The UK Home Office has announced plans to offer an optional premium service for requests made through the Sponsor Management System (SMS). This service will allow Sponsors to pay a fee of £200 for expedited processing of certain types of requests including Certificate of Sponsorship allocation and Level 1 user appointment.

This service is being offered in an attempt to address the long processing times that many Sponsors have experienced when making routine requests through the SMS. In some instances, the Home Office has estimated as long as 18 weeks for the processing of requests. Such long wait times can be extremely burdensome on Sponsors who hope to hire recruits from outside of the UK to meet immediate staffing needs.

The law creating this new premium service will go into effect next month. From there, the Home Office will work toward implementation, but a specific timeline for when the service will be available to SMS users has not yet been announced.  We will provide additional information when it becomes available.

Should you have any questions, please contact GlobalVisas@mintz.com.

From:  Ned Help

To:  Carrie Counselor

Subject: It’s been great working with you!

Carrie:

I’m writing to inform you that I am being transferred to our Rio de Janeiro office next month for a twelve month assignment.  It’s a bit daunting, but I am confident that the help you have provided me in establishing policies and practices that will serve my interests and the interests of the company. Continue Reading Innocents Abroad: Employer Considerations When Sending Employees on International Assignments or Business Travel

From:  Ned Help

To: Carrie Counselor

Date: April 5, 2016

Subject: Offer Letters for Employees Working Abroad

Ned:

As promised, I am following up on my email from last week regarding some additional resources for employees working abroad.  The offer/assignment letter is a great place to specifically outline additional resources and tools the employer will provide to the employee stationed abroad, which may include the following:

  • A Safety Hotline. Employers should provide employees a single number they can call for round-the-clock help for emergencies like immediate travel needs, passport / visa problems, and health issues. Although this is extremely effective, you might be surprised to know that only 22% of international employers provide any emergency contact information, according to Travel Weekly. There are numerous third-party vendors who can assist you with this support, or – if it makes sense business-wise – you can provide this service internally.
  • New-Arrival Transition. Companies should have another employee or appropriate company representative/liaison meet the traveling employee when they reach their destination. This person should be familiar with the area’s geography, local currency, and customs and should  remain in the area for at least one week while the employee gets settled.  If providing Company-sponsored internal support is impractical, we suggest partnering with a local relocation specialist, who can provide concierege-level support based on your internal needs.
  • A Domestic Manager. Companies should have a single point of contact for employees who have non-emergency questions or who have typical employment-related grievances that would domestically be addressed by Human Resources. To the extent possible, this contact should be the same throughout the course of the assignment to provide the employee with continuity and consistency.
  • Consular Monitoring Programs. Make it mandatory for all employees traveling internationally or stationed abroad to register with the local embassy or consulate of their home country.  For US citizens, for example, this can be accomplished through the US Department of State’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).  Through this program, a periodic business traveler can register individual trips with the consular post, and frequent business travelers and short/long term transferees can create individual profiles, or a group profile if employees are traveling as a team. The benefits of enrolling in STEP include the following :
  • Receiving important information from the Embassy about safety conditions in the country of destination, and helping the traveler make informed decisions about his or her travel plans.
  • Enabling the U.S. Embassy to contact the registered traveler in an emergency, whether natural disaster, civil unrest, or family emergency.
  • Helping family and friends get in touch with the traveler in an emergency.

Remember,  it is ultimately the employee who is risking their life traveling abroad. Not only should the offer letter empower the employee with information useful in determining whether to accept a job, but employers should vest employees – in writing – with the ability to use their own judgement regarding safety. If a meeting location or time is suspicious or of concern, the employee abroad should have final say about last-minute cancellations. Transparency and empowerment can help employees abroad navigate and confidently handle acts of terrorism, petty crime, and – most common – natural disasters like earthquakes, power outages, and floods.

If you have any questions about any of the above or if you wish to discuss the various employment, immigration and corporate structure issues that surround stationing employees overseas, feel free to call or email at any time.

Sincerely,

Carrie Counselor

From: Ned Help

To: Carrie Counselor

Subject: Offer Letters for Employees Working Abroad

Carrie:

Although I’ve been writing offer and assignment letters for more than 15 years, I’m curious as to what are today’s best practices for preparing these documents as our company extends its global reach.  Specifically, what are the critical components these letters need to address for employees who will be working abroad in places like Latin America, Northern Africa, and the Middle East?  Continue Reading Innocents Abroad: Sending Employees Into Harm’s Way – A Word About Offer Letters