Please select the country

Welcome to the latest edition of our global immigration news bulletins. These bulletins provide readers with the most recent global immigration news and developments. Questions and comments are always welcome and can be directed to Angie Volz, Global Immigration Program Manager: avolz@crownww.com.

Australia
Changes to labor market test exemptions

Chinese nationals applying for work visas no longer require labor market testing under the terms of the China Australia Free Trade Agreement (ChAFTA).

Labor market testing will be waived for executives, senior managers, specialists and managers coming to Australia as “intra-corporate” transferees; independent executives and contractual service suppliers.

This summary was prepared using information obtained from the Australian Government ComLaw website.

Disclaimer: The above information is provided for general information purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. If you have any further inquiries regarding the applicability of this information, please contact the Regional Immigration Manager, Asia, Kit Tang.

 

 

Australia
Department of Immigration and Border Protection expands authority to collect biometric data

As of February 16, 2016, immigration authorities in Australia will have greater authority to request and collect biometric information.

  • Authorities are allowed to collect one or more personal identifiers from non-citizens and citizens at the border
  • Officers have increased flexibility on the types of personal identifiers, the circumstances in which they are collected, and the places where they may be collected
  • Officers have more ways to collect personal identifiers, such as a live scan of fingerprints on a hand-held device
  • Officers can request personal identifiers orally, in writing or through an automated system – including from minors

Expats and business travelers should be prepared to provide their biometric information at the port-of-entry in Australia.

This summary was prepared using information obtained from the Australian Government ComLaw website.

Disclaimer: The above information is provided for general information purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. If you have any further inquiries regarding the applicability of this information, please contact the Regional Immigration Manager, Asia, Kit Tang.

 

 

China
Beijing – Mandatory Work Permit deregistration

The Labor Bureau in Beijing has posted an official notice stating that companies in Beijing must complete the Work Permit deregistration process no later than May 1, 2016.

Companies must provide a full list of all repatriated, resigned or terminated employees (including Hong Kong and Macau Chinese) to the Labor Bureau if the employees are not reachable for the deregistration process. Failure to comply may cause delays with new Work Permit applications.

This summary was prepared using information obtained from Beijing’s government website (website displays Chinese).

Disclaimer: The above information is provided for general information purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. If you have any further inquiries regarding the applicability of this information, please contact the Regional Immigration Manager, Asia, Kit Tang.

 

 

China
Shanghai – Port visa authority issues entry work visa (Z visa)

According to previous regulations, to work and reside in Shanghai, foreign nationals were required to apply for a Z visa at a Chinese Consulate overseas.

Effective immediately, the Ministry of Public Security has now changed the application process, increasing the issuance of work visa privileges at the Shanghai Port visa authority.

Any applicant living outside of Shanghai will need to apply for a Z visa at the port visa authority upon arrival in Shanghai, after their Alien Employment License and pre-application has been approved.

Foreign nationals in Shanghai can apply for a residence permit with less than one year’s validity. The application can be made directly after their Alien Employment License has been approved, allowing the applicant to apply for a work permit after obtaining a residence permit. There is no requirement to depart China to apply for the Z visa.

Additional notes

  1. The authorities still encourage applicants to apply for a Z visa overseas.
  2. In case of emergency, the applicant and their employer should consult the port visa authority in Shanghai to confirm qualifications and ensure approval before entering Shanghai.

This summary was prepared using information obtained from Shanghai’s government website (website displays Chinese).

Disclaimer: The above information is provided for general information purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. If you have any further inquiries regarding the applicability of this information, please contact the Regional Immigration Manager, Asia, Kit Tang.

 

 

New Zealand
Revised government immigration fees

New immigration government fees took effect on December 7, 2015, including:

  • A fee increase for all visa applications
  • An immigration levy for temporary visa, limited visa and resident visa applications

According to New Zealand’s government website, applications submitted online will be charged a smaller fee than paper applications. 

This summary was prepared using information obtained from Immigration New Zealand’s website.

Disclaimer: The above information is provided for general information purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. If you have any further inquiries regarding the applicability of this information, please contact the Regional Immigration Manager, Asia, Kit Tang.

 

 

Singapore
Software installation no longer eligible for work pass exemption and revised “Seminars and Conference” definition

The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) has removed software installation from its list of activities eligible for a short-term work pass exemption. Engineers traveling to Singapore for software installation should obtain a work pass.

MOM has also updated its requirements for the “Seminars and Conferences” category of eligible activities. The “sale or promotion of goods or services” should not be the main focus of such work. 

However, the sale of goods or services is allowed under the “Exhibitions” category. Business travelers to Singapore for up to 60 days should submit the required e-notification for the exemption under the "Exhibitions" category, rather than the "Seminars and Conferences" category.

Work pass exemption refers to short-term work activities in Singapore that may be performed without a work pass for the duration of the individual's Short Term Visit Pass or 60 days (whichever is shorter). In addition, the exemption is valid for a cumulative total of 90 days in a calendar year. A work pass is therefore required for any work longer than 90 days in a calendar year.

