The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the immigration industry
Immigration and International Mobility firm, Xpatweb, recently launched a survey to measure the impact of Covid-19 on the immigration industry.
Tarissa Wareley, an Immigration Specialist at Xpatweb, says some of the issues the Africa Permit Impact Survey aims to measure how many people are grounded either in or outside an African country that they work in due to the pandemic, which market sectors have been impacted the most, and how the government immigration departments of various African countries are affected by increased or reduced VISA and work permit applications.
“Many people have found themselves stuck either in an African country or outside the relevant African country they need to be in for work, either with or without current employment and with visas and passports that are about to expire. The most pressing need is to find out how many international workers are affected across Africa. The intention is to provide this information to the government so that they can prepare for a potential influx of applications once travel restrictions lift,” said Wareley.
Preparing for a spike in work permit and visa applications
The survey is being distributed to multi-national companies with operations in Africa who specifically employ overseas workers for both short and long term assignments.
“Once the survey is complete, we could potentially show different countries’ immigration departments what type of spike in work permit and visa applications they can expect. Xpatweb hopes to help these departments find a way to streamline these applications and get people into the countries they need to be in for work as efficiently as possible,” said Wareley.
Wareley said some African countries’ immigration services are still open, with many of them still processing work permits but not visas. The processing time of these applications remains very slow due to Covid 19. However, Wareley’s team anticipate receiving an outcome as soon as the Immigration Authorities resume their activities in full.
“Many countries still offer limited immigration services. Work permits, which are needed before a visa application can be done, can be completed in most countries during the lockdown. With this first step complete, workers’ visa applications can be processed as soon as restrictions lift,” said Wareley.
Companies urged to be proactive about employee worker and visa applications
For many foreign workers, work permit and visa applications are often a rushed administrative task that happens at the last minute. Wareley said companies will have to be more proactive about applications to avoid bottlenecks that will likely exist at many immigration departments after lockdown. She also added that, she highly recommends for all the paperwork to be prepared whilst waiting for the travel restrictions to be lifted. This will allow us to be amongst the first applicants after lockdown.
“Many African infrastructure projects, such as those in the oil and gas sector, for example, have been put on hold due to Covid-19. Making sure that companies have the right people to get projects back up and running as soon as possible is a top priority for both the public and private sectors.
A proactive approach will ensure companies who employ internationally and their staff avoid waiting and headaches down the line. Apply for work permits and visas well in advance so that people are allowed to enter the country as quickly as possible,” concluded Wareley.