Biometrics puts the spotlight on global business travel compliance. Most companies know that any employee sent to work in a foreign location must have the right visa. Generally speaking, this would be a business visa for activities like client meetings, conferences, and contract negotiations, and a work permit for hands-on work (e.g., training, tech support, and machinery repair).

Many companies comply with this, but some don’t. Typically it’s either because they’re not aware of the requirements or because they choose to disregard them to avoid the time and expense of a work permit. They may believe violations won’t be detected, or that if they are, any penalties imposed would be minimal.

Now, though, as the technologies for detecting immigration violations including biometrics become more sophisticated and widespread, companies may want to tread more carefully. These technologies, which consist of various types of biometric screening, are becoming increasingly prevalent at ports of entry and exit worldwide. This means that anyone traveling on business without the right visa has a greater risk of being caught.

This is because once a traveler’s biometric data has been captured (for instance, fingerprints, facial details, and/or iris pattern) it’s added to a country’s database and, in some instances, that of other countries or organizations with whom it shares information. The data can then be used by immigration authorities to quickly and easily track subsequent travel and flag any suspected violations.

Violations are generally identified by analyzing patterns, such as multiple trips to a country within a short period of time. If the traveler was using a business or visitor visa for these trips, an investigation would most likely be conducted to determine whether he or she was actually working, and should have had a work permit.

Penalties for noncompliance vary by country and can be imposed on an employee and/or employer. These range from fines to civil and criminal charges, loss of sponsorship, involuntary closure of business operations, bans on reentry, imprisonment, etc.

In many instances, they’ll also depend upon the circumstances, such as whether the company and/or employee was aware of the violation or not.

If you would like more information on this, and how it may apply to your company and employees, please email MSI Immigration at