CapRelo COVID-19 Preparedness Update—Impacts to Global Mobility
As the COVID virus pandemic continues to impact the Global Mobility landscape. CapRelo is curating information from our suppliers, clients and partners to share insights relative to transferring employee impact. Please note that with changes coming frequently, questions on specific cases should be directed to your Client Services contact or to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our primary objective is to prioritize the safety and wellbeing of our staff, supplier partners and transferring employees we support. This is the predominant approach of our clients, and we’ll be sharing best practices with you as we learn of them.
In the international arena, travel bans and government office closures are currently having a predominant impact.
- Travel into and out of the Schengen EU/EEA areas is greatly restricted (although citizens can generally return to their home country of residence). Several EU countries, including Poland, Denmark and others, are restricting non-citizen entry, while EU countries are increasing closing both internal and external travel for all citizens (Italy and France). Travel bans are expected to continue to expand, therefore travel should be verified as close to departure as possible.
- Many concerns stemming from visa conditions and issuance considering governmental offices being closed or restricted. This includes consideration of visas in process, visa extensions, and changes in visa conditions.
- Many visas require stated places of work (which can be impacted by work from home plans). Minimum salary limits may place visas at risk due to reductions in hours, etc. Although there are many possible scenarios, the general guidance (often unofficial) is that governments will not be responding to situations in a vacuum.
- Employers should focus on ensuring that mobile employees have the best documentation available (approval letters, for instance, where residence permits can not be physically collected) and preparing for the re-opening of offices. Maintaining an up-to-date plan for quick action to expedite processing, will be crucial.
- The US State Department has warned Americans to refrain from traveling internationally and recommended that Americans abroad return home or be prepared to stay in place indefinitely. This is unlikely to affect long-term assignments; yet, short-term assignments nearing an end may be shortened.
- Conditions are changing rapidly; therefore, we strongly recommend monitoring immigration updates. One of our valued partners, Newland Chase, provides updated advisories: https://blog.newlandchase.com/
Impact in the US
In the US, conditions varying from state to state. We are seeing some general trends from our supplier partners that are worth noting:
- Household goods are still being moved. Nearly all of our partners report that they are operating with a heightened awareness and are using virtual surveys, wearing masks and gloves and maintaining social distancing as much as possible. Homes are being screened prior to in-home visits, resulting in very few delays for work in process. Some scheduling shifts are occurring, primarily due to delayed travel plans; yet, even California transportation has been deemed exempt from the “Shelter in Place” order. We’ll continue to monitor this closely, should any widespread delays or changes in practice occur.
- Destination services are being impacted, primarily relative to the Social Security Administration (SSA) closing offices. However, the SSA website states that new card requests are being processed through automated processes, including Enumeration at Entry and Enumeration beyond Entry. Our service partners are working through individual cases as needed (mail options remain available). As many banks are restricting hours/locations, this part of the settling in service may need to be deferred. In some extreme cases, our clients are exploring alternate payment arrangements—although this has not been necessary thus far.
- Real estate transactions in progress are still proceeding, although there are indications that a widespread slowdown in viewings exists. Overall, the uncertainty (particularly in the economy) is increasing the number of deferred or declined home sale choices. Some families are asking to extend marketing periods in hopes of quick resolution of the crisis. Beyond viewings becoming difficult, several states have issued stay in place orders which include the closing of real estate offices, potentially impacting even schedule closings.
Managing Transferee Expectations
The most common trend we are seeing from transferees is a request for flexibility—driving instead of flying, extending temporary housing and duplicate housing benefits and extensions of benefit periods in general. Despite having a cost impact, companies are often authorizing these requests. We strongly recommend that mobility teams consider their overall response so that transferee expectations can be managed.
While it is nearly impossible to not forecast challenging times, both for the mobility space and the wider economic landscape, there are many positives to consider. Several countries in the Asia Pacific have begun to rebound, including China and South Korea. Additionally, medical researchers around the world appear to be gaining ground developing vaccines and treatments to combat the COVID virus.
At CapRelo, we will continue to support our clients and look forward to “the new normal” in the months to come.
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