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Welcome to the November 2014 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

Malaysia

Regulation changes for dependent family members

With immediate effect, new policies are in place for dependents of Employment Pass holders who obtained the EP through any of the Malaysian processing agencies: Expatriate Services Division (ESD), Multimedia Development Corporation (MDeC) or Malaysia Investment Development Authority (MIDA).

Dependent Pass (DP)

The Dependent Pass (DP) will only be granted to spouses of Employment Pass holders and dependent children who are at most, 17 years of age. Dependent children who are 18 years old or above may qualify instead for a Long-term Social Visit Pass.

Previously, the maximum age for dependent children to qualify for a Dependent Pass was 20 years for processing by ESD and MIDA, and 17 years old by MDeC. With this change, the age criteria is now consistent across the various processing agencies.

Permission to Work Stamp (PTWS)

The spouse of an Employment Pass holder who has been issued a Dependent Pass and who wishes to work, will now need to obtain their own Employment Pass instead of the Permission to Work Stamp. The DP of the spouse would have to be cancelled to allow for the EP application.

Previously, the spouse of an Employment Pass holder who had a Dependent Pass could work with a PTWS based on the Dependent Pass. This is no longer applicable for MDeC processing. The Employment Services Division (ESD) however is still accepting applications for PTWS, but this is expected to change by January 2015.

Long-term Social Visit Pass (LTSVP)

The authorities have now added other activities that are not permitted to take part in under the Long-term Social Visit Pass (a pass for family members who do not qualify for the Dependent Pass). Holders of the LTSVP are no longer allowed to be involved in any political speeches, lectures, talks or any political activities.

It remains the policy that if the LTSVP holder is pursuing an education, he or she is required to obtain a Student Pass, and if working then an Employment Pass is required. In such cases, the LTSVP must be cancelled to make way for the relevant Student Pass or Employment Pass.

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

Changes to immigration requirements affecting POEA (Philippine Overseas Employment Administration) and Long-term Social Visit

On November 10, 2014, changes came into effect impacting POEA and Long-term Social Visit. Foreign Knowledge Workers (FKW) that enter Malaysia without collecting a Reference Visa (VDR) are not required to show the POEA certificate upon submission of application to the Immigration Department. In addition, Long-term Social Visit Pass holders are not allowed to study, engage in employment, set up businesses, be involved in any political speeches, lectures, talks or any political activities.

Singapore

New visa requirements for nationals of West African countries affected by the Ebola Virus

With immediate effect, nationals of Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone require a visa to enter Singapore in light of the Ebola Virus outbreak in these countries. In addition to the visa requirement, the government has stepped-up health screening measures at air checkpoints. Travelers arriving from countries with potential Ebola outbreak are subject to screening for fever at the health station, and are requested to complete a Health Declaration Card.

The Philippines

Alien Registration Project (ARP) Implemented

On October 1, 2014, the Bureau of Immigration launched the Alien Registration Project (ARP). This means that foreign nationals living in the Philippines for more than 59 days are required to register for a Special Security Registration Number (SSRN).

Expatriates are required to appear in person at Immigration for the ARP registration process prior to September 30, 2015. The following are exempt from registration:

  • Tourists in the Philippines for less than 59 days
  • Valid ACR I-Card registered aliens
  • Eight types of special non-immigrant visa holders listed on the Bureau of Immigration'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 Regional Immigration Manager, Asia, Kit Tang: kittang@crownww.com

North America

United States

The National Visa Center (NVC) no longer collects original civil documents

With immediate effect, the National Visa Center (NVC) no longer collects original civil documents in support of Immigrant Visa (IV) applications at non-electronic processing posts. Most applicants are required to submit supporting document photocopies such as birth, marriage, and police certificates, and will be instructed to take their original documents to their interviews.

United States/China

The United States and China extends visa validity periods

A U.S. Department of State announcement detailed that with immediate effect, the United States and the People’s Republic of China will reciprocally increase the validity of Business, Tourist and Student and Exchange Visas issued to each other’s citizens. Currently, these visas are only issued for one-year increments. With this new agreement, multiple entry Business and Tourist Visas will be issued for periods of ten years at a time and Student visas will be valid for five years.

