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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.

India
New multiple-entry visa for South Asian business travelers

Effective April 1, 2016, India will offer multi-city, multiple-entry business visas to nationals of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) countries visiting India on business.

India Business Card

The new business visa, to be called the "India Business Card," will be granted for a maximum of five years, to business people of any member state of the SAARC, including:

  • Pakistan
  • Afghanistan
  • Bangladesh
  • Sri Lanka
  • The Maldives

Nationals of Bhutan and Nepal, also SAARC member states, do not require a visa to visit India.

Pakistani nationals

Currently, Pakistani nationals are eligible for a multiple-entry business visa for a maximum period of one year, and can travel to 10 cities. The new scheme allows travel to 15 cities for three years.

For Pakistani nationals to qualify for a three-year multiple-entry card, they should run an enterprise worth INR 10 million (US$ 150,376) and have a minimum annual income of PKR one million (US$ 9,547). The Pakistani enterprise should also be a member of any Chamber of Commerce in Pakistan that is recognized in India.

An advantage under the new scheme is that Pakistani entrepreneurs will be exempt from reporting at the local police station, which is usually mandatory for Pakistani nationals traveling to India on any other visa.

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, Angie Volz.

 

 

South Korea
Tuberculosis test required for certain long-term visa applicants

Effective March 2, 2016, certain applicants must now submit a "Certificate of Health," including a tuberculosis (TB) test result. The new requirement affects nationals of the eighteen “high TB-burden countries” whom are applying for either a:

  • Long-term visa (more than 90 days) at a South Korean diplomatic mission while residing in any of the “high TB-burden countries”
  • Change of status or extension of stay post-arrival in South Korea

The countries affected are: Nepal, East Timor, Russia, Malaysia, Mongolia, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, Uzbekistan, India, Indonesia, China, Cambodia, Kyrgyzstan, Thailand, Pakistan and the Philippines.

Exemptions

Diplomats, foreign government officials, international agreement status holders and children aged five years and under are exempt from providing the TB test result.

Consular applications

For long-term visa applications for a South Korean diplomatic mission, nationals residing in any of the “high TB-burden countries” must submit a certificate of health, including a TB test result (valid for one year), issued by a hospital designated by the relevant Korean diplomatic mission.

The test must include the results of at least one of the following TB tests: chest X-ray, sputum test, tuberculin skin test, blood test or equivalent.

Long-term visas for South Korea include:

  • E-7 for local hires
  • D-7 for intra-company transfers
  • D-8 for inter-company transfers
  • D-9 (Treaty Trader) visa for service contracts
  • F-3 visa for dependent family members of work visa holders

Post-arrival applications

For change of status or extension of stay applications post-arrival in South Korea, nationals of “high TB-burden countries” must submit a certificate of confirmation issued by a Korean public health center.

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, Angie Volz.

 

 

Thailand
Fast Track lane launched at Bangkok International Airport

To promote and attract more investors and improve the immigration process at Bangkok International Airport, the Thai Government has announced the immediate launch of a Fast Track lane for expats that meet the following criteria:

  1. Their employer must have a valid Board of Investment (BOI) promotional certificate
  2. Hold valid Thai work permit documentation
  3. The work permit must be issued by the Board of Investment (BOI)
  4. The expat’s work position must be at a managerial level or above

The expat can submit the request via the designated email (visawork@boi.go.th) or visit the One Stop Service Centre for an appointment. The expat will need to provide the necessary personal and company information, as well as the BOI’s certification number, at least seven days prior to their departure date. Generally, the result of the request submission will be known within one business day. After approval, the expat is required to present their BOI approval letter at the immigration counter of the Fast Track lane.

This summary was prepared using information obtained from the Thailand – Board of Investment (website displays Thai).

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, Angie Volz.

 

 

Thailand
Stricter regulations for 90-day reporting and penalties for overstaying

To enhance national security and remind foreigners of the immigration reporting requirements, the regulations for reporting the presence of foreigners in Thailand have been tightened. The key facts are:

  • To ensure that the 90-day reporting requirement is met at all times
  • Police can request to see a foreigner’s passport at any time. An immediate fine of THB 4,000 (US$ 115) will be imposed if the foreigner fails to comply with immigration conditions or the 90-day reporting requirements
  • All accommodation service providers including hotels, serviced apartments, condominium management companies and landlords are required to report the presence of foreigners in their buildings to the Immigration Authorities at the time of occupancy

Penalties for non-compliance with immigration conditions

On November 27, 2015, the Ministry of Interior issued a new order regarding aliens whom will be ineligible for admission to the Kingdom of Thailand. The new order took effect on March 20, 2016, and affects a foreigner’s ability to return to Thailand if they have been non-compliant when leaving the country. The Immigration Authorities will grant access to Thailand either on arrival or if the applicant already resides in the country. 

