Navigating the Shifting Landscape
October 10, 2023
Join Robert Moorhouse from Erickson Immigration group and gain valuable perspectives for client relocations, covering post-Israel conflict considerations and AI's transformative role. Rob outlines the shift from pandemic visa policies to talent attraction and corporate travel compliance post-COVID and helps explain the intricate relationship between immigration compliance and global mobility. Don't miss these practical insights for today's dynamic business landscape.
Thank you so much, Michelle.
Um, you'll notice I've looked down at my notes
'cause immigration is constantly evolving, so my apologies
to those of you that are blinded
by the glare off the top of my head with these lights.
so there we go.
So I'll be talking a little bit today about immigration,
some, some, uh, current events that are happening,
and hence the notes because it's, uh,
there's a lot going on in the world at the moment,
as I'm sure all of you're aware.
And immigration is affected by a lot of that.
Um, and then a little bit about some trends that I've seen
and some recommendations
that I can make as a result of that.
So, a little bit about me, uh,
which I'd probably like to skip over given the, uh,
the brilliant CV of the good doctor
But, okay, here we are.
So, as Michelle said, Rob Morehouse, uh,
as my accent betrays by way of Australia.
I currently live in Houston, Texas.
Uh, I'm a senior director at Erickson Immigration Group.
Now, we look after, we're a global immigration firm
that looks after companies of all sorts
of sizes and industries.
Uh, we do a lot of work in the tech industry in particular.
So one trend is,
a lot less volume these days in the tech industry.
But I've been in the industry for 22 years.
Uh, started out in Australia with
what was Pricewaterhouse Cooper's Global Visa solution, uh,
practice, which was then acquired
and became Fragomen Global.
Uh, then I used to manage the temporary
and permanent skilled entry sections
for the Australian government, uh, which now home affairs,
uh, which I'll get into a little
bit about that as well in a moment.
Uh, and then, uh, national and global firms.
So, uh, in terms of
Next slide, Okay, so some recent updates,
and I will look down at some of these
because there's quite a bit going on.
So in Singapore, uh,
compass went live on the 1st of September.
The new assessment tool allows employees to employers, sorry
to gauge the points prior
to submitting an employment pass Australia.
They've, they're starting to allow permanent residents
for the short term 4 8 2 stream.
Now that's a, a new development.
Australia's actually got some very interesting developments
going on, uh, sort
of a watch this space situation at the moment.
So a number of years ago, just
before I stopped practicing in Australia,
and in fact it was one of the main reasons I did, uh,
they moved towards moving immigration into much more of a,
some would say a police state,
but a mega department called Home affairs,
which brought immigration customs
and the police all together, uh, now
wasn't particularly popular.
And, uh, the secretary at the time made very big statements
about, uh, you know, public servants being public servants
and serving the public and not trying
to be kings may occurs.
And, uh, influencing politics, uh, do yourself a favor
and have a little bit of a read about the articles about him
now because he was doing the complete and nutter opposite.
So on top of that, we, so he's the gentleman
who created home affairs.
And, uh, the Nixon report, which
went into a lot of detail around possible improvements
for compliance and, uh, policing of the immigration program.
So what I would crystal ball gaze
and suggest you, you may look
and see in Australia in the future is maybe a,
a major reorganization of the home affairs department
and certainly a lot more of a focus on compliance.
So, uh, work with your immigration providers on that front
to make sure that you've got everything
that an immigration officer will wanna see when they do a
monitoring visit, and that you're all above board in terms
of right to work, checking and all the rest of that.
In Japan, we've got the jss, skip
and J find, uh, which will make it easier
for highly skilled migrants, uh, to look
for jobs in Japan, uh, in India.
I'm sure all of you have heard recently about the kerfuffle
between the Indian and uh, Canadian governments.
The reaction to that was the Indian government
suspending all immigration
and visa operations for Canadian nationals,
which is obviously a huge move.
Uh, in terms of the actual impact of that.
I was surprised to hear that it's only around 80,000
business and immigration visitors
to India from Canada a year.
Still a lot, but a lot
less than I would've thought there was.
I'm just looking at my notes 'cause
there's a lot of updates recently.
So, uh, that's it for that region.
I was told to point it everywhere but the screen,
but that seems to be where I'm getting the love
with the clicker, so I'll stick there.
