Published on September 16, 2020

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By Mark Woefel, GMS, Vice President, Global Client Services

The CapRelo Insider provides a glimpse at news, trends and happenings in the global mobility industry and those affecting the industry. Our experienced and tenured client services team provides updates and analysis direct to our clients, along with policy and program recommendations that are best for your company and employees. To learn more about how we can help you, contact us today.

What you need to know now...

United States: 

  • Immigration: Following the presidential proclamation, the definition of an H-1B specialty occupation and the H-1B employer-employee relationship are being reviewed by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) as part of a long-planned DHS regulation. Once issued this will have a near-immediate impact. It is however likely that the regulation will be challenged in court.
  • Housing Stock and Evictions Update: A further moratorium was issued by the President effective September 4, 2020 to temporarily halt residential evictions to prevent the further spread of COVID-19 . The order, issued through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), lasts through December 31, 2020 and covers all 43 million U.S. residential renters as long as they meet income eligibility requirements. 

Canada:

  • Extension of Tax Relief: The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) has extended the tax related relief in relation to individuals who has been unable to travel due to COVID. The relief means that individuals may not trigger tax residency and may also qualify for treaty benefits on employment income. Payment deadlines for individual and personal tax returns has also been extended from September 1 to September 30, 2020.
  • Reporting of Payments: The (CRA) has also announced a new, potentially administratively burdensome, requirement that all Canadian employers must report certain employment payments related to COVID-19 on the 2020 T4 slip, "Statement of Remuneration Paid,” using new information codes that correlate to defined periods. To ensure compliance, procedures and policies will have to be changed.

United Kingdom: The majority of schools fully reopened the week commencing September 7, 2020. Additional safety measures to protect children are in place, however Public Health England has said that a child's risk of catching the coronavirus at school is rare with only 0.01% of open educational settings reporting an outbreak.

Ireland: The Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) is now accepting online applications for the Atypical Working Scheme (AWS) which is Ireland’s short-term work authorisation option. Paper AWS applications will be accepted until September 18, 2020. After this date, online AWS applications are mandatory however digitally signed documents are not accepted and original signatures must be submitted via a scan. Furthermore, the online Passenger Locator Form must now be completed before travel, where previously it could be completed upon arrival.

Belgium: A new Intracompany Transferee (ICT) Permit, which is intended to reduce the administrative burden associated with work assignments in several EU member states has been introduced. This has the potential to have a large impact on globally operating companies engaging third-country nationals in the EU. International HR managers should prepare for implementing this new legislation however, although the application should reduce the administrative burden, care should be taken with applications which must also be in line with the revised Posted Worker Directive. 

Australia: Entry for non-citizens and non-residents remains in place with exceptions for including persons sponsored by employers to work in Australia in an occupation on the Priority Migration Skilled Occupation List (PMSOL) (once the list is effective). The Exit ban also remains in place for Australian Citizens or permanent residents until further notice. Exemptions are available for those with essential work and persons ordinarily resident in a country other than Australia. Internal travel bans for 'non-essential travel' apply between some Australian States/Territories.

Global Travel Corridors: Nearly all jurisdictions continue to apply entry or travel restrictions which are updated regularly. Some countries, especially in Europe have put travel corridors in place however these are updated frequently and vary depending on testing rates. Planning travel has become complex where countries and states have new quarantine restrictions announced with short notice and which are unevenly implemented. Recent examples of complexity include:

  • The United Kingdom where Portugal has been added to the locations that the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) advice against all non-essential international travel for Wales from September 4, Scotland from September 5 but travel to England remains exempt.
  • In the United States, many states have implemented quarantine periods of 14 days on all travellers who have recently visited a state with a positive testing rate of 10% or higher over a seven-day rolling period or had a positive test rate of 10 or more per 100,000 residents.

Travel Bubble Bursts: The Baltic travel bubble between Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia is likely to end effective Friday, September 11, 2020, as coronavirus cases rise in Estonia and Lithuania. The original end date was set as September 4, 2020, however Latvia has elected to continue the bubble for one further week after Estonia and Lithuania asked for postponement of travel restrictions.

Business as Usual in Asia: Although immigration restrictions continue to apply, some APAC countries are starting to open up the local economy with business as usual in Korea, Macau and Taiwan. Where hotspots are noted then additional restrictions will be introduced, possibly at short notice.

What you should keep in mind...

Worldwide Shipping Update: 

  • In Canada, the port strike in Montreal has ended although there remains delays due to the backlog.
  • Reliability globally continues to be impacted and rollovers have become commonplace. Carriers are increasingly asking for a premium payment to prevent rollovers of cargo shipment, where this used to be part of the standard service. Carriers have cited poor reliability, blanked sailings and the widespread cost implications from the disruptions as justifications for premiums.

Exception Requests: A rise in exception requests relating to COVID-19 specific complexities is evident. To ensure consistency, we recommend that these are evaluated centrally, and a decision is made that can be universally applied. Examples of exception requests where additional costs may be incurred include:

  • Fees for testing: Where testing is mandatory for employees.
  • Mandatory accommodation for quarantine period: Associated costs may vary dependent on the allowable accommodation for the quarantine however where mandated in a location other than a home environment an employee (and family members).
  • Flights: The interpretation of safety recommendations by different airlines vary dramatically. Some airlines are choosing to fill all seats while others are leaving central sets vacant. Exceptions may be requested where employees have safety concerns and request to travel via another airline or change class to avoid close contact with other passengers.
  • Accompanying dependents: Where previously extended family members were able to provide care for employee dependents whilst on home finding trips, due to heath concerns this support may no longer be available. Dependents may therefore request to accompany employees on home finding trips. 

    Considering these requests for the whole population will assist in controlling costs and a consistent message to employees. In all cases, the allocation of costs and any exceptions should be clearly communicated in advance of travel e.g. costs covered in the event of business travel only, not for family or personal travel.
  • Home/Family Leave: With travel restrictions likely to remain in place for the remained of 2020, the impact on outstanding assignee travel benefits such as home leave should also be reviewed and clearly communicated. Where assignees or family travel would require quarantine in the home and/or host country for 14 days, consideration should be given to if travel benefits remain available in all locations. Alternative benefits could be offered include allowing an exception to travel to a third location, rolling over the benefit to the following year or a cash alternative. As with all decisions relating to benefits, the topic is emotive and consistency and clear communication are key to ensure that assignees are treated consistently wherever possible.
  • Education: With some locations continuing to only offer virtual schooling, some parents are exploring the options of remaining or relocating to countries/states where in person teaching is available. Some service providers are expanding services to support these new requirements and to provide a summary of available options to best suit the assignee and employer.

Partner Resource: Global Travel and Immigration Impact

Newland ChaseNewland Chase also continues to maintain a Travel and Immigration Guide updated twice daily. The guide includes individual country reports, which can be accessed here