Qualifying applicants must submit a post-arrival e-notification application to inform the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) before engaging in work pass exempt activities.

This summary was prepared using information obtained from the Ministry of Manpower (requirements and list of work pass exempt activities) and Peregrine Immigration Management’s website.

Disclaimer: The above information is provided for general information purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. If you have any further inquiries regarding the applicability of this information, please contact the Regional Immigration Manager, Asia, Kit Tang.

 

 

Brazil
New rules for investor visas

The Ministry of Labor, Employment and Social Security (MTPS) may now authorize permanent visas to foreign nationals whom wish to settle in Brazil to invest their own resources in productive activities.

The commitment to create jobs no longer applies, however, foreign nationals must present a realistic and consistent investment plan to obtain a permanent visa valid for three years.

After three years, if there is evidence that the visa holder is still operating in the same area of activity forecast in their investment plan, the Federal Police Department will extend their period of stay indefinitely. The visa holder’s Registro Nacional de Estrangeiros (RNE) card must be reviewed every nine years.

Minimum investment

Previously BRL 150,000 (approximately US$ 40,000), the minimum investment amount is now BRL 500,000 (approximately US$ 130,000).

However, the National Council of Immigration may now also accept investments between BRL 150,000 and BRL 500,000 for activities that involve innovation, technology and scientific or technological research. 

The Brazilian entity receiving the investment must meet one of the following requirements:

  • Have received innovation-related investment, financing or resources from a government institution
  • Be located in a designated technology park
  • Qualify as a finalist in a government program sponsoring start-ups
  • Qualify as a facility that offers start-up businesses a place to grow (business incubator)
  • Have benefited from a specific program that encourages start-ups (start-up accelerator)

Disclaimer: The above information is provided for general information purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. If you have any further inquiries regarding the applicability of this information, please contact the Regional Immigration Manager, Americas, Laura Taggart.

 

 

Canada
Electronic travel authorizations: Beware the Ides of March

In this article, Kranc Associates, Canadian Corporate Counsel, advises clients to commence using eTAs and implement internal procedures before March 15, 2016.

“For those familiar with Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, you will know that Beware the Ides of March was a warning to Caesar of his impending doom. In our case, March 15 is also a D-Day of sorts, where after travel to Canada will become more complex, and failure to carry out necessary advance procedures will lead to the inability to travel to Canada. More specifically, after March 15, many people who could simply get on an airplane to travel to Canada will now have to carry out an advance, mandatory, application for an Electronic Travel Authorization, better known as an eTA.

March 15 is closer than it seems, and we are starting to prepare our clients for what to do in advance of the mandatory implementation date. Indeed, we are suggesting that clients commence using eTAs at this time, and that clients implement internal procedures to ensure that when the need for travel arises, they will be aware of actions to be taken, and not be caught off-guard.

We are providing our clients with a basic information sheet about eTAs, and we are setting out herein a copy of that information sheet. We hope that it will be of value to readers to ensure their knowledge of, and to commence their preparation for, eTA implementation.”

Electronic Travel Authorizations – eTAs

 Implementation

  • March 15, 2016
  • Voluntary application allowed prior to that date

Who needs an eTA 

  • Citizens of countries whose nationals do not require a visa for Canada, who are entering by air (not land or sea). Even if only transiting through Canada (subject to exceptions below)
  • If someone is not sure if they are from a country that needs an eTA, here is a list. (The list also provides for some uncommon cases, such as certain countries where there are two types of passports)

Who does NOT need an eTA

  • U.S. citizens. However, U.S. permanent residents traveling by air DO need an eTA. Dual U.S./other citizens must use their U.S. passport to qualify for an exemption
  • Those holding a current Canadian visa or temporary resident permit
  • Those with a valid study or work permit (issued since August 15, 2015)
  • Accredited Diplomats
  • French citizens who reside in and are traveling from St. Pierre and Miquelon
  • Those who already have status in Canada and are entering from the U.S. or St. Pierre and Miquelon (during the currency of their valid status)
  • Visiting Forces on official duties
  • Members of flight crews, civil aviation inspectors and accident investigators
  • Those traveling to the United States from a country other than Canada, or traveling to a country other than Canada from the United States:
  • Who qualify under the Transit without a Visa Program and the China Transit Program
  • Whose planes are refueling only on the way to or from the United States

Travelers in the above noted programs are qualified through airlines, not through applications made by individuals, and people transiting through Canada otherwise still need an eTA.

Visa nationals who can use an eTA rather than a visa

In addition to the above provisions, Canada Immigration is also allowing certain people to seek an eTA rather than a full visa.

To qualify, the applicant must be a citizen of:

  • Brazil
  • Bulgaria
  • Mexico
  • Romania

Who …

  • Holds a current U.S. non-immigrant visa, or
  • Has held a Canadian visa in the past 10 years

Please note that the exact implementation date of this program has not been advised, but should occur shortly after March 15. In the interim, those in the categories above would still need visas.

