Working abroad : compliance, respecting the basis

Working abroad : compliance, respecting the basis

Immigration compliance is like good flour at a bakery, good car in Formula 1, good foundations for a building: it’s THE BASE.

As an immigration expert, it is our job to remind our clients of the basics: anyone working in a foreign country must be in good standing at the immigration level. And this means that apart from a few rare exceptions, a tourist/business visa does not allow you to work.

« Business: you talk about it; work: you do it”.

The activities that are authorized to you, apart from tourist activities and / or friendly and family, are the following:

  • Business meetings
  • Visits to clients
  • Interviews, conferences, seminars
  • Negotiating contracts
  • Prospecting

Depending on the country, the list is longer and more and more precise: training may or may not be accepted, as may the provision of after-sales services. In general, your activities should not create wealth in the country, and should not be considered work.

You can find these lists on the websites of the Ministries of Labour or External Relations of the countries.


The reflex  “what can I do under a tourist/business visa in this country” is essential to acquire when you have to travel abroad for professional reasons. The risks to the traveller and their employer are too high to be worth it.

Sanctions vary by country, but the most common are:


  • Deportation from the country
  • Fines
  • Prohibition
  • Prohibition/difficulties in obtaining a visa in the future
  • Detention of varying length of time


  • Fines
  • Bad press
  • Ban on recruiting foreign talent
  • Withdrawal of the operating licence
  • Regular labour inspectorate checks

The consequences are real, the controls more and more frequent and really, it does not happen only to others! Any traveler is subject to the immigration compliance of the host country and a confusing sentence when passing immigration at the airport or an on-site labor inspection control can quickly lead the authorities to question your legitimacy to be, and even more so to work, in their country.

Abuse: why?

As an immigration expert, and according to the definition we have at Oui Immigration, our job is to help you. This involves advising on what is feasible and what is not and alerting yourself to the risks so you can manage them. On the other hand, this does not imply validating any request that seems to us inconsiderate or even illegal.

We also have in mind the reasons why companies or travelers go against this basis that is immigration compliance, and put themselves at risk. Here are some of them:

  • Operational/financial needs: if this manager or technician does not arrive in a particular country as soon as possible, the financial losses or commercial damage will be severe;
  • Immigration delays: wait several months for the person to have his work authorization, work permit, visa, etc. is strategically not possible: we will send it to the country while waiting for the procedure to be done.
  • Non-adaptation of countries: apart from a few countries offering short-term work permits that can be obtained in a few weeks or even days, countries do not realize the business needs of companies and do not offer adapted solutions.
  • Non-realization of risks: unfortunately, as long as we have not been confronted with the problem, we do not think about it. Talk to companies that have been considered non-compliant, have had to settle this with the authorities or even get their leaders out of prison: immigration is No. 1 priority during an assignment, no more risk is taken at this level.
  • Lack of training/information: sometimes managers are not even aware that some of their employees are abroad – this is increasingly common post-Covid, with international teleworking.


  • Getting informed/training: Oui Immigration offers compliance training for companies, in order to raise their awareness of business trip compliance;
  • Inquire before departure about what the tourist / business visa allows in this country, which implies….
  • Anticipate travel as much as possible
  • Set up a mobility policy adapted to business trips, involving travel arrangements and risk management
  • Exchange with other companies on good practices

Several solutions exist. In our opinion, the most effective way to put others in place is above all not to think that controls rarely happen, and to others. This is totally wrong. Pulling on the rope by saying “it’s going to be fine!” is a real risk that will have repercussions on your business, your finances and even your establishment in the country concerned.

Contact us to discuss!

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