application. Once they receive the visa, they’ll need to register with the police, complete a medical examination, get the work permit, and lastly, acquire a permit for residency.
Following the country’s official guidelines on how to get a visa is only one part of setting your company up for success. Having solid compliance procedures that meet changing global immigration laws can make global expansion a lot smoother. If you’re building out your procedures or are looking for a way to improve it, here’s where you can start.
Compliance Strategies and Best Practices
In addition to well-known tactics such as obtaining the right visa, there are other best practices you can follow. Here are a few ideas:
1. Understand people processes (recruiting, onboarding, hiring, absence management, etc.)
As a multinational organization, you may have a more complex human capital management (HCM) process and data gathering system than a single-country company.
For instance, workers in Australia could have a specific collective agreement, while U.S. employees are part of an industry labour union. These differences make it harder to manage employees.
To get ahead of the difficulties, make sure you understand the types of workers and people processes your organization has for each location. You’ll also want to understand your workforce data and systems, especially if you’re working with multiple HR, time, and attendance systems.
2. Know where you’re at risk
Now that you understand your people processes and data practices, you can identify compliance risks, starting with payroll.
Delve into each country and find out which locations have challenges with their payroll. Are they able to get payroll out on time and is it correct? Is your organization paying fines related to incorrect payroll payments?
Knowing the answers to these questions can help you identify which locations are high risk and figure out a plan to get them back on track. If an ineffective HCM system is the cause, maybe having one system that manages your entire global workforce is the best approach for your company.
3.Know your limitations and find a solution that works for your needs
After identifying your biggest risks, it’s time to find solutions that set your company up for success and enable further global expansion. Companies often find that upgrading and consolidating HCM systems helps manage compliance because it streamlines processes and creates more data visibility organization-wide.
Be sure to choose a solution that can keep up with constant changes in international immigration laws and can support payroll for any kind of employee, whether they’re contractors or full-time.
Finally, knowing your limitations can help you choose a platform that directly speaks to your needs. If you don’t have the resources to manage all local contracts or gather data and insights for all your global workforce, finding the right platform to bridge these gaps can push your company forward.
The Role of Technology in Compliance
As mentioned above, technology solutions can streamline compliance processes and facilitate the employee immigration status process. A few helpful tools include:
- An automated payments & payroll platform- An all-in-one way to pay workers from several currencies, run reports to optimize global payments, consolidate your entire payroll under one platform, and more.
- A compliance management system- A tool to help you track employee training and manage compliance documents.
- Employee management software- Everything you need to manage your daily operations, communication, and HR operations, no matter where your employees are located.
- Compliance training software- A tool that helps companies manage compliance risk and foster a healthy and functional workplace culture.
Along with choosing the right tech, it’s helpful to understand how world events and future trends can impact your policies.
Considerations and Future Trends
Brexit and COVID-19 impacted global mobility in ways few saw coming. With Brexit, those who could once move about freely in the EU suddenly had to go through new challenges and immigration requirements that slowed down their visa process. During COVID-19, many workers weren’t able to cross borders at all for a few years, only now regaining the opportunity to work in a different country.
Post Covid, we’re now facing new challenges as future trends crop up. Businesses may have to consider a wide range of aspects that could impact compliance management, such as:
- Climate change
- Cost of living
- Changes to employment & corporate culture
- Third-party risks
- Employees’ mental health & wellbeing
- Changing immigration laws and regulations
- Employee-first culture
All of these challenges also present opportunities for organizations to reassess their global mobility and people processes. If Denmark requires your company to contribute more towards employee benefits, you may consider extending that policy elsewhere as well.
Constant changes in global immigration policies may necessitate cutting-edge technologies that leverage compliance experts from all over the world.
Experts in global mobility management
It’s not always enough to search a country’s official visa website and follow their rules for obtaining a visa. As staying compliant is in the best interest of any company, it’s important to not only know how to navigate the visa process, but have a strategy for overcoming compliance challenges.
One way to achieve this is with a platform with built-in compliance expertise to help you handle employee global immigration, benefits, equity, and any other needs.
Papaya Global is the world’s only payments & payroll platform dedicated especially for your global workforce. With the ability to pay employees in over 160 currencies, streamline your HR and finance tech, and consolidate your entire payroll operations, you can expand your reach all on one end-to-end platform. Schedule a demo for a customized solution.