So, moving on to EMEA in the UK, uh, Americans will now need
to fill out an, an electronic form, basically the equivalent
of an NESTER if you're applying to come
to the US the equivalent to going to the UK.
One of the other interesting things
that's come out is on the 4th of October,
they've introduced a 15% fee increase for some
of the major work permit processes.
Uh, and 20%, let me see exactly what it applies to.
15% increase to most work and visit visas.
20% increase in most priority visas, student visas
and certificates of sponsorship.
Now for those of us
that have been touching immigration for quite a period
of time, you'll remember the huge in fee increases of 10
to 15 fold that we saw in Australia and the UK
and about 10 or 12 years ago.
So those of you who send people to the UK will well
and truly feel the, uh, the fees on a day-to-day basis.
And this isn't gonna help at all.
Um, in terms of Chenin visas have been waived.
And then in Poland,
obviously there's a number of things to consider.
One of them is, uh, as a result of some, uh,
political fallout around corruption
and bribery around visas, they, uh,
have now completely suspended the use of all intermediaries.
So for those of you that have applied for a visa
to go into a country and you haven't applied directly
to the consulate or the embassy,
and instead you applied to a visa processing center,
they've essentially cut off all of those.
Now what happens when you put in place a visa processing
center is you don't have as much, uh, direct staff anymore.
So there you can expect some quite significant delays there.
The other thing is obviously in Poland to be aware of
where your people are, uh,
because if things in Ukraine escalate, uh, you'll need
to make sure you're aware of where your staff are
and where you're gonna move them if you have to quickly,
I know that we're personally aware of that.
A member of my team is literally the first village
after the Ukraine border.
So we need to know where we can get her
and her family if we need to at that stage.
So The other thing,
obviously in Emir at the moment is the situation in Israel.
So right now, the current situation is that, again,
just like with Poland, you need to know
where your people are, um,
where you're gonna move them if you
have to move them quickly.
But in terms of the people
that are there on work permits at the moment,
any work permit that was expiring in the next month's time
has automatically been extended to the 9th of November.
And then from there it'll be a
wait and see what happens next.
But the implication is if you can get them out, do that.
Um, the airport is currently open,
and apologies if some of this is outta date from last night,
but it was up to date at 1130 last night.
But obviously moving pretty, pretty rapidly
and many airlines have canceled flights already.
So, moving to the US
and the Americas U-S-C-I-S plans
to propose a new H-1B measure to corrupt,
for the next year's lottery to avoid, uh, combat fraud.
They've done a lot of investigating this year, as some
of you will be aware with your own programs,
there's an additional measure they'll be bringing into,
into, um, into putting into place.
But they haven't told us what yet.
So this is one of those ones
where you watch this space a little bit
and see what comes from that.
Uh, and also staying on the US Israel's joined the list of
countries which can enter the US
through the visa waiver program
or the asset program, Uh, Canada, some of you may have heard
of the program where they were offering an expedited process
to H-1B holders who weren't successful in the lottery,
uh, or with renewing their H-1B.
That program has become effective
and they've granted their first visa through
that pro, uh, through that process.
Um, and then with Brazil,
they've reintroduced visa requirements for Australian,
Canadian and US nationals.
Now that can's been kicked down the
road a couple of times now.
what you're trying to get out of your program,
because it can be really, really tough if you're going
to implement a program based on a policy
that's there today, and it might change tomorrow.
And we've certainly seen that with the various
changes to immigration policies around the world.
So, what we suggest is, understand what your
program's goals are, what you're trying to get out of it.
And, if there's a policy change, understand
how that's going to impact your program.
So, it's really about staying informed and
having a proactive approach rather than a reactive approach.
Um, you know, don't wait for the policy to change
and then try to figure out how it impacts your program.
Be ahead of the curve and have a plan in place
for different scenarios that might arise.
Um, because it's a complex landscape and,
as you mentioned earlier, it's a very political issue.
So, things can change rapidly and unexpectedly.
So, being prepared and having a strategic approach
to your global immigration program is really key.
Now, in terms of the global immigration trends,
are there any specific regions or countries
that you think will see significant changes
or developments in the coming months or years?
It's always tough to predict the future,
but based on your expertise, are there any areas
that you think might see some interesting developments?
