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Welcome to the October 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,

 Asia Pacific


Government closure during Asia-Pacific economic cooperation (APEC) in Beijing from November 7-12, 2014

The official website of the Beijing government has announced that most of the government offices will be closed during the APEC conference from November 7-12, 2014. The government will stop accepting and processing immigration applications during this period, causing delays for all on-going immigration applications to Beijing.

Hong Kong

Changes to Hong Kong Dependent Visa applicants

This change affects Hong Kong Dependent Visa applicants who are:

  • Chinese passport holders residing overseas, (excluding Mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau).
  • Have been residing overseas for at least 12 months immediately before the submission of the visa application.

The Hong Kong Immigration Department now expects these applicants to follow this new procedure:

  • Applicants must apply for their Dependent Visas under the Mainland Scheme approach, meaning that a copy of their valid Exit and Entry Permits must be presented during the application process.
  • Once the Dependent Visa application is approved, the applicant must then secure the appropriate Exit Endorsement in China. 
  • The Dependent Visa must be validated at the Hong Kong Immigration Department checkpoint, by entering the country from China within three months after the visa is issued.

There is only one exception to this rule. If the applicant’s principal is also a Chinese passport holder and has been residing outside of China for the last 12 months before lodging a Hong Kong Employment Visa application, both the principal and the dependent can apply together under the Overseas Approach (OA). Under OA, the Hong Kong Immigration Department will endorse their Hong Kong visas on their Chinese passports and allow them to enter the country from overseas as validation of their Hong Kong immigration status. The OA disregards both the mandatory exit endorsement process in China and entry from China requirements. 

Chinese passport holders with overseas permanent residence are not affected by this new procedure and can still apply under the OA. 

Automated immigration clearance for Hong Kong and Singapore passport holders 

With immediate effect, Hong Kong and Singapore passports holders can enroll into an automatic immigration clearance for a faster process when entering each country.

Hong Kong passport holders can apply for a Multiple Journey Visit Pass (MJVP) at the enhanced Immigration Automated Clearance System (eIACS) Enrolment Center. Once enrolled, the MJVP is endorsed in the Hong Kong passport with validity of two years or until six months before the passport’s expiry, whichever is earlier. Those with an MJVP can complete the immigration clearance via the eIACS, upon entry to Singapore.

Singapore passport holders can apply for e-Channel Service for Frequent Visitors at the Enrolment Offices located at Hong Kong International Airport or Macau Ferry Terminal. Once enrolled, the passport holder can complete their immigration clearance via the eChannel, upon entry to Hong Kong.


Persons of Indian Origin (PIO) Card - Valid for life  

With immediate effect, the Persons of Indian Origin (PIO) Card is now valid for life, and follow these key points:

  • Once issued is valid for life providing the holder has a valid passport.
  • PIO cards issued before the announcement date are also valid for life providing the holder has a valid passport.
  • Post arrival registration is waived.
  • Student Visas are not required for studying nor an Employment Visa for working in India.


Significant delays expected with extra workload to the Expatriate Services Division online portal

Profession Visit Pass (PVP)

With immediate effect, all Professional Visit Pass (PVP) applications must be submitted using the ESD online portal. Due to the high volume of submissions, applicants may experience significant delays.

PVP applicants cannot sponsor dependent applications.

Additional conditions under this new arrangement:

  • Only companies successfully registered with the ESD can submit applications via the ESD online portal.   
  • PVPs have a maximum time limit of 12 months. They are issued per contract and are restricted to a specific purpose or project, stated in the contract.
  • The applicant must have a passport with least one year validity.

Employment Pass (EP)

The Expatriate Services Division (ESD) has announced that with immediate effect, Employment Pass (EP) renewals can be requested using the ESD online portal, providing all of the following conditions are met:

  • All applications must be submitted with the pay slips from the last three months containing the applicant’s income tax file number and the latest e-BE tax filing.
  • The applicant must hold a passport with at least six months validity.
  • The current EP has at least one month validity on the day that the application is submitted.
  • A dependent’s renewal can only be facilitated if the principal applicant has been processed through the ESD online portal before.

