world’s my home… When I’m mobile”
Mobile’ by The Who, 1971
A glance around
the business class lounge at any airport lounge will bring you face to
face with numerous varieties of that modern day creature, "The Mobile Worker".
Logging in the available workstations, checking email on their BlackBerries,
or using cell phones to speak with their assistant at the home office,
these travelers are the modern incarnation of the "Global Economic Elite"
THE GLOBAL ECONOMIC ELITE?
There are two
general archetypes of GEEs. The first are individuals who bring their universally
transferable skills to various locations around the world.
group includes pilots, doctors, nurses, financial analysts, management
consultants, engineering and computer consultants, artisans, musicians
and actors, and skilled-trades people.
group is individuals who are able to operate from any location, which has
sufficient technological infrastructure. They include money managers, remote
business operators, and mail order or on-line service providers. This group
also includes internationally orientated lawyers such as the author. A
significant number of GEEs are a hybrid of the two archetypes and find
their need to travel varies according to their personal or professional
career life cycle. However it is the rare GEE who never engages in at least
some type of business travel.
In order to
be competitive in the modern global economy, every country must have a
critical mass of GEEs operating within their borders. This truism was explained
by Professor Ian Angell of the London School of Economics in his landmark
book, “The New Barbarian Manifesto” (Kogan Page 2000).
of these owners of intellectual and financial wealth will increase substantially.
will be made welcome anywhere in the world, no matter what their age, race,
sex, colour or creed. In an attempt at ‘right-sizing’, companies and countries
will be scouring the globe, competing with each other to attract this top
quality ‘people product’, dragging them off the planes if necessary. Knowledge
workers now have a choice. They can stay with the nations of their birth,
providing of course that the price is right, or they can join the new barbarian
hordes of ‘economic mercenaries’ somewhere else, thereby ransacking the
old order.” (p. 55-56).
while I agree with the theoretical soundness of Prof. Angell’s statement,
I find that the ‘on the ground’ reality is often quite different. GEEs
don’t deal with Finance and Immigration Ministers at the arrival counter
of airports. Rather they deal with front-line bureaucrats who may be ignorant
of the economic benefit that GEEs bring; feel that they are the protectors
of the domestic work force or simply jealous of the obvious prosperity
of the GEEs in front of them. As a result GEEs themselves or the organizations
which are seeking their presence must plan ahead to ensure their smooth
and timely access to all of the jurisdictions in which they hope to reside
CARE AND FEEDING OF THE HIGHLY MOBILE ELITE
If you are
a GEE or are the Human Resource Manager responsible for attracting or retaining
external and/ or internal mobile workers, then you need to have a proper
immigration strategy in place long before the plane touches down on the
tarmac. As in most effective problem solving exercises there are four basic
steps that should be followed. In short they are:
Step 1 Investigate
and Evaluate: Review the individual professional and personal necessities/preferences
of each particular GEE. This step would include determining the following:
and residence status(es)
of frequency of travel to various countries (i.e. occasional day visits,
short-term assignments, long-term or permanent relocations);
activities during travel to various countries (i.e. meetings at hotel,
site visits for discussions, ‘hands-on’ work or direct involvement with
locally based workers, senior administrative duties);
impacts if unable to enter or remain in a given country;
requirements (i.e. operate out of hotel room or customer’s location or
need to establish a permanent physical base of operations);
family members (i.e. will they be working or attending school);
labor standards regulation (employee vs. contractor);
global tax burden (e.g. restricting time in a given location); and
minor criminal complications.
and Strategize: Work with qualified immigration counsel to determine
‘best practices’ for travel for business meetings; determine means of acquiring
required ‘work permits’ (also study permits for children); review advantages
and means of securing ‘permanent residence’ and citizenship (including
reviewing related tax and dual citizenship issues).
3 Execute: Work with qualified immigration counsel to determine what
elements of the strategy can be completed directly by either the GEE or
the Human Resource Manager; and what elements are so complicated or important
that outside counsel should be involved.
Step 4 Monitor:
The immigration counsel should monitor and advise as to on-going changes
to immigration laws and administrative practices which may present difficulties
or opportunities to GEEs or the organizations that they deal with. As the
immigration counsel is dealing with a number of cases, across a variety
of situations and over an extended period of time, they should have a more
accurate understanding of current trends than a given GEE who may have
had a single negative (i.e. refusal) or positive (i.e. no questions asked)
Given the cost
of a missed business meeting or the ability to operate in a chosen market,
proper immigration strategies are a ‘mission critical’ requirement for
GEEs. Furthermore increased scrutiny in a post-September 11th world, which
is also struggling with the shift of economic power away for fixed local
workers to mobile GEEs means that it is even more important for individuals
to not rely solely on their ability ‘to talk their way in’. This
is especially true when claiming that you are just here ‘visiting friends’,
could result in a long-term bar for misrepresentation.
The turn of
the millennium is a time for unbounded potential for the Global Economic
Elites. However that potential can be frustrated or even severely curtailed
if you believe the myth that the world has no borders.
David S. Lesperance
84 King Street
West, Suite 202
Canada L9H 1T9
S. Lesperance - Barrister & Solicitor
called to the Bar of Ontario, Mr. Lesperance has been practicing exclusively
in the area of immigration and citizenship law. Prior to his call to the
Bar, he worked as both a Canadian Customs and Canadian Immigration official,
which gave him a solid practical knowledge of the issues, which port-of-entry
has developed a particular expertise in dealing with individuals who are
acquiring residency or citizenship to fulfill tax or estate planning objectives.
This may involve moving to high tax countries on a low tax basis; acquiring
residency in various tax havens; and/ or acquiring a legal “instant citizenship”.
Mr. Lesperance’s specialization.
and citizenship issues, offshore trust and tax planning issues, and the
introduction of these clients to banking, accounting, and other professionals.
has also attained particular expertise in assisting multi-national corporations
secure immigration and citizenship status for their key employees who operate
in multiple jurisdictions.
is a member of the Law Society of Upper Canada; the Canadian Bar Association;
the International Bar Association; the American Immigration Lawyers Association;
the Organization of Professional Immigration Consultants; the Offshore
Institute; and the International Tax Planning Association. He has appeared
before the Canadian Parliamentary Committee reviewing the Immigrant Investor
Program and has made submissions on the North American Free Trade Agreement
to the Canadian Negotiating Team.
has given speeches and written numerous articles on offshore strategies
to deal with U.S. tax liabilities and U.S. expatriation.
is currently contributing author for the publication, International Living
and a member of the advisory board of the Sovereign Society. In addition,
he is a featured columnist for The Wealthy Boomer, which is published by
The National Post in Canada.
Lesperance was appointed Legal Counsel to Global Relocation Consultants
S.A. where he is responsible for all client citizenship and residence matters
and advises various governments on the establishment of citizenship and
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