Staying on the topic of HR and yesterday’s post, here’s a comment from Bardon:
We do outsource visas, not sure if that is in the HR bag. We use a well know international firm for this, the McDonalds of visas and right now I am thinking that we will be getting our Canadian mob to use them as well.
Visa applications and work permits do fall under HR, but not all manage the process competently. The best I saw was in Russia where the company I worked for had a small team of HR women dedicated to nothing other than renewing the quotas and applying for work permits for the thousand-odd people we had on site. They even arranged the medicals for each person. That said, it took them a few years to get the system working well; incentives were provided by new laws imposing heavy fines on any company caught employing people on a business visa.
The worst I saw was a Malaysian friend of mine seconded to the UK for 6 months by a giant multinational and expected to enter the country as a tourist and work on that. HR didn’t even mention the issue of a visa, but when I asked him about it he made inquiries. HR’s response was that as a Malaysian he shouldn’t need a visa to enter the UK. It seems HR professionals involved in sending people on overseas assignments are not always aware of the difference between a tourist entry visa and a work permit.
The laziest I saw was when I was sent to Australia. My company had a full local HR department who’d decided to outsource visa applications to an agency, presumably being too busy to do the administration themselves. The agency contacted my colleague and me, directing us to the government visa page where we could find the application form along with an instruction to fill it in and send it back to them. So it was left to us to work out what visa we were applying for, what company addresses to put, what durations, etc. My colleague spent several weeks trying to assemble documents proving her grandparents’ birth dates before I eventually wrote a blunt email to the agent asking why this was necessary for a 6 month assignment. He wrote back and said it wasn’t necessary, because we were only on a 6 month assignment. I have no idea what my company was paying this agent on top of their own HR staff, but their added value insofar as visa applications went was nil. In fact, it might even have been negative: they gave us advice on how to renew our initial visa which turned out to be completely wrong when we turned up at the immigration office.
From what I’ve seen, outsourcing visa applications can work well but you need to get the right agent. And if it’s really important and you have a lot of people who can’t be relied upon to do it themselves (e.g. manual labourers), you might be better off keeping it in-house.