Managing an international employee’s relocation to the U.S. for a company-sponsored assignment or permanent move may seem straightforward, but overlooking details can result in delays, frustration, and added costs to an already expensive proposition.
Ms. Randy Wilson, SCRP, President and CEO of NEI Global Relocation, gives insights into aiding and managing the relocation of employees into the U.S.
What is important to succeed?
Ample planning – ideally 12 months – for relocations into the U.S. is encouraged today. This involves everything from coordinating visa/immigration needs to housing, household goods shipments, family challenges and more. Running cost estimates before employees are presented their relocation offer is wise, as is using professional pre-offer candidate assessments to confirm candidates have “the right stuff” to succeed. These range from self-administered tests to in-depth assessments and prediction models.
Second, it’s a best practice to cost-effectively manage international relocations to the U.S. using an experienced global Relocation Management Company (RMC) to coordinate services with vetted global suppliers and ensure cross-border compliance.
Finally, consistent, competitive inbound-U.S. employee relocation benefits policies are critical to support business drivers, cultures, and budgets. Employees should receive proactive guidance from the RMC’s dedicated Counselors to maximize benefits. Counselors are employee advocates and expertly manage the entire process.
Key Areas of Support
Families of relocating employees are often excited at the prospect of moving to the U.S., but that excitement can turn to apprehension in the following areas:
Completing all required visa/immigration applications is key to scheduling U.S. arrivals. The RMC can manage this process with immigration experts. It is critically important to start the application process much earlier than in years’ past and to set realistic timelines. Immigration processes are now more complex and non-compliance penalties for employees reporting for work in the U.S. before work permits are secured may include fines and/or being banned from entering the U.S. for between three and ten years. Twelve months is the recommended time span to begin the process.
- Employee/Family Integration
Integration can be daunting. Expats often report each of the 50 U.S. states feel like their own separate country with unique cultures, climates, regulations, dialects, and more. To ensure international employees to the U.S. are productive from the start, pre-departure intercultural and/or language training helps them live and work confidently – especially in areas without large expat populations.
- Household Goods
RMC partners can arrange full moving services – from packing, crating, steel container loading, and shipping to unloading and unpacking in the U.S. Moving companies and freight forwarders in each country coordinate with the RMC to manage customs/port delays in the U.S. or the departure country and track shipments. This involvement saves employees stress and companies money.
- Housing and Settling-In
Employees entering the U.S. require professional home finding services. RMCs work directly with local Destination Service Partners (DSP) to view U.S. properties, assess leases for appropriate terms, verify rent fits within the housing allowance, and so forth. DSPs also help with settling-in by arranging utilities/internet connections, establishing U.S. bank accounts, and orienting to local shopping, schools, and hospitals.
- School and Spouse/Partner Support
School safety and academics are a top family concern when considering a U.S. relocation, so company-sponsored access to professionals who can identify destination solutions is encouraged. Accompanying spouses/partners who left careers and family behind, or perhaps find everyday tasks in the U.S. overwhelming, can impact the success of a U.S. relocation. Offering upfront, professional support can effectively overcome these obstacles.
Making the Process Succeed
Overlooking details or cutting corners when relocating international employees to the U.S. can risk non-compliance penalties and failed assignments, but also negatively impact valued talent who view the moves as significant career or growth opportunities.
Proactive, start-to-finish assistance and attention to detail directly supports international employees’ successes and companies’ business goals.