What to do if your employee’s visa expires

Although employers should never let an employee visa expire when they’re in other countries on the employer’s behalf, it does happen. In some cases this is easily remediated, but in others it’s not.

In many instances an employee will no longer be able to legally work in the country, although he or she may still be able to stay there by applying for a visa extension or a new visa. Timelines and processes for this vary considerably from one country to another, and some have even a grace period which enables the employee and company to more easily remediate the situation.

In Australia, for example, if your employee is working on a Temporary Work (skilled) Visa (Subclass 457), and the visa is about to expire, a new Subclass 457 visa application (extension) can be filed up to a day before original visa’s expiration date. The employee would then be issued a “Bridging Visa A.” This allows him or her to continue living and working in Australia until an outcome is received from Australian immigration authorities. Should the visa be approved, the Bridging Visa A would be changed back to a Subclass 457 Visa.

In the United States, on the other hand, your employee cannot have any gap in status, even for a day. Should this happen, U.S. immigration authorities can approve an extension but will not issue the employee a new I-94 (which is required for entry). The employee must leave the United States and have his or her visa stamped in another country in order to reenter.

In addition, the employee must leave within a certain time period after the visa has expired to avoid a ban on reentry. The length of the ban depends upon how long one has overstayed: three years if it’s been 180 days or more and 10 years if it’s been over a year.

It’s also important to note that employees should never attempt to resolve visa expiration issues on their own by hiring local professionals; those who do so risk getting scammed. In such instances, the solicitor or attorney is paid to file the extension, but never actually does.

Companies can avoid such scenarios by working with a reputable organization to handle the immigration process and ensure that employee visas always remain current.

Alternatively, they can put an audit system and tracking mechanisms in place for these (and other) criteria associated with business travel and international assignments to ensure compliance with required timeframes. It is also recommended that they maintain contact with local experts to remain current on local laws, as these can change rapidly in some locations, and without notice.