Interview: Orlagh Mailey, Fragomen Worldwide on Outsourced Migration

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Our chat with Orlagh Mailey, Senior Immigration Consultant at Fragomen Worldwide, where we gain insights on outsourced migration, including the business, importance of talent mobility. challenges in talent acquisition, regulatory requirements and best practices to adopt.

Just in the year 2018, Fragomen UAE have assisted with the relocation of employees from 78 countries worldwide and a total of 10,081 applications were filed across 19 Jurisdictions in the UAE. Fragomen UAE offices have also provided significant assistance in the MENA region servicing Afghanistan, Bahrain, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Morocco, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia and Yemen.

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Here are the excerpts:

Tell us more on the business of outsourced migration?

An outsourced migration model is becoming increasingly popular in the region with more and more companies fond of the idea that they can have their immigration processes and compliance matters handled by experts.

The market for this type of work is vast and assistance can range from a company with only one employee to large-scale companies with more than 500, there is no limit.

The opportunities are quite open-ended as businesses have unique needs for this type of work. On one hand, some companies require simple guidance and assistance with their employee visa renewals/cancellations while others need more comprehensive management of their immigration portals, protocols, and systems globally.

Services extend to company audits, employee eligibility assessments or simply standalone consultative advice. To be able to accommodate a diverse pool of clients it is important to offer a wide range of services that any business can avail of, no matter the size.

A tailored immigration package to suit everyone really is the backbone of the business.

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Why is talent mobility important from an immigration perspective?

Talent mobility is an extremely key factor to consider for various reasons. Not only does it allow employers to retain excellent staff and promote the overall business success, but it also ensures employees remain happy with ample opportunity for growth and progression within the business.

With an increasing focus on global expansion, companies require both vast knowledge of destination countries and a strategic management system in place to ensure this happens in the smoothest possible way. Immigration is a very diverse landscape and the laws and regulations change regularly.

To facilitate a streamlined and well-informed process from A to B there must be appropriate measures and risk management procedures in place.

Therefore, immigration and mobility come hand in hand, immigration ensures you have the talent in the right place at the right time.

What are the challenges faced by businesses with regards to talent acquisition?

The main challenge when hiring for nearly all businesses is time. Employers want their staff to begin working as soon as possible. The nature of the immigration process is that it can be difficult to estimate.

With legalisation of documents, changing government regulations and in some cases lengthy processes, time can cause frustration and cost money when the recruitment and hiring process stretches over a prolonged period.

In the UAE, the government has implemented numerous recent changes to enhance the visa processing experience, the most significant being that almost all applications can now be done online.

This continuous effort to improve the systems currently in place can mean change may happen overnight and employers need to be prepared for this well in advance.

Attracting talent is a small part of the bigger picture, a business needs to ensure their employees and candidates are eligible to work in the region.

Geopolitical issues play a significant role in determining the eligibility and employment of foreign nationals. Certain profiles face employment restrictions and longer processing/screening times, this must be factored into whether a person can be hired and how long this will take. Select nationalities have additional steps to be included in the hiring timeline, such as the medical examination, biometric capture and other procedures that must be complete before traveling to a destination country. This can add 2-3 weeks on to the standard visa processing timeline, creating a much larger window before an employee can start.

Earlier in the year, the UAE introduced police clearance certificates as a mandatory document for the hiring of all foreign nationals, it was an extremely complex and lengthy process which included legalisation and, in some cases, personal presence.

While this protocol is currently suspended there is every chance it could be re-instated.

What are the UAE regulatory requirements for managing to outsource?

To get started, a company must have valid corporate documents; this will at all times include a business licence, and an immigration establishment card, although depending on the jurisdiction and location of the business there may be additional documents.

There must be the appropriate immigration portal access and nominated authorised signatories who can represent the company for any of the paperwork signings. We always recommend there is more than one person designated as this can become complicated if they need to travel or if their residence permit is canceled.

The UAE requires a business to have sufficient quota to sponsor its employees and conditions for obtaining the quota will vary depending on which jurisdiction the company is based and whether it is registered in a freezone or mainland. The quota approval will be at the discretion of the authorities and sometimes subject to the passing of a labour inspection.

When a company is based within the mainland jurisdiction and has an employee headcount larger than 100, the law requires them to employ a Public Relations Officer (PRO). This person should be a UAE or a GCC citizen and will act as a bridge between HR, the government and the outsourcing company.

While typically the PRO can represent the employer in front of government offices, the immigration outsourcing firm would provide additional value-added services such as facilitating the communication with applicants, advisory services, auditing services, document expiry tracking, and many others.

What are the best practices companies should adopt when dealing with outsourced migration?

A company should keep a complete log of all employee information and data. Passport copies, visa copies, and information on dependents, job titles and salaries should be accessible. It is quite common for the labour department schedule a drop-in inspection to check that records are updated, and all employees have the correct authorisation to work on site.

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