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Global Mobility Risks — The Challenge of Immigration Compliance in a Jungle of Regulations


Progress in instantaneous communication and high-speed transportation are making the world in which we live smaller than it has ever been and have allowed businesses to expand their operations to far-flung locations around the world. Of course, these locations need to be staffed by skilled, reliable employees, which often necessitates re-locating employees to new countries, whether for a short-term assignment or a lengthier stay.

But while global mobility is indeed more important than ever, companies continue to face serious legal and regulatory hurdles. We live in a world of nation-states, after all, and every country has set its own rules for regulating the hiring and re-location practices of foreign companies. And these countries are not shy about enforcing their rules.


Switzerland is no exception for EU and non-EU citizens and, despite the bilateral agreements between the EU and Switzerland that facilitate mobility for EU citizens, more than ever, keeping track of mobile employees’ immigration compliance is absolutely vital. A failure to do so can expose any company based in Switzerland to significant legal consequences, which can include heavy fines and restrictions on the ability to operate within the country.

Clearly, the market trend of most multinational companies based in Switzerland in terms of relocation is to attempt (not everyone is there yet) to make international assignments more strategic, rather than just a learning and experience building operation. And the trendy increase in short term assignments relating to projects also have immigration challenges.


More recently, we have been involved in securing work permits for companies based in Europe that don’t have an entity registered in Switzerland but are assigning experts to their customers in Switzerland. The immigration regulations relating to such projects requires a very good understanding of cantonal laws and, as I often say (my wife would say « too often »), Switzerland is not one country, but 26 different jurisdictions. While there is clearly a federal law, each Canton has the autonomy to have its own processes and forms. Consequently, each project must be handled with a clear understanding as to where the work is intended to be performed.

Traditionally, many companies try to keep track of immigration obligations through Excel spreadsheets or other jerry-rigged solutions. But time and time again we have seen that these methods fall short and generate compliance failures. And the risk is the company isn’t aware of the non-compliance situation.

  • Immigration Risk & Compliance Audit

When was it you last had an immigration audit? Or have you in fact ever had a compliance audit ?

For companies in a fast-moving business environment that entails an increased pressure to identify highly talented experts and generating increased risk to non-compliance exposure we offer a pragmatic « in-situ analysis » approach to mitigate risks.

The Immigration Risk & Compliance Audit that we propose has a three step approach that will review your processes, identify risks and propose a hands on correction plan.

GR Mobility Swiss Relocation Group has a professional Immigration Centre of Expertise and we are happy to set-up an appointment for a confidential discussion.

Francis Docherty — Board Member of SARA GR Mobility Group — Chief Commercial Officer Geneva | Lausanne | Zürich | Switzerland ✉️ : francis.docherty@grmobility.com ☎️ : +41 (0) 799 375 964

#immigration #compliance #workpermit #globalmobility

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