Canada

Streamlined visa procedures for Saudi Arabian applicants

Following talks between Foreign Affairs Minister of Canada, John Baird, and Saudi Arabia senior leaders, Canada will implement new measures to simplify visa procedures for Saudi Arabian nationals who travel to Canada. This includes three Visa Application Centers in Alkhobar, Riyadh and Jeddah.

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: ltaggart@crownww.com

Latin America

Colombia

Mercosur Visa applications suspended for Venezuelan nationals

With immediate effect, all Mercosur Visa applications filed by Venezuelan nationals will not be accepted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, until further notice.

Restrictions for assignees on home contract applying for TP-4 Work Visas

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Colombia has announced that it will strictly enforce a rule requiring TP-4 Visa applicants to hold a legal employment contract or a duly signed and valid service contract with the sponsoring company in Colombia.

To meet all TP-4 Visa sponsorship requirements, all sponsoring entities in Colombia must sign a fixed, indefinite-term employment contract or a service contract with the assignee. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs will reject any application which does not demonstrate that a suitable local contract is in place. Therefore, a home contract is no longer accepted in support of a TP-4 Visa application. This does not mean that an applicant cannot retain their home company contract, however, he or she must also hold an employment contract or a contract for services with the Colombian entity.

Online visa registration

It will be possible for foreign nationals to register a visa online using the Migration Colombia website, within fifteen calendar days of entry into Colombia or of visa issuance. However, registration in person may still be required, as the online system is still being implemented.

Ebola Virus travel checks

With immediate effect, all visa applicants to Colombia must complete a questionnaire asking detailed questions about recent travel in Ebola affected countries, including Nigeria.

Uruguay

New law expedites permanent residence for Mercosur and associated nationals

A law regarding permanent residence for Mercosur and associated nationals, which was passed in August 2014, has now been implemented. Nationals of Mercosur member countries: Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Venezuela, and Associate members: Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru, as well as Guyana and Suriname, qualify for the new expedited process. The law also applies to a spouse, sibling, parent or grandchild of a Uruguayan national born abroad.

The new law allows nationals of Mercosur (Mercado Común del Sur) and Associate member countries, as listed above, to obtain permanent residence in Uruguay. Effective immediately, applications can be made either on arrival in Uruguay (that is a change of status application), or from a Uruguayan diplomatic mission abroad. The initial Permanent Residence Cards will be issued within 30 days of application. This is a significant reduction in processing time compared to previous temporary residence route for Mercosur nationals. Additionally, documentary requirements are slightly less onerous. Permanent Residence Cards must be renewed every three years. Permanent residence following this process is also available for certain relatives of Uruguayan nationals born abroad.

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

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: ltaggart@crownww.com

Europe, Africa

Ireland

Scanned signatures now accepted on Employment Permit application forms

The Department for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation (DJEI) has announced that with immediate effect, it will accept application forms for Employment Permits with scanned, rather than original signatures.

This change has been made to expedite the application process, but it is at the discretion of the Department to request original signatures at any time, on a case by case basis.

As the applicant is still required to submit original, signed passport photos as part of the application (as confirmed by the Department), it is recommended that they continue to also send the relevant original signed pages of the application form to be signed by the representatives of the Irish company (and by the sending entity for an Intra-Company Transfer Permit). The company can then choose whether to submit the original signed pages or scanned copies.

New conditions for minors with Irish visas

With immediate effect, visas for children traveling to Ireland now include an endorsement stating whether the child is traveling accompanied or unaccompanied by one or more parent, legal guardian or other adult. These conditions apply to visas issued to minors on or after October 13, 2014, regardless of whether the visa application was submitted to the Irish embassy beforeOctober 13, 2014, and may impact family travel plans.

Accompanied minors

Minors (under the age of 18) in possession of a visa issued on or after October 13, 2014, which indicates they are to be accompanied, must be accompanied by the named person or persons when they arrive at a port of entry in Ireland or they’ll be denied entry.

If applications for the accompanying children’s visas are submitted to the Irish embassy at the same time as an Employment Visa application for an Employment Permit holder, the child’s visa will automatically be endorsed with the passport number for the principal parent, that is, the employment permit holder.

