•   FAQ

    Business Visa: usage and abuse. What risk?

    Nowadays, companies tend to use more and more Business Visas for their short term projects, which is challenging immigration compliance.

    There is a huge increase of international assignments number. This is due to increased number of short term projects, usually of <1 year’s length. Some companies privilege short-term project as they believe those are cost-effective thanks to less tax impact. There may be some tax savings for both employee and employer in some situations, but immigration compliancy shouldn’t be forgotten. People often think that short-term assignment do not require work permit, labor contract or other authorizations. They are persuaded that employees can remain employed in home country if the duration of the stay in a foreign country is under the typical stay period granted by the foreign country and that business visa suffices. But this is simply not the case. This is a dangerous and risky way of operating. Issue for non-respect of immigration laws can involve enormous costs and damages to a company. How could you identify the type of visa required for your employee on short term international project? Each situation is different and requires a deep analysis to make sure the employee will travel in compliancy with the immigration rules. On top of that, each country has its own regulations, visa system, process, etc. However, there are some common visa categories with similar meanings and conditions which we could summarize as below. This is an example to illustrate the said, but please remember that each scenario must be truly checked on a case by case basis.

    Work Visa:

    Is applicable when the purpose of the visit is:

    • Work Activity with remuneration by local or foreign companies
    • Selling goods and Services
    • Technical assistance or project management activity

    The length is usually superior to 3 months (in some circumstances, Work Visa is even required for shorter periods of time).

    The processing time is most of the time 1 to 3 months.
    This type of visa allows its holder to work, get a local accommodation, open a local bank account, send kids to school, etc.

    Business Visa:

    Is applicable when the purpose of the visit is:

    • Attend a meeting or conference
    • Meet clients or business partners for commercial negotiation
    • Visit a client/facilities

    The length is usually for 1 to 3 months, even less in some cases.

    The processing time is on average 5 working days (but this may also vary).

    This visa allows its holder to enter the country once or twice for the above mentioned purposes but not to accommodate to the foreign country as a resident.

    The companies usually look firstly at the business visa validity to determine the necessity of applying for a Work / Resident permit. This is true that sometimes business visas can be granted for long period such as 6 months or more. Anyway, this is not a reflex to adopt. There are some important items to consider to determine the need to apply for a Work/Resident permit but the Business visa validity.

    The main point to look at is the purpose of the visit. What does the employee is going to do in the foreign country?
    Then, of course, the expected stay duration and the compensation associated to this assignment need to be considered.

    The general rule is that a simple Business Visitor travelling in a foreign country for attending meeting, visiting clients is allowed to travel with Business Visa. But you should know that some countries impose an immigration approval for simple business trips prior to travel, or some other may impose an immigration approval for visiting restricted areas. On the contrary, some countries allow business Visa holder to perform technical activities (like repairing machines, after sale service support, etc.) or to conclude the signature of a work contract. This highlights the importance to analyse deeply the situation and to check on a case by case basis the pre-requires of each country in term of entry on the territory and the authorized activity to be performed under each kind of visa.

    The governments are more and more vigilant on immigration regulations and this is not rare to hear about stricter control and regulations in the immigration spectrum.
    This is why companies must pay attention to this more than ever and have a compliancy policy within their structure and monitor the implementation of it to prevent immigration compliancy issues and involving consequences.