The Philippines

Alien Registration Program launched

On October 1, 2014, the Philippines Bureau of Immigration (BI) initiated an Alien Registration Program (ARP) to update its database of foreign nationals. At present, it is not mandatory due to implementation issues and the initial high volume of applicants.

Who must register, and who is exempt?

Between October 1, 2014, and September 30, 2015, a foreign national extending their stay in the Philippines beyond 59 days must visit the Bureau of Immigration to register under the ARP. Although registration is not mandatory, this is likely to change in the near future.

For 9(a) Tourist Visa holders extending their stay beyond 59 days, and Special Work Permit holders, the ARP registration will be done during application for an Alien Certificate of Registration Identity Card (ACR I-Card). A personal appearance is now required for these applications as biometrics are taken.


The following are exempt:

  1. Those whose stay has not exceeded and will not exceed 59 days.
  2. Foreign nationals with a current, valid ACR I-Card and participated in a biometrics interview at the time of application, for example, 9(g) Employment Visa holders, who will be registered under ARP on renewal of their ACR I-Card.
  3. Holders of a certain class of visa, including the Special Non-Immigrant 47(a)(2) Visa and the Multiple Entry Special Visa.


The foreign national must give biometric data including photographs and fingerprints, submit an application form, present valid proof of identity and pay a processing fee at one of the participating BI offices in the Philippines. On the day, the applicant will be issued with a Special Security Registration Number (SSRN), to be used in all further transactions with the BI. They will then receive a new-style ACR I-Card in the post which costs $US 50 plus processing fee.

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, Asia, Kit Tang:

 North America

United States

Online registration is open for the Diversity Visa (DV) lottery for the fiscal year 2016

On October 1 2014, the Department of State (DOS) began accepting online registrations for the Fiscal Year 2016 Diversity Visa (DV) lottery. Foreign nationals must submit their online application by Monday November 3, 2014. Successful registrants will be informed by May 5, 2015. 

The DV lottery provides permanent resident status to foreign nationals from countries with low rates of immigration to the United States. Eligibility is limited to foreign nationals subject to education/work experience requirements and from selected countries. There is a list of excluded countries of origin, based on high rates of immigration to the United States. 

New secure ink for USCIS stamps

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has begun to use a new secure ink for many of its secure stamps. The agency states that employers should be aware of this recent change when examining acceptable documents during the Form I-9 employment eligibility verification process.

USCIS is now using this new secure blue ink for the following stamps:

  • Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Parole
  • Temporary I-551 (ADIT)
  • Refugee
  • Asylum
  • Initial/Replacement Form I-94

Delays with FBI clearance processing

On September 7, 2014, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Criminal Justice Information Service (CJIS) installed a new IT system. As a result, the agency is experiencing delays in processing FBI clearances. Currently, the anticipated processing time for an Identity History Summary is approximately 12 weeks, an increase from the normal wait time of approximately four to six weeks. Applicants should anticipate delays in processing as the backlog is cleared.

New rules for the J-1 Exchange Visitor Program in January 2015

In a final rule from the Department of State (DOS), new requirements have been outlined for J-1 program sponsors, which take effect January 2015. 

These changes mean J-1 sponsors will have additional obligations and increased scrutiny impacting the following:

  • Independent audits
  • Annual reports
  • Criminal background checks
  • Exchange visitor monitoring
  • Notification requirements
  • Third party agreements
  • English language proficiency
  • Duties of Responsible Officers (ROs) and Alternate Responsible Officers (AROs)
  • Insurance coverage


New free trade agreement with South Korea

Canada has announced that it has entered into yet another free trade agreement - this time with South Korea, and with some “new and improved” immigration provisions. These beneficial provisions, detailed below, could have significant impact on the ability of Canadian companies to retain skilled workers for positions which cannot be filled by Canadians or workers from other countries.

