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| 5 minutes read

ICYMI: Global visa updates (and air pollution?)

Managing talent mobility means staying informed and adaptable. If you have up to date information on global changes, it helps your team (and your organization) make good decisions and keep your relocating employees safe. Minimizing risk means knowing where immigration rules have changed and where local situations are potentially dangerous. Compliancy and cost management are issues that also need constant attention as your company and partners support the movement of talent across the globe.

Over the next two months, between the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday and just into the new year, almost 50% of Americans are expecting to travel, according to the 2023 Deloitte holiday survey. A trend that keeps showing up in this data is laptop lugging—about a third of travelers plan to work at least partially during their trips. These travelers skew young and high income. Without a doubt, remote work has blurred the line between business and personal travel, creating momentum for increased bleisure travel from employees. The question is if this increases risk for companies. There could be legal and insurance issues that arise depending on locations and situations. To be prepared, speak with your legal team, insurers, or your Travel Management Company (TMC) to find out more about what to include in your policy and more clearly define your duty of care. This SHRM article lays out numerous risks and considerations for handling this version of remote work.

Since our last update two weeks ago, we have more global updates for you to review and consider as you plan out the rest of your year in mobility:

  1. Japan: Bloomberg shares information from a survey conducted by McKinsey Health Institute which revealed that Japan came in last in a global ranking of employees' well being, measured by assessing physical, mental, social and spiritual health. Japan scored 25% in the poll of more than 30,000 workers across 30 countries, according to the study released on Thursday. Turkey was highest at 78%, followed by 76% for India and 75% for China. The global average was 57%. If you are sending employees to Japan, this information may have you considering the benefits of providing cross-cultural training and business culture education for expatriates working there.
  2. Thailand: Per EIG, Thailand has announced a visa-free arrangement allowing Indian and Taiwanese tourists to enter Thailand for 30-day periods. This policy will come into effect on November 10, 2023. Passport holders or those holding documents that can serve as a passport replacement of Indian and Taiwanese nationalities, who are visiting the Kingdom of Thailand for tourism, will be allowed a stay of up to 30 days.
  3. India: New Delhi is in the midst of an air pollution crisis and it has gotten so bad that the Directorate of Education has ordered advancing of the winter break for all the schools in Delhi in the wake of severe air quality levels prevailing in Delhi. According to the order, the schools can be totally closed from November 9 (tomorrow) to November 18 (Saturday) during which both children and teachers can stay home. There is a move to design an “odd-even” scheme for driving vehicles in the capital from Nov 13-20. There is anticipation that pollution levels will further rise after the Hindu festival of Diwali on Nov 12 when firecrackers are often set off, despite any bans.
  4. Australia: Newland Chase reports that Australia is proposing to expand the pathway to permanent residence. Proposed changes will allow visa holders to be nominated for PR visas through the Temporary Residence Transitional stream of the Subclass 186 ENS or 187 RSMS visas (additional eligibility requirements for RSMS apply). Note that the following requirements will still exist: being less than 45 years of age, having competent level of English language, a minimum salary of AU$70,000 per year, and health and character requirements.
  5. Middle East: According to Envoy Global, the member states of the Gulf Cooperation Council, which includes Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), have unanimously  approved the introduction of a regional tourist visa. GCC members shared that the visa will be introduced sometime in 2024 or early 2025 and will resemble the European Union’s Schengen visa
  6. Iceland: Iceland authorities have said they are preparing for a volcanic eruption in the southwest of the island in Reykjanes, which is a volcanic and seismic hot spot southwest of the capital Reykjavik. Iceland’s authorities have raised their aviation alert to orange, indicating an increased risk of a volcanic eruption. EuroNews also reports that concerns have been raised over the impact the seismic activity and potential eruption will have on travel. A major eruption in Iceland in 2010 caused widespread disruption to air travel between Europe and North America, with more than 100,000 flights cancelled over an eight-day period.
  7. Germany: Per Envoy Global, German government introduced a new process for receiving German identification cards, passports and other work permit authorization types on 1 November 2023. One change is that automated collection machines for identification cards, passports, resident and work permits will be used whereas previously, these documents could only be issued by an immigration official.  Additionally, applicants for the previously mentioned application types can now confirm mail receipt PINs and deactivation information via text message. Previously, this process needed to be completed in person. 
  8. United Kingdom: The government of the United Kingdom (UK) published the global universities list on 1 November 2023. This list will determine qualifications for individuals applying for the High Potential Individual Visa who have been awarded qualifications between 1 November 2023 and 31 October 2024. Per Envoy Global, This route is a short-term work visa for individuals at an early stage in their career who have shown they have the potential to benefit the UK workforce.
  9. Canada: From our friends at WelcomeHome Relocations, the province of British Columbia brought in new legislation aimed at cracking down on short-term rentals.  Since the legislation is primarily targeting the likes of Airbnb (who have already initiated a pushback campaign), VRBO and other similar platforms, hotels and motels are exempt. Fines for illegal operators will increase from $1,000 to $3,000 CAD per day. In addition, regional districts will be allowed to license and regulate short-term rentals. The intent of the legislation is to combat the housing crisis the province faces, aiming to redirect properties from the short-term to long-term rental market.  Timeshares, fishing and skiing lodges and vacation spots are not intended targets of this act, and exemptions are expected for them as well. “The general consensus at this time is that things will continue status quo until May of 2024, when this legislation goes fully into effect.  In that time, various industry groups and associations are expected to work frantically to lobby for changes and exceptions to be made to this legislation.” For more, go here
  10. United States: The DOS has published it's December Visa Bulletin and the DHS has published a list of countries eligible for H-2A and H-2B visa programs.  According to BAL, the lists are mostly unchanged from last year, with one addition, Bolivia, to both lists. Also from BAL, the State Department updated current passport processing times, showing reduced wait times for both routine and expedited services. As of Nov. 6, processing times are now seven to 10 weeks for routine applications and three to five weeks for expedited applications, according to the department. Travelers must have international travel within 14 calendar days to schedule an in-person appointment for urgent travel or emergency passport processing services.

Let's end with some bonus information and resources to help you navigate a few other relevant mobility topics:



Japan came in last in a global ranking of employees’ well being, measured by assessing physical, mental, social and spiritual health, the results of a survey conducted by McKinsey Health Institute showed.


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