Other important information

  • Those who might ordinarily be criminally inadmissible must still apply for an eTA
  • The eTA process will allow for explanation and the adjudication of the right to travel
  • eTAs are valid for five years, or to the expiration date of a passport, whichever comes first
  • All Polish and Lithuanian citizens will require an eTA (prior to the eTA regime, those with machine readable passports only were visa exempt)
  • Processing times should be rather quick, but some considerations (e.g. discovery of a criminal matter, the need to verify certain information, etc.) may cause delays
  • It is advisable to allow enough time for the processing of the matter. Where possible, we would say even as far in advance as one month
  • eTAs are electronically linked to passports. Getting a new passport means needing to get a new eTA
  • There are limited acceptable payment methods, without exception. Payment must be made by Visa, MasterCard and/or American Express

How to apply for an eTA

The website for eTAs can be found here, which will in turn lead you to the application page.

This article was prepared by Kranc Associates, Canadian Corporate Immigration Counsel, available at:

http://www.kranclaw.com/2016/01/electronic-travel-authorizations-beware-the-ides-of-march/

Disclaimer: The above information is provided for general information purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. If you have any further inquiries regarding the applicability of this information, please contact the Regional Immigration Manager, Americas, Laura Taggart.

 

 

Canada
Express Entry continues to show ongoing flexibility

Express Entry is used to manage applications for Canada permanent residence. Candidates will be ranked against others in a pool using a points-based system called the Comprehensive Ranking System. Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) will regularly select the highest-ranking candidates from the pool, inviting them to apply to immigrate to Canada as permanent residents.

Candidates will be awarded points for:

  • A job offer
  • A nomination from a province or territory
  • Skills and experience factors

A candidate can get additional points for:

These additional points will make a candidate rank high enough to be invited to apply at the next eligible round of invitations.

January 13, 2016 through January 14, 2016 marked the second draw for this. Citizenship and Immigration maintains discretion over the frequency and size of Express Entry draws and continues to indicate its flexibility in the selection process. 

Significance to employers and foreign nationals

A valid labor market Impact Assessment (LMIA) or a Provincial Nomination (PN) approval will assure selection and invitation for permanent residence, but are not compulsory. Employees without an LMIA or PN approval continue to also be selected as shown by this year’s second draw.

Disclaimer: The above information is provided for general information purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. If you have any further inquiries regarding the applicability of this information, please contact the Regional Immigration Manager, Americas, Laura Taggart.

 

 

Canada
Express Entry system experiences technical issues

Express Entry is an Immigration, Refugee, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) application management system to manage permanent resident applications for skilled migration to Canada.

Ontario uses Express Entry (EE) to select potential nominees for permanent residence under two Ontario Express Entry Streams.

It has come to our attention that some technical issues may have resulted in candidates not receiving Notification of Interest (NOI), though they believe they meet the criteria for Ontario’s Express Entry Streams.

If you believe you fall into this category and have not received an NOI within one month of submitting your EE profile, we encourage you to create a new profile in the EE system. If you create a new EE profile, you must delete your old profile.

This summary was prepared using information obtained from Ontario, Canada Immigration.

Disclaimer: The above information is provided for general information purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. If you have any further inquiries regarding the applicability of this information, please contact the Regional Immigration Manager, Americas, Laura Taggart.

 

 

Canada
New Employer Portal for International Mobility Program

All employers submitting offers of employment for the International Mobility Program (IMP) must now do so via the new Employer Portal.

Since October 26, 2015, submissions via the Employer Portal were compulsory for all employers under the IMP, other than those exempt from the employer compliance fee.

An employer wishing to submit an offer of employment must now register with the Employer Portal. A representative may be added by the company as a secondary user, whom can then submit offers of employment on the employer’s behalf. The employer compliance fee (currently $CAN 230) must also be paid via the Employer Portal.

Previously, the fee was paid online and then an online form was completed (including the fee receipt number) and submitted by email. A representative submitting the form on behalf of the employer had to submit a scanned Use of Representative form.

On successful submission of the offer of employment via the Employer Portal, an offer of employment ID number is assigned to the information submitted. The employer should provide this ID number to the foreign national for inclusion in their work permit application form.

The IMP allows employers to hire or bring in foreign workers without a labor market Impact Assessment (LMIA).

Exemptions from the LMIA process are available for people authorized to work in Canada temporarily due to free trade agreements, such as NAFTA, intra-company transferees, International Experience Canada participants, spouses of highly-skilled foreign workers and some other categories.

This summary was prepared using information obtained from Peregrine Immigration Management’s website.

Disclaimer: The above information is provided for general information purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. If you have any further inquiries regarding the applicability of this information, please contact the Regional Immigration Manager, Americas, Laura Taggart.

 

 

Canada
Proposed changes to Immigration Act – Expression of Interest System

In Québec City on December 2, Kathleen Weil, Québec’s Immigration Minister, proposed a draft law that would make significant changes to the current immigration system.

Put forward for consideration, the Expression of Interest System, would require a foreign national to file an application for selection only if invited to do so by the Minister. If the foreign national meets the submission conditions to be outlined in future regulations, the Minister would enter the expression of interest into the expression-of-interest bank (EOI). Québec has authority to select close to 50,000 foreign nationals to the province this year, with similar levels planned for 2016.