Among other features of the agreement (and as also detailed below), enhanced professional categories means that Canadian companies can now seek foreign workers in areas that would typically not be allowed to work in Canada, without a Labour Market Impact Assessment (“LMIA”). The LMIA process proves that no Canadian is available for a position – it is a long, expensive, and cumbersome process.


Canada has free trade agreements in place (that include enhanced immigration provisions), with:

  • The United States
  • Mexico
  • Chile
  • Colombia
  • Peru

Canada is also party to the General Agreement on Trade in Services (“GATS”) which also has enhanced immigration provisions for signatory countries.

Further still, Canada is finalizing implementation of yet another free trade agreement with the European Union, and negotiations are in process for free trade agreements with other countries as well.

Each of these bilateral agreements or international instruments has provisions that allow for eased entry for various types of scenarios. Each agreement is different, but if relevant, each agreement can be referenced as a legal tool to get needed foreign workers to Canada.

New provisions and benefits

The new Canada-South Korea Free Trade Agreement calls for enhanced immigration considerations for:

  • Business visitors
  • Intra-company transferees
  • Traders and investors
  • Professionals

Though each of these may have benefit for Canadian companies seeking to fill positions, the categories of consideration are similar to provisions in existing free trade agreements. (Counsel should be sought to ensure compliance in the use of any free trade agreement, given that there are indeed differences in between the agreements.)

However, there are important new features and/or nuances in this agreement which are different from other agreements, and which may greatly benefit Canadian businesses in their need to fill positions in Canada. These are some highlights of the agreement:

  • The “ordinary” professionals include various scientists and business professionals similar to other agreements, however, there appear to be two unique categories which may be very important, and which are much more difficult for workers from other countries. They are:
    • Computer Programmer
    • Software Engineer/Designer

Whereas other agreements may provide for Systems Analysts (also allowed here), this expansion is a welcome addition for the IT industry.

  • There is a new type of “professional”; that is, “Independent Professionals”. These professionals can be engaged to provide service in Canada on their own. The categories for such professionals are:
    • Architect
    • Engineer
    • Management Consultant
    • Veterinarian

The intra-company transfer provisions specifically provide for management trainees. This seems to be a (welcome) departure from recent pronouncements that in intra-company applications generally, people who require training are not qualified as intra-company transferees.

Intra-company transferees, professionals, and business visitors do not require labor certification tests (for example, licensing).

For seemingly the first time, the agreement indicates that Canada will normally accept oral declarations from business persons as to the place of business and accrual of profits, and that if further proof is required, a letter from the employer should normally be sufficient proof.

This summary was prepared by Kranc Associates, Canadian Corporate Immigration Counsel.

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


New “Automatic Migration Service” for resident MERCOSUR and CAN (Comunidad Andina) nationals

Migration Colombia has launched the Automatic Migration Service, allowing Mercosur (Mercado Común del Sur) and CAN (Comunidad Andina) nationals currently resident in Colombia, to enter and exit the country in an expedited manner.

What are the benefits?

Subscribers to this service will be able to enter and exit Colombia without queuing to have their passports stamped. Instead, they can scan an identification card with new machines now being installed at international airports in Colombia, thus saving time at the airport and space in their passport.

Who can benefit?

Any nationals of Mercosur and CAN countries who are resident in Colombia with a valid visa and who have a computer-readable passport, may qualify for the service.

Mercosur is made up of Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay and Venezuela. Bolivia is in the process of joining, and Chile, Colombia, Peru, and Ecuador are associate members.

The Comunidad Andina, or CAN, is made up of Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru.

How to register

Applicants must have their photograph and fingerprints taken at a registration interview at Migration Colombia, and pay an annual fee of $150,000 COP.