In the event that a foreigner surrenders to the authorities as an overstayer:

Period of overstay                                  Period of ban from re-entry to Thailand
> 90 days                                                 One year
> One year                                               Three years
> Three years                                            Five years
> Five years                                              10 years

In the event that a foreigner is arrested and prosecuted as an overstayer:

Period of overstay                                  Period of ban from re-entry to Thailand
< One year                                                Five years
> One year                                                10 years

Note: The above does not apply to a foreigner who departs Thailand and is under the age of 18, or any foreigners that departed ahead of the implementation date of March 20, 2016.

This summary was prepared using information obtained from the Royal Thai Police Immigration section:

Source one

Source two

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, Angie Volz.

 

 

Colombia
Changes to entry permit category for Schengen nationals

The Colombian Government has decided to issue Schengen nationals with PIP-5 entry and stay permits instead of the PIP-10 category introduced in November 2015.

The PIP-10 entry permit was recently created for nationals of Schengen Area states, however this has been replaced by another category of entry permit: PIP-5, which used to be the entry permit given for those who travel to Colombia for tourism.

The PIP-5 for Schengen nationals will allow the same activities (short visits including, tourism, business and journalism, sports, artistic performances and intra-corporate training) for an initial term of 90 days within a 180-day period, and is also renewable.

The PIP-5 gives Schengen nationals exemption from VAT for any tourist activities carried out in Colombia.

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.

 

 

Colombia
Visa-free entry extended to some nationals of Cambodia and Myanmar

From February 2, 2016, the Colombian government authorized visa-free entry to certain nationals of Colombia and Myanmar.

The new visa exemption is available to nationals of Cambodia and Myanmar who either:

  • Hold a residence permit in a state of the Schengen Area or in the United States
  • Hold a Schengen visa Type C or D, or a visa to the United States (other than in the Class C-1 transit category)

Qualifying nationals of these two countries arriving in Colombia will receive a temporary visitor permit (PIP) in the relevant category, depending on the activities to be undertaken in Colombia (PIP-1 to PIP-8). Post-arrival they will then be able to apply for a TP-4 temporary work visa or a TP-13 visa for urgent technical work.

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.

 

 

Peru
EU signs visa waiver agreement

On March 14, 2016, the European Union (EU) signed a short-stay visa waiver agreement with Peru on behalf of its Schengen Area Member States. The new visa regime allows nationals of EU Schengen Area countries to stay in Peru, and Peruvian nationals to stay in EU Schengen Area countries visa free, for up to 90 days in a 180-day period.

Visa-free travel applies to all categories of individuals for the purpose of tourism, cultural visits, scientific activities, family visits and business. However it excludes individuals traveling to carry out a paid activity.

The agreement will apply on a provisional basis from March 15, 2016, until it is approved by the European Parliament. By July 31, 2016, the Peruvian authorities must demonstrate that only biometric passports are issued, otherwise the agreement will be cancelled.

The Schengen Area consists of 22 EU Member States and four non-EU Member States (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland).

The non-EU Schengen countries are expected to sign separate equivalent visa waiver agreements in each case. Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus and Romania are not yet part of the Schengen Area, and have a separate visa policy that is based on the Schengen Area.

The visa waiver agreements do not apply to the United Kingdom and Ireland which have opted out of the Schengen Area.

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
Government allows leniency period for Electronic Travel Authorization

From March 15, 2016, visa-exempt foreign nationals have been expected to have an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) to fly to or transit through Canada. The eTA is an online registration system. eTAs are valid for five years, or until the expiration date of a passport, whichever comes first.

The eTA requirement applies to travelers who do not need a visa to enter Canada and are planning to arrive by air. Visa exempt countries include the U.K., Japan, Australia, Korea and countries in the European Union. The eTA requirement does not apply to citizens of the U.S. and it is not required if a person is entering at a land or sea port-of-entry.

A list of nationalities requiring an eTA is available here.

Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) has announced that visa-exempt foreign national travelers who do not yet have an eTA can board their flight, providing they have an appropriate travel document, such as a valid passport, and meet the other requirements to enter Canada. This leniency is scheduled to last from March 15, 2016, until Autumn 2016.

In the future, nationals of Brazil, Bulgaria, Mexico and Romania who hold a current U.S. non-immigrant visa, or who have held a Canadian visa in the past 10 years, will be allowed to enter Canada with an eTA instead of a visa.

The eTA process involves entering a traveler’s personal details and passport information into the online portal and paying a fee of CA$ 7 (US$ 5.35). All travelers, including children, must obtain an eTA.

