Businesses looking towards East Asia will be excited to learn that Japan has introduced phased measures to allow cross-border business travel to return for some countries.
This is great news for companies previously upended by the global pandemic’s impact on international travel, but do these changes signal the restart of global mobility or is relocation still frozen?
Challenges to Global Mobility & Visa and Work Permits in Japan
Japan closed its borders when the pandemic hit and placed restrictions on over 150 countries. This effectively froze global mobility plans and indefinitely postponed the relocation of global talent to the country. Meanwhile, HR teams tasked with global placements scrambled to navigate the new landscape of restrictive border controls, lockdowns and quarantines.
Visa and work permits were also affected. Japan suspended a host of visas which impacted expats already in the country and in some cases prevented working visa holders from re-entry. While these controls may have curbed the spread of the virus, it also prevented the migration of many workers.
Changes to Travel Restrictions in Japan
The changes to travel restrictions now mean that Japan is allowing some non-Japanese nationals to relocate or travel into the country for work. To implement this, Japan is phasing in countries and those covered include much of southeast Asia, like Vietnam and Thailand, as well as Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong and South Korea.
Japan is working on two methods to enter the country – the Business Track and the Residence Track. Each has unique requirements for admittance, such as:
- Providing proof of a negative Covid test within 72 hours of travel
- Providing the country with your travel itinerary for 14 days
- A written pledge from the hiring company to adhere to quarantine measures
- Submitting a schedule of activities for the trip, including destinations of hotels and offices
- Limiting areas of activities
- Health check follow-up after 14 days in country
- Avoiding the use of public transport for 14 days
- Keeping location data for 14 days
- Installing new COVID-19 Contact-Confirming Application (COCOA)
The procedure for each country is based on specific agreements with Japan and is subject to change.
While the Business Track is currently only operating for cross-border travel with Singapore, the Residence Track has a larger operational range and includes Malaysia, Cambodia and Singapore, among others.
Do the Changes Give the Green Light to Global Mobility?
It depends. While borders aren’t yet as free-flowing as they were pre-pandemic, they are ajar. It is now possible for companies from select countries to place staff in Japan.
While this is great news for some, companies from countries unable to expand into Japan can turn to other solutions to compliantly hire in the country, even without travel.
Is There an Alternative to Relocation?
Yes! With an Employer of Record (EOR), it is easy to expand, even for companies that lack a Japanese entity.
Businesses working with an EOR can easily expand into Japan by compliantly hiring local talent to remotely kick-start new operations. This helps companies, as the hire will have local knowledge and may even have contacts that could generate new business.
For companies looking to relocate world-class talent when movement is impossible, an EOR can compliantly employ the new hire to work remotely from the country they currently reside in and even facilitate relocation when restrictions lift.
Partnering with an Employer of Record offers a simple and compliant way for companies to keep on target for their global business goals, regardless of restrictions.
For advice you can trust, speak with an Employer of Record
About Elements Global Services:
Elements Global Services is an award-winning HR technology & services company. Elements provides employment solutions in over 160 countries – covering everything from payroll, benefits, HR, local compliance to visa & mobility. Headquartered in Barcelona, Spain, Elements has a global network of offices and employees delivering innovative solutions to its growing customer base. Elements’ Direct Employer of Record model helps companies expand, onboard, manage & pay employees worldwide. Visit elementsgs.com or LinkedIn for more information.