March 5, 2021

Out of Adversity Comes Opportunity

When the phone rings at 3:00 a.m., you can be pretty sure it’s going to be important. That’s the first thing that went through Siti Mesli’s mind as she answered the call. And she was right. On the other end of the line with one of our APAC team’s relocation coordinators in Singapore was a transferee from the banking and financial services sector. He was beginning a permanent transfer from Russia to Singapore, traveling via Thailand. However, given the various COVID-19 entry testing protocols and practices, he was delayed for several hours, and missed his connecting flight. He was presented with two options: remain in Thailand for 14 days at an approved quarantine location and get re-tested at his own expense, or board a flight back to Russia.

Luckily, Siti picked up the phone and got to work, researching his options, and the associated fees with staying, returning, and what would be required to maintain the validity of his health-related travel documents.


She recommended he board a flight back to Russia, and then helped him successfully re-book travel safely into Singapore via Qatar to start his new adventure. His test result documentation was still valid and he was even able to get a refund on that unexpected return flight back to Russia.

Her advice to others traveling across borders is to be patient, and respectful of the rules of the governing entities in the counties you’re traveling through.


“The rules and requirements are changing so quickly, it’s essential for us to stay on top of them and keep in very close touch with our clients and transferees, guiding them through the right preparations and helping them get through any unexpected temporary setbacks.”


A 14-day quarantine period can be challenging for even the most patient of travelers, however, especially those accompanied by family members. Global Mobility Associate, Yve Jack, on our Florida team, made that journey a lot more palatable for a transferee and his family who were arriving in the U.S. from Australia with a construction, engineering and project management client. He requested extended-stay accommodations with a private balcony for his family to be able to get some fresh air, along with a kitchen, in-room laundry, and food delivery.

The challenge? None of the properties available within the allocated budget met that criteria. But Yve worked with our partners to find a solution, not only fulfilling the accommodation requests, but providing information that would make them feel welcome and set them up for success, including local food delivery apps, magazine articles about area restaurants, and creating a set of gate/door key instructions formatted for easy phone viewing while they were traveling.

Navigating current immigration requirements certainly requires unique levels of creative problem solving, determination and patience right now, too, as senior immigration consultant Alba Presa Pereira knows well. She has been working with a client who needs to get an assignee from Europe to Vietnam as quickly as possible. At the beginning of the process, there were two options: apply and wait for a work permit prior to traveling, or enter as a visitor and apply for a work permit from within Vietnam. Given the urgency, the client and assignee opted to plan to travel into the country and apply from there. However, while these decisions were being made, the government revised the rules. Entering as a visitor was no longer possible, and flights to the ultimate destination location were no longer available. Adding to the complexities, the employing entity was based in one jurisdiction in Vietnam, but the work site on which the assignee would be based was in another, and the required documentation changed mid-process. As flights begin to resume, Alba is currently working on re-submitting a new application for the worksite jurisdiction, and the assignee will soon be on his way.

Out of adversity comes opportunity. While conditions are likely to remain challenging for at least a few more months, our teams continue to look for every opportunity to ensure happy, productive employees feel welcome and cared for when they start their new chapters.

For regular updates on the changing testing, quarantining and other cross-border entry requirements, be sure to subscribe to our Immigration Insights.


Kristin White

Kristin White

Kristin is Sterling Lexicon's Senior Manager, Content and Campaign Strategy, where she brings more than 25 years of experience in global workforce mobility, marketing, editorial planning and communications to her role. Before joining Sterling Lexicon, she worked for many years at Worldwide ERC® in collaboration with cross-departmental teams and industry stakeholders to develop in-person and virtual event program, website article and print publication content, including Mobility magazine. Contact Kristin at

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