Where a child is traveling in the company of one named adult, the name and passport number of that person will be shown on the visa. Where they are traveling with two named adults, only the passport numbers of both adults will be entered.

If one of the adults named on the child’s visa travels ahead to Ireland (to organize accommodation, for example), that adult must return to the country of origin and re-enter Ireland accompanied by the child. In this case, and if the named adult is a visa-requiring national, they will need to complete GNIB (Garda National Immigration Bureau) registration and obtain a re-entry or multiple entry visa before they travel out of Ireland.

Should the holder of a visa endorsed with "accompanied" or "unaccompanied" as above reach the age of 18 years, the visa will be treated as if it does not carry the endorsement.

Unaccompanied minors

Minors in possession of a visa issued on or after October 13, 2014, which indicates that they are unaccompanied are permitted to travel unaccompanied, but are also permitted to be accompanied by an adult.

Mozambique

Recruitment agencies may not hire foreign nationals on behalf of third parties

According to a notice issued on September 17, 2014 by the Immigration Labour Directorate, Provincial Labour Directorates in Mozambique have been instructed not to accept Work Permit applications for foreign nationals submitted by private recruitment agencies for the purpose of transfer to third party employers in Mozambique. This regulation has been in place since 2001 but has not been strictly enforced to this point.

Recruitment agencies can now only hire foreign nationals to cover their own staffing needs in Mozambique and not on behalf of their clients. As Mozambique has just held national elections, further amendments may be forthcoming.

Portugal

Possible delays due to corruption investigation at the Immigration Department

There is currently an ongoing investigation into corruption and fraud relating to Portugal’s Golden Visa program. This is likely to cause delays to all immigration processes, particularly those being processed in Portugal rather than at one of Portugal’s consulates/Embassies overseas.

South Africa

Extensions of Intra Company Transfer Work Visas issued prior to May 2014 now possible

On October 27, 2014, the South African Department of Home Affairs issued a directive advising that a second Intra Company Transfer Work Visa, with validity of up to four years, may be issued to a foreign national who has already held an Intra Company Transfer Work Permit. This is welcome news and clears up some inconsistencies. The second visa cannot be renewed.

The second Intra Company Transfer Work Visa application must be made in the country of citizenship or ordinary residence of the applicant; it cannot be submitted from within South Africa.

It is important to note that the directive applies to applicants who previously held Intra Company Transfer Work Permits under Section 19(5) of the 2002 Immigration Act, that is permits issued before implementation of the new Immigration Regulations.

The United Kingdom

Immigration rule changes from November 2014

On October 16, 2014, the UK Home Office released a Statement of Changes to the Immigration Rules, in which amendments are made across several categories of the UK immigration system.

Main changes to Tier 2 of the Points-Based System:

An assessment of whether a genuine vacancy exists is being added to the Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer) and Tier 2 (General) routes.

This change empowers Entry Clearance Officers and caseworkers to refuse applications where there are reasonable grounds to believe that the job described by the sponsor does not genuinely exist, has been exaggerated to meet the Tier 2 skills threshold, or has been tailored to exclude resident workers from being recruited, or where there are reasonable grounds to believe that the applicant is not qualified to do the job.

Depending on how it is interpreted by the Immigration Service, this change may mark a move away from a purely objective points-based system.

Main changes to Tier 1 (Investor):

This route is being reformed following recommendations from the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC), and will see an increase in the minimum investment threshold from £1million to £2million, as well as several other rule changes, effective November 6, 2014.

The £5 million and £10 million routes still exist for Tier 1 (Investor) applicants wishing to benefit from accelerated settlement.

Changes to Business Visitors:

The Business Visitor route is being expanded to include new eligible activities as follows:

  • Allowing scientists and researchers to share knowledge, expertise and advice on an international project which is being led by the UK
  • Creating a provision for overseas lawyers, who are employees of international law firms which have offices in the UK, to provide direct advice to clients in the UK on litigation or international transactions provided they remain paid and employed overseas
  • Allowing graduates of an overseas nursing school to be admitted as a Business Visitor in order to sit the Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE)

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

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.

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