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Welcome to the July 2014 - Part 1 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,

Asia Pacific


Additional Requirements for 9(g) commercial visa process

Effective May 28, 2014, a Philippines employer sponsoring a foreign national’s 9(g) commercial visa must now appoint an executive level representative to accompany the visa applicant to each interview.

The top 1,000 companies in the Philippines are exempt from this new regulation. Previously, only the employee was required to appear at the interview for a 9(g) commercial visa. The new requirement stipulates who within the company may represent different types of employers. A corporation or partnership must designate an executive officer who is required to be identified in the Articles of Incorporation or Partnership or on its most recent General Information Sheet. Executive officers cannot authorize the company’s lawyers, liaison officers or travel agents to represent the company at the 9(g) interview, even through a special power of attorney. A sole proprietorship can only be represented by the registered owner, identified in the Certificate of Business Registration issued by the Department of Trade and Industry. Delays in processing may occur as employers identify representatives and arrange to attend visa interviews with foreign national employee.


New Smart Exit-Entry Permit (EEP): Mainland China citizens for travel to Hong Kong and Macau

China has introduced a smart card Exit-Entry Permit (EEP) to slowly phase out the existing passport-size paper format travel document issued to mainland China citizens for travel to Hong Kong and Macau.

The Ministry of Public Security plans to pilot the new permit in Guangdong, a province in south China adjacent to Hong Kong and Macau. Local police agencies will accept applications for the e-permit starting May 20, 2014.

The new permit has an integrated chip containing personal information, fingerprints and entry endorsement of the card holder. Holders of the smart EEP are still required to secure the appropriate Exit Endorsement in China before they depart China for travel to Hong Kong or Macau. With a smart EEP, holders can pass through the self-service electronic channels for immigration clearance when exiting/entering Hong Kong or Macau from China.


Delays with India visa applications in the United States

As announced in our May 2014 bulletin, the Embassy of India in the United States has engaged a new contractor to replace the existing contractor in the United States for Visas/OCI/PIO/Renunciation of Indian Citizenship Certificate application support services, effective May 21, 2014.

As a result of transitioning to the new outsourcing service, there have been ongoing delays in visa processing in the U.S. During the transition, it is advised that travel plans to India remain flexible and clients are recommended not to purchase non-refundable tickets to India until after the appropriate visa has been secured.

South Korea

Important changes to Alien Registration Card (ARC) process

In the absence of an official announcement, since the beginning of May 2014 the Korea Immigration Department only accepts an ARC application with a copy of a lease agreement or a three-month payment confirmation letter from a hotel in Korea.

The ARC is a post-arrival process in Korea. Expats relocated to Korea must apply for their ARC within 90 days of arrival. The ARC typically takes three weeks to process.

Since the ARC is a required document to clear customs shipment, a delay in producing either document will subsequently delay the ARC application process and the customs clearance process. As a solution, it is recommended to secure a lease agreement or a three-month payment confirmation letter from a hotel in Korea as soon as possible.

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, Asia, Kit Tang:

North America

United States

USCIS continues to accept H-2B Petitions in second half of Fiscal Year (FY) 2014

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) has announced an update on the H-2B cap count.

As of June 16, 2014, the USCIS had received 24,972 H-2B filings for the second half of FY 2014. The cap for each half year is 33,000, however the agency accepts filings in excess of the cap in the event some cases will be denied or withdrawn.

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, Americas, Laura Taggart:


Changes to assessment of Intra-Company Transferees (ICTs)

Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) issued new guidelines on June 9, 2014 detailing assessment of Intra-Company Transfers based on Specialized Knowledge. This provision is important for many multi-national companies seeking to send their personnel to Canada.

