The holidays will be here before we know it. Folks want to get away for some well-deserved downtime or visit with family and friends. Accordingly, some people travel for the holidays outside of the country. As an employer, should you be concerned that employees who travel outside of the country will not be able to return? Of course, you should! Even in normal times, there are concerns. For example, do your employees have their visas or passports in order? But now, in the COVID era, there is so much more to worry about. Accordingly, the best way to address any concerns is to start the planning process now.
Before deciding if it is a good idea for an employee to travel to a particular country, let’s look at the basics. Does the employee have the correct visa to travel? When does the visa expire? Is the passport in order? Is it valid? When does it expire? Are there any travel bans with the employee’s destination? Company leaders and human resources professionals must remind their employees to make sure these basics are taken care of before they travel abroad during the holidays. Send these reminders as soon as possible. I repeat, more than ever, it is crucial to start having these conversations NOW.
There could be significant problems by not addressing the above basics. For example, if an employee’s visa expires while abroad, they may not be able to return to the United States. Why? Because the employee will have to go through the relevant consulate or embassy. The consulates are extra busy during regular holiday seasons, which makes it difficult to get an appointment. These days, with COVID, it may be impossible to get an appointment at a consulate. Virtually all of them have a considerable backlog, others are short-staffed, and others are not even open. For these reasons, your employee may not be able to get back into the country if their immigration affairs are not in order. On the other hand, if all is in order, the employee should not have any trouble.
Travel Bans and Restrictions
President Biden recently announced he would ease pandemic travel restrictions. The new policies will require all foreign travelers flying to the U.S. to demonstrate proof of vaccination before boarding, as well as proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within three days of flight. Unvaccinated American citizens will need to get tested within a day before returning to the U.S. and after they arrive home. This is undoubtedly a good development. However, some countries have their own restrictions and bans. Your employees need to know how bans and restrictions will impact their ability to travel.
Give me a call to look at the basics. We can make sure your immigration papers are in order. While I would love to give all a green light to go home for the holidays or take that dream vacation, it may not be in your best interest for employees to leave the country. This year, in particular, it is not so cut and dry. Let’s figure out what makes the most sense for you and your employees.