In most cases, CIC will approve the eTA within minutes of applying. In situations where an immediate decision is not given, CIC will follow up with applicants to obtain more information.

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
Department of Homeland Security launches Known Employer pilot program

On March 3, 2016, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced the launch of a Known Employer pilot program to assess a new process for employers seeking to hire certain workers through employment-based visa categories.

By modifying the process U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) uses to review an employer’s eligibility to sponsor individuals under certain employment-based immigrant and non-immigrant classifications, the Known Employer pilot is expected to reduce paperwork, costs and delays in the processing of these benefit requests. USCIS will oversee the pilot in collaboration with the DHS Office of Policy, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and the U.S. Department of State (DOS).

In January 2015, DHS announced that it would explore a Known Employer pilot under the United States-Canada Beyond the Border initiative. The pilot was also highlighted as a recommendation in a report from federal agencies submitted to the President in July 2015: “Modernizing and Streamlining Our Legal Immigration System for the 21st Century.” 

The goal of the Known Employer pilot is to make the employment eligibility adjudication process more efficient while reducing delays for U.S. employers that wish to employ foreign workers under certain immigrant and non-immigrant visa programs.

Under the Known Employer pilot, up to nine pre-selected employers will file applications requesting that USCIS predetermine that they meet requirements relating to certain immigrant and non-immigrant visa classifications. When making this request, employers will create a profile on the online Known Employer Document Library (KEDL), and upload the required documents. USCIS officers will review and determine whether a prospective employer has met certain requirements relating to the visa classifications. If USCIS approves the employer’s predetermination request, the employer may then file petitions or applications for individual employees without resubmitting company information with each petition or application.

Employers will not be charged any additional fees to participate in the Known Employer pilot. The pilot is scheduled to last for up to one year, however, USCIS may terminate or extend the pilot at any time. DHS and DOS will solicit ongoing feedback from the participants.

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.

 

 

France
Significant changes shaping French immigration policy

The new provision of reorganizing immigration law, consolidating work and residence permit categories and introducing exceptions for eligible assigned workforces has been officially published. The new law is expected to be implemented in November 2016, with changes associated with the respective administrative processes.

One of the key aspects of the new law is the introduction of a new immigration category: Passeport-Talent (Talent Passport). This will provide work and residence permits for four years to foreign non-EEA citizens in the following categories:

  • EU Blue Card holders
  • Assignees under a French contract
  • Potential investors and legal representatives (agents or employees)
  • Artists and scientists
  • Students with MA qualification looking for the authorization
  • Foreigners with MA degree for start-up activities and those with a recognized innovative project to be implemented in France

The accompanying family members are to be authorized to work for the same duration as the main applicants and Labour authorities in France will not need to review the application.

Further developments are to be seen in this legal proposal in the intra-company transfer (ICT) category, namely an introduction of three sub-permits:

  1. ICT Mobile/Trainee ICT permit. Allowing stay for up to three years for seconded employees and one year for trainees (within the EU). It would be issued for nationals with a comparable permit in the EU and joining dependents are allowed to work
  2. Trainee ICT permit. Available for foreign workers that have sufficient financial means and at least three months previous employment experience in the affiliated company (French company must be part of the same corporate group and be approved by the respective body) for stays of up to one year
  3. ICT permit for seconded (assigned employees). This would allow stays up to three years for managers and specialists working for the same group for at least three months

The new proposal also aims to simplify the current seven categories of residence permits, into three types of permit, for example:

  • Professional services or entrepreneurial card for self-employed workers
  • Permit for temporary workers with one-year validity on a fixed-term contract
  • Salaried card for salaried employees, renewable annually for foreigners with an undefined labor contract

Additionally, further specifications of work permit exemptions are to be defined later this year (with implementation of the respective law) for work of up to three months in designated working domains, as well as streamlining the associated administrative processes.

This summary was prepared using information obtained from Legifrance (in French).

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
Pilot points-based system to be introduced in Autumn 2016

In Autumn 2016, the state of Baden-Württemberg is launching a three-year pilot program using elements of a points-based system for foreigners with vocational training and further qualifications.

PUMA (Punktebasiertes Modellprojekts für ausländische Fachkräfte, translation: Points-based model project for foreign skilled migrants) will determine the eligibility for German work/residence permits. The rating for each element will be as follows:

  • Language skills (German – 100 points for B2 level and 25 points for A2, English or French – 25 points)
  • Family in Germany (50 points)
  • Previous stays in Germany (50 points) or in EU Member States (25 points)

The new pilot project will allow qualified foreigners to obtain a work permit if they cumulate at least 100 points in their application.

