If you work in Human Resources or as a Global Mobility Manager, you know that having an experienced immigration lawyer to guide you through immigration legislation can be invaluable. When you’re working to get your assignees into Africa, knowledge of the local framework becomes even more important, as processes and lead times on the continent are often unpredictable and immigration legislation changes, even more so.
IBN Immigration Solutions’ CEO, Andreas Krensel, has had decades of experience working in the corporate immigration sector in Africa. This experience has allowed him insight into typical ‘red flags’ multinationals may encounter when planning a corporate mobility project into Africa.
1: Local Employment is a Requirement
“Most African countries require local employment,” states Krensel in the above video. Most African countries do not offer Intra-Company Transfer Visas where an understudy can be upskilled or the employee may keep the relationship with the employer in their home country intact. Immigration legislation in most African countries requires that the foreign national be employed by a local company to work in that country. Employer of Record companies may be a solution here, but this is a separate application that could lead to further obstacles and wait times.
2: Extended Processing Times
Immigration authorities in Africa often struggle with long processing times for a variety of reasons, including poor service delivery, inadequate staffing, mismanaged or damaged technological equipment and outdated processing policies. As Krensel mentions in the video, in Botswana, wait times for short-term work visas have gone up from two to eight weeks. In Kenya, it can take up to six months for a Class D work permit to be approved and in South Africa, Spousal Visa processing has experienced delays of up to a year in some cases.
Countries around the world are experiencing increased wait times post-pandemic and at IBN Immigration Solutions, we encourage potential assignees to keep this in mind when planning their corporate mobility journey and begin immigration administration as soon as possible to avoid disappointment.
3: Government Fees
“I always see eyes rolling back in the heads of people I send quotes to – our service fees are always kind of expected… and then they see the government fees in Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya, Nigeria, even Ghana – and they can easily rack up to 2000 USD or 3000 USD per person…” says Krensel. For many assignees, accompanying spouses and children must come along, as the assignee is the breadwinner. To put this into perspective, an assignee could end up paying around 6000 USD or 101 337,30 ZAR for themselves, one spouse and one child. Partner with an immigration firm that is experienced with calculating these fees within Africa and communicating costs effectively to help you prepare your overall immigration plan and your pocket.
4: Africa’s Restrictive Spousal Visa Policies
Many African countries still have not decriminalized same-sex marriages and while in some countries, this has happened, it does not mean that partners will be allowed to accompany their spouses.
As Krensel states, “Each partner will have to qualify in their own right but even unmarried couples are a problem and, surprisingly, like in Kenya, it’s still very old-fashioned, so if your wife is the international assignee and gets a great position in Kenya and you, as the husband wants to accompany, you’ll have a problem in Kenya to accompany your wife because the authorities are of the opinion that a man should not be accompanying his wife.”
Life partnerships are also not recognised in immigration legislation for most countries in Africa, with South Africa being the exception to this rule.
As an HR representative or Global Mobility Manager, it is extremely important to be aware of the visa policies that could restrict your assignee from bringing their family over with them. If you are unsure as to how to navigate any of these red flags, we highly recommend you get in touch with us.
5: Accompanying Nannies/Domestic Helpers
Most African countries do not make allowances for ‘extended family’ or domestic helpers to accompany assignees and their families. When planning your corporate immigration plan, it is important to discuss this with your spouse (if you are relocating privately) and your HR Representative or Global Mobility Manager (if you are relocating as part of a larger project).
The red flags we’ve discussed in this article may seem daunting but don’t allow them to put you off from enjoying your corporate mobility journey into Africa. Partner with an experienced African Immigration company like ours that can help you prepare for and mitigate these obstacles in advance.
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