Event Summary: K2 Sweden Webinar Global mobility vs Covid-19: Impacts and solutions
To help keep track of the ever-changing immigration updates that we are seeing across the globe, K2 Sweden hosted a live immigration webinar on 20th May.
This webinar was designed to help attendees stay informed on the latest immigration updates that we are seeing amidst covid-19. The webinar aimed to inspire considerations surrounding the current situation, advise on best practices for now and the future, and give the opportunity for attendees to ask questions to the K2 Sweden immigration specialists. For an overview of the questions asked, please see below.
The session began with an introduction from Carl Sundström, Business Relationship Director for the Nordics, who introduced the webinar. Carl offered some positive encouragement, highlighting that we are starting to see light at the end of the tunnel with restrictions lifting in various places. With lifting of restrictions and loosening of regulations, Carl noted that hopefully, when it is safe, we will see a freer movement of people across borders.
Carl then handed over to our immigration experts, Jesper Albrekt, Global Immigration Manager, and Susanna Wang, Senior Immigration Consultant. Jesper and Susanna began their presentation by discussing what immigration means in a time of border closures, and what potential future scenarios may look like. This included discussion surrounding the variance in measures that we are seeing country by country, regional travel bubbles, the distinction between business tourism and employees and the various effects on visa processing.
Susanna and Jesper drew upon their expertise and experience within immigration to discuss these topics and used case studies and relevant examples to explore different situations and illustrate circumstances.
The session then discussed best practices during covid-19, with Jesper and Susanna both advising three key actions:
- Do not wait with initiations.
- If you know a move will take place there are things that can be prepared.
- Submit applications where applications can be submitted.
As immigration partners and relocation specialists will likely be overloaded when things start moving, the recommendations are there to make sure that companies are in the forefront and have started processing anything that can be processed at a particular point in time.
Jesper and Susanna then discussed the intricacies of corporate restructures and redundancies, and what these may mean for an individual’s immigration status. The session covered corporate obligation to act, explained how an employee’s work rights are limited to one position, and advised that compliance is key.
The webinar concluded with the panellists answering live questions submitted by the attendees. To read through the questions asked, please see below.
We know things are changing all the time, all over the world, especially within the field of immigration. All we can do is stay as informed as possible and keep up to date with the changes in rules and regulations. At K2 our webinar series is designed to give you some reassurance through this time as best we can. To access the recording of this webinar, please follow the below link.
We currently cannot travel to Sweden and Norway from Turkey. We currently have lots of business ongoing in these countries and wish to understand when we can enter these countries and how?
All the borders to Schengen countries are currently closed. In Sweden even if you have been approved a work permit, you are not allowed to enter. Only people who are already residing in Sweden are permitted to return. This is for the moment until the 15th of June, but we don't know yet if this time period will be expended or not.
When it comes to Norway it is the same, only people have been approved a work permit before the 20th of April are allowed to enter.
When the floodgates open up, how do you think the authorities will handle all the visa applications? Do you expect them to treat all applications equally, or do you think that they will prioritise different types of permits?
There will certainly be some method of hierarchy to determine what applications are prioritised. In most countries the authorities will process applications in order of application date, the date they were received.
However, in some countries, priority may be given to urgent applications, including work permit applications, or whatever is most relevant to the local labour needs of the country. For example, for companies who provide essential services for example within healthcare, transport and logistics services and some manufacturing public infrastructure etc.
What about if we take Sweden as an example, because in Sweden there is a fast track system to process visas. Do you think this system will be affected?
We have noticed that in Sweden there are some delays in the fast track process, even though it's of course processed faster than if you apply via the regular application, outside of fast track. The delays are not severe, but the process is certainly slower.
Are you changing the way you work now during covid-19 situations, to support your clients in a different way moving forward?
Both yes and no. We are still offering the same services, we are just having to adapt what these may look like given the circumstances. We are always looking forwards and being proactive, that’s what we always have to do in this industry, here at K2 we are always supporting the employee and the HR department from the outset and being productive, that’s in our DNA.
However, now especially, we are looking to start conversations as early as possible so that we can start planning and coordinating all the bits and pieces and identifying any possible issues of a potential move. If there's something with that we need to dive deeper into, to make sure that everything will be handled quickly and smoothly when things start moving, we want to give ourselves the best opportunity to do that, and this means having communications opened as early as possible.
How do you think covid-19 will affect the industry, service providers and immigration? What is the K2 approach?
If you are working with a with a smaller immigration provider that does nothing but immigration, there might be some risk that due to this current situation, there's been layoffs of staff, or that they've trimmed down their organisation. So, maybe when everything opens up again these providers may struggle to keep up.
If you look at a partner like K2 that not only deals with immigration, but the full suite of services, we are better equipped to jump on a case straight away. Since our consultants dealing with all the bits and pieces of relocation are all working together as one team sharing information, I think that will eliminate any pockets of time that could be wasted waiting for another party to inform them. Now more than ever I think a quick and precise way of working, to not lose valuable time is important.
Additionally, in terms of the transparency which we offer for our clients; I think that is the key thing here. We can see that one of the main issues for clients, is planning work permits, planning moves etc, during this time. This is a hard thing to do, and at K2 we will always be transparent and help you plan for these unforeseen circumstances and scenarios, so that you can plan accordingly.
We believe that it's important for our clients make informed decisions. We don't make decisions for our clients, but our interest is in making sure that clients make informed decisions, that is one of the key things that we work for with K2.
Norway is not a full member of the EU, as far as I know, do they follow the same regulations entering the country?
They have similar regulations. Persons who have been granted a residence permit after the 20th of April cannot enter Norway at the moment. But of course, there are always some exceptions that are made.
Everything will be stated in the decision letter from the immigration authorities in Norway, but in general, it's the same rule as in Sweden that you cannot enter Norway at the moment, even if you have been approved a work permit.
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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.