Permits Foundation: Summer 2021 Update

Permits Foundation reflects on a six month period which has impacted the way we look at global mobility. Employers are tackling new issues and adapting as a result of the pandemic. Governments have been adjusting their immigration policies, also in anticipation of the needed workforce.


Welcoming new faces and sponsors 

Permits Foundation has expanded its Board, team and sponsor base in the first half of this year. In April, Fabrice Bouchaud joined the Permits Foundation Board. Fabrice brings over 30 years of HR leadership experience in the energy and technology industry and is lending his expertise as we develop our sponsor strategy. In May Diana Alarcón was welcomed to the team. Diana is a strategic designer and visual communication specialist, experienced in marketing, branding, design management and innovation and will be taking forward survey and conference projects. The Permits Foundation sponsor network continues to grow with leading global technology company ABB joining in April. 

Country advocacy around the world 

Don't forget to look at the update to the Permits Foundation interactive world map. Concerns about the revised EU Blue Card have been addressed in the agreement reached between the European Parliament and the Council. Permits Foundation has been in contact with policy shapers at the EU institutions since 2017, asking for improved processing times and recommending the deletion of a proposed labour market check for family members. The text, expected to be formally adopted in September, no longer contains reference to this check and significantly reduces processing times for family members. In announcing the agreement, Permits Foundation commends the Commission for highlighting that this aspect of the Blue Card “will help to attract and retain highly skilled workers from outside the EU.” Across the EU, Permits Foundation continues to monitor national schemes as well as intra-corporate transferee (ICT) Directive implementation on the ground. 


Ireland opts-out of the EU ICT Directive and does not currently allow family members of intra-corporate transferees to work upon recognition of their dependant status. Permits Foundation continues to make the compelling case for change and over recent months has been following up on the evidence provided to the Department of Enterprise Trade and Employment. In April, May and June, Permits Foundation made contact with the Ministers for Justice and for Enterprise Trade and Employment as well as their policy leads, and has also been engaging with the relevant Committees of Parliament. 

United Kingdom

In the UK under the new immigration system, recognised family members of highly-skilled workers still have the right to access employment and self-employment and Permits Foundation continues to view the UK as a best practice example here. The Home Office is now looking again at the ICT route particularly regarding skills and salary thresholds. From March - June there was a public call for evidence from the Migration Advisory Committee. In our response, Permits Foundation recommended that under any future system for ICTs, or indeed any high-skill visa route, recognised family members should continue to be able to join and have access to employment and self-employment – as is currently the case. Permits Foundation is also monitoring the post-Brexit experience of UK citizens’ families in the EU as well as EU citizens’ families in the UK. 


There have been recent changes in Singapore, where the requirements for Dependant’s Pass (DP) holders who wish to work, are being aligned with the requirements for other foreigners working in Singapore. As a result, from May 1st, there is no longer a path to employment via the Letter of Consent (LOC), other than for DP holders who are business owners that meet specified criteria. Spouses holding a work permit retain their Dependant’s Pass. Following the announcement, Permits Foundation broadened local network engagement in Singapore including conversations with service providers, companies, chambers of commerce and affected spouses. Some concerns have been raised, including around small businesses where DP holders are not in a position to hire employees when their LOC expires (now one of the requirements). Permits Foundation raised these issues when it wrote to and then spoke with the Ministry of Manpower. The Foundation plans to monitor the impact on mobile families and their decision to remain in or relocate to Singapore. Permits Foundation will follow up with findings to the Ministry along with the data collected in the upcoming Foundation survey. 

United States

There was a step change in the United States with the new administration and subsequent announcement of the U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021, signaling opportunity for immigration reform. Permits Foundation has been in contact with their US network, sponsors and with many other organisations including Worldwide ERC, AILA and Erickson Immigration. Via the Permits Foundation US position paper, they are making recommendations to members of Congress and Senate, US Citizen and Immigration Service and Department of Homeland Security. Permits Foundation proposals, alongside supporting information, underpin where policy change would help to achieve a more efficient and inclusive immigration system, boosting knowledge transfer and investment and without negatively impacting the local job market. There have already been developments in the US, with the welcome withdrawal of plans to rescind H4 employment authorisation, announced in January - something that Permits Foundation had been calling for - and the two year suspension of the biometrics requirement for L2 and H4 visas. The USCIS recently launched a call for feedback on their services and potential barriers. Permits Foundation's response made practical suggestions for more direct work access, to help address the lengthy processing times that have impacted so many. 

South Africa

In March Permits Foundation contributed to the consultation on the critical skills list announced by the Home Office in South Africa. The list which was last updated in 2014 includes the categories where critical skills visas can be issued to foreign workers. Permits Foundation took this opportunity to raise the issue of facilitating work authorisation for legally recognised family members of critical skills holders and ICTs. Permits Foundation continues to monitor immigration reform opportunities in South Africa in order to recommend direct access to employment for these dependants, and extends particular thanks to PwC South Africa for their work together around the consultation. 


Permits Foundation has big plans for India which began rolling out at the start of the year. While Permits Foundation advocacy was put on hold due to the heavy toll of the pandemic, there are plans to return to engagement in the next six months including; profile raising of the importance of dependant work access with representation in person and press, coordinated letters of support from the Permits Foundation local network, increased social media work and a local survey of international mobile families to reinforce our India specific data. Permits Foundation will continue to build on the evidence base for ICT spousal access to employment. 


China remains a priority country cited by Permits Foundation sponsors. Permits Foundation looks forward to making the case for dependant work access in the APAC region drawing from the sound evidence base of our upcoming survey findings. In the meantime they are reaching out to the Chambers of Commerce and immigration professionals in the region to help us to raise the profile of why partner and spouse employment authorisation is so important to companies and other employers. 

Permits Foundation survey on the future of dependant work 

This September Permits Foundation will be launching a widescale global mobility survey on the future of dependant work access. Permits Foundation will be gathering the views of mobile families (specifically partners/spouses) and also HR professionals and policy makers. The Foundation recently emailed sponsor focal points to ask for feedback on the top issues that have arisen in the light of changes in the global mobility environment since the pandemic. In the responses so far, Permits Foundation already sees a greater emphasis on virtual working, DE&I, mental health and well-being and the impact of the pandemic on assignment choice. This first feedback will be reflected in the survey questions and the data collected will be a great asset in Permits Foundation's up-to-date, evidence based advocacy. The headline survey results will be presented at the Permits Foundation 20th Anniversary Conference in November. 

Raising dual careers together 

The Permits Foundation team and Board have enjoyed participating in some wonderful interviews and online conferences over the past six months. Media highlights include contributing to the NetExpat Rethinking Mobility podcast and an interview with Board Member Michael Ephgrave carried out by Global Connection. The US position paper featured in this Worldwide ERC Blog on H4 work authorisation and in this Relocate Global article. And the Permits Foundation world map was covered here by femmexpat.The Permits Foundation 20th Anniversary Conference Last and by no means least - remember to mark 25 November in your diary for the Permits Foundation 20th anniversary conference! At this exciting event, you'll be provided with up to the minute insight on today’s key issues around international dual careers. You can attend the event in person in London (Covid rules permitting) or via the event platform. 

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