We have never done business outside of the US but are now considering sending several employees to Ireland to help set up our new operations there. These will likely be short-term and long-term assignments. But we also plan to hire people locally. What do we need to do first, second, third, etc. to accomplish our goal? How soon can we get these employees on the ground and working?
Dear Global Mobility Professional,
This sounds like a great growth opportunity for your company!
There are many factors to take into consideration when expanding outside of your headquarters country. Some companies have dedicated, cross-functional site selection teams. These teams will study the demographics, local labor market, cost of real estate, corporate tax laws and other factors of competing locations before deciding if a particular location is a good fit for their company. Often these teams include people from the real estate or facilities department, corporate tax and legal professionals, as well as payroll and HR leaders.
With that said, if due diligence is still being conducted with regard to the site selection process in Ireland, I would recommend finalizing that process to ensure that Ireland is the best place for your new office. Ideally, you will have a seat at the table with the people making decisions on the site selection. This will ensure that the important aspects around sending expats there are highlighted in advance, laying the foundation for faster transitions and minimal surprises for hiring managers and the expats themselves.
The most important requirement for sending expats to work in another country is to ensure you have an established, legal entity that will sponsor the work visas/permits of the expats you are sending. In fact, the sooner you are brought into the loop on the plan to open an overseas office (and send people to work at that office), the sooner you can research the requirements and timetables associated with obtaining work authorizations.
In obtaining work authorizations, you will be asked many questions: What kind of work the expats will be doing in the new location? How long will they be there? What kind of benefits and compensation will they receive? Who will sign the work visa application on behalf of the receiving entity? (NOTE: This often has to be a local, in-country signatory .)
Some countries have quota requirements which dictate how many work visas can be granted to foreign nationals based on how many nationals are employed locally. This will be something the locally hired HR manager should have knowledge of, as well as writing contracts and arranging for required employee benefits, as dictated by local employment law.
If you know that all of the above activities are in-process, then you should start planning which benefits you will offer the expats you will send on assignment. Do you have a global mobility policy? Do you have assignment letters? Maybe you do not want to write a long, formal policy. But you will want to document some basic guidelines. Your relocation management company can help you figure out what will be best for your situation and company culture.
As you are planning which benefits to offer your short-term and long-term expats, you should also consult with an expat tax advisor regarding corporate and individual tax obligations in the home and host countries. Your expat tax advisor will also help you to formulate an expat tax policy for your company going forward.
The answer to “how soon can we get these employees on the ground” is: it depends. It depends on how long it will take to set up a legal entity in the new country, and then how long it will take for each expat to complete the visa application and submit the required, accompanying documentation. As always with international assignments, it’s best to allow as much lead time as possible.
You may also find helpful “Dos and Don’ts for a Global Mobility Newbie.
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