Most frequent business travelers and the teams that support them are familiar with the usual immigration options of visas, visa-free business travel, and work permits. These can be frustrating, time consuming, and not always a good fit for schedules or travel purposes. Thankfully for those headed to Asia, many countries have immigration options that lack the issues of more traditional routes.
China’s Stop-Over Transit without a Visa Program
Business travelers stopping in some Chinese cities between two other countries can leave the airport to attend business meetings. This exception to the usual entry visa requirement can be used for many cities in China, but stop-over duration varies by city and province. Some cities allow transiting visitors to stay up to 144 hours (6 days) between arrival and onward travel, other cities limit the transitory stay to no more than 24 hours. One very important thing to consider before using this option: onward travel is a specific requirement. The departing flight cannot be to the same country as the point of origin.
APEC Business Travel Card (ABTC)
The APEC Business Travel Card or ABTC is similar to the United States’ global entry program. For citizens of 19 Pacific Rim countries, including Australia, China, Japan, Korea, and Mexico, it can serve as a combination pre-clearance/visa approval and fast lane access card. For US and Canadian citizens, it does not serve as a visa, but still gives access to fast lanes at many Asian airports.
For Short-Term Assignments
Australia’s “Short Stay Specialist” Visa – Subclass 400
A hybrid between a business visitor visa and a traditional work permit, Australia’s Short Stay Specialist Visa (also known as the subclass 400) allows for hands-on work by specialists assigned to a specific project. Work authorization is generally limited to 90 days and usually cannot be extended. For a work permit, processing times are remarkably fast. Standard processing time is 2-3 weeks and 2-day processing is common.
Singapore’s Employment Pass
Singapore has one of the most straightforward and efficient immigration systems in the world. Its main work permit, the Employment Pass or EP, is a multi-year permit that can also be used for short-term assignments. Applications for high earners (above SGD 180,000 a year, or about USD 130,000) can be processed in as little as three weeks.
For the Diaspora
India’s Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) Status
India’s immigration system is unique in many ways. The OCI or “Overseas Citizen of India” status is one such feature. India doesn’t recognize dual citizenship (it is a prohibition written into the constitution) but does grant citizenship-like OCI status to those who can trace their ancestry to India and meet other eligibility requirements. Once granted OCI status, OCIs can live and work in India with very few restrictions.
China’s Mainland Travel Permit for Taiwanese Nationals
Citizens of Taiwan have a special path to work authorization in mainland China. They can skip the time consuming visa/residency permit/work permit process and enter and work with just a “mainland travel permit.” This is an offshoot of the “one China policy” under which Taiwan is a part of China. Similar permits are available to residents of Hong Kong and Macao.
To find about more about these options and find out how they can work for you and your team, contact our immigration attorneys.