And, you know, what should employers be watching out for
in terms of changes in immigration policies?
So, it's always an interesting question, and it's one that
I get asked a lot, and I wish I had a crystal ball,
but I don't. However, there are certain trends that we've
seen over the past few years that are likely to continue.
One of the trends is the increased use of technology
in immigration processes, as you mentioned earlier.
We're already seeing AI being used in various ways,
from sorting documents to potentially even
automating certain aspects of the application process.
So, I think that trend is likely to continue.
Another trend is the focus on national security
and background checks. We've seen various countries
strengthening their security measures when it comes to
immigration, and that's likely to continue.
So, employers should be prepared for potential changes
in background check requirements and security measures.
Another trend is the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic
on travel and immigration. While we're seeing some
restrictions being lifted, there could still be
changes and challenges related to health and safety
protocols and vaccination requirements.
So, staying informed about the latest developments
in each country and region is crucial.
Lastly, geopolitical events can also have a significant impact
on immigration policies. We've seen this with the situation
in Ukraine that you mentioned earlier, and similar events
can lead to changes in immigration and travel policies.
So, employers should keep an eye on geopolitical developments
that could affect their global mobility programs.
Absolutely, it's a dynamic landscape, and being adaptable
and informed is key to navigating these changes.
Now, looking at the overall landscape of global immigration,
what are some common challenges that employers face
when managing a global workforce and navigating
international immigration systems?
And how can they address or mitigate these challenges?
Sure, and it's a great question.
There are several common challenges that employers
face when managing a global workforce and navigating
international immigration systems.
One of the primary challenges is the complexity
and diversity of immigration laws and regulations
across different countries. Each country has its own set
of rules and requirements, and they can change frequently.
So, keeping up with these changes and ensuring
compliance can be a significant challenge.
Another challenge is the time and effort involved
in the immigration process. It often requires
detailed documentation, coordination with multiple parties,
and adherence to strict timelines. Delays in the process
can impact business operations and employee mobility.
Additionally, the need for clear communication
with employees is crucial. Navigating immigration
can be stressful for employees, and providing them
with accurate information and support is essential.
Now, how can employers address or mitigate these challenges?
First and foremost, having a comprehensive global mobility
strategy is key. This involves understanding the
specific needs and goals of your organization and aligning
your global mobility program with those objectives.
Working with experienced immigration professionals
or outsourcing immigration services can also be beneficial.
These experts can provide valuable insights,
navigate complex regulations, and ensure compliance.
Utilizing technology, as we discussed earlier,
can streamline processes and improve efficiency.
Automation tools, case management systems,
and data analytics can make the immigration
process more transparent and manageable.
Building strong relationships with immigration authorities,
legal partners, and other stakeholders can also be helpful
in addressing challenges and resolving issues.
Overall, a proactive and strategic approach,
coupled with the right resources and partnerships,
can significantly mitigate the challenges
associated with managing a global workforce
and navigating international immigration systems.
Absolutely, having that strategic approach
and leveraging the right resources is crucial.
Now, as we wrap up our conversation,
do you have any final thoughts or advice
for employers navigating global immigration challenges?
Certainly. I would emphasize the importance
of staying informed and being proactive.
The global immigration landscape is dynamic,
and policies can change rapidly. So, staying up-to-date
with the latest developments in each country and region
is essential for making informed decisions.
Building a network of reliable immigration partners,
including legal experts and service providers,
can be valuable in navigating complex processes.
Additionally, investing in technology and automation
can streamline workflows, improve efficiency,
and enhance the overall management of a global mobility program.
Lastly, understanding the unique needs and goals
of your organization is crucial for developing
a tailored global mobility strategy that aligns with
your business objectives.
where you need people, uh, and where, what skills you need
and where, uh, for the, for the year ahead do
as much workforce planning as you can
and be ready to move if you need to move quickly.
So for example, in the uk,
if you know fees are gonna go up a lot,
then you can get your applications in for the next tranche
of people you might need for the next quarter.
Um, if you know that things are gonna get a little bit more
restricted, then you can go forward
and move, move through the people that you need
to get into that country ahead of time.
Uh, during covid I noticed that a lot
of companies moved towards a, uh,
a truly global model.
So what I mean by that is obviously a lot of teams shrunk
during covid had a lot less resources.