The future regulations would determine the criteria under which the Minister invites a foreign national to file an application for permanent residence, and the time frame of its validity in the EOI bank. The Québec government’s objective is to process applications in six months. The new system should closely follow the Federal Express Entry Immigration System.

For more information, please visit the Government of Canada’s website.

Disclaimer: The above information is provided for general information purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. If you have any further inquiries regarding the applicability of this information, please contact the Regional Immigration Manager, Americas, Laura Taggart.

 

 

The United States
April 1 2016 deadline for cap-subject H-1B filings

April 1, 2016, is the deadline for cap-subject employers to file their H-1B petitions for skilled foreign workers.

It is important not to wait until the last minute to file petitions for this visa type. The demand for H-1B visas currently exceeds the number of available visas, and United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) exhausted its supply within days of the deadline in 2013, 2014 and 2015.

With no further reforms in sight, USCIS may only approve 65,000 new H-1B petitions per fiscal year (the cap), with an additional 20,000 set aside for individuals with advanced degrees from U.S. institutions.

What is the H-1B visa?

H-1B visas are the most common temporary work permits available to foreign national professionals. They are obtained routinely by U.S. corporations and other organizations that require foreign professional workers.

A U.S. employer can file an H-1B petition with USCIS on behalf of a foreign employee provided that the job requires (and the employee possesses) at least a bachelor's degree or its equivalent in a particular field.

An H-1B employer must also attest to paying the same salary and benefits packages normally offered to U.S. workers in similar positions and to observing the H-1B program's specific public notice and recordkeeping requirements.

Timeline for H-1B petitions

Petitions for new H-1B visas must be received within five days of the April 1 deadline to be considered for approval. Workers benefiting from approved petitions may start work on October 1 of the same year.

H-1B cap exceptions

Note that there are certain exceptions to the cap, as well as other visa options that may be available to employers to facilitate their staffing needs.

This summary was prepared using information obtained from Peregrine Immigration Management’s website.

Disclaimer: The above information is provided for general information purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. If you have any further inquiries regarding the applicability of this information, please contact the Regional Immigration Manager, Americas, Laura Taggart.

 

 

The United States
DHS enhances opportunities for H-1B1, E-3, CW-1 non-immigrants and certain EB-1 immigrants

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) amended its regulations on January 15, 2016, to:

  • Improve the programs serving the H-1B1, E-3 and CW-1 non-immigrant classifications and the EB-1 immigrant classification
  • Remove unnecessary hurdles that place such workers at a disadvantage compared to similarly-situated workers in other visa classifications

This final rule, posted to the Federal Register effective Feb. 16, revises regulations affecting highly-skilled workers in:

  • The non-immigrant classifications for specialty occupations from Chile, Singapore (H-1B1) and Australia (E-3)
  • The immigrant classification for employment-based first preference (EB-1) outstanding professors and researchers
  • Non-immigrant workers in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI)-Only Transitional Worker (CW-1) classification

Specifically, this final rule amends DHS regulations as described below:

  • DHS is including H-1B1 and principal E-3 classifications in the list of classes of foreign nationals authorized for employment incident to status with a specific employer. This means that H-1B1 and principal E-3 non-immigrants are allowed to work for the sponsoring employer without having to separately apply for employment authorization
  • DHS is authorizing continued employment with the same employer for up to 240 days for H-1B1 and principal E-3 non-immigrants whose status has expired while their employer’s timely filed extension of stay request remains pending
  • DHS is also authorizing continued employment for CW-1 non-immigrants whose status has expired while their employer’s timely filed Form I-129CW, Petition for a CNMI-Only Non-immigrant Transitional Worker, request for an extension of stay remains pending

Existing regulations on the filing procedures for extensions of stay and change of status requests now include principal E-3 and H-1B1 non-immigrant classifications.

  • Employers petitioning for EB-1 outstanding professors and researchers may now submit initial evidence comparable to the other forms of evidence already listed in 8 CFR 204.5(i)(3)(i), much like certain employment-based immigrant categories that already allow for submission of comparable evidence

This final rule does not impose any additional costs on employers, workers or any government entity. Changing the employment authorization regulations for H-1B1 and E-3 non-immigrants makes them consistent with other similarly-situated non-immigrant worker classifications. This rule also minimizes the potential of employment disruptions for U.S. employers of H-1B1, E-3 and CW-1 non-immigrant workers. DHS expects that this change will help U.S. employers recruit EB-1 outstanding professors and researchers by expanding the range of evidence that U.S. employers may provide to support their petitions.

“We constantly strive to improve our processes and ensure fair and consistent access to immigration benefits,” said U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Director León Rodríguez. “This Enhancing Opportunities rule removes unnecessary hurdles that place workers at a disadvantage and will be beneficial to both employers and their workers.”

This summary was prepared using information obtained from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website.

Disclaimer: The above information is provided for general information purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. If you have any further inquiries regarding the applicability of this information, please contact the Regional Immigration Manager, Americas, Laura Taggart.

 

 

The United States
New information resource for all workers in the United States

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recently launched an E-Verify Employee Rights Toolkit, in English and Spanish, on its website.

