Top Immigration Trends to Watch in 2022

As we near the beginning of 2022, there are several EOR and immigration developments to be aware of. Here are my top five things to watch for in the next four weeks—along with three tips for continued success, despite ongoing uncertainties for some expat workers.

Backlog of Cases
Last week and this week, various immigration departments around the world will close. For example, in Mexico the immigration center closes for two weeks at the end of each year. Though this is standard, it puts a strain on applications and will cause a backlog for people who are trying to submit applications for the beginning of the year.

Even in immigration offices that do not shut down, many workers will take a holiday vacation, which slows down processes.

Border Closures
Because of the Omicron variant of COVID-19, we are also tracking border closures and more uncertainty regarding whether borders will remain open.

Due to uncertainty surrounding the variant and an escalation of cases, we are seeing countries reverse decisions to reopen their borders.

A great example of this is Japan. In early November officials in Japan made the decision to allow in some business travelers, signaling an ease to their border restrictions. Unfortunately, this was quickly reversed in December with the onset of the Omnicron variant, closing the borders to almost all international travelers. This is not uncommon at all, and countries are limiting the number of travelers per day to try and slow the new variant. Going into 2022, there is a lot of fear, and it is affecting immigration.

Vaccine Requirements
Rather than close their borders, many countries are setting new standards that allow workers and ex-pats to enter the country if they can prove vaccination. This policy is great for those workers, especially when they are not required to quarantine upon entry into a country. It allows them to start work immediately and establish their new lives.

Possible Ongoing Backlog
Due to a lot of unknowns, the number one immigration concern going into 2022 is a potential bigger backlog of applications than usual—due to the possibility that companies may try to put their applications in right away, due to fears about potential border closures in the New Year.

New Policies Implemented for 2022
Immigration departments typically review their policies toward the end of the year and make recommendations for the new year. Because of this, it’s important to begin checking to see if there are any new recommendations in countries. For example, the Canadian Prime Minister recently made recommendations to expand immigration streams for human rights defenders and refugees. There are also some new recommendations in the UK about opening a pathway to permanent residency for intracompany transferees.

Tips to Excel

Get Ahead
To overcome some of these obstacles, if you are considering hiring workers in new countries next year—or sending some of your existing workers to a different country, start planning as soon as possible. It’s a good idea to get people prepared and understand that a Q1 start date might bot be possible.

It’s important to remain flexible and understand a lot is going on right now. To get ahead, you can prepare documentation ahead of time, but ultimately, the success of your immigration programs will depend on whether there are new restrictions due to COVID uncertainty.

Consider Additional Options
Always have a plan B. If you can’t send a worker to a new country right now—is there a way to hire them in their current location? Be sure to look at your EOR model. If you don’t have an entity where they are currently located, try to decide what you can do for the interim to hire the worker and get them started right away.

Stay Informed
Continue to watch the news. Mobility firms are constantly releasing trends from 2021 early into the new year. We can use these trends to be able to determine how things are looking.

From the client base at Papaya, we are already seeing an increase in demand for work permits. It appears companies are eager to continue with mobility plans and relocations. This is another aspect that could increase backlogs.

As we enter the third year of the pandemic, it is apparent that many people—though cautious—want to continue with their business expansions. Being aware of all of these things can help set your organization up for much success in 2022.

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