In addition to other considerations, the new guidelines indicate that an Intra-Company Transferee must:

  1. Show a high degree of both proprietary knowledge and advanced expertise;
  2. Be paid at least prevailing wage (with an exemption for NAFTA and other Free Trade Agreement applicants); and
  3. Be supervised in Canada (not home country)

The impact of the changes is significant, as the restricted criteria may limit the eligibility of employees who previously would have qualified as Intra-Company transferees. Employers may need to obtain a Labor Market Opinion (LMO) exemption, or seek an LMO which could take considerable time and expense.

It is unclear at this time how the changes will impact Intra-Company transferees already in Canada and the prospect of renewals.

Quebec Skilled Worker cap beginning to fill

The government of Quebec has recently released a report which shows the number of applications received under the current Quebec Skilled Worker (QSW) program is beginning to fill.

The program accepts a maximum number of 6,500 applications for the 2014 cap. Over 2,100 applications have been received as of May 16, 2014. In 2013, the cap for the QSW program was 20,000 applications; the cap of 6,500 for 2014 is much more restrictive.

New Immigrant Investor Program progressing

Canada is expected to launch a new Immigrant Investor Program. On May 23, Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander met with business leaders to begin formulating plans for a new federal immigrant investor program.

In Canada’s Economic Plan for 2014, the government announced it would terminate its existing Immigrant Investor Program and eliminate program backlogs. The new Venture Capitol pilot will focus on bringing investors to Canada who will make long-term contributions to the country’s economy.

Overhaul of Temporary Foreign Worker Program

On June 20 2014, Ministers of the Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC), and Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) announced a comprehensive overhaul of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP).

The reforms will cover three key areas: reorganizing the TFWP to offer greater clarity and transparency, restricting access to the TFWP to ensure Canadians are first in line for available jobs and stronger enforcement and tougher penalties.

Changes include:

Reorganizing the TFWP

  • Using wage Instead of National Occupation Codes
  • Labor Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) fee

Restricting access to TFWP

  • New Labour Market Impact Assessment
  • Cap on low-wage temporary foreign Workers
  • Refusing applications in areas of high unemployment
  • Reducing the duration of work permits set out in labor market impact assessments
  • Transition plans for high-wage positions
  • Highest-demand, highest-paid and shortest-duration occupations

Stronger enforcement and tougher penalties

  • Increasing the number and scope of inspections
  • Monetary fines for employers who break the rules

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, Americas, Laura Taggart:

Latin America


Changes to internship and trainee visas

Internship visas are now limited to a maximum validity of one year.

The visas are no longer eligible for extension beyond the first year. In addition, foreign educational institutions are now authorized to sponsor foreign nationals for internship visas for proposed stays of up to four months. Internships over four months still require a Brazilian sponsor. Previously, only Brazilian educational institutions could act as internship sponsors.

Changes to trainee visas

New trainee visa applications will now require an “official term” signed by the applicant, the educational institution, and the Brazilian company where the candidate intends to work as a trainee.

If the training program exceeds 120 days, an additional “term” from the Brazilian entity will be required. The processing time is expected to remain the same, however additional documentation is now required. These changes are a result of Normative Resolution 111, which took effect on June 3, 2014.


Expected new law will bring significant changes to visa processing

The Colombia Ministry of Foreign Affairs has passed a law (Decree 834, 2013), which is expected to bring significant changes to the visa system.

The law is scheduled to come into effect on June 24, 2014. The Ministry is expected to provide regulatory guidance in the coming weeks.

Anticipated changes include a reduction in visa categories from the current number of six to three categories (Business, Temporary and Resident). The Business and Temporary categories are to be divided into subcategories. The temporary work visa (formerly known as TT) will now be TP-7, with an expected validity of up to three years.

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, Americas, Laura Taggart:

Europe, Middle East, Africa

Czech Republic

New combined work and residence permits for non-EU/EEA/Swiss nationals

The Czech Ministry of Interior has introduced a combined work and residence permit, called an Employee Card, for non-EU/EEA/Swiss nationals.

This change is a result of a formally-published amendment to Act 326/1999. The new combined application process will come into force on June 24 2014, and it expected to reduce processing times once fully implemented. However, delays are anticipated as the amendments are put into force.

