The world is becoming a smaller place and many companies now find it necessary to have employees on short term or long term international assignments. Such transfers create the need for specialized services that can help employees prepare for a foreign assignment, get acclimated to the foreign country, and hopefully enjoy a rewarding and successful experience.
I. What are the basics?
Many organizations are available to offer basic international moving services, host and home country support programs, visa and immigration services and tax/legal and administrative services. These services are typically offered to corporations or institutions relocating employees on short term, long term or permanent assignments.
A. International Moving/Transport Services:
In today’s global world it is easy to get goods from any point in the world to another. Air and sea transportation modes are most common. Household effects are typically transported in containers in a safe and secure manner. The movement of personal effects from one country to another requires fulfilling customs clearance procedures in the receiving location (and in some cases the origin country). In some cases a portion of goods are stored at the origin location while the international assignment takes place. Transportation of pets and specialized items is common and offered by professional organizations with the appropriate expertise.
B. Host & Home Country Support Services offered:
Companies with global work forces face many challenges when relocating an employee and their family to a new country. Needs such as housing, school support and settling in assistance become more complex when cultural dynamics have been changed. Understanding the many community choices available and determining what is best for a family can be a daunting process when moving to a new country. Fortunately, many global companies recognize that support is necessary to ensure that their employees and accompanying families acclimate as quickly as possible in the host country, thus maximizing expatriate return on investment and minimizing assignment failure. Destination Service Providers, Language Trainers and Cross Cultural Trainers are a few examples of professionals who can assist in the successful transition for families moving between countries.
The ability to move key personnel internationally is critical to success in today’s global economy. To ensure compliance and proper management of this function, companies must pay careful attention to the appropriate procedures for short-term business trips, temporary assignments and long-term relocations in each country to which employees travel. In the United States and many other countries, there is an enhanced emphasis on immigration enforcement requiring employers to comply with all applicable work permit and visa requirements or risk substantial impact on business operations. This enhanced focus on compliance has also led companies to recognize the importance of having a centralized capability to develop, implement and manage visa and work permit strategies for all international assignees worldwide.
A number of law firms focus exclusively in immigration and nationality law, with a focus on corporate immigration, to facilitate short–term and extended international assignments.
The ability to recruit and retain internationally mobile employees requires careful attention to compensation and tax issues. Where employees relocate to a higher cost location, differentials (also called allowances) for goods and services, housing, and/or transportation may be paid to offset those higher costs. The income tax consequences of living in a foreign tax jurisdiction also requires careful review and planning, and employees generally are provided with a form of protections against significantly increased tax liabilities stemming from an international assignment. Furthermore, difficult living conditions in many parts of the world may require the payment of incentives (including hardship and/or mobility payments) to successfully recruit qualified candidates to assignments in such locations.
II. What’s Unique in Chicago?
Chicago has many globally active companies. Many with many years of experience relocating employees and families around the world. Chicago has many foreign consulates available to assist with visa and immigration processing. Chicago is fortunate to have many specialists in the various service fields offering a client the choice of securing services direct or from a global relocation management firm.
III. Avenues to Access International Resources
A. Management service providers (often called Global Mobility or Global Relocation Providers) who offer a full menu of services often using a network of providers.
B. Specialists in each subject matter area who provide a specific menu of services such as Destination Service Providers, Cross Cultural Training Firms, Household Goods Freight Forwarders.
CRC Chicago has highly qualified International Resources in each Members category.
IV. International Organizations:
The following organizations offer various services, training and information regarding international relocation services.
Authored by CRC Members:
Leslie Lee – Full Circle International Relocations, Inc.
Ben Ivory – Graebel Relocation Services Worldwide
Michael Turansick – Fragomen, Del Rey, Bernsen & Lowey, LLP
Terri Myskewicz - Runzheimer