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Welcome to the September 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.

 

Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation member countries
APEC Business Travel Card extended to five years

The Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Business Travel Card’s validity has been extended from three to five years. Applications lodged on or after September 1, 2015, will be granted a card valid for five years.

The APEC Card offers businesspeople five-year, short-stay, multiple-entry to participating APEC member countries with priority lane access at airport immigration checkpoints.

A list of APEC members can be found here.

Information on how to apply for an APEC Card can also be found here.

This summary was prepared using information obtained from APEC’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.

 

 

Australia
Data Matching Program introduced

The Data Matching Program was introduced in August to ensure taxpayers are correctly meeting their tax obligations.

As part of this program, the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) will acquire immigration data from the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) such as names, addresses and other details about visa holders. They estimate that records relating to approximately one million individuals will be obtained. This data will be checked against the ATO’s tax records.

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

 

 

Malaysia
Updated salary requirements for Dependent Pass and Social Visit Pass eligibility

The Multimedia Development Corporation (MDeC) has advised that from September 15, 2015, Employment Pass holders employed by MSC Malaysia status companies must meet the following criteria to sponsor a Dependent Pass and Social Visit Pass:

Employment Pass categories

Salary

Duration of employment

Dependent/Social Visit Pass

I

More than or equal to RM5,000

More than or equal to two years

Eligible

II

More than or equal to RM5,000

Less than two years

Eligible

III

From RM2,500 to RM4,999.99

Less than or equal to one year

Eligible

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.

 

 

The Philippines
Nationals of 41 countries may now enter the Philippines visa free

As a general rule, persons seeking entry to another country should hold a passport or travel document valid for at least one year. However, nationals of 41 countries may now enter the Philippines visa free with a passport, or official travel document, valid for less than six months from the date of their arrival. These nationals can be granted up to 30 days of stay in the Philippines for tourist and business activities. An entire list of countries whose nationals may now enter the Philippines with less than six months validity can be found on the Department of Foreign Affairs’ website.

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.

 

 

Canada
Quebec Immigrant Investor Program re-opens

The Quebec Immigrant Investor Program (QIIP) began accepting applications on August 31, 2015, and will continue to do so until January 29, 2016, or until the maximum number of applications has been attained. Only the Ministère’s seal will constitute proof of the date of receipt of your application.

The QIIP is for qualified investors who make a passive investment via an authorized financial intermediary, and who undertake to settle in Quebec. The program is a benefit to investors with business management experience seeking an expedited avenue to Permanent Residence status in Canada.

The Ministère will receive a maximum of 1,750 applications for a selection certificate under the Investor Program, including a maximum of 1,200 from China (Hong Kong and Macau).

Investor applicants who demonstrate, by means of a test recognized by the Ministère, that they have an advanced intermediate knowledge of French, are not subject to this maximum number of applications and can submit their application at any time. These applications will receive priority processing.

This summary was prepared using information obtained from the Government of Quebec’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
Customs and Border Protection launches redesigned ESTA website for Visa Waiver Program visitors

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) recently launched the redesigned website for Visa Waiver Program (VWP) visitors to apply for an Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) prior to traveling to the United States. The new website makes the process of applying for an ESTA more user-friendly and will improve and better facilitate the experience for VWP travelers wishing to visit the United States.

“We recognized the need to improve upon the ESTA application process and with feedback from our stakeholders and travelers, we are proud to launch this easier-to-use site,” said Commissioner R. Gil Kerlikowske. “CBP remains committed to promoting travel and tourism to the U.S. by improving the international arrivals experience and this website, along with Trusted Traveler Programs and Automated Passport Control are important steps to enhancing travelers’ arrival experience.”

The website has new and improved functionality and navigation capabilities in addition to its new look displaying U.S. landmarks. Some of the new and updated features include:

  • Access to frequently asked questions at any time during the application process
  • Mobile-friendly design allows VWP visitors to apply and check the status of their ESTA using their smartphones
  • Users will be able to translate the page into a different language at any point in the application by choosing one of the 23 languages in the language selector
  • The Group feature has been moved to the beginning of the application process making it easier for families and groups to submit their applications at the same time

CBP conducted focus groups as part of the redesign process to better understand how to improve the website for the 19 million VWP visitors who use it each year.

VWP visitors who have already applied for an ESTA using the old site will be able to access their ESTA on the new site. Travelers with a valid ESTA will not be required to reapply for a new ESTA until their current ESTA expires or they receive a new passport.

CBP reminds VWP visitors that ESTA applications can only be submitted through the official website. ESTA is not affiliated with any third-party sites. CBP recommends ESTA applications be submitted as soon as an applicant begins making travel plans.

The VWP enables nationals of 38 designated countries to travel to the United States for tourism or business purposes for stays of 90 days or less without obtaining a visa. All nationals or citizens of VWP countries are required to have an approved ESTA prior to boarding a carrier to travel by air or sea to the United States. ESTA applications should be submitted at least 72 hours before travel, and once approved, will generally be valid for up to two years, or until the applicant’s passport expires, whichever comes first. Authorizations will be valid for multiple entries into the United States.

