Re: Work Permission Issues

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Alex Hillman

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Sep 30, 2019, 9:51:19 AM9/30/19
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Hi Kimberly - it seems like you might not be receiving my direct emails, I'm not sure why not though!

Your question is great and I want to make sure its seen by the most people, so I wanted you to post it to the new discussion platform at forum.coworking.org. That's taking the place of the Google group, which we will finish migrating very soon!

 I'll forward you the contents of your original post so you can copy it into the forum once you create an account there. 

Please let me know if you have any questions!

Alex

On Monday, September 30, 2019 at 9:48:16 AM UTC-4, Kimberly Kubalek wrote:
This message is relevant to everyone, but particularly the spaces, like mine, run by expats in foreign countries.

I have been a huge supporter of Coworking since I met Tony Bacigalupo a few months after he first opened his space in NYC so many years ago. I knew after seeing that space that I wanted to open a space as well. It took me many years, I did it. I live in San Miguel de Allende Mexico and I opened my space 3 years ago.

Because my Spanish is poor, and because I knew community growth was key, I targeted membership to expats and English speaking visitors. Which is not say we limited it this way, only that the community I developed all seemed to speak English, so those were the members we attracted. We were successful - being the #1 rated city in the world by Travel + Leisure helped and lots of interesting folks popped in to work and often folks moved here permanently (with or without legal permission, many people come in on a tourist visa and stay for years).

I am working on a plan for a much larger, more sophisticated space and I have concerns about expats and visitors who have no legal authorization to be "working" while in Mexico. Our laws are quite clear, you may not work in Mexico, online, in your home, etc., without authorization or without a permanent resident visa. I think all international coworking spaces are going to have to face this one. Do you ask your members if they have permission to work in your country? Do you feel you can protect your members when government officials come in and ask to see your members documents? Are you concerned about liability?

I think this a valid concern and I'd like to hear from other space owners. I do not want to be a hunting ground for officials looking for people breaking the law - and who would want to work in a coworking space where they knew the government was going to come around and ask to see visas?! What do you do to make sure the people working in your space have the right to work there? Does it matter to you at all? Do you think it should matter?

I was just in Austin for 3 months and coworked all over, no one ever asked. Not one coworking space ever asked if I had permission to work in the USA while I was there. If someone works out of your space and is not legally entiled to be working in your country, is that an issue you think about? Does this issue concern you?

Thanks in advance for your feedback, 


Kimberly 



Kimberly Kubalek, Owner

Espacio Coworking - San Miguel de Allende

+52 415 150 1069 MEX Office

+52 415 167 4566 MEX Cell
+1 858 367 0102 USA Voicemail

David Weekly

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Sep 30, 2019, 11:48:05 AM9/30/19
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If you are a person's employer, you absolutely must ensure that your employees have work authorization or you might be in serious trouble.

But I have no idea why a coworking space would need to know your visa status, any more than your morning coffee bar would need to ensure your presence was legal before serving you a latte. Depending on local laws it may be illegal for you to condition entry to the space on work status.

On Mon, Sep 30, 2019 at 06:48 Kimberly Kubalek <ereerere...@gmail.com> wrote:
This message is relevant to everyone, but particularly the spaces, like mine, run by expats in foreign countries.

I have been a huge supporter of Coworking since I met Tony Bacigalupo a few months after he first opened his space in NYC so many years ago. I knew after seeing that space that I wanted to open a space as well. It took me many years, I did it. I live in San Miguel de Allende Mexico and I opened my space 3 years ago.

Because my Spanish is poor, and because I knew community growth was key, I targeted membership to expats and English speaking visitors. Which is not say we limited it this way, only that the community I developed all seemed to speak English, so those were the members we attracted. We were successful - being the #1 rated city in the world by Travel + Leisure helped and lots of interesting folks popped in to work and often folks moved here permanently (with or without legal permission, many people come in on a tourist visa and stay for years).