What we saw were a lot of national programs
or regional programs become global programs and
because they just wanted to collapse everything
with one vendor and not have to deal
with 30 different immigration providers
with 30 different expiry reports in 30 different countries.
So, um, what I am seeing now is a lot
of those going out to bid.
So, uh, seeing an awful lot of very large accounts, uh,
go out to RFP and for the first time
or for more than I've ever seen in 22
years, a lot of them are moving.
So a lot of marque accounts
that I would've said were weld welded onto particular
providers I'm now seeing move on mass.
and also we're seeing during covid we saw a,
a very big increase in, uh, the focus on business travel.
So I'll go a little bit more into that in my next slides
and terms of recommendations
and what's f so on and so forth.
So if I can get this thing to work, there we go.
So this is a bit of a baby of mine.
My previous role, I worked for one
of the larger travel visa businesses in the world.
And obviously during covid we saw a lot of people, uh,
or a lot of all the consulates close, uh,
and a lot of a lot of work to be done around that.
And, uh, prior to covid what I would say is
that we always used to go to all the ERC and FEM
and all these different GBTA and all these conferences
and there was always a session on business travel compliance
and how important it was
and how big a risk it was to your business.
And I think there must have been something
that gave everybody voluntary onne
the second they walked out the door.
'cause I never heard about it after that.
Um, and a great illustration is used to have
to have a global business travel assessment tool
in your tool belt to win an r as part of an RFP bid.
We built one, we didn't have a single client use it
for the first three or four years, and then Covid happened
and we were onboarding 12 or 15 companies at a time.
So, uh, what
that did much like I mentioned on previous slides is put a
focus on knowing where your people were.
Because during covid when the borders shut,
if you had a business traveler in, in the middle of,
in a country that you had no idea they were in, all
of a sudden you now have to get them work permission,
find out if they could get back
to their family, so on and so forth.
So, um, it was a hot topic and, uh,
and much more than we'd ever seen in the past.
Uh, and it really sort of put that sort of mixed, uh, duty
of care with business travel
and immigration more than we've ever seen in the past.
What I would say is, and also, uh,
during covid, a lot of our teams shrunk.
So for the same reasons I was saying mobility shrunk travel
is usually one of the first things to get, uh, cut.
Uh, and as a result, travel
and mobility move together,
which I think was a very silver lining,
very much a silver lining during covid
that there was an increase on compliance and that travel
and mobility came together more than I've ever seen before
because I do really think those two groups don't talk
to each other anywhere near as much as they should do.
Because when thing, when things hit the fan,
that's usually what you, uh, need to get a hold
of your traveling population.
So, uh, we did see a steep increase in the amount
of people focusing on business travel compliance,
and I would say that's dropped off a little bit since then.
I'd love to see it pick back up again.
But, uh, moving forward to what I think is a ideal state
and what I would recommend for all of you in your programs,
well, sorry, looking forward,
need to keep it front of mind.
Uh, given the cyclical nature of immigration as well
and the policies and obviously all the horrible things
happening in the world, you need to know
where your people are in an ideal state.
There are a lot of assessment tools out there.
We have one, I'd love to say ours is the best,
but it's depends on the type of program you've got and,
and your needs and what have you.
But no matter what that looks like, you'll be able to find
with your immigration provider
or any other one a an assessment tool that works for you.
So there are a mix of different tools
and some of them are automated.
So what that means is you go through
and you put, it'll automatically pick up a feed from,
or you're put in your data yourself
and it may automatically do an assessment.
Now an automatic assessment is not gonna be
right a hundred percent of the time.
There'll be a percentage that needs to be, um,
allocated back out from a manual assessment
or one that does a hundred percent manual assessments,
which is the way ours that works.
Either one is fine, it's just a matter of getting,
there's, there's pluses and negatives to each one.
For example, if you're using the automatic one,
there's obviously gonna be implementation costs
and then the costs of assessing those
where they can't be done through the automated tool.
But what I would suggest
that you make sure your assessment tool does is that it,
it retains assessments.
And I'll jump forward to my next point there about my final
point there about the relevant policies
and updating to add, re updating your immigration
and mobility policies to add teeth.
So, uh, over the years, more than once, uh, I have seen
multiple assessments for a person where they go in
and they, they put in their assessment
and they find out, oh, I'm gonna
need a work permit for that country.
