Immigration Updates: Know Before You Go

Immigration Updates: Know Before You Go

Published: Jul 26, 2016

You’ve gone through the painstaking work of selecting the right employee for an international task but there is more to the task of selecting the right employee for an international assignment. Your work has only just begun. Compliance with immigration laws is a must, and if overlooked, can lead to hefty company fines and even prison sentences.  A company that implements and follows a solid immigration compliance policy, however, can minimize these mishaps or avoid them totally. 

Following a country’s visa and residency permit requirements can have a big impact on whether an organization can get an employee successfully on assignment in the new country.  In this article, while we focus on two specific countries—Germany and China. It’s safe to say that what you don’t know about any host country’s immigration laws can significantly impact your assignee and your organization—you may end up facing stiff penalties for a number of violations, and detainment and/or deportation of your employee(s).

Germany:  Two Words to Know - Einwohnermeldeamt and Anmeldebestätigung

Germany Residency PermitsAccording to an article by the National Association of Realtors (NAR), Germany has more immigrants than all other European countries.

The regulations are not considered as strict as other countries but Federal German Law requires registration of residency before applying for a residency permit.  Expats must register their address before they can apply for a residence permit. 

The law applies to anyone, including German nationals, staying in Germany longer than three months. Within a week of finding housing, employees must register their permanent addresses at the local Registration Office (Einwohnermeldeamt) in Germany. The paperwork required is a valid passport, visa and rental agreement. Recent updates to this law state that expats must obtain the property owner’s signature as confirmation. Additionally, employees must also register each subsequent change of address.

Once the employee has an approval of the application, he or she receives a confirmation form(Anmeldebestätigung) as proof of registration. As soon as the employee has obtained the confirmation, he or she can take it to the immigration office to receive a residency permit.

China:  The Z Comes First

Chinese Z VisaUnlike Germany, China has the lowest amount of immigrants compared to all other countries, as reported by recent U.N. data.  However, China’s expatriate population is still growing which led to the Chinese government’s decision to update its visa laws a few years ago. The “Exit - Entry Administration Law” introduced a revised system of visas.

All expats entering the country must apply for a Z visa which is only a vehicle to enter China for a limited amount of time. The Z visa must be obtained before arrival. It typically takes 30 days from the application date to receive the Z visa.

After arriving in China, the employee must apply for a temporary residence permit the next working day at the local police station. The next step is to complete a medical exam in China within 3-5 working days. 

Once the Z visa has been obtained, the employee can apply for a work and residence permit by providing the following documents:

  • employment license;

  • Z visa invitation letter; and

  • single entry Z visa at overseas consulate/dependent visas if appropriate 

The timeline for this process begins one month before arrival in China with a Z visa and typically ends one month after arrival in China after receipt of the work and residence permits.

Compliance here is vital. Officials in China have the authority to make on-the-spot compliance checks of expats and anyone employing them so corporations should ensure that they are complying with current immigration laws.

Expectations, Regulations and Implications – Oh My!

The completion of the visa/immigration process varies vastly from country to country; in Germany, it can be as little as 10-15 working days while the process in China can take up to two months with longer processing times and more scrutiny on visa applications.

What do corporations need to know before its employees go?  One word…compliance. 

Each country has its sets of regulations in regards to immigration and work permits.  Non-compliance can result in penalties, such as hefty fines or expelling an employee and company from the country.

Working together with NEI and your immigration partners can help ensure successful assignment management and compliance of local laws and regulations.