I am working on a plan for a much larger, more sophisticated space and I have concerns about expats and visitors who have no legal authorization to be "working" while in Mexico. Our laws are quite clear, you may not work in Mexico, online, in your home, etc., without authorization or without a permanent resident visa. I think all international coworking spaces are going to have to face this one. Do you ask your members if they have permission to work in your country? Do you feel you can protect your members when government officials come in and ask to see your members documents? Are you concerned about liability?

I think this a valid concern and I'd like to hear from other space owners. I do not want to be a hunting ground for officials looking for people breaking the law - and who would want to work in a coworking space where they knew the government was going to come around and ask to see visas?! What do you do to make sure the people working in your space have the right to work there? Does it matter to you at all? Do you think it should matter?

I was just in Austin for 3 months and coworked all over, no one ever asked. Not one coworking space ever asked if I had permission to work in the USA while I was there. If someone works out of your space and is not legally entiled to be working in your country, is that an issue you think about? Does this issue concern you?

Thanks in advance for your feedback, 


Kimberly 



Kimberly Kubalek, Owner

Espacio Coworking - San Miguel de Allende

+52 415 150 1069 MEX Office

+52 415 167 4566 MEX Cell
+1 858 367 0102 USA Voicemail

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Bernie J Mitchell

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Sep 30, 2019, 11:48:09 AM9/30/19
to cowo...@googlegroups.com, Jeannine van der Linden, Hector Kolonas
This is a great question for the experience of @Jeannine van der Linden and @Hector Kolonas 

Have a remarkable day

Bernie J Mitchell
0777 204 2012

www.berniejmitchell.com

Sent from my mobile device

*Unless we agree otherwise, this email conversation is confidential.


Alejandro Moreno

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Sep 30, 2019, 6:46:53 PM9/30/19
to cowo...@googlegroups.com, Jeannine van der Linden, Hector Kolonas
These people are independent contractors. Immigration control is not your role to play. All you do arguably is sublet space to tenants. How different is this really from an Airbnb? When you go to rent a ''space'' from a landlord in a foreign country, neither the landlord nor Airbnb cares how you got there, because it's irrelevant. And whether it's for a day, a week or a month is besides the point.

Additionally, let's say worst case scenario you start checking people's work permits for Mexico in order to work at your space — what will happen is you will be setting up a de facto legal precedent for your business, thereby setting up a slippery slope of liability for yourself, and placing yourself in a legal position that you never should've had to deal with or be in, in the first place. 

The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

John Sechrest

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Sep 30, 2019, 6:46:53 PM9/30/19
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I think it would be worth your while to explore and understand what the folks at iglu.net have done in Chiang Mai. They do all the paperwork to get you set up to work in Thailand as an ex-pat. 

I think the issue you identify is a big one, currently under the radar for many folks. 

The hard part is that the rules about work are likely to take a long time to change and adapt to the modern nomad work lifestyle. 

It is also interesting to look at the work they are doing in Estonia to provide paperwork and digital id to people who are doing this kind of work. https://e-estonia.com/tag/nomad-visa/

The choice of where to travel and where to work might start being influenced by these types of policies. 



On Mon, Sep 30, 2019 at 6:48 AM Kimberly Kubalek <ereerere...@gmail.com> wrote:
This message is relevant to everyone, but particularly the spaces, like mine, run by expats in foreign countries.

I have been a huge supporter of Coworking since I met Tony Bacigalupo a few months after he first opened his space in NYC so many years ago. I knew after seeing that space that I wanted to open a space as well. It took me many years, I did it. I live in San Miguel de Allende Mexico and I opened my space 3 years ago.

Because my Spanish is poor, and because I knew community growth was key, I targeted membership to expats and English speaking visitors. Which is not say we limited it this way, only that the community I developed all seemed to speak English, so those were the members we attracted. We were successful - being the #1 rated city in the world by Travel + Leisure helped and lots of interesting folks popped in to work and often folks moved here permanently (with or without legal permission, many people come in on a tourist visa and stay for years).