Well, I've already booked my tickets
and I'm on a plane tomorrow, so lemme see
what other inputs I can put in there.
Oh, okay, well now I need a business visa.
Okay, well now I can go visa free.
So have being able
to keep the assessment history there allows you to be able
to go back and see what's been done
and whether someone's shopped an answer.
But then also putting the teeth in there allows you to, uh,
to pull people up if they've done the wrong thing.
And I can't stress how important that is.
I mean, in, I'm based in Houston and
before that I was based in Perth.
So I do an awful lot of resources based work.
Uh, and the amount of times I hate here,
oh well the project manager has just brought somebody
to site and now it's too late to get rid of them.
Uh, I would be a very rich man if I got a dollar per time.
So, uh, making sure that you have the teeth there so
that people understand if they do the wrong thing,
there will be a repercussion
because the repercussion will fall on you as a business.
It falls on them themselves as well.
If you get, uh, if you get removed from a country
or refused, obviously that's something you have
to put on your visa applications for the rest of your life.
Um, or at least the next 10 years depending on the country,
but also you as an employer, risk risk sanctions.
So, uh, if you're seen
to wantonly been bringing in foreign labor the wrong way,
you risk getting, losing the ability to do so.
So, uh, the other thing I would stress is that it's,
it's very helpful to have these tools feed into your
TMC or your RMC.
So if I was to think about an ideal world
for an assessment tool, it would be
that your travel management company's tool has a feed
that requires once someone books travel,
before that travel's approved, it goes through,
they need an assessment that's signed off by a manager, then
that assessment code comes back through to their TMC
and then allows you to finalize your travel.
That way you know that no one has booked travel
until they know whether or not they need a work permit.
Um, and then obviously integrating into your relocation,
relocation management tool or your HRIS systems
or any other internal systems to avoid the amount
of replica, any too much replication
and improve the employee experience, which seems to be the,
uh, the go at the moment.
The hot, the hot, uh,
topic at the moment in all RFPs is making sure
that we use technology to improve the employee experience.
and I think I have probably left plenty of time
for questions and everybody to get rec caffeinated
before the next session, but does anyone have any questions?
We do have a question that came in on the app.
Thank you for submitting.
Can you speak to the timeline
for when the AMEA region will be implementing a more
stringent and enhanced tracking process
with cross-border movement of business travelers, visitors,
et cetera, to ensure individuals are not staying
beyond the days and country thresholds that currently exist?
And there's a second part to that once you answer that one.
Okay. I don't have the timeline off the top of my head,
but what I will say is, uh, none
of this should be particularly, uh, sorry, I'm
stopping myself from being blinded there.
Um, none of it should be particularly new news.
So the movement within Europe has been parti particularly
relaxed for a number of years.
Uh, but what we saw during,
and I can't remember the exact year off the top of my head,
but I do remember it was the year that Greece was about
to declare bankruptcy, uh, because that was the catalyst.
So if some of you remember correctly, it was Greece came out
and started, uh, sanctioning companies
that weren't doing the posted worker
notifications for their employees.
It was basically a rule that you were supposed to do it,
but no one really did, or very few people did.
And in fact, it was something that fell very much
between immigration, uh,
and social security and tax.
But you should really be focusing on that. Absolutely.
Now, um, I don't have the the exact dates, dates of when
that's coming in, but I'd be happy to take
it on notice and circle back.
But yeah, I, one,
one thing I will say is I've worked in global
immigration a very long time.
If someone ever tells you they're a global immigration
expert, I would say they're lying.
'cause there's way, way, way too much to know.
So I worked in immigration for 15 years
and I wouldn't dare call myself an
Australian immigration expert.
I definitely wouldn't call myself a global one, but,
but yes, I would suggest
that you make sure you're focusing on it now.
We are doing a lot at the moment to
put in place posted work
and directive notif, uh, processes for all of our clients.
It's an increasing focus for all of them,
so it's very, very important to know.
What I will also circle back to with that question is, uh,
a lot of the, as some of the assessment tools also allow you
to track that amount of time someone's in country lots,
that option seems to be very attractive to some people.
I have yet to meet anybody who wants to turn it on.
