How working abroad might change after the COVID-19 crisis?

Published 2020-06-16 14:33

We are not safe yet from the sanitary threat posed by the COVID-19 and we already have to deal with the economic aftermath of the crisis. With the impact on jobs around the world, here is how working abroad could change in the next few months...


There are good chances that there will be significant changes in visa procedures in certain countries. In fact, a Forbes article dated June 12 already announces potential changes to H-1B and H-2B, two of the most sought-after work permits in the USA, among others. Canada's relatively immigration-friendly country is also considering immigration quotas for the future based on current economic conditions. The approaches will, of course, be different depending on the country. Depending on economic strategies, countries can decide to open their borders to foreign expertise or decide to restrict their borders to preserve jobs in their economies. 

Will the economy allow working abroad?

An survey reveals that of the 725 expats who responded, about 5% say they lost their jobs during the crisis. Indeed, after the health crisis comes the economic crisis and many companies around the world find themselves forced to reduce their workforce or to close their doors. And if there are less jobs available, this could mean that the jobs available will go to locals as businesses might not be willing to pay for the travel and accommodation of foreign employees during a recession.

Less travel?

If we have learned anything from the crisis, it is probably the operation of a business remotely. Indeed, Human Resources Directors are also working, in this post-crisis context, on the management of their expatriate employees with new management strategies that allow more independent employees who travel less. A HR manager working in a New York company employing expatriates explains to that one of the priorities for this post-COVID-19 era will be, in particular, the training of people in management positions in order to be able to work effectively with more autonomous employees.

With the rise of remote working and means of communication such as Skype or Zoom, certain professions in the tertiary sector sometimes no longer require moving to a large city at a high cost of living with the need to travel less. Twitter said that the vast majority of its employees will be able to continue working from home permanently after the end of the coronavirus pandemic. The trades in the innovative sectors will always have a very significant need for manpower while certain trades will be more affected like trade and catering.

What about entrepreneurs?

For entrepreneurs wishing to start a business abroad greater financial leeway is essential. Indeed, initial investment by the entrepreneur will need to be more significant in order to limit the risks of bankruptcy in the event of a new pandemic. Therefore, it is conceivable that it will be more difficult to obtain an investor visa with more selective criteria such as asking the entrepreneur to commit to recruiting a larger number of people already living in the country.

In conclusion, with regard to people planning to move abroad, there are significant changes between the pre-pandemic and the post-pandemic worlds. You will have to work differently and take into account the risks depending on the nature of your project. There will always be as many opportunities in certain sectors for highly qualified jobs and less in more traditional sectors where local labor is abundant if the unemployment rate in the host country remains high. In the context of a more or less long-term expatriation it will be even more important than before to choose your training and your job properly.