We like to sit down (virtually these days) with our corporate clients at the beginning of each year to see what they think their global immigration programs are going to look like in the coming year. This year we positioned these conversations around three themes: challenges, changes and wish lists. Curious what others are predicting for 2023? Find the top responses below.
WReview: Conversations on Global Immigration Challenges, Changes and Wishes in 2023
Top 3 Challenges in 2023:
- Extended Processing Times – Although the pandemic is behind us, in so many places processing times for visa and permit applications have not returned to their pre-COVID speeds. Some are optimistic that 2023 may be the year that this happens, while others are skeptical and think that ‘slow as molasses’ might just be the new “normal” processing speed.
- Cost Cutting Pressures – Even in industries not significantly impacted by the high-profile tech layoffs, HR and global mobility managers’ report that they are facing pressure to lower costs while still delivering an excellent employee experience and using providers who value sustainability and diversity. One client joked that she feels like she needs to borrow the signs we’ve all been seeing at restaurants– please be patient, we are trying to do more with less!
- Coping with Employee Anxiety – Given #1 and #2 above, it came as no surprise that another major challenge is coping with employee anxiety over their immigration processes. In many jurisdictions, layoffs can impact immigration processes even for those who are not being laid off. And having to wait for weeks or even months for a government decision on one’s case does not inspire calm, although systems like WRapid™ can help to reassure employees by providing transparency on the status of their cases 24/7.
Top 3 Changes in 2023:
- Strategic Cost Cutting – In response to declining revenues and general economic worries many companies have begun cost-cutting, and those who aren’t already engaging in it have this fun task near the top of their to do lists.
- Global Mobility Policy Updates – Many are in the process of updating their global mobility policies to standardize, centralize and streamline their programs, with a view towards cutting costs, increasing efficiency, and (hopefully successfully) doing more with less.
- Smart Hiring – With the hot job market in recent years, many companies previously engaged in a strategy of hiring whatever talent they could find rather than considering immigration. There are signs that this is now shifting. Hiring the right talent is still important but not at any cost; companies are beginning to consider potential immigration costs more seriously when evaluating candidates. This is particularly true in jurisdictions that have very high government fees for immigration (i.e. UK and Australia).
Top 3 Wish List Items for 2023:
- Consistency in Adjudications– Nearly everyone we spoke with wished for greater consistency and predictability in immigration processing by governments. To some extent, they find inconsistency and lack of predictability more troublesome than outright restrictive rules. As one client commented, at least if you know there are no options for an employee you can move on. It is the “maybe” or grey area that is so difficult to deal with and plan around.
- Government Technology Improvements – Many also wish that more governments around the world would join us in the 21st century and digitize their immigration processes so that they no longer have to shuffle original documents around the globe when trying to obtain a visa or permit. But there is also a vocal group who feel that not all “improvements” are really improvements; many are frustrated in trying to navigate government systems that launched without proper testing, favoring old paper systems over glitchy new technology.
- Expedited Processing – There is unanimous agreement that the vast majority of governments around the world need to significantly decrease their processing times to avoid immigration serving as a barrier to businesses being able to get the talent they need when and where they need it in the world. This is particularly true for companies who deal with countries where there is no expedited or priority processing.
Did you know that WRapid™, our centralized, cloud-based technology and Enterprise Resource Planning solutions software for business immigration, won an award? WRapid™ was recognized as a Legal Technology Trailblazer by the National Law Journal for best immigration software. The annual list recognizes companies pioneering the legal industry by developing technology that improves how legal professionals and law firms operate. This national Trailblazer Award spotlights WR Immigration’s, WRapid™ technology as a disruptor in the legal industry.
If you are not yet using WRapid™ for global and would like a demonstration of the features, please get in touch with us.
Singapore: Education Certificate Verification Required for Employment Pass Applications
Beginning September 1, 2023, the Singaporean Ministry of Manpower will require that all education certificates (i.e. university diplomas) be verified by a third party agency accredited by the MOM before they will be accepted in support of Employment Pass applications. Verification is already required for certificates from educational institutions not recognized by the MOM, but is now being extended to all certificates. Processing time for verification varies significantly based on the institution, but typically takes 2 to 6 weeks. Based on this, verification should be undertaken as soon as possible once the decision has been made to seek an Employment Pass for a candidate.
Australia: Reintroduction of Student Visa Work Restrictions
The pandemic-era concessions that allowed primary and secondary student visa holders to work more than the usual limit of 40 hours per two week period will end on June 30, 2023. Going forward, student visa holders will be limited to working a maximum of 48 hours per two week period.
Ireland: Extension of Temporary Protection for Ukrainian Citizens
Ireland initially granted temporary protection status (TPS) to those fleeing Ukraine valid through March 2023. This has now been extended a further 12 months, through March 2024, due to the continued conflict in Ukraine. The extension is applied automatically; TPS holders do not need to take any action to extend.
China: Resumption of Issuance of Visas to South Koreans
China has resumed issuing short term visas to South Koreans, following a similar resumption of visa issuance to Chinese citizens by South Korea. Visa issuance had initially been suspended amid concerns over high COVID rates following China’s end of its zero COVID policy.