Northman & Sterling

Business Visitor Compliance: Key Trends for 2024

With the arrival of the new year, it’s important to reflect on key trends from the past year and project future trends. Business visitor compliance became a big topic in immigration and travel in 2023, and it will likely be just as important in 2024.

The Importance of Business Visitor Monitoring and Compliance

Why should we pay close attention to business visitor monitoring and compliance? Here are several compelling reasons.

Advanced Electronic Systems at Borders

Globally, countries are enhancing their technology to screen, track, and monitor business visitors more effectively. The sophistication in immigration compliance enforcement is at an all-time high. For example, the UK has its ETA system, Europe uses the ETIAS, and the USA is working to make sure visitors stick to their entry rules.

The Rise of Self-Service Practices

Many companies leave the management of business travel to the employees themselves. This self-service approach, while convenient, can lead to various issues:

  • Misunderstanding of Business Activities

Employees often misclassify certain tasks as ‘business activities,’ when in reality, the host country may consider them productive work, requiring work authorization.

  • Overlooking Trip Duration and Frequency

It is a mistaken belief that short trips are always suitable for business visitors. Both the length and how often these trips occur can change the purpose of the visit, potentially necessitating different types of authorization.

  • Lack of Compliance in Visa Processing

When employees use third-party visa vendors without proper compliance checks, it can result in non-compliant travel. These vendors usually process applications as per the employee’s request, often without checking if they meet regulatory requirements.

Intersecting Legal Considerations

Companies have historically monitored business travel for tax and expense purposes, often neglecting the immigration compliance aspect. This oversight can lead to complications in areas like labor and employment, social security, benefits, and immigration regulations.

"Work from Anywhere" and Its Misconceptions

The trend of remote work and Digital Nomads has been firmly established in the post-pandemic era. Many countries advertise remote work opportunities, but people often wrongly think they can work anywhere using a tourist visa. However, not every country offers a Digital Nomad visa and those that do often have specific requirements.

The Need for Thorough Understanding and Compliance

Given these complexities, business visitor compliance is a critical issue for companies of all sizes and industries. It intersects with multiple legal areas and requires careful attention.

How Northman & Sterling Can Help

Northman & Sterling, with its vast legal and practical experience in business immigration, is well-equipped to assist your company. We can help formulate an immigration policy, develop best practices for managing your business visitor population, and offer short-term immigration compliance solutions. This ensures your employees are fully compliant for their travel and work engagements.

Moving forward into 2024, it’s essential to focus on compliance for business visitors in our strategic planning. This intricate field, which overlaps with various legal aspects, is a vital component of our corporate strategy and operational framework.