MERCOSUR nationals benefit from facilitated process for permanent residence

A new law, anticipated to come into effect imminently, offers 30 day processing of permanent residence applications for MERCOSUR (Southern Common Market) nationals. Citizens from countries including Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Chile, Colombia, Peru, Ecuador and Bolivia with a valid passport may be eligible, as well as certain relatives of a Uruguayan citizen born abroad. Under the previous rules, MERCOSUR applicants were required to reside in Uruguay for two years while holding a MERCOSUR temporary Residence Permit before applying for permanent residence.

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:

 Europe, Middle East, Africa


Fingerprints now required for all Residence Permit applications

Applications for all types of Residence Permits (titres de séjour) in France are now subject to a fingerprinting requirement. The requirement was introduced for some categories of Residence Permit applications in June 2013, following European Union (EU) regulation 380/2008, and has now been extended to all categories and rolled out in most départements (counties) of France.

Who needs to give fingerprints?

All categories of foreign workers required to obtain Residence Permits in France must now submit fingerprints. These categories include:

  • First time and renewal applications
  • Salarié en mission (intra company transfer, whether local hire or not)
  • Carte Bleu (Blue Card) (non-EU nationals)
  • Carte Compétences et Talents (highly skilled)
  • Van der Elst (non-EEA nationals transferring within the EEA, intending to stay in France for three months or longer)

Renewal applications only

The following categories of applicants arriving in France with long-stay "VLS-TS" Visas and therefore do not need to apply for Residence Permits until the VLS-TS Visa has expired, at the end of the first year include:

  • Salarié (local hire) applicants
  • All temporary detachés (secondment, on home contract)


Changes to Employment Permit legislation

On October 1, 2014, the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation (DJEI) implemented changes to the Employment Permit legislation. The new legislation, along with other recent immigration reforms, is aimed at increasing the number of skilled graduates available in Ireland.

The new act will impact the following:

  • Names and fees for each Employment Permit Category – there are now nine different Employment Permit types.
  • Changes to the eligible and ineligible list of job categories.
  • Minimum levels of remuneration for each Employment Permit.
  • Documentary evidence for each Employment Permit category.
  • Registration and accreditation requirements for relevant employment.
  • Requirements of the Labour Market Needs Test.
  • Separate application forms for each Employment Permit category.
  • Quota/ratio rule.
  • Health insurance requirements.
  • Passport expiry dates must be a minimum 12 months validity from the date of application.
  • Renewal applications must be submitted within 16 weeks prior to the expiry date of the current permit.

All Employment Permit applications must now be submitted using the new application form under the 2014 Employment Permit legislation. Under the new legislation, the DJEI will no longer accept checks as a form of payment with the applications and will roll out a new “e-payment” system.

Change in the GNIB registration with hotel and change of address requirements - Dublin

The Garda National Immigration Bureau (GNIB) in Dublin has implemented changes in local registration. The changes impact registration with a hotel, and the change of address notification requirements.

Registration with hotel

The GNIB policy in Dublin will now allow a hotel addresses for registration, previously not acceptable for local registration. Registrants must provide proof of the hotel booking, as well as a letter from the employer. A notification of change in address is also required. Registration is a requirement of GNIB and will issue a penalty for non-compliance.

Change of address notification

A temporary policy has been introduced whereby non-EEA nationals are no longer required to appear in person to notify a change of address. The non-EEA national may notify the GNIB office in Burgh Quay via telephone, email, post, or in person.

Ireland/United Kingdom

British/Irish visa scheme for Indian and Chinese nationals

A new British/Irish visa scheme will facilitate Indian and Chinese nationals requiring a short-stay visa to travel freely within the Common Travel Area (Republic of Ireland, United Kingdom, including Northern Ireland). The scheme will allow for a single visa issued by immigration authorities in either Ireland or the UK, whereby tourists, business visitors and other eligible visitors will be permitted to travel to both the United Kingdom and Ireland. The scheme’s implementation date is anticipated in late October 2014.  