CBP remains committed to promoting travel and tourism to the U.S. by improving and streamlining the international arrivals experience. Trusted Traveler Programs and Automated Passport Control (APC) are important steps to enhancing travelers’ arrival experience. VWP visitors can use APC kiosks to expedite their entry at many international airports around the United States. More than 3.5 million travelers are enrolled in Trusted Traveler Programs such as Global Entry, NEXUS and SENTRI.

This summary was prepared using information obtained from U.S. Customs and Border Protection’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 announces new rules relating to I-485 application filing dates

The U.S. Department of State (DOS) has released its October 2015 Visa Bulletin. The Bulletin introduces a two-tier cut-off system that allows applicants from oversubscribed countries to file Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status as early as October 2015.

Until now, an adjustment of status application could only be filed in a preference-based case if the priority date (date on the waiting list) for the case was earlier than the cut-off date on the Visa Bulletin in that particular category.

The new Visa Bulletin will have an “acceptance” cut-off date, which determines when an applicant can file an I-485 application. It will also have an “approval” cut-off date, which determines when a pending I-485 or NVC/Consular immigrant visa case can be approved.

In addition, two charts per visa preference category will now be posted in the DOS Visa Bulletin:

  • Application Final Action Dates (dates when visas may finally be issued)
  • Dates for Filing Applications (earliest dates when applicants may be able to apply)

The ability to file an adjustment of status application earlier is important to foreign nationals because they can secure employment authorization and travel documents while they await final approval on their application. In addition, this gives the primary I-485 applicant the ability to “port” or transfer their Green Card application to a new employer after it has been pending for 180 days.

This summary was prepared using information obtained from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services’ 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 simplifies the online Immigrant Fee payment process

On August 31, 2015, a revised payment process was introduced to reduce the amount of information an immigrant must provide to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Additionally, in response to customer feedback, anyone can now pay the USCIS Immigrant Fee for an immigrant. For example, a family member, friend, employer, attorney, or accredited representative can pay the fee as long as they have the immigrant’s Alien Registration Number (A-Number) and DOS Case ID.

The USCIS Immigrant Fee is required for individuals immigrating to the United States as lawful permanent residents. USCIS uses this fee to process, produce and deliver Permanent Resident Cards (Green Cards).

This summary was prepared using information obtained from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services’ 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.

 

 

Chile
Chile Immigration Department creates new visa category for opposite and same-sex partners

As of October 1, 2015, a new visa category will be available for previously ineligible foreign nationals, allowing them to temporarily reside in Chile.

The Temporary Residence Visa by Civil Union will allow eligible opposite or same-sex partners of Chilean citizens, or temporary or permanent residents in Chile, to apply for temporary residence.  This application can be made in Chile or from abroad, and will be valid for one year, with the option to renew or apply for permanent residence. Applicants for the new visa will be required to provide a civil union certificate or a marriage certificate as part of their application.

A Civil Union Agreement can be obtained by opposite and same-sex partners over the age of 18, whose marriage or union is recognized by their home country. This will allow them to apply under the new visa category.

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.

 

 

Colombia
Machine-readable passports for international travel

Beginning November 24, 2015, Colombians will be required to possess a machine-readable passport – either a “mechanical lecture passport,” the type of passport that Colombia currently issues, or a new micro-chip, machine-readable passport. The micro-chip will contain the passport holder’s digital fingerprints.

This change comes as part of an agreement between Colombia and the EU to allow Colombians to travel visa free to EU countries (other than the United Kingdom and Ireland). The machine-readable passports will allow Colombian nationals to benefit from the new program agreed to earlier this year, which is currently in its implementation stage.

For further information on the passports, visit the Colombian Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ 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.

 

 

Ireland
Changes to Employment Permit application process and eligibility

On 1 September 2015, the Department for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation (DJEI) implemented several changes to the Employment Permit application process and eligibility.

Occupations removed from ineligible list

There is evidence that the Irish labour market is experiencing a shortage in occupations that were ineligible up until now for Employment Permits. To respond to this shortage, the Minister has approved the removal of the following occupations from the ineligible occupations list:

  • Telecommunications engineers
  • IT engineers
  • Chiropractors who are members of the Chiropractic Association of Ireland
  • Mobility instructors for the visually impaired
  • Meat boners

Occupations added to ineligible list

DJEI deem that there are no longer any shortages in the Irish labour market for a range of services managers (for example, betting shop managers, graphic design managers, library managers, plant hire managers, production managers and property, housing and estate managers). These are now ineligible for Employment Permits in Ireland and have been added to the ineligible occupations list.

Highly-skilled eligible occupations list

In response to changing skills needs in the medical sector, radiation therapists, orthotists and prosthetists are now deemed ‘highly-skilled’ occupations, while healthcare practice managers and senior social services managers and directors have been removed.

Other changes to the application process

P30 validity

To date, a P30 in support of an Employment Permit application had to be valid (i.e. submitted to Revenue) within two months of the date of the permit application. This will now be extended to three months.

