Selected Comparative Country Immigration Rules


Where it is necessary to travel to China for commercial or trade activities, an M Business Visa should be applied for. Three types of visas fall within the M category. These are the single visa; the double visa; and the multiple-entry visa.

Those arriving on an M business visa must report to their local police station within 24 hours of arrival – unless they stay at a recognised hotel, which will register the guest for them. It should be noted that some M visas require the applicant to have received an invitation letter to visit the country from the ‘inviting’ company or business partner located in China.

Non-nationals who intend to undertake employment in China will have to apply for a Z Work Visa. This provides for a single entry and is usually valid for 30 days, during which time the non-national may apply for employment and residence permits. In order to apply for the visa, the non-national must be sponsored by a host entity or employer in China and possess an employment license or foreign expert license.

Non-nationals entering China using a Z Work Visa must report to the local labour bureau within 15 days to apply for an employment permit (if an employment license has been obtained) or a foreign expert certificate (if a foreign expert license has been obtained). Once a permit or certificate is received, the non-national must apply for a residence permit at a Public Security Bureau. This must be done within 30 days of the non-national’s arrival in China.

Non-nationals wishing for their family to join them must do so by obtaining the appropriate number of S1 visas.


Citizens of EU/EEA member states and Switzerland have the right to freely enter France without a visa. Nationals from Belgium, Luxembourg, Italy and the Netherlands are allowed to seek employment in the country without any further requirements, whereas nationals from other EU member states will need to obtain an EU-citizen residence card if they seek to reside and work in the country for up to three months and they will need to obtain a resident permit if they plan to stay for longer. This is normally a formality if they own property in France or are a well-established employee of a French company.

Non-EU/EEA or Swiss nationals wishing to reside in France for up to three months will need to apply for a short-term visa, whereas if they intend to stay for longer, they need to obtain a long-term visa and a residence permit before they enter the country. Long-term visas are normally valid for periods between three months and one year and can substitute for temporary residence permits. The latter are normally valid for one year and are renewable.

Non-EU/EEA or Swiss nationals intending to work in France must secure a job position, prior to their arrival. Their prospective employer will have to gain authorisation for the issuing of a work permit and send an enquiry to the employment service (ANPE) to verify that there is no French national who is suitable for the position.

Several types of residence permits are also available for expatriate staff transferred on a temporary basis from outside the EU/EEA. Employers of those on intracompany assignments who have completed at least three months’ service with a foreign employer may apply for an assignment permit, which allows them to live in France on a temporary basis, whilst remaining on their home country payroll. Alternatively, a key staff member may be transferred to a French contract and reside for the entire period in France.


Citizens from the EEA/EU countries and Switzerland will need to obtain a certificate of residence from the local Registration Office within the first three months of their stay in Germany.  This is normally just a formality, but the deadlines for registration vary – depending on the federal state.

Non-EU/EEA citizens must obtain a visa and a residence permit from the German Embassy or Consulate in their home country, in order to enter, reside and work in Germany.  In order to do so, they must first acquire an employment contract. The temporary residence permit is issued for training, study or employment purposes.  An individual may, on application, also be granted a residence permit for employment. This permit for general employment purposes has a one-year validity and is renewable, subject to certain conditions.

The Arbeitnehmeruberlassungsgesetz (AUG) law applies to any company transferring its employees to work temporarily with another company in Germany. This requires a company making the transfer to obtain a licence. Licences are valid for one year and are normally renewable for up to three years. Companies transferring employees from another non-EEA country normally have to prove that there are no restrictions applying to their operation in their home country. This requires a letter from the company’s relevant department with a German translation sworn before a German advocate.


Based on the purpose of their visit, foreigners will normally need to apply for a visa before entering India and register with the relevant Foreigner’s Regional Registration Office within 14 days of their arrival, irrespective of the duration of their stay.

Short business trips can be achieved through obtaining a simplified e-Visa which is applied for online, up to 4 months ahead of the planned visit. International travellers on casual business visits will need to have a valid passport and a return ticket in order to apply for an e-Visa. The Indian government has now extended its fast and simplified e-Visa scheme to 158 countries and increased its duration to 60 days.

Those travelling to India to do business on behalf of a non-Indian company who, for some reason, cannot obtain an eVisa or need to stay longer than 60 days will require a business visa, which is valid for three months to one year or more, allowing for either single or multiple entries. Each period of stay under a business visa, however, may not exceed six months. Foreign nationals entering India on a business visa do not have to register with the local authorities, given the duration of their stay does not exceed 180 days on a single visit.

Foreign workers may only be employed in India if they have a valid employment visa, which is normally valid for one year and may be extended on a yearly basis for a maximum period of five years. This visa is not required if the foreign national has a valid Person of Indian Origin (PIO) card or an Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) card.

Employment visas are normally valid for one year and may be extended on a yearly basis for a maximum period of five years. All foreigners must register with the relevant Foreigner’s Regional Registration Office within 14 days of their arrival, irrespective of the duration of their stay.


