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As the situation continues to progress, we are seeing a myriad of responses to the pandemic, from all over the globe. In some regions planes continue to be grounded and borders remain closed, and in others we are seeing the loosening of restrictions as the world begins to open up. In order to keep everyone fully informed on what we are seeing from around the world, without having to travel anywhere, here at K2 we hosted a global mobility webinar on 28th May.

This live webinar was presented by our experts from across the globe, covering the Americas, Asia Pacific (APAC) and Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA). Our session experts covered a range of key topics for each region, including destination services, education, household goods and immigration. The session aimed to give an informative and interesting update on the impacts, and potential solutions that we are experiencing across the services, with an opportunity for attendees to ask live questions to the panellists at the end. For an overview of the questions asked, please see below.

The webinar began with an overview of the Americas, with Eric Pengelly, Director. Global Account Management who gave a key update on the impacts we are seeing in various cities, including NYC, Boston, Chicago, Miami, Houston, Dallas, LA, San Francisco, Washington DC. Eric walked us through the current state of immigration, what we are seeing in destination services and household goods.  What quarantine restrictions are in place for anyone arriving into the US.

We then heard from Paul Barrett, Managing Director for APAC, and Jesper Albrekt, Global Immigration Manager for an update on APAC. This update recognised the variance of regulations across the region, which changes daily, noting how slowly, the region is starting to open up. Jesper then shared insights on how countries are preparing to open, what this may look like, as well as some best practices. To expand on this update on APAC, Paul then provided an update on relocation and relocation providers, covering travel, entry and quarantine, specific country comparisons, socially distanced support and key considerations.

Following this, we listened to an update on EMEA from Bernie Hillewaert, Client Services Consultant. Bernie began with some key travel updates within the region, and then covered relevant isolation/ quarantine rules, the available options for destination services, and the current situation of household goods.

To conclude the session, our expert panellists then answered live questions from the attendees. Our global immigration experts Simon Higson, UK Immigration Manager and Visa Expert and Craig Griffis, Global Immigration Manager were also on the line ready to answer any specific immigration questions. Please see below for a summary of these questions and answers.

The session was intended to give a relevant and interesting update on what we are seeing globally. If you would like to watch the session you can do so via the link below.

Access the recording of this session here

Questions recap 

What would be your high-level summary of the current situation and what guidance would you offer on the key activities we could be progressing now, still for any in-flight assignees? If this is too general, then I would be interested specifically in the context of assignments from the UK to HK and UK to the US?

For any relocations to the US, we would recommend that you start the visa process immediately and complete the relevant applications, CV’s and supporting documents to be submitted to the US consulate so that once these reopen then you can schedule an appointment. We have been discussing and delivering briefings to clients and employees who are expecting to relocate to the US over the next few months, providing them with advice on schooling, housing and an overview of the cities they are relocating to.

Do you have any insight regarding the opening of UK visa processing centres, and also whether it may be possible to switch an application made under the standard process to fast track if and when that option becomes available?

Some UK Visa Application Centers (VACs) are resuming services, where local restrictions allow. For updates to the status of  VACs in your country, contact:

•    TLS contact if you’re in Europe, Africa and parts of the Middle East.
•    VFS global for all other countries.

Ongoing global restrictions mean some UKVI services will remain closed. Contact your local VAC to find out the latest status. Where services are resuming, existing customers will be contacted.

Some English Testing Centres are also resuming services. Visit the International English Language Testing System (IELTS)’s website, the Pearson Test of English website or the LanguageCert website or contact your test centre for more information on where they are reopening and how you can book your Secure English Language Test.

There is no covid-19 transitional guidance on if the Home Office will allow ‘switching’ from a standard to premium processing service once an application has been submitted under the standard route. The current rules state that the application would have to be withdrawn and then re-submitted when the premium routes are back available, however please note that you would lose your initial application fee. The Biometric centers in the UK are gradually re-opening but we would think it would be at least another month before we see any changes to premium routes becoming available.

Do you have any intel on when Employment Passes for new assignees to Singapore are likely to start getting approved?

We are still unsure when new EPs can be processed. After the Circuit breaker ends, we will attempt with new EP applications and see what they say. Getting EP approval is one thing, but we are unsure to what extent new EP holders can travel to Singapore as there are no announcements on the border re-opening yet.

Access the recording of this session here

We are here to help in any way we can

Should you need any additional information, consultation, or guidance, please do contact us as we would be delighted to assist you.

Additionally, if you would like to have a virtual coffee with any of our experts, please contact us we would be happy to arrange this.

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