I am working on a plan for a much larger, more sophisticated space and I have concerns about expats and visitors who have no legal authorization to be "working" while in Mexico. Our laws are quite clear, you may not work in Mexico, online, in your home, etc., without authorization or without a permanent resident visa. I think all international coworking spaces are going to have to face this one. Do you ask your members if they have permission to work in your country? Do you feel you can protect your members when government officials come in and ask to see your members documents? Are you concerned about liability?

I think this a valid concern and I'd like to hear from other space owners. I do not want to be a hunting ground for officials looking for people breaking the law - and who would want to work in a coworking space where they knew the government was going to come around and ask to see visas?! What do you do to make sure the people working in your space have the right to work there? Does it matter to you at all? Do you think it should matter?

I was just in Austin for 3 months and coworked all over, no one ever asked. Not one coworking space ever asked if I had permission to work in the USA while I was there. If someone works out of your space and is not legally entiled to be working in your country, is that an issue you think about? Does this issue concern you?

Thanks in advance for your feedback, 


Kimberly 



Kimberly Kubalek, Owner

Espacio Coworking - San Miguel de Allende

+52 415 150 1069 MEX Office

+52 415 167 4566 MEX Cell
+1 858 367 0102 USA Voicemail

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Will Bennis, Locus Workspace

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Oct 1, 2019, 11:07:18 AM10/1/19
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Hi Kimberly,

I'm in pretty much the exact same situation you are except in Prague, Czech Republic and we've been running a bit longer (almost 10 years). 

My short answer is that this will very much depend on the country you're in and the particular laws (or lack of clarity of laws) about the necessary legal status of people using coworking spaces. IMO, you should talk to a local lawyer. We don't worry about it, but I could imagine it being a serious issue in some countries where the use of an office requires official registration.

My long answer is this: 

In most cases we don't have to worry about it at all. Along with expats and Czechs, we have tourists and travelers working from our coworking space on a regular basis. In most cases, there are no particular visa or residency requirements to use a coworking space any more than there would be for going to a restaurant.

The one exception are people who are using the space as a legally registered business address, in which case we do have to worry about it a little bit, but not because there's anything legally we're required to do. In those cases the main reason they're doing it is usually to establish residency. We occasionally have had the foreigners' police or immigration officials come to the coworking space to make sure the office is legitimate for those people using our address as a registered office. We even once had police come in with guns drawn because a member had his passport in the space and was stopped for not paying the right fair on the subway. He didn't speak Czech, they didn't speak English, and somehow they got it in their heads that they he was dangerous instead a somewhat clueless tourist.

All this is to say: while we never check about legal / immigration status of our members and I don't think we have any legal reason to, I have worried that police would to interfere with our business anyway, concerned that we're some kind of visa factory or host of illegal immigrants. There's enough immigration fear in the country and enough leeway in terms of what the govt. bureaucracy can and can't do, that I think there's good reason to worry. 

I could well imagine this being a more serious issue in countries with more corruption or where the rule of law is less clearly in place and, meaning no disrespect to Mexico, I imagine that's the case there. I think this would be something you'd want to discuss with a local lawyer to be sure you don't have anything to worry about. If Czech laws were slightly different, it would be something we'd at least have to think about with respect to folks using our space as a registered office.

Will


On Monday, September 30, 2019 at 11:46:53 PM UTC+1, sechrest wrote:
I think it would be worth your while to explore and understand what the folks at iglu.net have done in Chiang Mai. They do all the paperwork to get you set up to work in Thailand as an ex-pat. 

I think the issue you identify is a big one, currently under the radar for many folks. 

The hard part is that the rules about work are likely to take a long time to change and adapt to the modern nomad work lifestyle. 

It is also interesting to look at the work they are doing in Estonia to provide paperwork and digital id to people who are doing this kind of work. https://e-estonia.com/tag/nomad-visa/

The choice of where to travel and where to work might start being influenced by these types of policies. 