Citizens from all EU/EEA countries plus Switzerland may enter the country and are technically free to work without a work permit for up to 90 days. They will then have to register with the Office of Resident Population and apply for a residence card.

In order to legally employ a non-EU/EEA national, a local employer must first apply to the Immigration Single Desk (ISD) for a work permit, before the foreign employee enters the country. With the exception of managerial positions, the issuing of the ‘nulla osta authorisation is conditional upon the Labour Office and the local Police Office being satisfied that the post could not have been filled by an Italian or other EU national. The ‘nulla osta’ is valid for 6 months.

The prospective employee will then need to apply for a visa for employment purposes at the Italian Embassy or Consulate in their home country. The visa’s duration corresponds to the ‘nulla osta’’s validity period and the type of visa issued depends on the nature of the work sought to be carried out in Italy.

Once in Italy, the ‘stay contract’ will need to be signed by the foreign employee at the ISD. Then, a residence permit must be obtained. Residence permits have the same duration as the employment contract upon which they are issued, with a maximum duration of two years – although they can be renewed.

Seasonal workers from outside the EU/EEA are covered by an annual quota system and the quota is fixed for each nationality by a Ministerial Decree issued by the Prime Minister each year. This normally grants special arrangements for citizens of countries having bilateral agreements with Italy, while certain professions such as company executives or managers, highly qualified employees, university lecturers and translators are exempted from the quota.


Japan operates visa-free travel agreements with 68 countries around the world for the purposes oftourism, commerce, conferences, visiting relatives/ acquaintances, etc”, but not paid employment. These allow trips of up to 90 days for citizens of most countries.

The majority of foreign workers entering Japan are on short-term work visas, and immigration is still so much a political hot potato that even the term ‘immigration’ is seldom used in official documents. There are, however, 27 different types of visas available in the country, which can be divided into three main groups: work visas, non-work visas and family visas.

Work visas are issued by reference to listed occupational categories – where supply shortages are believed to exist or company flexibility is necessary. These include certain medical services, engineering and legal services, or for ‘skilled labour’, ‘highly skilled professionals’ or intra-company transferees. There are no formal quotas or preferences applied between foreign nationals and Japanese workers, but if a visa for an intra-company transfer is applied for, the employee must have worked for the company for at least one year in another country before the transfer.

Applicants for a work visa must be sponsored by a particular employer. The visa sponsor must lodge an application at the local immigration office on the applicant’s behalf. If successful, the Ministry of Justice will issue the applicant with a ‘Certificate of Eligibility’. The Certificate confirms that the applicant meets the conditions for working in Japan. The applicant must then use this certificate within three months of its issue, in order to apply for a visa at the Japanese Embassy or Consulate where they reside. Russian nationals, Chinese nationals and those from NIS countries may be required to submit additional documents.

Within 14 days of arriving in Japan the employee must apply for resident registration status at the government office closest to where they live. Under the Immigration Law, the Residence Card functions as proof of their holder’s visa, but it is only available to those in possession of a visa with a duration of more than three months.

The ‘highly skilled professional’ visa, may be granted to foreign nationals according to a points-based assessment. Holders of the ‘highly skilled professional’ visa are entitled to various benefits, such as a fast track towards permanent residency. The ‘highly skilled professional’ visa’s initial validity is five years.

The Netherlands

Citizens from all EU/EEA countries, plus Switzerland may freely enter the Netherlands to reside and work, for up to 90 days. Even though they will need to secure a residence card if they want to reside in the Netherlands for more than three months, they will not require a work permit in order to be employed in the country.

Non-EU/EEA or Swiss citizens should first obtain a temporary residence permit (MVV) from the Dutch Embassy in their country of origin. After their arrival in the Netherlands they must obtain a full residence permit. Until a residence permit is received, third-country nationals are not allowed to work in the country.

However, there are exceptions to the residence permit requirement.  Nationals from the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Japan do not need an MVV and may apply for a normal one-year residence permit after their arrival in the Netherlands. It is a curious fact that Japanese workers do not require a work permit to work in the Netherlands, even though they still need a residence permit to live in the country.

The Dutch employment service (UWV WERKbedrijf) and immigration service (IND) operate a joint centre for processing temporary residence and work permit applications. This cuts down on the total time required to issue permits to prospective employers of third-country nationals. Further, The Dutch government has introduced its own points-based assessment system for talented workers from outside the EU/EEA and Switzerland.


Citizens from the EU/EEA countries plus Switzerland may freely enter the country to reside and work for up to 90 days.  They only need to obtain a registration certificate and a national identity number if they intend to stay in the country for more than three months.

All other foreign workers must first obtain a visa and a work permit in order to be employed in Spain.  Three types of visas are available to foreigners wishing to enter Spain, namely an airport transit visa, a short-stay visa (Schengen) and a long-stay visa (for more than 90 days).

Nationals from the USA, Australia, Canada and New Zealand are exempted from the short-term visa requirement, but they will need to obtain a long-term visa if they intend to reside in the country for more than 90 days.

