Transparency in the Immigration Process: Steering Clear of Corruption
Knowledge of local processes essential for legal compliance
Navigating through the immigration maze may be intimidating to anyone without sufficient knowledge of local processes. With multiple parties and authorities involved, certain officials can find any excuse to solicit a bribe from foreigners. Paying a little extra to ease an unscrupulous government official may not seem like much, but if a document is obtained through corruption it is considered fraudulent and both the issuing official and the foreigner are liable for an offense.
The consequences can be severe for the hiring company as well. For example, US companies undertaking business abroad fall under the jurisdiction of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), which has zero tolerance towards bribery of foreign officials. The government focuses on the intent of the bribery rather than on the amount, so even an extra 10 dollars under the table can result in costly legal complications.
The United Kingdom also joined the global campaign against corruption and enacted UK Bribery Act, which constitutes a substantial upgrade to the country’s prior laws and is expected to become the most comprehensive and rigorous anti-bribery legislation in the world. The scope of the law is extra-territorial. Under the Bribery Act, a relevant person or company can be prosecuted for the corruption practices if the crimes are committed abroad and can be penalized with unlimited fines, as well as a maximum of 10 years imprisonment.
Therefore it is vital for an employer to offer support to its employees and choose suppliers operating in a transparent manner with sufficient knowledge of immigration regulations, ensuring that no payment is made to any officials to induce them to use their influence.
Choosing the Legal Way
Each country has its own immigration laws and regulations, and knowing these processes well is essential for a company to operate smoothly. Even, if common practice is known to be bureaucracy through bribes, there is no country with a written law permitting bribery in any form.
In Uzbekistan, for example, corruption is known to be high compared to other countries of the world. In 2010, Transparency International ranked Uzbekistan 172 out of the 178 surveyed in its Corruption Perceptions Index. Although corruption is pervasive, the government is encouraging citizens and foreigners to refuse improper payment. Eager to show itself as combating corruption, Uzbekistan has established a special anti-corruption unit to review the performance of government bodies, with open hot-lines to report corruption.
Interdependency of Permits
The consequences of obtaining immigration permits though bribes are not limited to penalties only, but can also result in future complications with the use of the issued document. One permit is often issued on the basis of another, and in case one is not obtained in compliance with requirements the whole immigration process might be affected.
For example, officers have been reported to accept an incomplete application from inpatient applicants based on bribes, instead of returning it to them for corrections. However, if the paperwork is processed with errors, it may result in permits issued with incorrect information. When such permits are used for the basis of additional permit issuance, the errors will duplicate, resulting in a set of inconsistent certificates and cards, which are sure to catch an auditor’s attention.
In addition to such complications, in most cases a bribe does not actually improve a service and leads to more corruption as officials get used to applicants paying.
A company’s reputation is also tainted when a bribe is given by anyone associated with the firm, especially when other companies are able to go past the administrative obstacles on their own. Officials may associate the bribe-giver with the company, expecting bribes for future situations as well. It is always advisable to decline payment and adhere to full compliance practices according to the law.
Move One is aware of all the ins-and-outs of immigration compliance and operates ethically and legally in document procurement, acting in line with various acts worldwide. Contact your global Move One immigration specialist, or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more about our immigration services and how our team can help you with your specific needs.
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