The eligible foreigner will need to get a local German employment contract and if there is a change of employer within the first two years, a new application will need to be submitted.

Currently, non-EEA citizens relocating to Germany can use the EU Blue Card option for highly-qualified migrants or a work permit for migrant workforces with vocational training for positions where there is a shortage of a German workforce – defined by the German authorities. Eligible visa nationals will still be required to submit their visa application at the German diplomatic mission abroad.

This summary was prepared using information obtained from the German Government website (in German).

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
Dutch Immigration and Naturalization Service introduces Orientation Year Permit for highly-skilled persons

A new work and residence permit category has been introduced combining two former visa programs: Orientation Year program and Orientation Year Highly-Educated program. The new Orientation Year Permit will enable foreign graduates to receive their work permit within three years of their graduation. Researchers from pre-defined categories can also receive a work permit.

To be eligible for the new Orientation Year Permit the applicant needs to meet at least one of the following criteria:

  • BA or MA degree at a Dutch educational institution
  • Completed education program approved by ministerial authorities
  • Held a Dutch residence permit as a researcher or worked as a scientist holding a knowledge-migrant permit
  • MA- or PHD-accredited program completed within the last 12 months at the foreign university
  • PHD program lasting at least 12 months
  • Completed the Dutch development aid policy program, Erasmus Mundus Master's course or a program under the Law of Specific Culture Policy

The new program will allow eligible foreigners to return to their home country before seeking employment in the Netherlands. To be eligible for a Knowledge Migrant Permit following their stay under the Orientation Year Permit, individuals that are part of the Orientation Year program or the new Orientation Year Permit need to meet the minimum monthly salary threshold of 2,228 euros (US$ 2,500).

This summary was prepared using information obtained from the Immigration and Naturalisation Service.

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.

 

 

Romania
Non-EEA work permit quota announced for 2016

The Romanian Government has released the work permit quota for 2016 and published in the Official Gazette of Romania. Beginning March, 2016, 5,500 places for non-EEA work permits have been released. Although the overall quota has not changed compared to 2015, some changes were introduced. The quota is distributed as follows:

  • 100 work permits for cross-border travelers
  • 200 work permits for seasonal staff
  • 200 work permits for training purposes
  • 700 work permits for seconded employees (intra-company transfers), reduced from 900 in 2015
  • 800 work permits for highly-skilled workers
  • 3,500 work permits for permanent workers, increased by 200 compared to 2015

The General Immigration Inspectorate started to issue the work authorizations as per the official release. Ministry of Labour, Family and Social protection has a decisive power to increase the annual quota in the case of an exhaustion.

This summary was prepared using information obtained from the Official Gazette of Romania (in Romanian). 

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.

 

 

Saudi Arabia
Stricter penalties introduced for breaching immigration regulations

General Directorate of Passports has introduced increased penalties for visitor visa nationals and their sponsoring parties that overstay their legally permitted status.

The newly introduced policy includes the following sanctions:

  • First violation: 15,000 SAR (US$ 3,999)
  • Second violation: 25,000 SAR (US$ 6,665) and imprisonment for up to three months
  • Third violation: 50,000 SAR (US$ 13,331) and imprisonment for up to six months

If a foreign citizen residing in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia sponsors the visitor visa, the sponsor can face deportation if there are repeated violations. Holders of the visitor visa should carefully verify the validity of the permits and should exit the country before its expiration date.

This summary was prepared using information obtained from Saudi Arabia’s Government website, General Directorate of Passports.

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.

 

 

United Kingdom
Online tool replaces points-based calculator for certain visa application types

On or after 6 April, 2016, National Recognition Information Centre (NARIC), an online tool, will replace the current Points-Based Calculator (PBC) used as proof of English language proficiency for visa applicants who attended university classes in English.

Tier 2 and other points-based applicants can verify their diploma using information that NARIC provides to the Home Office and check whether it qualifies on the free-of-charge PBC tool. The new service is likely to be subject to a fee, which is currently unknown. 

Applicants need to create an online account and upload soft-copies of certificates relevant to their education. Hard-copy statements confirming proficiency in English and/or confirmation of academic qualification level will be required for the main immigration paperwork to be issued. Certain applicants will need to obtain and submit two statements:

  • Qualification
  • English language proficiency statement

To support the visa application, the applicant will need to submit the physical statement(s) from NARIC after the 10-day processing period. A premium service will be available for a higher fee, providing a shorter processing time.

These changes do not affect applicants from non-English speaking countries where courses are held in languages other than English. These applicants are still required to pass the approved English test in their home country.

This summary was prepared using information obtained from NARIC.

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.

 

 

Global Immigration news roundup

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