What is a
Visa and Immigration Compliance?

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Most countries limit the length of stay for non-citizens. If you’re a frequent traveller, or you manage travel for your company, you want life to run smoothly. You want to be sure, before booking travel, that you or your travellers will be welcome.

When you don’t need a visa...

Depending on what passport(s) you carry, you may not need a visa for certain countries. However, those countries still have standing rules about how long you can visit. If you overstay, you can be denied entry, fined, expelled, or all three.

Let’s use the UK and Spain as a current example. When the UK was part of the EU, UK citizens could spend any number of days in the Schengen area.

Now that the UK has withdrawn from the EU, UK citizens can only spend 90 days in any 180-day period, in all Schengen countries combined.

UK citizens with second homes in Spain, and who, for example, also visited other EU countries, have unknowingly exceeded their 90 days in the Schengen area. Some have already been denied entry, fined and expelled.

Really. We’re not scare-mongering. You need to keep track of your days.

Note: Currently, the EU does not require UK citizens to have a visa to visit. The EU, however, is implementing a waiver programme called ETIAS, which is similar to the US ESTA. It is designed to pre-screen visa-exempt travellers who wish to enter the Schengen Area. It is expected to become mandatory some time in 2022.

When you do need a visa...

If you do require a visa to enter a country, you need to keep a close eye on the visa’s “valid from” and “valid to” dates. In addition, that country most likely has a limit on how many days you can spend in country between those two dates. The same sanctions (denied entry, fined, expelled) can apply.

Keeping track of days in country can be a pain, especially if you visit multiple countries every year. Anyone who has flipped through their passport trying to discover this information will attest to this. Not to mention that some passport stamps can be so faint as to be illegible.

Some countries have complex visa applications that require you, for example, to list all the countries you’ve visited in the past five years. Imagine trying to compile that information for a group of five global business travellers who also travel for pleasure.

You know where this is going by now: You may need software that lists all the countries you’ve visited, calculates your days in country and how many days you have left, and warns you when you’re approaching or have exceeded your permitted days in country. This software should also let travel managers view that information for all their travellers.

Finally, an important note...

Visa regulations have nothing to do with tax regulations. For example, if you are an Australia/UK dual citizen who is resident in the UK, as far as the Australian immigration regulations are concerned, you can visit Australia for as long as you like.

However, you’re still subject to Australian tax regulations. If you overstay according to those, you could be liable for Australian tax on your income, no matter where it was earned – as well as being liable for UK tax. That doesn’t leave you with much. Don’t do that.

See the Tax Compliance page for more information.

Mia Bazo’s Visa and Immigration service offers all the functions described in the article above.

It also maintains a permanent record, to simplify visa applications and protect you if you’re audited.

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