Work Permit Exemptions: In Between a Business Visa and Work Authorization

July 8, 2021

Remember the last time you were in a city that you had never visited before?

Maybe you were traveling for work in a new destination. You arrived earlier than your colleagues and were tired and hungry from traveling all day. Unsure of which restaurant to trust, you met with the hotel concierge. He knows the city like the back of his hand; not only did he quickly recommend three top-rated restaurants nearby, but he also provided you with a discount voucher.

What if you knew the concierge for business travel and immigration? You do.

Newland Chase has in-depth understanding and knowledge of a unique immigration category called work permit exemptions which fall in-between a business visa and work authorization. Work permit exemptions are attractive to companies because they are often less expensive, require fewer documents, and have faster processing times than a full work authorization process. In other words, it’s getting your employees and company exclusive access.

What is a work permit exemption and who qualifies?

A work permit exemption is an immigration category that applies to activities that are considered within the realm of requiring work authorization (as opposed to permitted business visitor activities), but for which full work authorization is not required.

Work permit exemptions can be secured for workers once specific conditions, stated by law, have been fulfilled and/or through the determination of the relevant immigration authorities. Typically, work permit exemptions have strict limitations on what activities can be performed and by whom, duration of stay or number of entries into the country, and how often an individual can utilize the route.

Work permit exemption options and eligibility criteria are determined on a country-by-country basis. Some examples include:

  • In Denmark, the Fitter Rule is a work permit exemption that can be used when a Danish company has bought a new system from a foreign supplier (possibly the UK) and a foreign-based technician is needed to install the system due to their specific knowledge on the machinery. The employee is only allowed to perform maintenance and/or service during the warranty period and can only utilise the work permit exemption for one visit.
    The Fitter Rule (work permit exemption) is evaluated on a case-by-case basis by the Danish authorities and the authorities do not operate with a fixed processing time to determine eligibility. However, Newland Chase can still help companies decide whether they can be covered by the Fitter Rule, based on the instructions given by the authorities.
  • In France, work activities relating to engineering, IT, management, finance, insurance, sports, cultural, film and entertainment are all potentially eligible for work permit exemptions.
  • Other countries, such as Spain, require approval by the consulate corresponding to the applicant’s place of residence before they are permitted to enter and complete work permit exempt activities. This is usually allowed in the form of either a Schengen C or D visa (depending on the duration of the activity).

Work permit exemption benefits and things employers need to keep in mind:

  1. Once it has been determined that a worker is eligible for a work permit exemption – either by an assessment of the destination country’s immigration regulations or confirmed by the relevant immigration authorities – the immigration process is far less complex, less time consuming, and not as costly as securing a full work authorization. Note that some exemptions may be deemed to apply automatically if eligibility requirements are met, while others may still require an application to be filed; however, these filings are still usually easier and faster than obtaining a traditional work authorization.
  2. Employers should also be aware that assignments into the EU/EEA/Switzerland may still invoke posted worker requirements (including, but not limited to, a Posted Worker Notification), even if an employee qualifies for a work permit exemption.
  3. Immigration authorities have final discretion on approval and processing times and decisions can vary even from different authorities within the same country. A common example is that of discrepancies between consulates and border control/authorities in-country.
  4. The EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) includes a list of activities that are supposed to be considered permissible for business travel for UK nationals traveling into the EU, and vice versa. It is important to check on a country-specific basis if a planned activity indeed falls under the listed “allowable activity” in the TCA.
  5. Given the complexity of this area of immigration law, as well as the common requirement to liaise with government authorities, it is highly recommended that employers plan well in advance and consult with Newland Chase for case-specific assessments.

How can employers maximise work permit exemptions to facilitate “affordable” business travel/assignments?

Remember when we said Newland Chase was like the concierge of business travel and immigration? Employers can maximize the possibility of securing these exemptions by relying on our expertize in this nuanced area of immigration and getting your eligible employees into the so-called work permit exemption club.

Employers can initiate a work permit exemption assessment with their Newland Chase specialist who would obtain initial information such as the number of employees traveling, the employees’ relevant information, the destination countries, and travel timeframe.

With the complex, fast-changing nature of immigration regulations and their considerable impact on employers, it is critical to have a trusted advisor by your side. Newland Chase stands ready to support you and your travel program. Contact your dedicated Client Services Manager today for more information. Don’t have an Client Services Manager? Contact us.

This publication is not intended as a substitute for legal advice. Readers are reminded that immigration laws are subject to change. We are not responsible for any loss arising from reliance on this publication. Please contact CIBTvisas or Newland Chase should you require any additional clarification or case specific advice.