What is an Employee Card?

An Employee Card is a new type of single permit, issued for stays of longer than three months, authorizing long-term residence and employment in the Czech Republic. An Employee Card is issued as a plastic card and will contain biometric data (photograph and fingerprints). It will be issued for the duration of the employment contract (and up to two years), with an option to extend validity. The Employee Card application can be submitted to a Czech Consulate, and should be processed in 60 days (or 90 days for complicated cases).

An Employee Card holder is entitled to reside in the Czech Republic, to work in the job for which the employee card was issued, or to work in the job for which the Ministry of Interior granted consent (in connection with changing employer, changing job, taking up employment with an additional employer or in an additional job).

What does the Employee Card replace?

The Employee Card replaces the long-stay D visa for the purpose of employment and the long-term residence permit for the purpose of employment. For intra-company transfer applications, a work permit will still be required. The Employee Card will simply replace the employment visa as a final work and residence document. Blue Cards will continue to be issued.

Employee Card extensions

The Employee Card can be repeatedly extended, provided that the same conditions applicable to the issuance of an Employee Card are met and a valid contract is produced. For work permit holders (i.e. intra-company transferees), the validity of the Employee Card will be extended in line with the extension of the work permit. Applications for extensions must be filed at an office of the Ministry of Interior and must be filed no sooner than 90 days and no later than 14 days before expiration of the current Employee Card. If the Employee Card expires while the application for its extension is in process, the foreign national will be permitted to remain in the Czech Republic, and to apply for a bridge visa to confirm his/her status. However, the foreign national will not be allowed to work (even with a bridge visa) until the application for the extension has been approved.  

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

South Africa

Implementation of New Immigration Regulations

On 26 May 2014, the South African Department of Home Affairs (DHA) put into effect its long-discussed new Immigration Regulations.

However, there are serious issues and it is possible that the implementation of the new rules will be cancelled via High Court action. In the meantime, and until further notice, there are some important aspects of the new Regulations which companies doing business in South Africa need to be aware of, particularly with regard to pending applications from within South Africa.

A case will be heard at the High Court in Cape Town, with the aim of forcing the government to cancel the implementation of the new regulations until any flaws and inconsistencies have been ironed out. It is therefore possible that we will see a return to the old legislation within the next couple of weeks.

No travel for applicants with pending applications - URGENT

All applicants with pending applications within South Africa, whose existing permits have expired, must not under any circumstances attempt to travel out of the country or they will be declared “Undesirable Persons” and this will bar them from returning to the country for up to five years (depending on the length of time that has lapsed since their permit expired).

Previously, under the legislation prior to amendment, a foreign national would be fined for overstaying and, upon settling the fine, would be allowed to return to the country; this is no longer the case.

Barriers to making applications both within and outside South Africa

The Department of Home Affairs in South Africa has stopped accepting applications which should now be submitted via VFS, according to the new rules. However, only two of the new VFS Visa & Permit Centres have opened, leaving applicants in other locations unable to submit applications until the VFS Centres open in their respective areas. South African consulates abroad also appear to be largely uninformed about the amendments.

General Work Visas and New Critical Skills Work Visa

It has still not been established how the Department of Labour will implement the new requirement that it will issue certificates of approval which must be submitted along with ’’General Work Visa applications’’. The necessary infrastructure and processes to fulfill this role are not yet in place, and there is no uniform list of documents required to support positive certification. Moreover, there is still no legal framework to appeal the Department of Labour’s decision, if it refuses to issue a certificate to support the General Work Visa. Nor is there yet any legislated period of time in which it has to make a decision or issue a certificate.

The list of skills, qualifications and experience which qualify an applicant for the new Critical Skills Work Visa has still not been published, therefore it is currently not possible to make an application in this particular work visa category.