Within 30 days of their arrival, non-EU/EEA citizens will need to apply for a temporary residence permit. This grants them the right to remain in the country for a period between three months and five years. A fast-track visa procedure is also available for non-EU/EEA investors, entrepreneurs, researches and highly-qualified professionals. Various conditions for the issuing of fast-track visas apply.

Multinational companies transferring non-EU/EEA directors, specialists or trainees to a unit of the company located in Spain may apply for ICT visas. These will allow the intra-company transferees to stay in Spain for up to three years in the case of directors and specialists, and up to one year in the case of trainees.

In addition, holders of an ICT visa issued in another EU member state will be able to work in Spain for up to 90 days in each 180-day period without requiring further permission. If such ICT holders wish to work in Spain for a longer period they will have to apply for a Mobile ICT visa.


Indian nationals holding a normal passport valid for a minimum of six months from the arrival date, and a visit visa or green card issued by the USA which is valid for a minimum of six months, may obtain a visa on arrival for a maximum stay of 14 days. Citizens of 22 countries arriving in Dubai do not require a visa for trips of up to 30 days – including Australia, Canada, China, Ireland, Japan, Russia, Singapore, UK, and the USA. Citizens of a further 34 countries – including France and Germany – will be issued with longer stay multiple visas on entry.

To obtain permission to work in UAE requires crossing a number of hurdles. For instance, a ‘certificate of good conduct’ from the police is a prerequisite for obtaining a work visa. This must normally be issued by the country of origin of the foreign national, upon the request of the employer, after being granted the relevant work permit. Work visas are initially valid for two months and they allow their holders to enter the UAE for employment purposes.

A 10-year visa is also available for investors and professionals in the fields of medicine, science, research and technology. Those studying at University in the UAE will be given a five-year visa and exceptional students a 10-year visa.

Once in the UAE, non-nationals may take up employment there, provided that have been approved by the Labour Department and have obtained a labour card (work permit). Work permits are applied for by the prospective employers and issued by the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation. Electronic work permit cards are valid for two years.

UAE nationals are normally given priority to work and in case there are no national workers available, preference is given to nationals of another Arab Country.

United Kingdom

A special visa category for ‘Business Visitors’ is available in the UK. Under this visa, foreign nationals entering the UK may stay in the country for a maximum of six months in any 12-month period. They must be based (normally resident) abroad and will only be allowed to undertake certain transacting activities such as attending meetings and briefings, negotiating or making contracts with UK businesses.

The ‘representatives of overseas business’ visa category allows companies without an existing UK operation to send a senior employee to the UK to establish a presence, given that employee meets certain requirements. Entrants under this category are admitted for an initial period of three years.

UK businesses employing third-country nationals are subject to a points-based system, which reduces the previous 83 entry routes to five broad tiers. In 2011, the UK also introduced an annual quota on non-EU/EEA migrants coming to the UK under the Tier 2 General category.

The Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer) category allows multinational companies to transfer employees from their overseas organisation into their UK branch or subsidiary. It is important to note that at the end of the visa or earlier repatriation, the migrant will receive a 12 months exclusion from re-entry to the UK under any Tier 2 category.

At the time of preparation of this module it was uncertain in what form the UK would depart from the European Union on March 29th or if a transition period until at least January 2021 would apply. For that reason, it is not possible to state what affect departure from the European Union will have on freedom of movement for UK citizens and workers, or what rights of travel, residence or work will apply for EEA nationals in the UK.


Nationals of certain countries, such as the UK and certain EU countries,  wishing to enter the USA on a short-term business trip may do so through a visa waiver scheme. However, they must also visit a US embassy or consulate to obtain an ESTA confirmation at least 72 hours before departure.

If any other employee wishes to visit the USA on business, it is necessary to first verify that the purpose of their trip fits in with the permissible B-1 visa visits list.  Visits under the ‘business visa’ are permitted for a specific, limited period of time, to investigate a potential investment, in order to attend a conference, have a business meeting, settle an estate, undertake short-term training or short-term technical work as a service engineer, negotiate an agreement, giving a lecture or undertaking business-related research.  A B-1 visa may take up to 4 weeks to obtain and must begin with an online application.

U.S.-based companies are allowed to transfer executive or specialised staff to their offices in the USA, given that these employees have been employed in a branch of the company in another country for at least one year within a 3year period. The employees granted an L-1A visa are permitted to reside in the U.S. for an initial period of three years and they can extend their stay twice for further two years each time, until they reach the maximum total of seven years. Under the L-1A visa, foreign companies are also allowed to transfer their managerial/executive staff as expats to the USA, in order to establish an office there. The transferred employee will be granted a one-year initial stay in the U.S.

It should be noted that since the President’s “Buy American, Hire American” Executive Order, there has been a vast increase in the volume of inspections by both the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Copyright: FedEE Corporate Services Limited 2018/19

The Federation of International Employers (FedEE), FedEE Academy, Adam House, 7-10 Adam Street, The Strand, London WC2N6AA, UK. Tel: (00) (44) (0)207 442 5570   Email: