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Welcome to the August 2015 edition of our global immigration news bulletins. These bulletins provide readers with the latest 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.

China
Beijing reduces processing times for residence permits

On July 31, 2015, the Beijing Public Security Bureau (PBS) announced that it would shorten the length of time it takes to process a residence permit, from 15 to 10 working days. The application process, materials and fees all remain unchanged. 

In the same announcement, Beijing PBS also reminded expatriates to submit their residence permit renewal applications within 30 days of their expiration dates. Also, change of personal particulars applications should be submitted within 10 days of the changes being made. 

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.

 

 

Indonesia
Significant changes made to immigration policies

Ratio of foreign to local employees

The new regulation clarifies that a ratio of one foreigner to ten local employees is required, with an exemption for Director and Commissioner positions. 

Additional activities require a work permit

The new regulation expands the requirement to obtain a RPTKA (Rencana Penggunaan Tenaga Kerja Asing – expatriate placement plan) and IMTA (Izin Mempekerjakan Tenaga Kerja Asing – work permit) for the following activities (among others):  

  1. Providing guidance, counseling and training in the application of industrial and technological innovation to improve the quality and design of industrial products.
  2. Production of a commercial film.
  3. Providing lectures.
  4. Attending a meeting held with headquarters or representatives in Indonesia.
  5. Conducting audits, production quality control or inspection at the company's branch in Indonesia.

Under the new regulation, a new temporary RPTKA/IMTA will be issued for one or six months to cover these activities. A new urgent/emergency RPTKA/IMTA can also be issued in one day.

Previously, the above-mentioned activities did not require an RPTKA and IMTA. 

Other changes

  • Under the new regulation, the IMTA must be obtained before the applicant applies for their VBS/VITAS/VTT (Temporary Stay Permit Visa) at their Indonesian consulate abroad. The Temporary Stay Permit Visa permits the applicant to enter Indonesia and apply for a KITAS (Temporary Stay Permit Card). Currently, the IMTA can only be obtained after arrival in Indonesia and the application requires a copy of the VITAS
  • The “Recommendation of Working Visa” (TA-01) stage of the work authorization process may be removed 
  • A work permit will now be required for foreign national Directors and Commissioners of Indonesian companies who are not residing in Indonesia. It is unclear whether they will also be required to obtain a KITAS (Temporary Stay Permit Card)
  • An IMTA valid for two years may be issued to company Directors and Commissioners under the new regulations, once some administrative changes have taken effect
  • The new regulations may require some additional documents in support of initial and renewal RPTKA applications
  • Local insurance, tax and social security registration documents are now likely to be required for renewal RPTKA/IMTA applications
  • Once the IMTA is issued, the new regulations require a report to be submitted to the local Manpower Office in the area where the employer is located

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, Asia, Kit Tang.

 

 

Singapore
Increased salary requirement for work pass holders to sponsor dependents

The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) has increased the minimum monthly salary requirement for work pass holders to sponsor dependents. Employment Pass holders must meet a minimum fixed monthly salary to sponsor the stay of their spouse/children on Dependent Passes, or their parents on Long Term Social Visit Passes in Singapore. These changes took effect on September 1, 2015.

 

Current minimum
monthly salary requirement

Salary requirement
as of September 1, 2015

Dependent Pass for spouse/unmarried children under 21

SGD 4,000

SGD 5,000

Long Term Social Visit Pass for parents

SGD 8,000

SGD 10,000

Long Term Social Visit Pass for: 

  • - Common-law spouse
  • - Unmarried handicapped children above 21
  • - Unmarried step-children under 21 

SGD 4,000

SGD 5,000

 This summary was prepared using information obtained from MOM’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.

 

 

Canada
The government of Quebec’s Skilled Worker Program announces major change

The government of Quebec recently made a major announcement regarding its Quebec Skilled Worker Program (QSWP). The QSWP is the only immigration program where applicants can predict their chances of being selected for permanent residence in Canada based upon their qualifications. 

The Quebec program features more than 75 eligible occupations and areas that will allow applicants to qualify for a Quebec Certificate of Selection (CSQ), even without a job offer. A CSQ allows the holder to live and work freely in the Province of Quebec.

Applicants can choose from several areas, such as management, engineering, social care, health care, financial services and information technology. Based on their area of training, experience, education, age, language, qualifications of a spouse or partner, and children, candidates will be given a mark, and those who receive the passing score will qualify for a CSQ.

Now, the Quebec provincial government has decreased the pass mark to qualify under its popular Skilled Worker Program. This decrease will come into effect on or before October 1, 2015.

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
United States announces trilateral agreement with Canada and Mexico to expand Trusted Traveler programs

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has joined Public Safety Canada and the Secretariat of Governance of Mexico in outlining the first steps toward the creation of a North American Trusted Traveler network. The new agreement signed by Secretary of Homeland Security, Jeh Johnson, on July 10 and his Canadian and Mexican counterparts, will make it easier for eligible travelers in the United States, Mexico and Canada to apply for expedited screening programs, helping to promote legitimate travel across the continent.