Issuance of Work Permits suspended

The issuance of Work Permits has been suspended, as the new Director of Immigration, Major General Gordon Kihalangwa, has disbanded the committee which sits to deliberate over work permit applications.

Therefore, although the immigration department is still accepting Work Permit applications, no new Work Permits will be issued until a new committee is constituted. When a new committee is eventually reinstated it is likely that there will be significant delays due to the backlog of applications.

Those applicants who urgently need work authorization may apply for Special Passes, which have not been affected. A Special Pass enables business or short term work activities in Kenya for a period of up to 90 days.


Employers to obtain labor market approval before hiring foreign workers

Effective November 28, 2014, a new ordinance will come into force which has been recently adopted by the Romanian Government. The ordinance establishes the need for a labor market approval in some cases and emphasizes the need for compliance with the labor code and reporting responsibilities. Complete details are not yet confirmed, with further significant changes expected in the coming weeks. The ordinance states that a new employment approval for a foreign national employed locally in Romania, must be issued by the General Inspectorate for Immigration.

New employment approval depending on the labor market

The new employment approval will only be issued if the Romanian entity has first attempted to fill any vacancy with a Romanian national, EU/EFTA national or a Romanian permanent resident. So far, no clear conditions or guidelines for how this labor market search must be conducted are available. The new labor market search does not replace the quota system already in place.

Exemptions to the Labor Market Test

  • The vacancy is for a trading company director and the employer in question does not have another foreign employee occupying such a position.
  • The intended employee is a highly qualified worker (there is no definition of “highly qualified”, to date).
  • The employee is on home payroll and on secondment in Romania (a similar approval for secondment will be required instead).
  • The intended employee is from a State bordering Romania, and lives in a designated border area (an approval for cross-border workers will be issued instead).
  • The position in question is for professional athletes, and the employer’s main field of activity is sporting activities.

Compliance with regulations

Additionally, the Romanian entity must not:

  • Have been recently sanctioned or convicted for offences under the Labor Code.
  • Be behind in its tax contributions.
  • Have been sanctioned in the past three years for hiring foreign workers without the correct work permit, or for engaging up to five workers without concluding individual employment contracts.
  • Have been sanctioned for failing to submit correct employment notifications to the inspectorate for foreign workers (such notifications must be submitted no later than the last working day prior to commencement of the employee’s work).

Fees, fines and penalties

The new employment approval carries a fee in Romanian Ley (RON) equivalent to EUR200 (with a reduced fee equivalent to EUR50 applicable to some categories, including foreign nationals who have been employed in Romania on a Blue Card). Any failure to meet the legal obligations regarding the employment or secondment of foreigners is punishable by fines of between RON700 and RON3000 (EUR150 to EUR650). Furthermore, depending on the gravity of offences committed, employers can also be punished by prohibition of certain rights, total or partial recovery of benefits, aids or subsidies, including EU funds, and/or the temporary or permanent closure of the unit or units where the offence was committed.


Russian companies can employ Ukrainian nationals without quota

With immediate effect, Russian companies without approved foreign labor quota places, can employ Ukrainian nationals who have left the Ukraine “urgently” due to the political situation. Work Permits are however, still required. The change was introduced by the Russian Government on September 2, 2014, in an amendment to Decree number 977 of October 31, 2013.

Who benefits from this change?

Ukrainian nationals who “urgently” left Ukraine may now be employed by Russian companies who do not have an approved quota for engaging foreign workers. At this stage, it is not certain whether all Ukrainian nationals are eligible to make use of this amendment or only those from the Donetsk and Lugansk regions, where the Ukrainian army has been battling separatists since March 2014.

When can Russian companies take advantage of this change?

To benefit from this change, Work Permit applications for Ukrainian nationals will have to be filed before the end of 2014, as new legislation will apply from early 2015. All issued Work Permits will have the maximum validity of twelve months.

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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