The new toolkit compiles a variety of creative informational materials that can be used as a learning resource – and to teach others – about employee rights. The toolkit’s downloadable videos, brochures, posters and other features will help everyone understand workers’ rights and employers’ responsibilities in the E-Verify process.

You can find the Employee Rights Toolkit in the "For Employees" section of the E-Verify website and on the Self Check website.

This summary was prepared using information obtained from USCIS.

Disclaimer: The above information is provided for general information purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. If you have any further inquiries regarding the applicability of this information, please contact the Regional Immigration Manager, Americas, Laura Taggart.

 

 

The United States
Omnibus bill includes immigration-related provisions

On December 18, Congress passed the combined omnibus spending bill including provisions increasing the supplemental fees for L-1 and H-1B petitions. Companies with more than 50 employees and more than 50 percent of their U.S. employees on H-1B and L1 visas will be required to pay the increased fees. Beginning April 1, 2016, the L-1 petitions will increase from US$ 2,250 to US$ 4,500, and the fees for H-1B petitions will increase from US$ 2,000 to US$ 4,000.

The EB-5 regional center program, the E-Verify program, the (R-1) religious worker visa program, and the Conrad State 30 waiver program for certain foreign doctors on J-1 visas, are extended without significant changes through September 30, 2016.

This omnibus spending bill also includes significant changes to the Visa Waiver Program (VWP).

Under the new law VWP travel is not possible for:

  • Any person who has traveled to Iran, Iraq, Syria or Sudan (or other DHS-designated countries “of concern”) since March 1, 2011. Exemptions are stated for certain military personnel and government employees of VWP countries. In addition, DHS may waive the ban if it would be in the law enforcement or national security interest of the United States. However, no exemptions are made for children, students, researchers, scholars, or humanitarian aid workers
  • Any person who is a dual national of a VWP country and Iran, Iraq, Syria or Sudan (or other DHS-designated countries “of concern”). Nationality is typically determined by the laws of the designated country, which may confer nationality through various means such as naturalization, marriage or descent
  • Travelers from VWP countries who are nationals of Iran, Iraq, Syria or Sudan, or who have traveled to any of these countries within the past five years. They will instead be required to obtain visas at U.S. consulates or embassies abroad

Disclaimer: The above information is provided for general information purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. If you have any further inquiries regarding the applicability of this information, please contact the Regional Immigration Manager, Americas, Laura Taggart.

 

 

The United States
USCIS launches virtual assistant

On December 2, 2015, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) launched a virtual assistant named “Emma.” Emma allows customers visiting uscis.gov to quickly find accurate information. She answers questions in plain English and navigates users to relevant USCIS web pages.

Emma was developed in response to a growing interest in self-help tools and to enhance the customer service experience at USCIS. Its call centers currently receive many general information requests that can already be answered on the website. Now Emma will help provide that information.

Although Emma can currently answer many questions customers commonly ask, her knowledge base is still growing. As customers ask more questions, Emma gets smarter and can better assist future customers.

You can access Emma on a desktop or laptop. Soon, she’ll be expanding to mobile devices, and her Spanish language capabilities will be arriving early next year.

The virtual assistant was named after Emma Lazarus, whose famous words are inscribed at the base of the Statue of Liberty.

This summary was prepared using information obtained from USCIS

Disclaimer: The above information is provided for general information purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. If you have any further inquiries regarding the applicability of this information, please contact the Regional Immigration Manager, Americas, Laura Taggart.

 

 

Belgium
Increased minimum salary thresholds

Foreign individuals on work permits in several categories – highly-skilled personnel, managers and EU Blue Card holders – are now subject to increased minimum salary levels. The specific wage for each category is defined by respective immigration law in Belgium on a yearly basis.

Authorities in Brussels Flanders and Wallonia have provided the following figures enforced since January 1, 2016:

  • EU Blue Card holders: 51,494 euros/minimum yearly salary
  • Type B highly-skilled workforce holders: 39,824 euros/minimum yearly salary
  • Senior executives: 66,442 euros/minimum yearly salary

New work authorizations and extensions will be required to meet the above wage requirements.

For further information, please visit the Belgian Federal Government website.

Disclaimer: The above information is provided for general information purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. If you have any further inquiries regarding the applicability of this information, please contact the Regional Immigration Manager, EMEA, Vladimir Dziak.

