The Telegraph recently ran an article about the bureaucratic difficulties a family encountered when relocating to the US. Here's how the article started:
Having a baby, renting a house, hospital visits: everything is more tricky when you're an expat in America, as one reader found.
When you move abroad, you expect some bureaucratic befuddlement. You’re setting up from scratch in a country whose systems and procedures you don’t know.
But for Brits, US red tape should be simple to scoot around and under. Right? We very nearly speak the same language, and Americans seem like such a breezy, friendly bunch.
So when my fiancé and I moved from London to New York in 2011 because he’d got a job there, we weren’t expecting our lives to be overtaken by killer paperwork.
The writer went on to describe how they tried to rent an apartment in the US and failed because of the strict criteria in place for private renters. They eventually found a property through "unofficial" channels. Then came the difficulty of medical insurance, made even more complicated by pregnancy.
Doctors in the US are not obliged to accept specific insurance plans, and some won’t take any at all.
Moving to another country can potentially involve more paperwork than you can shake a stick at, and getting to grips with alien procedures can often test the patience of the most saintly of individuals, more so if there is not the appropriate network in place to support such a move.
So, the fiancé got a job in New York and quite clearly did not receive any support from his employer during any stage of the process, which is unfortunate for the family and short-sighted of the employer. If I were employing somebody from overseas, I would want to be comfortable that they had a reasonable understanding of how stuff worked in my country and would prefer them to focus on the job and their personal integration rather than waste valuable time and energy struggling and worrying about unknown processes and mind-boggling paperwork.
How can the employee ever be productive when he is preoccupied with finding a home, without local knowledge?
How can the employee ever be productive when he is preoccupied with the health insurance maze his partner's pregnancy has presented?
We all know the answer and the solution. In the big scheme of things, a little support can go a long way, and it would have gone a very long way in this particular case, but what is unfortunate is that the experience has tainted the writer's perception of the US and relocating overseas and this negativity has been imparted through a far-reaching publication. Is relocating to the US really that bad? If you go it alone, you will encounter difficulties anywhere, not just in the US.
The key to successfully moving abroad is to understand the culture and customs of the new country, but this is a vast subject and cannot be mastered in a hurry. By engaging experts, much of the necessary learning can be dispensed with and the new employee can relax a little knowing that he will be given the information and local support he needs. All this family needed was some accompanied home search and a bit of cultural training. It wouldn't have broken the bank, and I'll even suggest that the cost of these services would have been less than the equivalent cost of the employee's inefficiency and/or absence from work due to the aforementioned difficulties. Of course, the latter isn't quantified as it isn't invoiced to the company, so relocation support is seen as the only cost - one that many organisations don't feel they need.
The red tape nightmare exists - it exists everywhere, but organisations have the option to turn the nightmare into a dream, allowing their employees to sleep peacefully at night and work productively during the day.
If you would like any further information about our range of global support services, please contact Stuart Beaty at firstname.lastname@example.org / 07814 446294or Shelley Lloyd at email@example.com / 07971 400518.