Most companies have an excellent process for onboarding new employees. But what about the opposite, the offboarding process? This can be tricky, especially when your company sponsors international visa holders.
Does your company have an international offboarding process? Does it meet all the requirements of your foreign workers’ visas? Here’s what you need to know about offboarding foreign employees.
What is offboarding?
Most people who work in HR are familiar with offboarding, but the term can mean different things to different companies. At a high level, offboarding is the process of separating an employee from their job. Offboarding includes several administrative tasks that ensure a smooth transition for the company and the departing employee.
Every company needs an official offboarding process that covers what happens when employees resign, retire, or receive a notice of termination.
At a base level, offboarding policies often start with the offboarding employee handing in company property such as keys, badges, computers, and cell phones. At the same time, IT and the security department will work on revoking access to company systems such as email and software applications and redirecting external communications, including emails and phone calls, to another staff member.
When appropriate, the company should also conduct an exit interview with the departing employee to collect feedback on their work experience and reasons for leaving.
A solid offboarding process, executed correctly, is essential to the employee lifecycle. When done right, it minimizes the impact of an employee leaving, preserving the company’s reputation and protecting it from negative publicity or lawsuits.
However, additional steps are often necessary for offboarding employees on a work-sponsored visa.
Offboarding for employees on a work-sponsored visa
When a foreign national is employed on a work-sponsored visa, their right to remain in the country often depends on their employment status.
Many work visas allow the employee to stay in the country to work in one field or type of job. In fact, when a company sponsors a foreign worker, the visa is often granted on the condition that the employee works that specific job within that specific country. Therefore, any change in job status can immediately impact the worker’s right to stay in the country.
In the case of resignations, the new employer will typically handle any visa concerns.
However, if a visa holder’s employment is terminated, they may lose their legal status immediately and be required to leave the country. Termination may also trigger obligations for the employer. Failure to follow sponsored visa requirements can result in severe legal and financial penalties.
For these reasons, companies must have an international offboarding process and follow it properly when the time comes. In addition to the standard employee offboarding process, the employer should notify the appropriate government agencies and be prepared to provide documentation showing the foreign employee’s job status change.
Other steps to follow will depend on the employer’s country, the type of visa the employee holds, and the circumstances that led to the employee leaving the company.
Offboarding foreign employees: Some examples by country
Here are a few examples of responsibilities your company may have when offboarding foreign employees.
The United States, the H-1B, and international offboarding
Companies can terminate non-immigrant employees working on the H-1B visa without penalty but need to address some employer obligations. First, they must notify the H-1B visa holder in writing that their employment has ended.
Since the employer had to petition the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to hire an H-1B employee, they must also inform USCIS that the visa holder is no longer employed at the company. This notification should happen in writing, with the letter sent by certified mail. In addition, the letter should note the termination date and a request to revoke the H-1B petition.
An employer must also notify the Department of Labor that it is withdrawing the labor condition application (LCA) submitted at the start of the H-1B application process.
The terminated employee is allowed a 60-day grace period of stay in the US, during which they can seek H-1B sponsorship from a new employer. However, if a terminated H-1B employee cannot secure new sponsorship or employment and must return to their home country, the original sponsoring employer may be obligated to provide reasonable transportation costs. This obligation does not apply if the employee has voluntarily terminated their employment with the company.
The UK: Tier 2 and Skilled Worker visas
In the United Kingdom, the Tier 2 visa and its replacement, the points-based Skilled Worker visa, allow specialized workers from outside the UK and EU to live and work in the UK. The conditions of both visas allow employers to terminate foreign employees for redundancy or dismissal reasons, albeit with some employer obligations.
First, employers must inform the Home Office within 10 days of the employee’s final work day. They must also include the reason for employment termination in the letter to the Home Office.
The employee will then receive a letter from the Home Office explaining the reason for the termination and will have 60 days to either find a new job or leave the country.
Germany: Work permit
Terminating employment on a German work permit triggers many employer obligations, including notifying authorities in the worker’s home country.
German employers must also make themselves available to answer questions from the terminated employee. This includes queries about how long the former employee can stay in Germany, what they must do to start a new job, and what happens next if they must leave the country.
The Netherlands: employment-based permits
The Netherlands offers migrant workers employment-based residence permits, such as a highly skilled migrant permit or a permit for paid employment. In the case of early employment termination, Dutch law allows highly skilled workers a three-month job search period before they must leave the country.
As with Germany, employers in the Netherlands face considerable responsibility when terminating a non-immigrant worker. First, Dutch companies are generally required to provide adequate notice or compensation to all terminated employees, which also applies to migrant workers. Then, the employer must inform the Dutch Immigration and Naturalization Service of the change in employment status.
Employers must also assist the terminated employee with finding a new job and obtaining a new work permit, or else help them return to their home country.
Why you should provide visa support when offboarding foreign employees
As an employer, you know that terminating someone’s employment is never an enjoyable experience. Things get even more complicated when the employee is in your country on an employment-based visa. By terminating a foreign employee's job, that worker might have to return to their home country, and your company may face significant government and legal obligations.
However, there are ways to make things easier for both your company and the employee. For example, you can provide the employee support and thorough answers to their questions to help them through this challenging process. Offering visa support also shields your company from potential legal liability, so it’s critical to have a proven and tested offboarding process.
Localyze helps navigate the international offboarding process
Does your company have an offboarding process? Does it meet your government’s requirements for companies sponsoring non-immigrant workers? Be sure to find out now and put one in place if you don't — before potentially exposing your company to legal problems. Need more guidance? Turn to Localyze for help navigating the international offboarding process.
To see how Localyze can make a difference in working with employees from all over the globe, schedule a call with us today.