As ‘Covid nationalism’ continues to take hold, with countries doing their level best to protect local jobs, particularly in light of epidemic-related job losses, employees in over-border countries who have identified critical expat personnel should expect greater scrutiny when it comes to issuing of work permits and visas.
An extensive Africa Permit Risk Survey conducted by Xpatweb on 70 multinational employers across Africa to understand the impact of travel restrictions due to Covid-19 on their projects and employees showed that 44% of respondents urgently required employees who could not return to job sites due to travel restrictions, and 31% of these expatriates’ passports had expired.
Tarissa Wareley, an immigration expert at Xpatweb, says some countries have lead times of two to three months to process work permits and visa applications.
Kenya, DRC, Mozambique, Tanzania, and Botswana are among the top five countries that require the entry of new expats.
“Employers may also need to start considering how they will transfer expat skills to a local ahead of the permit being granted as these applications may need to be additionally motivated,” says Wareley.
62% of survey respondents indicated that they had been forced to postpone the start date of their critical projects due to the lockdown. The most affected sectors are oil and gas (14%), mining (15%), and construction (18%).
The countries that have been most impacted by projects that have not been able to start due to lockdowns are Kenya, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Madagascar, DRC, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Ghana, and Nigeria.