Access Denied: Border Control Etiquette Part 2
The following is part two of a three-part global mobility series on border control navigation for business travellers. Part one is available here.
By Stuart Buglass, VP Consulting
In our first global mobility post on crossing borders as a business traveler, we addressed the basics of a successful crossing. In this post, we’re dropping some intermediate tips on documenting your intended activities, making sure those activities fit the duration of your stay, and the border control politics of certain job titles.
Check back in the coming weeks for the third and final post in the series, in which we’ll deliver advanced tips on scheduling your business trips, whether to pack along your family, and the old “I’m just here as a tourist” ploy.
Tip 3: Have back–up!
Based on the first two tips— “Understand the permitted activities of a business traveller” and “Keep to the script” — it may be tempting to play it safe and inform the immigration officer that you are visiting to either “attend a trade show” or “negotiate a deal with a potential client.”
However, it’s not enough to simply tell the immigration officer what they want to hear. You need to be fully prepared to present documentation such as your invitation to the trade show or a meeting confirmation with directions to your prospective customer.
In such cases, make sure you have some supporting evidence ready at hand.
Tip 4: For how long?
The stakes are raised when you intend to stay in country for a sustained period of time. There is a natural presumption that a business visitor will only need to visit for a few days and therefore anything longer than this will generate increased scrutiny.
Immigration officials will generally ask you to confirm your departure date if this extends to a number of weeks. Be prepared to explain how you will be filling your time during this period.
Obviously, a solitary trade event on the second day of your trip is unlikely to justify a three-week stay without some additional pre-arranged events or appointments. It becomes increasingly difficult to provide sufficient evidence for a long stay with activities that all fit within the definition of permitted business traveller activity.
Tip 5: What’s in a name?
While it would be wrong to suggest that certain jobs are blacklisted, it is definitely the case that some are more likely than others to raise a red flag. IT specialists, engineers, business consultants and internal auditors can all raise a presumption of work activities simply by entering a country in a professional capacity. If that’s not the case, they’ll have to be ready to rebut that presumption during questioning at passport control.
We know of some companies that have taken to arming their business-travelling engineers with a separate set of business cards printed with border-friendly job titles.
For more advice on complying with business traveller restrictions and navigating the high-stakes trip through border control, read part three of this post.