On Mon, Sep 30, 2019 at 6:48 AM Kimberly Kubalek <ereerere...@gmail.com> wrote:
This message is relevant to everyone, but particularly the spaces, like mine, run by expats in foreign countries.

I have been a huge supporter of Coworking since I met Tony Bacigalupo a few months after he first opened his space in NYC so many years ago. I knew after seeing that space that I wanted to open a space as well. It took me many years, I did it. I live in San Miguel de Allende Mexico and I opened my space 3 years ago.

Because my Spanish is poor, and because I knew community growth was key, I targeted membership to expats and English speaking visitors. Which is not say we limited it this way, only that the community I developed all seemed to speak English, so those were the members we attracted. We were successful - being the #1 rated city in the world by Travel + Leisure helped and lots of interesting folks popped in to work and often folks moved here permanently (with or without legal permission, many people come in on a tourist visa and stay for years).

I am working on a plan for a much larger, more sophisticated space and I have concerns about expats and visitors who have no legal authorization to be "working" while in Mexico. Our laws are quite clear, you may not work in Mexico, online, in your home, etc., without authorization or without a permanent resident visa. I think all international coworking spaces are going to have to face this one. Do you ask your members if they have permission to work in your country? Do you feel you can protect your members when government officials come in and ask to see your members documents? Are you concerned about liability?

I think this a valid concern and I'd like to hear from other space owners. I do not want to be a hunting ground for officials looking for people breaking the law - and who would want to work in a coworking space where they knew the government was going to come around and ask to see visas?! What do you do to make sure the people working in your space have the right to work there? Does it matter to you at all? Do you think it should matter?

I was just in Austin for 3 months and coworked all over, no one ever asked. Not one coworking space ever asked if I had permission to work in the USA while I was there. If someone works out of your space and is not legally entiled to be working in your country, is that an issue you think about? Does this issue concern you?

Thanks in advance for your feedback, 


Kimberly 



Kimberly Kubalek, Owner

Espacio Coworking - San Miguel de Allende

+52 415 150 1069 MEX Office

+52 415 167 4566 MEX Cell
+1 858 367 0102 USA Voicemail

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Jeannine van der Linden

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Oct 2, 2019, 9:10:32 AM10/2/19
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There are a number of issues related to this,and I think this is an important question which bears thought in a larger context as well.

Disclaimer:  as Will Bennis points out, this depends very much on your local laws and you should always consult a lawyer about legal questions.  You will get better legal advice from your Aunt Fanny' s neighbor's stray cat than from the Internet, do not seek legal advice on the Internet.

There are a number of things which coworking spaces in general are not liable for but nevertheless deal with:

Immigration
Civil RIghts
Equal Pay and labor laws
Pension and Healthcare benefit laws and Disability

There are also some laws which we are liable for but these laws are rarely enforced:

Postal laws/mail handling
Anti Money Laundering/Know Your Client/Anti Terrorism Financing
Privacy of information (GDPR for the Europeans)


For the first set of issues I think it is about your identity as a space and I think there is a great opportunity for coworking spaces to lead in this, I think it is important to think these questions out, to have a position before everything goes all wahooni shaped, and to communicate this both internally and externally.

This is in part why the European Coworking Assembly is working on a handbook to develop best practices in this area; it is why Cobot came out with its Code of Conduct https://coworkingcodeofconduct.org/ , it is why we are working on the #lovematija project to provide income security for freelancers and small business owners.

The second set of issues is about education and making sure your coworking space is in compliance with all the applicable laws; it is in part why the Assembly did its GDPR for Coworking series last year and is working on its Coworking Academy for people who run spaces.

We need to get together on these kinds of issues, there is a real opportunity here to lead in a rapidly changing world, and it should not be necessary to reinvent the wheel for everybody.

The legal aspects are of course important and I do not want to minimize those, but they are by definition local questions I think.  The larger picture is also important for us to think about.

Warm regards,

Jeannine
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