Expatriate Immigration Issues

U.S. employers often assign U.S.-based employees to work in overseas operations as “expatriates.”  Not only can the costs of sending employees on overseas assignments be significant, but managing the process can be time consuming and confusing for employers. Of particular concern is resolving questions about the employee’s immigration status.

First and foremost, it is necessary to identify the expatriate’s immigration status in their home country. If the expatriate’s country of origin is different from the country in which the employee was originally hired or the country of citizenship, the employee and the human resources department will have to decide which country will be considered the home country.

Employees who are not citizens of the country in which they were originally hired may need to maintain a presence in that country (for example, a residence), to avoid losing their immigration status. For example, expatriates that are U.S. green card holders should maintain pay special attention to protecting their lawful permanent resident status and should discuss preservation options such as reentry permits or commuter status with their immigration attorney.  Green card holders should also be advised of the impact living abroad may have on their eligibility to apply for U.S. citizenship.

In some countries, obtaining work visas or permits can take months. Employers must consider the time necessary to obtain visas or permits when filling an expatriate assignment.   Often, an assignment’s start date may be adjusted to accommodate the time required to gather necessary documents.

For expatriate assignments to be successful, companies must:

  • carefully select candidates;
  • plan the terms of assignments;
  • prepare employees for relocation;
  • manage the assignments; and
  • coordinate their conclusion.

For help in successfully planning for employee expatriation, please contact us at 877.721.6100.

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