New requirements for Intra Company Transfer Work Visa

The main changes to the Intra-Company Transfer Work Visa category include the following:

  1. The applicant must be employed for at least six months with the company abroad before an Intra-Company Transfer Visa can be applied for;
  2. Intra-Company Transfer Work Visas may be issued for up to four years (48 months) and are not renewable (previously a 24 month restriction applied); and
  3. The employer, amongst other undertakings, must ensure that a plan is developed for the transfer of skills to a South African citizen or permanent resident.

It has yet to be established whether it will be possible to extend Intra-Company Transfer Work Permits, issued under the terms of the Immigration Act prior to the amendment, for the further period of up to 48 months, taking into account the provisions of the amended legislation, or whether it will still be necessary to follow the current process of applying for a Waiver and subsequent General Work Visa in such cases.

Other changes to the draft regulations

VFS Visa and Permit Centres

VFS Global will now receive and process all visa applications submitted from within South Africa. VFS Global will operate new Visa and Permit Centres, which opened in June 2014 across South Africa. However, at present only two of these centres (in Rustenberg and Pretoria) have opened.

Please note the following:

  • Applications will be accepted from Monday to Friday from 8:00am to 4:00pm;
  • Each application will attract an additional service fee of R1,350.00 excluding VAT (this excludes the Government application fee); and
  • Applicants will have to visit the Visa and Permit Centre in person to have their biometric information recorded.

Changes to Police Clearance Certificate requirements

It is no longer possible for an applicant to provide an undertaking to submit a police clearance certificate (or certain other supporting documents required in respect of their initial application) to the Department of Home Affairs within a period of six months from the date of issue of the permit or visa. All applicants must now submit all relevant police clearance certificates with the initial application. This will greatly extend processing time for many applications, where the authorities in the country of origin or recent residence of the applicant take a long time to issue police clearance certificates. However, police clearance certificates are no longer required for an extension/renewal application, with the exception of a South African police clearance certificate, which is required to support an extension/renewal application if the foreign national has resided in South Africa for 12 months or more.

Repeal of Continued Employment Conditions for General Work Visa

The requirement to submit proof of continued employment under the terms and conditions of the applicant’s initial employment, including their job description, within six months from the date of issue of the employee’s General Work Visa (previously “Permit”) and every 12 months thereafter, has been completely repealed.

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


New Immigration Law takes effect

Turkey’s new Immigration Law (Law No. 6458) which officially came into force on April 11, 2014, is now being implemented in practice.

The law created a new Immigration Administration General Directorate under the Ministry of Interior, and makes significant changes to residence permit and work permit rules and procedures, as well as to business visa validity and visa processing. In the long-term, some of the changes are expected to reduce processing times. However, there are delays expected with applications during the initial implementation.

Changes include:

Residence Permits: Residence permits are no longer required unless the person remains in Turkey for more than 90 days. Previously, a residence permit was required for stays of more than 30 days.

Combined work and residence permits issued: The Ministry of Labour will now issue new ID cards which act as both work permit and residence permit. A separate residence permit application post-arrival is no longer required. Please note the following:

  • The combined work and residence permit, once issued by the Ministry of Labour, will be sent to the employer’s address.
  • Although a separate, post-arrival residence permit application is no longer required, applicants are still required to register their permanent address in Turkey at the Civil Registration Office (Nüfus Müdürlügü) within 20 days of their arrival.
  • The employer must start the assignee’s Social Security contributions within 30 days after the work permit is issued.
  • Applicants for a work permit from within Turkey will be required to first obtain a temporary residence permit.

Dependent residence permits: Applicants for family residence permits will now require proof of Turkish health insurance coverage as well as a statement of income of the principal applicant or permit holder to demonstrate sufficient financial support. In some cases, the principal applicant may also be required to submit a police clearance certificate from all jurisdictions where he or she has resided in the previous five years, as well as proof of accommodation for themselves and their dependents. Police clearances are not currently required for applicants without dependents. This requirement will depend on the police station of the application. The immigration police estimate that family residence permit applications will be processed within 90 days of application date (compared to 7 - 14 days previously).

