4 Tips for Cutting the Travel Visa Hassle

Anirudh Pratap Singh - Aug 15 2018
Published in: Ask the Experts

This article originally appeared in the August 2018 edition of Mobility Magazine.

According to the latest data from the U.K. Office for National Statistics, U.K. employees made 9.2 million business trips in 2016, up from around 6 million in 1996.

What’s more, this trend is set to increase: A joint report by Travelport and the World Travel and Tourism Council predicts the global business travel sector will grow by almost 4 percent over the next decade.

While business with the European Union currently makes up around 40 percent of the U.K.’s overseas trade, the uncertainty about what trade deal—if any—will be reached with the EU post-Brexit means many companies are already exploring fresh business opportunities in new and emerging economies.

HR teams currently don’t have to worry about securing visas for most trips made by their company staff, as U.K. travelers do not need a visa for travel within the EU—or to the U.K.’s other major trading partner, the U.S. But that will change, as increasing business in new markets may require familiarity with a complex set of new visa requirements.

Related: Is Your Employee Global Transportation Policy Strategic?

Human resource managers will need to help their employees meet the immigration or temporary entry requirements in each country where they work. The challenge lies in navigating the different rules for business visas or work permits, and in making sure that every worker has the right travel documents.

So how can HR teams make this less of a daunting, time-consuming process?

1. Know Which Visa You Need

Some countries require you top rearrange a visa before leaving the country, others are able to offer a visa when you arrive, and still other countries do not require a visa at all if you are traveling within a certain time frame.

Then there may be different visas—for example, single-entry visas allow one entry and exit, multiple-entry visas allow you to come and go (within limits), and other visas allow you to stay longer or work for a prescribed length of time. Make sure you know which visas are best for your company’s needs—you don’t want to apply for a single visa each time someone travels if a multiple-entry visa will do. Check with the government website of the country in question.

2. Plan Where You Can

For most countries, around a month before you plan to travel is a good guideline, but some countries may require more time. VFS Global, which processes visa applications for 58 governments worldwide, advises people to start applying three weeks before they travel—this way any unexpected hiccup in the process can be spotted early enough for travelers to take the necessary remedial action to find or update the missing or out-of-date piece of personal paperwork standing in the way of getting their new travel visa.

Read tips No. 3 & 4 in the August 2018 edition of Mobility Magazine.