Since 1994, the Global Relocation Trends Survey (GRTS) has identified the business locations on this planet that present the greatest assignment challenges. For the 2003-2004 survey, conducted by GMAC Global Relocation Services, a Warren, N.J.-based global corporate-relocation services company, the authors divided the challenging locations into two categories: those that challenged expatriates, and those that challenged administrators. In most past surveys, China ranked as the most difficult location for expatriate assignments, followed by India, Russia and Japan.
The 2003 to 2004 study adds a newcomer to the list: the United States, which has never been on the "challenging" list in the history of the survey. It debuted as the third most challenging location for administrators of overseas employees and the fourth most challenging for expatriates. The top complaints about U.S. assignments were delays in obtaining social security numbers and visas, dealing with immigration restrictions, and dealing with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, formerly known as the Immigration and Naturalization Service. Many of the complaints resulted from heightened security to minimize the threat of terrorism, but other complaints had to do with the difficulty of finding housing, as well as a general lack of international understanding, awareness, or sophistication in Americans.