As part of the agreement, Mexican nationals who are members of Mexico’s Viajero Confiable program will be able to apply for the U.S. – Canada NEXUS Trusted Traveler program. Under the program Mexican nationals will become eligible for expedited screening benefits upon arrival at international airports in the United States and Canada. The arrangement will also allow Canadian citizens who are members of NEXUS to apply for Viajero Confiable, making them eligible for expedited screening benefits upon arrival at select international airports in Mexico. U.S. citizens are currently eligible to apply for the NEXUS and Viajero Confiable Trusted Traveler programs through existing partnerships between U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Public Safety Canada and Mexico’s National Institute of Migration. Eligible travelers will be able to apply for each program beginning in 2016.

This summary was prepared using information obtained from DHS’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
USCIS releases L-1B policy memorandum

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) released an updated policy memorandum on the L-1B non-immigrant visa classification for workers with specialized knowledge. The memorandum clarifies for USCIS officers how L-1B petitioners may demonstrate that an employee has specialized knowledge. This will be posted online for a 45-day public feedback period.

The policy memorandum consolidates previous guidance and provides updated guidance to USCIS officers in adjudicating petitions filed by employers seeking to transfer employees to the United States. Employees who work in any industry and serve in any type of position may be classified as L-1B non-immigrants, so long as the position described in the L-1B petition requires specialized knowledge. 

This summary was prepared using information obtained from USCIS’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.

 

 

Russia
Ukrainian nationals are no longer eligible for indefinite extension of stay

Ukrainian nationals are no longer permitted to extend their stay indefinitely in Russia after the expiration of their 90-day stay period. Ukrainian nationals will now only be allowed to remain in Russia for up to 90 days in a 180-day period without a work or residency permit, in line with immigration policy for all Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) nationals. Ukrainian nationals traveling to Russia must declare the purpose of their visit upon entry and ensure that their migration card (issued upon entry) indicates the reason for their visit.

Ukrainian nationals who overstay the 90-day period without obtaining a work and residency permit are subject to a fine of up to 7,000 RUB and deportation.

Ukrainian nationals must comply with the new limited stay requirement and any registration procedures upon arrival in Russia. 

Disclaimer: The information contained in this immigration alert 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, Ben Sookia.

 

 

South Africa
South African VFS centers open in the UK

South African Visa Facilitation Service (VFS) centers have opened across the U.K. in London, Manchester and Edinburgh. Visas from the following countries only will be processed at these centers:

  • Angola
  • China
  • Ghana
  • India
  • Kenya
  • Nigeria

Applications submitted to the three VFS centers will take seven working days to process. Submissions can be made between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. on weekdays (excluding public holidays). Passports will continue to be kept at the VFS centers while applications are processed. Please note that the South African High Commission in London will no longer accept visa applications.

Tracking system and helpline

A tracking system has been implemented that will allow applicants to check the status of their application online. At an additional cost, applicants can also register to receive SMS text messages, updating them on the status of their applications. A helpline is available from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m.

A premium lounge is also available, for a supplementary fee, offering support staff who will help applicants complete their applications, expediting their time spent at the VFS center.

Locations

  • The London center is located at 66 Wilson Street, EC2 A2JX
  • The Manchester center is located at No. 50 Devonshire Street North, M12 6JH
  • The Edinburgh center is located at 1 Rennie’s Isle, EH6 6QT

The new VFS centers will ensure that applications are processed quickly and provide greater visibility for applicants, by way of extended working hours and the new online tracking system. Increasing the number of staff at each center and the telephone helpline will also offer an improved service delivery compared to the previous system at the South African High Commission.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this immigration alert 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, Ben Sookia.

 

 

Switzerland
Criminal record check now required for assignees entering Basel Land

The Department of Migration in the Canton of Basel Land, Switzerland, now requires all non-EU adult citizens entering on an assignment, for longer than 12 months, to apply for a criminal record check in their origin country.

The criminal record must be provided along with a certified translation in one of the national languages of Switzerland (German, French, Italian or English). These documents will be requested by the Registration Office of Residency. 

This regulation is based on Article 13, p. 2 of the Federal Act on Foreign Nationals, and stipulates that:

  1. Applicants must submit a valid identity document. The Federal Council shall determine the exceptions and the recognized identity papers.
  2. Each authority has the right to request a criminal record from the applicant’s country of origin or home state, and any other necessary documents to process the application.
  3. The authorities will only grant the approval of registration if all the necessary documents are available.

If a non-EU citizen transfers to Basel Land from another canton in Switzerland, a criminal record document from the applicant’s origin country will still be required to complete the registration 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, Ben Sookia.

 

 

Switzerland
L Work Permit quota for EU nationals reached

The quota for short-term L Work Permits (four to twelve months duration) for EU nationals has been filled for the period up to September 30, 2015. Some cantons will continue to accept applications and place them on hold while others will reject any new applications prior to the start of the fourth quarter of 2015. Any EU nationals intending to enter Switzerland on assignment can still do so by applying for a short-term permit with a maximum duration of four months. The quota for non-EU nationals also remains open for those wishing to submit applications.

This development is a direct consequence of the more stringent immigration quotas that came into effect in Switzerland from January 1, 2015. These included the cap on L Work Permits from a total annual limit of 3,000 to 2,000 for EU nationals, and from 5,000 to 4,000 for non-EU nationals.

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, Ben Sookia.

 

 

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