Business visitors: The duration of stay for business visitors is limited to 90 days within a 180 day period. This limitation previously only applied to tourists.

Passport validity date requirements: The validity date of a foreign national’s passport will be required to exceed at least 60 days beyond his/her intended stay in Turkey, a change from the previous requirement of passport validity only through the duration of stay.

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


EU Citizens no longer required to register right of residence

The Swedish Migration Board no longer requires EU citizens who wish to stay in Sweden for more than three months, for the purposes of work or study, to register their right of residence.

The Migration Board will continue to issue residence cards for close relatives and certificates of permanent right of residence and permanent residence cards. This change came into effect as of May 2014.

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 enquiries regarding the applicability of this information, please contact Crown’s Regional Immigration Manager, EMEA, Stephanie Lewin:


Processing delays in Dublin

In recent weeks, processing delays have arisen at the main Garda National Immigration Bureau (GNIB) office in Burgh Quay, Dublin.

The delays are due to applicants traveling from various locations in Ireland to apply for Multiple Entry Visa (MEV) at the Dublin office, where it is possible to apply for MEV in one day, as opposed to local posts which have processing times of approximately 5-10 working days.

Hundreds of applicants are queuing every day to apply for MEVs from early morning hours. Doors open at 8:00 a.m., and applicants are given tickets for queue; however it has been reported that on occasion all tickets have been distributed by 8:30am, with remaining applicants told to return the following day. There are indications that an online booking system may be introduced to reduce the queues, however it may take time to implement.

In order to obtain an MEV, an individual must have their GNIB card. Previously, it has been possible to complete GNIB and MEV on the same day, however it is becoming increasingly difficult and there exists the possibility that this may change.

Ireland/United Kingdom

New “British Irish Visa Scheme” for Indian and Chinese Nationals

On June 16, 2014, the Irish Department of Justice & Equality, along with the United Kingdom (UK) Home Office announced that they will soon be introducing (implementation date to be confirmed) the ‘British Irish Visa Scheme’ between Ireland and the United Kingdom.

This new scheme will apply to Chinese and Indian national business and tourist visitors, allowing them to travel to and around Ireland and the United Kingdom on a single short stay visa. Business and tourist visitors from India and China who wish to travel to both Ireland and the United Kingdom will no longer require separate Irish and UK visas.

The British Irish Visa Scheme will replace Ireland’s Short-stay Visa Waiver Programme, introduced in July 2011, which allows nationals of 18 countries to travel from the UK to Ireland using their UK visa.

The British Irish Visa Scheme will allow travel throughout the UK and Ireland, whereas the Irish Visa Waiver Programme allowed travel in one direction only. The Irish and UK authorities will continue to monitor this scheme and as appropriate will introduce other nationalities who require visas.

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

The Netherlands

Combined Residence and Work Permit (GVVA) will be canceled for some worker categories

Effective July 1, 2014, the Combined Residence and Work permit (GVVA) for some categories workers has been canceled.

The cancellation involves the following categories: employee at an international company (key personnel), trainee for employment purposes within a group of companies and specialist at an international company. Applying for a GVVA after July 1 is no longer possible for the three categories of workers mentioned above.

Beginning on July 1, there will be two separate procedures. The categories mentioned above will be placed in the ”group of companies transmissions”, in which the employer must start two separate procedures. Sponsors wishing to submit an application request after July 1 will need to apply for a work permit (TWV) at the Institute for Employee Benefit Schemes (UWV) and a residence permit at the Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND.)

The GVVA was introduced on April 1. A single permit gives foreign nationals from outside the EU, Liechtenstein, Norway, Iceland and Switzerland the right to reside and work in the Netherlands for a period of more than three months. The single permit applies to the majority of labor migrants from outside the EU and the above countries.


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