 

 

Czech Republic
Amendments to the Act on the Residence of Foreign Nationals

On December 18, 2015, the following amendments to the Act on the Residence of Foreign Nationals were introduced, affecting the immigration process in the Czech Republic:

  • Long-term visas will be issued with up to one year’s validity. If the applicant is younger than 18 years, and their application is submitted separately from principals, consent of legal guardians (usually parents) will be required as part of the application. Legal guardians for dependents younger than 15 years will be legally obliged to ensure their compliant stay in the Czech Republic
  • Time thresholds for submitting a residence permit application and its extension are prolonged – applications can be lodged 120 days before the end of the validity of the current visa or permit. Applications must also be submitted by the last day of the validity of the current immigration document. Applications for employee card extensions must be lodged 30 days before the end of the validity of the current employee card. If there were justifiable reasons preventing submission of the application in due time, they must be indicated while submitting the application (five working days from the date they exist)
  • Family members of EU citizens are now defined in accordance with the EU directive 2004/38/EC and current case law of the EU Court (also unmarried couples). The amendment also specified validity terms for a temporary residence permit for family members, and condition of its cessation and potential fine (up to 3,000 CZK for a delayed application for a prolongation)
  • The amendment set out the personal attendance requirement to take over the final decision on issuing the permanent residence permit
  • Changes of employer or in a job position – if the application for the consent of these changes is submitted within the 120-day period and up to 30 days prior to the end of the current employment card’s validity, this consent request will also be considered as an extension application

This summary was prepared using information obtained from the Ministry of the Interior of the Czech Republic website.

Disclaimer: The above information is provided for general information purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. If you have any further inquiries regarding the applicability of this information, please contact the Regional Immigration Manager, EMEA, Vladimir Dziak.

 

 

Germany
Increased minimum salary threshold for EU Blue Card holders

New salary levels were implemented on January 1, 2016, that represent an increase of almost 2.5 percent compared to 2015.

The minimum yearly gross salary for shortage occupations (when approval of the Federal Employment Agency is required) will be 38,688 euros, up from 37,752 euros. For non-shortage roles (usually without the agency`s approval), the minimum yearly gross salary will be 49,600 euros, up from 48,400 euros.

This summary was prepared using information obtained from the Germany Federal Office for Migration and Refugees.

Disclaimer: The above information is provided for general information purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. If you have any further inquiries regarding the applicability of this information, please contact the Regional Immigration Manager, EMEA, Vladimir Dziak.

 

 

Ireland
National minimum wage increase

The national minimum wage for an experienced adult employee is €9.15 per hour, 18,556 euros per year based on a 39-hour working week.

The approved regulation will affect all types of foreign workers under an Atypical Work Scheme (AWS), Internship Employment Permit, Dependent or Intra-Company/Service Employment Permit. If home-country compensation already includes allowances, the basic salary component must meet the minimum wage, excluding all allowable components before adding them to the entire salary. If the minimum salary level threshold is higher for certain permit categories (e.g. ICT permit – 40,000 euros/year), the base salary must meet the national wage without adding any components and the increase (top-up) must be clearly displayed on the assignee’s payslip.

For further information, please visit Citizens Information website

Disclaimer: The above information is provided for general information purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. If you have any further enquiries regarding the applicability of this information, please contact the Regional Immigration Manager, EMEA, Vladimir Dziak.

 

 

Israel
New regulations for foreign experts

New regulations for the employment of foreign nationals have been announced. The new regulations significantly tighten the qualifying criteria for work visas, especially professionals who do not require an academic qualification.

Only a first edition of the regulations has been published, so further amendments and clarifications are to be expected.

  1. The new regulation “distinguishes between expert professions that require academic qualifications, and those that do not.” For both categories there is a requirement to pay double the average salary. However, the new regulations determine the following for professionals who do not require an academic education:
    • The employer must pay the salary to an Israeli bank in the name of the employee
    • The employer must provide a contract issued by an Israeli lawyer confirming that the employee's contract of employment in the home country complies with Israeli labor law, and with the employer's obligations under the regulations
    • Upon extension of the permit in this sub-category, copies of wire transfers to the Israeli bank account of the employee must be provided by the employer, as well as bank confirmation that no-one except the employee can transfer or withdraw sums from the account
    • Where the employment is beyond three months, only professionals who require academic qualifications can be accompanied by family members with dependent immigration status
    • For professionals who do not require academic qualifications, the decision to allow dependents to accompany the employee is discretionary. For a duration of stay below three months, dependents will not be allowed to stay in Israel
  2. The Ministry of Interior may require a salary higher than double the average salary, for professions in which the average salary is higher than double the general average salary.
     
  3. Application for a work permit extension should be submitted at least 60 days before the expiration of the current employee's work visa.
     
  4. Extraordinary well-justified applications for work beyond five years and three months from the first day of employment in Israel must be submitted at least six months prior to the start date of the assignment or expiration of the current visa. Otherwise the employee, if already working in Israel, will need to depart from Israel upon expiration of the current visa, and return only after approval of the extension.
     
  5. The foreign expert will have to depart from Israel no later than 30 days after the termination of employment (if applicable) and provided their work visa is still valid.
     
  6. The regulation sets a time frame for the process: the application will be initially checked within 21 days to verify that all documents are provided, and a decision will be made within an additional 30 days.
     
  7. Any significant change in the work of an employee should be reported to the Ministry of Interior within seven working days. The regulations do not specify what amounts to a significant change, but it will certainly include, inter alia, changes of salary (decrease or increase), work location, job description or management structure, as well as resignation, layoff or early completion of the assignment.
     
  8. Passports of employees and dependents must be valid for at least one year and three months from the beginning of the process. Previously, the regulation required two years and three months validity.
     
