The spread of COVID-19 has made a devastating impact on the global economy with even big businesses finding it hard to sustain and stay afloat in this crisis. The health workers and those involved in government services and security sectors have been fighting day and night to restrict the spread of this deadly virus. On the other hand, there is a large population out there that is finding it difficult to survive, feed them, and fulfill even their bare necessities.
In such a distressing situation it is no wonder that the multinational companies and international businesses are also facing limitations and issues. Most of these companies rely a lot on foreign immigrants for completing special jobs. But in the current situation obtaining exemptions for visa holders or work permit holders is becoming very difficult for the immigrants even though they have eager sponsors to back their immigration desires.
Challenges Faced By Global Companies
Global companies that are dependent on foreign talent will have to devise some strategies to come out of this bleak situation and survive the dampening effect of COVID-19 pandemic. It has been just three months since the pandemic launched its massive attack globally and hence the employers will have to be patient to evaluate the extent of the impact that this crisis will continue to cause in the long run.
Countries like Canada and Australia continue to remain supportive towards welcoming immigrants but even then their approach is bound to be cautious and limiting. The rapid spread of this virus had made it quintessential on the part of the administration of all the nations to implement the immigration procedures with a lot of care which has made completing the immigration procedures promptly very challenging. Businesses hence are finding it difficult to cover up for the lack of skills that are so much imperative for reaching production and technical deadlines.
Some of the challenges that the Multinational Companies are facing globally include:
- Bans on inbound travel and entry restrictions by most of the countries
- Stringent norms for pre-entry clearings
- Delays in processing work permit or immigration applications in leading countries like Canada and Australia
- Limited servicing or complete closure at most of the consulates and biometric centers authorized for visa applications
- Non-acceptance of work permit applications
Governments Are Eager To Retain Foreign Nationals On Their Land
Undoubtedly it is one of the bleakest situations for both the multi-national conglomerates and immigrants. However, the good news is that the governments who have been welcoming immigrants since long are eager to retain these hired skilled laborers on their land. They are taking measures to ensure that the foreign national talent does not leave their soil.
- Countries like Australia and the United Kingdom have now introduced new policies that allow furloughing and cut down on schemes that target foreign nationals to reduce unemployment rates in their respective countries. Governments in Germany, China, Australia, and Canada have been gracious enough to allow these foreign nationals to seek temporary part-time work if these candidates have lost their jobs or if their workplaces are temporarily shut down.
- Authorities in Ireland, Singapore, and United Arab Emirates have continued their new work permit processing for the immigrants located in their country as usual.
- The United Kingdom and Singapore are allowing the foreign nationals to switch employers or begin new employment in their countries even without fulfilling the regular immigration procedures like biometrics or before getting the work permit approval.
- United Kingdom, France, and Ireland authorities have permitted the extension of expiring status or change of status within the country that normally requires the foreign nationals to leave the country.
- Countries like the Philippines, United Kingdom, and Ireland are allowing immigrants to work remotely or through telecommunication who earlier were not allowed to work in this way.
- Governments of Canada and Singapore have already come up with rescue packages and support schemes so that the companies can retain, reskill, or upskill their employees and help them save their jobs.
Norms Can Get More Stringent
While the governments are trying their best to keep their formal immigration policy running at full pace global companies can expect the norms to get more stringent in the days to come. Some changes that are expected include an increase in scrutiny regarding soft skills, stricter eligibility requirements for applications, hike in the scrutiny of industry-based applications, and the entire recruitment process. The authorities may also check whether crossing the border is required for a particular job if the same task can be completed by working remotely.
With the governments introducing stringent norms, the global companies will have to come up with a solid argument supporting their sponsorship for their foreign candidates so that the work permit or visa of their employees could continue. The companies can collect data and report it to the concerned authorities to make their case stronger and establish their efforts to source local talent. Here’s what they can do:
- Solidifying strategy for hiring local talent by keeping a track of recruitment efforts
- Advertising for all the vacancies including those that can qualify the labor market test exemption
- Keep a track on shortages of certain occupations or skills in the labor market and highlight this data during an argument with the authorities
- Keep the focus on your role as a sponsor and demands for higher technical skills in IT and engineering sector, senior-level experience, higher salaries, highly specialized skill set, and particularly the areas where the local talent lacks
- Train and groom local talent including degree holders from universities to establish that the company is trying its best to be integral with the local economy
- Develop a detailed support plan for hiring new foreign talent or bringing back old foreign national employees by complying with all the quarantine guidelines
The current situation is highly unstable and no one knows how long the global economy will have to ride this roller coaster. But keeping in touch with the concerned immigration officials is one way to remain prepared for the next inevitable challenge.