So as I said, I've had that, uh, capability
and a role in the past and never, ever,
ever been asked to turn it on. So,
Well, this might actually be the first time.
So, okay. Will
that tracking system also create personal income tracks,
income tax triggers for those day one countries?
Very possibly. Very possibly.
And permanent establishment,
that's the other thing to be aware of.
You know, it's immigration is just one part of things,
but yes, it almost certainly,
and that's the, say the other side
of the posted worker notification side of things.
So posted worker notification is just one part of
what you do when you move somebody within Europe.
You have to make sure that you're doing an A
one certificate as well.
And what that is, is making sure that they're aware
where you're paying tax
and where you're paying your social security arrangements.
So, um, it's important
to make sure you're doing those things now
because if you haven't been, you could
already be sanctioned on it.
But yes, certainly there's, there's the ability there,
there is the risk that that will, um,
kick up personal tax liabilities,
but also permanent establishment for your own businesses.
If you're sending somebody into a country where you don't,
for all intents and purposes have a bricks
and mortar address, but that person is gonna be
working from there for a period of time.
You've got clients there, they're signing contracts there,
you risk permanent establishment as well.
So, uh, it's important to make sure you're keeping across
that historically right now.
And certainly well ahead of these moves, these changes.
Thank you. So we have another question that came in.
Could you please advise on
what the allowable activities are under the US Visa waiver
for business travel to the us?
Okay, so I'm not an attorney,
but I will give you my understanding of it.
Um, and a little bit of a tidbit,
which might be interesting for some of you.
So the esta program is only available to people
who come in via commercial airlines.
So if any of you have CEOs
or something coming in on a private jet, get them a visa
because that doesn't, they're not covered by the esta.
Um, I got that a bit of a surprise by that one time.
So I would hate for everybody else to as well.
But really the rule of thumb for most countries
and certainly for the esta, is to think of it
as business meetings and non remu activities, but it's a,
but don't ever think of it that way everywhere.
So, um, so in in America it is if you're coming in
for business meetings and so forth, if it's,
if you're coming in for paid work,
obviously that's not appropriate.
Um, really business meetings with colleagues, uh,
sales pitches, that sort of thing that's,
that's permissible attending some, some forms of training,
um, and attending a conference,
all those sort of things are fine.
Um, the, this is a really good sort
of segue into a point about making sure
that you look into this is why the
assessment tool's so valuable.
Um, if you look at some, I'll give you two countries as a,
as a juxtaposition if you will.
If you go to Mexico and you're not paid from there,
you can work that, that you can do that visa free
as a US national.
If you go to Australia and your argument aren't going in is,
I'm coming to work but I'm not getting paid from here,
you'll get turned around quick smart.
Um, because our definition of work is anything that would
otherwise attract attractor remuneration.
So, um, really good illustration of, um, making sure
that you're aware of exactly what the definition
of work is in the country you're going to
and ideally have one
of those assessment tools that pick it up.
Because yeah, it's, I mean, the amount
of times I've had somebody say, well, I'm coming to work,
but I'm not getting paid from, I was like, please don't say
that when you come through immigration, it's not gonna work.
We have another one. What impact will climate change have on
immigration policies in the next five to 10 years?
And are countries and companies prepared for that?
That's a good question. Um,
I think climate change will have a, a, a pretty big part
to play in terms of the types of roles and the,
and the processes that we allow people to come in for.
You'll see expedited processes to allow people to come in
to work in roles that are critical to
counteracting climate change or,
or, um, working in industries
that are a result of climate change.
So I think that will be one thing you see,
and you see it all the time.
So you see it with pan in the pandemic with pandemic visas,
you see it with seasonal workers, that sort of thing.
In terms of companies, I'm not particularly seeing a,
a big shift other than, uh, energy clients.
I mean, I had one large energy client that had moved pretty,
I mean if you, if I I was to ask you what they did,
you would say they're an oil and gas provider.
But when I look at, when you look at the people we bring in
overwhelming, more than 50%
of them are working on renewables.
So I think it changes the sort of people who are coming in,
and moving around in industries
that have been traditionally very much, uh, resources based.
But beyond that, I,
I don't have any particular insight myself,
but I think you will see changes in seasonal workers and,
and concessions for people who are coming in to,
to counteract climate change
or work on those sort of initiatives.
Yes. Thank you.