This is the fifth of a series of six short articles by Sophy King of Peregrine Immigration Management Ltd, covering some of the key areas of basic global immigration management. This article looks at immigration permissions for the family members of a corporate transferee (or locally hired work permit holder) – who qualifies as a dependent, and what are they allowed to do in the host country?
Can the work permit holder bring dependents at all?
Typically, the immediate family members of a work permit holder are granted permission to accompany him or her for the duration of the assignment in the host country. However, many countries have specific processes for short term, project based assignments (e.g. Article 19 in Greece, the Temporary Work Permit in Nigeria, the Technical Vitem V for under 90 days in Brazil) which do not permit the work permit holder to bring accompanying dependents at all.
The definition of “immediate family members” varies depending on the host country. Generally speaking, spouses and children up to the age of 18 qualify, although in some countries the cut off age may be lower than 18, and in some, it may be higher (e.g. the US, where children up to age 20 qualify).
Some countries also permit common-law (“de facto”) partners, provided it can be demonstrated that the relationship is akin to marriage – the host country may have specific rules around how to prove this. It may be possible for the main work permit holder to bring children over the usual cut-off age, or even parents and siblings, if it can be proved that these family members are financially, emotionally and/or physically dependent on the main work permit holder.
Several countries have immigration processes, designed to attract highly skilled and highly paid workers, which offer preferential treatment to the work permit holder. This may include additional dependent permission. Examples include the Highly Qualified Worker route into Russia, which enables the work permit holder to bring his/her parents, grandparents, siblings as well as partner, spouse and any children to Russia. The “standard” work permit route into Russia gives permission to married dependents and children under the age of 18 only.
Finally, it is worth considering some typical “red flags” – the burden of proving the relationship will fall upon the family; generally speaking, marriage and birth certificates must be provided, and these must often be translated and /or legalised/Apostilled (see previous article in this series!). Same sex spouses, even if legally married in the home country, may not be recognised a dependents. Work permit holders who wish to bring children from a previous relationship may need permission from the other parent of the child; dependent spouses who have kept their unmarried name may be required to provide additional evidence of their relationship; divorce/death certificates may be requested as evidence that previous relationships are over and that current relationships are valid.
What can dependents do?
The next question is around the activities in which the dependents, once they are in the host country, are allowed to engage. Again, and as regular readers of these articles will no doubt expect, this varies greatly depending not only on the host country but also on the specific immigration route followed.
The Work Permits Foundation has done some excellent work lobbying for work permission to be granted to spouses/partners of work permit holders – one of the leading causes of assignment failure (resulting in significant waste of time and money for corporations) is dependent family member unhappiness, often because spouses are denied permission to work and so, in order to accompany their spouse/partner, are required to sacrifice their own career and a large part of their independence.
Many countries recognise this issue and have granted work permission to partners, either as the norm (for example, the UK), or as an advantage for those work permit holders who have qualified for a highly skilled or permanent residence route (e.g. salarié en mission to France, permanent VIPER visa to Brazil).
One of the key benefits of the new EU Blue Card for highly skilled workers is that work permission should be granted to qualifying adult dependents of the Blue Card holder. It is important to note that permission to work for the dependent may be subject to an additional application (e.g. for dependents of L-1 visas in the U.S.).
As a side note, it is interesting to consider that in many countries where dependent work permission is granted, this permission is granted based on the fact that the worker is a dependent of a work permit holder and not on the position to be filled or the specific skills of the individual. Due to this, work permission for dependents, when granted, may be more flexible than the permission for their spouse or partner – the spouse or partner (the “main” or “principal” work permit holder) will often be limited to a specific job for a specific company, while his or her dependent family members may be granted permission to work for whomever they please. This is the case in the UK.
Finally, it is important to remember that although in most countries, dependent children may enrol in school without specific additional permission, in some countries, student permits are required –for example, South Africa.
In summary, permission for dependent family members to accompany a work permit holder in the destination country depends not only on which destination country that is, but also on the specific immigration route to be followed, and on the family’s ability to prove their relationships and their need to be together. Work permission for accompanying adult dependents may be granted based on the host country’s specific regulations and is more likely to be granted to dependents of senior, highly skilled workers or those who qualify for permanent residence.
Again, this article is longer than intended, but does not do the subject justice. Peregrine is able to generate detailed, multi-country and nationality reports on dependent immigration permissions using our revolutionary immigration database, Immiguru – contact us for more information!
See Sophy King’s other articles in the series.
- Global immigration basics
- Immigration basics: when does a business traveller need a work permit?
- Immigration basics: work permission at client sites in a host city
- Immigration basics: what are legislations and apostilles?
A basic understanding of how immigration processes work is vital in order to manage international assignments and projects efficiently and effectively. Peregrine Immigration Management Ltd is a young company founded by Sophy King specifically to address this need. Peregrine provides global immigration consultancy, training and knowledge transfer and management services, including via its revolutionary immigration knowledge database, Immiguru.