Compared to U.S. domestic relocation, relocating internationally is a whole other process. Here, we’ve dispelled the top 10 myths often associated with international relocation.
Work visas are not required if the employee is going to work in a country for less than 30 days.
If the employee is going to perform productive work for an employer in a country where they are not eligible to work, then, regardless of the time spent, most countries will require them to obtain a work visa. While certain business trips are permitted, workers cannot technically work (exchange physical or mental labor for money) without a work visa.
Once you approve your employee's new position in the new country, it's OK for them to go there immediately and start working.
Organizational approval of the new position is only half the battle. A work visa approval grants your employee the permission to begin work in a new country immediately. Keep in mind that the visa approval process varies by country. Once the employee applies, they may have to wait weeks to months before receiving their visa to enter the country and start employment.
The employee will be able to get a very similar home in the new location.
A different location means different standards, including what is important in a home. This can mean larger outdoor spaces versus larger kitchens, or smaller everything in comparison to U.S. “norms.” Not to mention price differences: Housing issues vary around the world as economic standing, living conditions, and cultural norms come into play.
Everyone speaks English, so it will be an easy transition.
A common misconception is that English is the only language the employee will need to know, wherever they travel. Besides being wildly presumptive, it’s also completely untrue. Not everyone in every country speaks English, let alone fluently. Plus, learning a new language opens up other doors for embracing a new culture. By offering language training, you can ensure your employee is better able to acclimate to the new culture.
The employee may need to learn a new language for a smooth transition, but their family doesn’t.
Actually, relocating to a new country can often be more stressful on the family than the employee. The employee’s spouse is also leaving behind friends, family, and possibly even a career. Children, who are often seen as more resilient, can feel secluded in a new culture that they don’t understand. It is important for the company to offer language and cultural training, not only to the employee, but the family as well to ensure they are able to thrive in their new environment.
Trailing spouses leaving behind a career just need time.
Time, unfortunately, is not the heal all for this type of adjustment. Even when provided with allowances, spouses can feel lost and insecure when leaving their old career for the unknown. Not knowing the language, culture, or types of jobs available can be overwhelming and draining. Offering career support, resume building, and job coaching can help the trailing spouse find a new career path faster than when left alone, which will help them adjust to their new surroundings that much faster.
It is difficult for the employee to fit in and they often feel secluded in their new country.
Employees can feel these emotions, especially if they don’t receive any kind of cultural training. It is important that they assimilate into the new culture as soon as possible to avoid seclusion. Many employees join other outside activities that assist with meeting new people, learning the new culture, and language. The more cultural training they have, the happier they will be in their new position and new lifestyle.
Expatriates coming to the U.S. don’t need cultural training.
Yet another misconception is that expats coming to the U.S. do not need cultural training. There is a perception that the U.S. is easy to navigate, but, in fact, the U.S. is a very different culture, and visitors are often surprised about the differences they were not expecting. For instance, the way Americans conduct themselves at work, toward strangers, and even eat pizza or shake hands is not the same as the rest of the world.
Culture shock never happens when an employee is returning to their home country after an assignment.
Typically employees feel a sense of culture shock when relocating to new a new country, but it is often overlooked that they can experience these same emotions when going back to their home country. Employees will need to go through an adjustment period, just like they did when they first moved internationally. The employee made a new home in their new country, so they have to get back in the mindset of their old country being home again. A change in job role, along with family adjustments, and the new surroundings can all be overwhelming for the employee.
Offering tax equalization benefits to employees means they will not have to worry about taxes.
Tax equalization is the benefit that allows your employee to continue to pay taxes as if they hadn’t left the U.S., and the company would cover the cost of the difference from the new country. Even if you offer them this benefit, they will still need to be aware of their own tax situation since they are the ones held liable if anything were to be wrong. It is essential that employees remain tax compliant while on assignment or if they are permanently transferring to their new country.