Passports

Previously, the passport of an applicant for a renewal permit had to be valid for 12 months prior to the date of application. To make it easier for renewal applicants, the passport now needs to be valid for only three months. Note that 12 months validity still applies for first-time applications.

New forms

A new suite of standard application forms for the grant and renewal of Employment Permits, notifying dismissal by reason of redundancy and change of name, and forms submitting a decision for review, have now been issued. There are no changes to Trusted Partner registration forms and Trusted Partner Employment Permit application forms.

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 enquiries regarding the applicability of this information, please contact the Global Immigration Program Manager, Angela Volz.

 

 

Kenya
Electronic visa system replaces Visa-on-arrival scheme

Foreign nationals requiring a single-entry visa for travel to Kenya for business or tourism, or a transit visa, are now required to obtain an eVisa. This visa must be obtained online before travel, rather than applying manually for a visa-on-arrival in Kenya.

The eVisa pre-approves entry to Kenya and is granted online by the Department of Immigration Services. Payment must be made with a Visa or MasterCard debit card, and approval officially takes two business days, although it may take longer in practice.

The eVisa is issued in PDF format and should be printed out and carried upon entry to Kenya. It allows the holder to travel, within 90 days of issuance, to a Kenyan port-of-entry, where the immigration authorities stamp the holder’s passport. This will grant the holder the right to enter Kenya once for up to 90 days. The duration of stay may be renewed once, for up to a further 90 days, at the discretion of the immigration authorities.

The eVisa system was introduced on July 1, 2015, but until September 1, 2015, manual applications at the port-of-entry to Kenya were still possible. Multiple-entry visas are not yet available through the eVisa system.

Who is eligible?

  • Visa-required nationals who previously qualified for a visa-on-arrival
  • "Category 3" nationals are not eligible for the eVisa and need to make a paper-based application for a referral visa to the Department of Immigration Services prior to travel. These include nationals of Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Cameroon, North Korea, Eritrea, Iraq, Kosovo, Lebanon, Libya, Mali, Palestine, Senegal, Somalia, Syria and Tajikistan
  • Visa-exempt nationals do not need to obtain a visa to enter Kenya

Although Kenyan Airways has announced that the Department of Immigration has temporarily installed eVisa booths at Nairobi airport, where travelers can obtain an eVisa-on-arrival, it is likely that there will be very long queues at these booths.

Depending on the airline, travelers may not be allowed to board their flight to Kenya if they cannot show their eVisa when checking in. It is strongly recommended, therefore, to obtain an eVisa before traveling to Kenya.

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 enquiries regarding the applicability of this information, please contact the Global Immigration Program Manager, Angela Volz.

 

 

Qatar
New Wages Protection System

The Qatar Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs has begun implementing a new Wages Protection System (WPS), requiring all employers to pay their employees through a bank in Qatar.

The WPS is an electronic system initiated by the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, and the Qatar Central Bank (QCB), to monitor and document the process of worker wage payments. This change will ensure that all employers are completing the wage payment in a timely manner and according to the rules and conditions provided in the Labour Law.

Under the WPS, employees must be paid in Qatari currency, to a Qatari bank account, at intervals prescribed by the Labour Law.

All employers must register with their bank in Qatar to use the WPS. If an assignee was previously paid from outside Qatar by a sending company abroad, they will now be paid through their Qatari sponsor company, which must be registered to use the WPS at a bank in Qatar. Employers who are non-compliant are at risk of up to a one month’s sentence of imprisonment and/or a QR2,000 – QR6,000 fine.

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 Global Immigration Program Manager, Angela Volz.

 

 

Russia
Schengen Visa Information System implemented

On September 14, 2015, the European Union Visa Information System (VIS) was implemented in Russia. The system requires all Schengen visa applicants to register their biometric data.

The VIS was established in 2004. The database contains information on visa applications by non-EU nationals to enter the Schengen area, as well as the decisions taken by any Schengen state’s consulate.

When applying for a Schengen visa, for the first time after the VIS has been implemented in a country, all applicants must appear in person at a consulate or external service provider to have their fingerprints and photographs taken.

This biometric data, along with the information applicants provide on the visa application form, will be stored in the VIS database for five years. Frequent travelers will only be required to complete this procedure once because their fingerprints will be copied from the previous application file in the VIS. A limited number of applicants will be exempt from having their fingerprints taken. This includes children under the age of twelve.

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 Global Immigration Program Manager, Angela Volz.

 

 

The United Kingdom
Tier 1 Investor and Entrepreneur applications now require criminal record certificate

The requirement for applicants to provide an overseas criminal record certificate was introduced in September with the Tier 1 (Investor) and Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) categories.

This requirement will continue to be introduced in phases with Tier 1 (Investor) and Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) applicants and their adult dependents from 1 September, before applying more widely.

This change does not currently apply to extensions or in-country switching applications.

Background

The Home Office introduced a new rule in April 2015 which would require applicants to provide the certificate from any country in which they have lived continuously for 12 months or more over the past 10 years. The Home Office has stated that by starting with a small category of applicants, it will be able to monitor and evaluate the implementation of this policy.

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 Global Immigration Program Manager, Angela Volz.

 

 

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