Hello All. My name is Tom, I currently work as a product development engineer for an automotive plastics company. We currently have 3 facilities one in Tennessee (which I currently work at), one in Ohio and one in Aguascalientes Mexico. My company would like to send me to Aguascalientes as the companies R&D liaison between the US and Mexico. I will be the first person in my company to be sent abroad to work and they have kind of left it up to me to figure out what my expat package should be. I really have no idea where to start and would really appreciate any advice someone could offer.
I can offer you a menu of options, and you can see how much you can get in your package:
1. Try to get some kind of employment contract for the MX gig for a specified period, such as two years in Mexico. As a reward, include a 15% - 20% of annual salary contract completion bonus, payable when you finish your contract period - it will be cheaper for the company than finding a replacement, and a form of security and motivation for you. If the company decides to move you back to the US before your contract is completed, the company should be on the hook for the completion bonus. If you bail before the end of the contract, no bonus. If you enjoy MX and the company likes your work there, then go for a renewal contract with the same terms.
2. Company will arrange and pay for your residency visa and all timely renewals - the no-inmigrante (formerly FM-3) is the best, because the company would pay your salary to your US bank account through the US company, and you would not be responsible for MX income taxes this way. In addition, you can take the Foreign Earned Income exclusion against your US taxes (the first $95,900 of income for 2012). Try to keep your salary accounting on the US company's books, and not on the MX company's books, because someone's big nose in MX will probably find this and get bent out of shape if they see the numbers. Caveat- MX Immigration is getting ready to make major changes in visas.
3. Ask the company to pay your housing (as opposed to paying you a monthly housing stipend) so it stays off your tax bill. They can pay this though the MX subsidiary if they want to do so, and it will be easier to arrange. Respect your employer and don't nail the company for a luxury 4 bedroom house if you don't really need it or want it. It's fine to want security and nice living conditions, but don't swing to either extreme - overboard or living in a poor, insecure barrio. When you first come to MX and before you arrange long term housing, company-paid hotel expenses within reason (hotel cost, laundry, tips).
4. An international health coverage policy that includes medical evac to the US in case of extreme emergency health problems.
5. Company paid vehicle with insurance coverage.
6. You don't mention if you are married or have kids, but at a minimum in any case, an annual RT airline ticket back home for a vacation.
7. Moving expenses to MX, and then from MX, as long as you complete your contract.
8. If you have a wife and school age kids, ask for tuition assistance for a good bilingual school for your kids.
9. If you don't speak Spanish, company paid Spanish lessons for a few hours a week to increase your value to the company. These can be done in the office, and MX admin can arrange this easily.
10. (from experience) Make sure that your position is a direct report to someone in the US, and not to the MX general manager or plant manager. Mexican management people can be very stubborn and hard-headed, glacially slow to make any changes without the entire plant having consensus, and can turn into real MX pricks if they get paranoid that you are trying to outshine them or take their jobs. After all, you would be coming to do a job to help the overall company, and not to get an education in MX plant politics.
I would not ask for a salary increase, nor would I accept less than you're getting in the US. The tax savings and perks are a bone to you, and international experience increases your value to an employer.
Gringo Carlos's list is better, but since I wrote mine before reading his, here it is anyhow. I'm not at all familiar with Aguascalientes, but as a former working expat for 25+ years (though not in Mexico), I'd consider asking them to include at least the following:
* importation of your personal and household effects, and transportation to Aguascalientes for you and your dependents, including pets if any
* assistance with immigration formalities, especially work permit
* assistance with taxes, both in Mexico and in the US
* generous housing allowance that includes utilities and maintenance (and assistance with contracting for same)
* travel allowance for you and your family to return home at least once a year, including flights and ground transportation
* if you have school age kids, allowance for private school if indicated and help with getting them enrolled
* end of contract travel and shipping allowance to get your household home
I was in education, where packages tend to be leaner than in the corporate world. Friends who were sent abroad with corporations, especially in executive positions, had cars or drivers, employer furnished (or at least paid for) household help, entertainment allowances, and so on.
Another issue to consider is what level of position and pay they would guarantee you when/if you complete your contract in Mexico and return to the US. Also, terms for premature return if you or your family suffer health problems, or absolutely hate living in Mexico and want to bail out. But chances are good that you won't want to leave!
Thanks sooooo much for the info. I am not married nor do I have children, so I don't have to worry about that. My boss told me to "shoot for the moon" and being the first from my company to something like this, I really want to try to get the best deal possible. I suppose the worst they can say is no. I want to present the company with lots of information when I meet with them to discuss my package. Can either of you recommend any websites?
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