UK based contract with some work overseas - where do I go for paid-for advice?
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    Default UK based contract with some work overseas - where do I go for paid-for advice?

    Can anyone recommend a company that can give immigration/ work permit advice to contractors for short term business travel in multiple countries? I think there are loads of services like this but it's hard to sort the wheat from the chaff. What I'm looking for is a company I can use to outline my requirements for business travel and the nature of trip, and they will tell me if I need visas or work permits and support me in arranging them. I appreciate I will have to pay for this service, which is fine (I'll pass on to client). I also appreciate I *might* be able to do this myself without seeking advice but whether I'm prepared to do that will depend on a) which country and how complex I think the requirements may be and b) how much time I have, which is not much at the moment. Fundamentally I'm looking for a service that I can trust to give me peace of mind that I'm not going to inadvertently fall foul of immigration law in any country. I am hoping you guys are going to tell me that, as with accountants or with QDOS, there is one or a number of companies routinely used and recommended by CUK members. I've done a search though and I can't find anything.

    Full explanation below for anyone with time/ inclination...

    --------------

    I've recently started a contract with a large international company - or rather, contract is with an agency but the client is a large multinational. I was originally under the impression I'd be exclusively UK based (and I'm only contractually obliged to operate in the UK) but it now appears that there is likely to be some global travel needed. I'm happy with this, indeed keen. I'm a PM and am managing a UK team but will also now have oversight over some teams in other countries, and some of my team will be providing expertise and support to them. In some cases I will have a PM working for me who is overall responsible for the delivery in the other countries.

    Some of the people on my team will be permies working for the client organisation. In their case, any immigration or work permit requirements will be fully supported by the client's systems and processes - the client has a 3rd party E&Y system that supports this. Individual plugs all their details in, explains purpose of visit to which country and exact details of activity to be performed, and it tells you whether you need any kind of visa or permit and if so it supports you to get it, including e.g. letter of invitation or whatever may be required to support. Clearly there is still shenanigans with the individual potentially having to send off passports or go to embassies or whatever but the client's systems and processes support it and track it.

    When the subject of international travel first came up I was given the impression contractors should also use this system but it has just emerged we definitely can't and indeed the support team within the client company who manage it and support the processes have contractors and 3rd parties specifically out of scope - which I can understand in many ways.

    We also have some consultants working on the team (Big 4) and as a 3rd party they are also excluded from the client's support but in their case they obviously have the support of their own massive global company so will be covered by similar processes and support there.

    Which leaves the individual contractors out on something of a limb. This is a multinational that uses thousands of Limited Company contractors in the UK and our project uses many. On international travel there are several of us who are likely to be in this position - I am one, and some others work for me.

    I had one international role before where I worked in Indonesia and there the client (to whom my limited company contracted directly, not via an agency) supported my visa and work permit requirements and sponsored me. So I've not been in this situation before.

    The first country we're looking at is Switzerland which everyone takes for granted because it's in Europe, but it's not EU it's EEA and has recently tightened up its criteria. Although the UK government website implies UK nationals are visa-free for up to 90 days, when you dig into it further if you travel for business, depending on activities you may need a work permit. I've been for a one day meeting which was fine, but the next step is for me/ my team to lead weeks of workshops. This is something of a grey area - if we were to be based over there properly we'd definitely need full work permit etc, if we were attending a meeting we definitely don't, but this is in between. From my own investigation it appears this may need a work permit - and the Big 4 firm's internal advice agrees although acknowledges it's a grey area.

    All of this is just an example of a scenario - the other countries we need to work with are likely to be tougher in many cases (Far East, US etc).

    In principle I don't think there will be an issue with the client paying any costs associated with all of this, or indeed with people in international offices of the client providing sponsorship or letters of invitation or whatever - the issue is one of who is taking the responsibility. It's clear to me that so far people who have travelled have often done so taking some risks e.g. entering on tourist visa in some countries even though attending for business purposes - and I know that sometimes this is OK and sometimes not depending on the exact nature of the business activities undertaken. Since the travel is usually short term the risks are small but having gone into this kind of subject a lot when I worked in Indonesia, I think many (British) people are just oblivious to ever having to fulfil any kind of visa requirements and just ignore it. Since I'd like to continue doing this kind of role I don't ever want to be on the wrong side of this stuff so I'm not going to ignore it! In essence, I need to solve the problem for myself and also be able to offer pointers to other people on the team in the same situation.

