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The COVID-19 pandemic continues to take its toll, as millions of people remain in their homes in absolute confinement, countries have closed their borders and global economic expansion has been drastically curtailed. In fact, recent projections of the International Monetary Fund are alarming, pointing global growth to fall to -3%. 

Migratory restrictions have been one of the measures employed to curtail the massive spread of COVID-19. While this tactic is having the greatest impact on reducing infection rates, it is also hampering economic growth. Nonetheless, the economic recovery of countries worldwide and the development of international trade will depend considerably on immigration mobility and the opening of countries’ borders. This blog aims to analyze the role of corporate immigration in relation to the imminent economic worldwide recovery. 

Global mobility for business or work purposes represents an important part of immigration worldwide. In fact, according to Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development studies, global labor migration constitutes a large part of total immigration worldwide; for example, in 2015 the number of migrant workers was approximately 150.3 million according to the International Labour Organization. 

The COVID-19 pandemic poses a major challenge for governments, because while the economic recovery depends, to a large extent, on cross-border business and transactions and, consequently, must be enabled, governments should also continue to control their borders to thwart the spread of COVID-19. 

In order to facilitate business or labor matters for the different industries, there will possibly need to be rigorous immigration controls placed on the global mobility of individuals, related to the real justification of the need of foreign manpower in relation to the development and rebound of the economic sectors. Immigration processes will most likely involve verification of health coverage abroad in order to safeguard local health systems, as well as the requirement of a medical exam, among other measures. All of these will aim to prevent the entry of foreign individuals that may carry an additional risk to the health of the inhabitants of a country.

Despite the strict measures that could be enforced in the development of immigration processes, this may be a key in the coming months for the negotiation and signing of treaties and cooperation agreements between countries as a measure to encourage international trade. This will result in beneficial and prerogative measures for the parties, which could include the migration and mobility of personnel for business or work purposes. Governments’ collaborative efforts with local and multinational companies will be critical to reestablish and reactivate the global economy. Here is where globalization clearly becomes an opportunity and an essential part of the worldwide economy.

Indeed, our role as immigration advisors is to be prepared for new restrictions in all jurisdictions, as well as to understand immigration processes and their purposes, in order to be able to recommend efficient strategies to our clients. Companies, on the other hand, should prepare to experience important changes in mobility processes, because although global mobility will play an essential role in economic recovery, as explained above, businesses will be required to adapt to more extensive and complex immigration processes that will be critical for global economic recovery.

We can estimate that the trend in most countries will be to achieve that economic recovery partly through an essential but more rigorous immigration policy. It will be critical that global mobility policies for company employees be implemented as one of the main pillars of the economic stimulus and a strategy to promote and boost the exchange of goods and services around the globe.

In conclusion, understanding the purpose behind immigration measures and policies to be adopted by countries will be a priority in terms of economic recovery. Hence, global mobility for work and business purposes should be carried out through adequate and efficient strategies that allow international travel of personnel, and both governments and industries shall adjust to new precautions to limit the spread of COVID-19 while at the same time reactivating the economy.

To discuss this topic, or any other issue related to global mobility and immigration, please reach out to your Fragomen immigration professional. Additionally, we have analyzed several evolving political, economic and cultural factors and scenarios to identify the shift of the three key themes of recent immigration policy changes in our Worldwide Immigration Trends Report Q1 2020 Supplement.