  9. The Ministry of Interior is now instructed to check the visa applicant’s entries and departures from Israel, especially in the 12 months prior to the submission of the application.
    The aim of this measure is to eliminate the issuance of visas to those who stayed and worked in Israel prior to the visa process. It is therefore recommended that visits to Israel prior to the work visa process will be limited to those employees expected to work.
     
  10. Applications sponsored by a foreign company must provide a notarized Power of Attorney that has been certified by the Israeli Consulate abroad, authorizing the Israeli representative (lawyer) to act on the company's behalf for the submission of the work permit and visa.
     
  11. The regulation sets out the committee structure and personnel, and holds that decisions can be made by email or telephone, apart from normal committee meetings. The committee has the discretion to forward the application to other government ministries or bodies, to obtain their opinion on a specific application.
     
  12. Upon visa processing at the Consulate, the applicant will have to provide a Police Clearance issued in the last 12 months, as well as medical clearance conducted at a local clinic or hospital accredited by the relevant Israeli Consulate. The Consulate is authorized to ask for any additional documents as they see fit.
     
  13. Entry into Israel following consular processing will have to be done through Ben-Gurion Airport.

This summary was prepared using information obtained from Peregrine Immigration Management’s website.

Disclaimer: The above information is provided for general information purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. If you have any further inquiries regarding the applicability of this information, please contact the Regional Immigration Manager, EMEA, Vladimir Dziak.

 

 

Italy
New biometric residence permits available

On November 10, 2015, Italy began to issue new residence permits that comply with EC Regulation 380/2008. Each residence permit contains a microchip with biometric information connected to a database for identification.

The authorities will issue a new format of the permit to foreign nationals who applied after November 10. Individuals who submitted their application prior to November 10 will be issued the older format. No action is required for current holders of the permit as the new format will be issued during the extension process.

Further changes to residence permits for children are expected at other police departments in the near future.

This summary was prepared using information obtained from Peregrine Immigration Management’s website and the Italian Ministry of Interior’s website.

Disclaimer: The above information is provided for general information purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. If you have any further inquiries regarding the applicability of this information, please contact the Regional Immigration Manager, EMEA, Vladimir Dziak.

 

 

Netherlands
Eased process for startup visa applicants and self-employed residence permit applications

Based on a proposal to parliament, startup visa applicants will undergo an eased process when applying for self-employed residence permits after one year under the startup visa.

The startup visa was introduced last year to attract foreign entrepreneurs. This visa type is valid for one year and cannot be extended, so applicants must obtain a business facilitator and pass a points-based system review.

As many entrepreneurs are still in a growth stage when their startup visa expires, the applicant may not qualify for a points-based system review. In which case, the business facilitator can now submit a recommendation to the Rijksdienst voor Ondernemend Nederland (RVO – Dutch Economic Authority) to support the applicant’s residence permit application.

With the support letter from RVO, a self-employed residence permit will be easier to obtain.

For further information, please visit the Immigration and Naturalisation Service website.

Disclaimer: The above information is provided for general information purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. If you have any further inquiries regarding the applicability of this information, please contact the Regional Immigration Manager, EMEA, Vladimir Dziak.

 

 

Netherlands
Increased minimum salary thresholds and government application fees

Foreign individuals on work permits in several categories – knowledge migrant personnel, EU Blue Card holders and intra-company transferees – are now subject to increased minimum salary levels, excluding holiday pay. This will impact new applications and renewals. Government fees for applications will also increase by approximately 1.3 percent.

As of January 1, 2016, applicants for work/residence permits are now subject to the following gross minimum monthly salary thresholds:

  • Knowledge migrants: over 30 years of age – 4,240 euros and 3,108 euros below the age of 30
  • Foreign graduates with one-year search period: 2,228 euros
  • EU Blue Card holders: 4,968 euros
  • Intra-company transferees: 4,579.20 euros or 3,356.64 euros for short-term stays under the age of 30

Government filing fees will increase if they are above 40 euros by 1.3 percent.

Disclaimer: The above information is provided for general information purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. If you have any further inquiries regarding the applicability of this information, please contact the Regional Immigration Manager, EMEA, Vladimir Dziak.

 

 

Russia
Employment ban and visa restrictions for Turkish nationals

The current political situation between Russia and Turkey has resulted in an employment ban for Turkish nationals in Russia, which took effect January 1, 2016.

Several sanctions have been introduced by Presidential Order No. 583 from November 28, 2015, including the complete ban on employment of Turkish nationals in Russia. This excludes Turkish nationals already employed in Russia granted a work permit. However, employers may face issues with the extension process. 

Disclaimer: The above information is provided for general information purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. If you have any further inquiries regarding the applicability of this information, please contact the Regional Immigration Manager, EMEA, Vladimir Dziak.

 

 

Spain
Residence rights extended for dependents of EU nationals

A new regulation (Real Decreto 987/2015 of October 30, 2015) extends the definition of dependents of EU nationals who qualify for an EU residence card in Spain, to include non-EU national common-law partners in a steady relationship, as well as any financially or physically dependent family members.