    Once I understand the position better, as part of the programme 'leadership team' I'm going to try and resolve the problem overall for the programme because I think they've just never twigged that they have this issue that the client company needs to help with (even if that help is only being willing to pay for contractors' expenses in using the type of service i'm looking for) - the current strategy is to resource a large programme with many contractors (they'd rather have permies but can't get enough) and it's gone international so if the programme doesn't resolve this stuff they're going to run into issues. But for now I just want to work out how I will handle what I am being asked to do personally..!

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    Can't suggest a company, but I can tell you that for Switzerland, up to 90 effective working days per calendar year, EU citizens only need to register. https://www.sem.admin.ch/sem/en/home...meldeverfahren.

    For longer periods EU citizens will need a work permit, but it really is still matter of just applying for it.

    The things is, so far as I can tell, although you might find a travel services company to assist with what you need to do, for Switzerland at least, there's a lot of leg work that the individual would have to do themselves.
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    Iíve never come across any companies that offer what you want as a 3rd party. Everywhere Iíve done similar the internal processes are used for contractors as well. In fact I struggle to see why a large company would exclude contractors whilst still controlling costs.

    That being said, when Iíve done my own research the starting point is the FCO website. That will tell you precisely what you need for every country in the world. After that just make sure you have the correct travel insurance (qdos do business travel insurance) and at least £10k credit limit on more than one credit card.
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    NotAllThere - my initial research suggested up to 90 days without a permit too, for Switzerland. But then I realised the UK FCO website is talking only about entry into Switzerland and not working there. The link you've given doesn't work, but here are some of my own:

    Entry into Switzerland, fine for EU citizens up to 90 days:

    https://www.eda.admin.ch/eda/en/home...residence.html

    BUT

    working in Switzerland, different story and more shades of grey. There is no clear information on either the FCO website or the Swiss website making it explicitly clear what the situation is for EU nationals on short term work visits to Switzerland. This was the conclusion I had reached myself (there is a difference between visiting a conference or attending a meeting somebody in Switzerland has invited you to, and going to Switzerland to lead a long series of workshps and give advice, and my research leads me to believe the former is fine with no visa but the latter may need a work permit - but only 'may', it's shades of grey). But then this conclusion I had reached myself was validated by the official advice given to my Big 4 colleague from his internal department whose job it is to know this stuff.

    Work permits are at cantonal level in Switzerland too, to complicate matters further.

    I think this aspect has been tightened up in recent years due to - at a very high level - rising concerns about immnigration in Switzerland (in line with rising concerns about immigration in many countries globally).

    If anyone's got a link that proves differently for Switzerland I'll be very happy to read it and be proved wrong! but my overriding question - about where to go for a safe source of information and advice on this (paid for) still stands and this discussion illustrates why I want this perfectly!

    Meanwhile, on the client multinational company's position on this - I was also surprised and agree that it doesn't make a tremendous amount of sense in some ways, however in others it does. As I say, I understand why they leave the Big 4 firm to worry about their own employees but individual contractors a different matter. If you as a company want a flexible workforce instead of permies (for half the price of a big 4 consultancy) AND (as has been noted) you want to control your costs and do it as cheaply as possible, you're going to have to take on some of the responsibility for facilitating and managing it...

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    NotAllThere, I owe you an apology. At the umpteenth time of researching on the Swiss website I've found the thing you were probably trying to link to - the factsheet that confirmed electronic registration only for up to 90 days in one calendar year

    https://www.sem.admin.ch/dam/data/se...fenthalt-e.pdf

    and some background on freedom of movement for EU citizens, for background in case anyone is reading in the future and it's helpful...

    https://www.sem.admin.ch/dam/data/se...icht-fza-e.pdf

    So that's solved my short-term Switzerland problem (at least for the EU citizen members of the team) but it doesn't solve the overall problem as I'm going to need more for some of the other countries involved!

    On travel insurance - my current insurance is very comprehensive and already allows for business cover - it has to be specialist as I have epilepsy. But that is definitely covered already though thanks for the point. And I'll need to sort my professional indemnity also, ensure that's covered (when I worked in Indonesia I had much higher premiums as global cover was needed).

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    If you are acting as a chairperson in a series of meetings, which to me is what it sounds like, I think you are unlikely to need anything out of the ordinary. Particularly in European countries.
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