Key changes

  • The non-EU national common-law partner of an EU national will now qualify for a five-year EU family residence card if they can show evidence of a “steady relationship.” This should include evidence either of continuous cohabitation for at least one year, or of children they have had together
  • Other non-EU national family members will now also qualify if they can prove financial dependence on the principal applicant, or are physically dependent on the principal on health or disability grounds
  • Previously in Spain, non-EU national family members of EU nationals were only granted one-year (renewable) Spanish residence cards, according to the general regulations for non-EU nationals

This summary was prepared using information obtained from Peregrine Immigration Management’s website and the Government of Spain’s website.

Disclaimer: The above information is provided for general information purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. If you have any further inquiries regarding the applicability of this information, please contact the Regional Immigration Manager, EMEA, Vladimir Dziak.

 

 

Turkey
Restrictions traveling to and from Turkey

With changes to procedures and existing regulations being more strictly enforced, several migrant categories should pay attention when traveling to Turkey using various immigration paths.

120 days in 360 rule for residence permit holders

Residence permit holders are now only entitled to travel outside Turkey for 120 days out of 360 days. If they exceed 120 days, then residence permits will be cancelled and foreigners will need to enter Turkey on a tourist visa, then reapply for a new residence permit.

This restriction is now being actively enforced and should be carefully tracked by family dependents, short and long-term residence permit holders who travel frequently.

90 days in 180 rule for visa holders

New assignees and family members traveling to Turkey on tourist visas, or from countries with visa exemptions of up to 90 days for travel, should not stay in Turkey for more than 90 days in 180 days.

It is important to count back 180 days from the date you plan to leave Turkey, then calculate how many days you have spent in Turkey during that period.

All applicants must be physically present in Turkey on the date of the residence permit application appointment. This new requirement will increase the lead time for family members to get their residence permits.

When the Ministry of Interior/Migration Management (Göçmen İdaresi) processes applications, they now cross-check entry and exit dates, and will reject the application if the appointment was booked on a day when the applicant was not in Turkey.

  1. Residence permit first applications

    After the appointment for the residence permit is booked, foreigners can legally stay in Turkey until the residence permit is issued.

    After the first application has been completed, the Göçmen İdaresi will issue an exit paper allowing the foreigner to leave for a maximum of 15 days and return to Turkey before the final residence cards are issued.
     

  2. Residence permit renewals

    The E-renewal system ensures that renewal applications are made online with supporting documentation sent by courier to the Göçmen İdaresi. Assignees and their families no longer need to attend face-to-face appointments for residence permit renewals. However, Göçmen İdaresi can and sometimes does demand that you visit the Immigration Office (with no notice) if they need clarification.

    For family members’ renewals, a copy of the principal assignee’s work permit card should also be provided. This means that renewal applications can be submitted shortly before the residence permit’s expiry date.

    Once the online residence permit renewal process has been completed, expats can legally stay in Turkey until the new residence permit is issued.
    If family members wish to travel abroad, they should aim to travel before their residence permit expires or obtain an exit paper from the Göçmen İdaresi allowing them to leave Turkey for a maximum of 15 days. Then return to Turkey before their renewed residence cards are issued.
     

  3. Mandatory online system implemented

    Foreigners submitting visa applications – assembly and maintenance visas, work visas and consular visas – must now upload their application and supporting documents online through the Turkish electronic visa application system, prior to submitting their visa application forms and supporting documents in person at a consular post.

Disclaimer: The above information is provided for general information purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. If you have any further inquiries regarding the applicability of this information, please contact our Immigration team in Turkey, Hatice (hahmetagaoglu@crownww.com) or Nebihe (nmilli@crownww.com).

 

 

United Kingdom
Amendments to Sponsor Guidance and tighter record-keeping rules

On 19 November, the Home Office issued an amendment to Sponsor Guidance. The amendment impacts several duties of sponsors, including:

  • Enhanced responsibilities of the Authorising Officer
  • Further investigation options for the Home Office
  • New requirements in terms of record-keeping obligations for experience, skills and the qualifications of the sponsored workforce

Employers sponsoring Tier 2, Tier 4 and Tier 5 foreign nationals should file documents (hard or soft copies) confirming experience, qualifications and skills relevant for the roles they exercise. A detailed job summary outlining key responsibilities should also be included.

The amendment applies to all sponsored migrants who began working in the U.K. after 19 November. All documentation must be filed in line with the standard one-year retention period and should be available for inspection. No action is required for cases subject to resident labor market tests, as this documentation is already an integral part of the file.

New policy does not specify the type of documentation to be retained. However, relevant references from previous employers, certification and qualification documents should be included. 

This summary was prepared using information obtained from Gov.uk.

Disclaimer: The above information is provided for general information purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. If you have any further enquiries regarding the applicability of this information, please contact the Regional Immigration Manager, EMEA, Vladimir Dziak.

 

 

An image of the Hollywod sign

Free Moving Quote

The First Step on Your
New Adventure

  • Your enquiry is handled by an expert advisor
  • Form only takes one minute to complete
  • Crown operate in over 200 locations worldwide
..everything went like clockwork and times were all on schedule..;