Virginia, US

Mar 18 2016

Fragomen Immigration: March 11 - 17, 2016

Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ghana, India, Nigeria, Norway, Republic of Korea (South Korea), Sweden, United Kingdom, United States
In United States immigration news this week, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced that it will postpone the start of premium processing of FY 2017 H-1B cap cases until May 16 at the latest. Employers may not see agency action on premium processing cases selected in the FY 2017 H-1B cap lottery until as late as May 31. 
 
Also in the United States, USCIS will only accept employment-based adjustment applications from foreign nationals with a priority date that is current for final action under the State Department’s April Visa Bulletin.
 
The United Kingdom Home Office published new immigration rules that will stagger the availability of Tier 2 Certificates of Sponsorship throughout the year, and maintain the minimum salary for Tier 2 workers. Parliament is also considering a law that would increase immigration fees for applications submitted on or after March 18 and introduce a fee for rejected applications. 
 
In Belgium, the information technology sector is facing increased immigration inspections.
 
The Australian government launched a trial priority processing service for Chinese nationals applying for Subclass 600 (Visitor) visas in the Tourist and Business Visitor streams.
 
In the Dominican Republic, business visitors and tourists who extend their stays are now subject to an exit fee.
 
In Nigeria, between March 14 and March 31, 2016, representatives of employers with foreign workers under Combined Expatriate Resident Permit and Aliens Card (CERPAC) status must present documentation for verification to one of the CERPAC Production Centers.
 
These items and other news from Brazil, Canada, Costa Rica, Ghana, India, Norway, Republic of Korea, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States follow in this edition of the Fragomen Immigration Update.
 
 
Important Updates in Immigration This Week
 
United States, March 16, 2016
Premium Processing of FY 2017 H-1B Cap Petitions to Begin No Later Than May 16
 
USCIS will delay the start of H-1B cap premium processing while it performs initial intake of the large volume of petitions it expects to receive when the FY 2017 filing season opens on April 1. 
 
To view entire article, click here
 
 
United States, March 14, 2016
April Visa Bulletin Update: USCIS to Honor Employment-Based Final Action Dates Only Next Month
 
In April, USCIS will only accept employment-based adjustment applications from foreign nationals with a priority date that is current for final action under the State Department’s April Visa Bulletin.  
 
To view entire article, click here.
 
 
United Kingdom, March 17, 2016
Proposed Law Would Increase Visa Application Fees
 
Parliament is considering a law that would increase immigration fees for applications submitted on or after March 18, 2016 and introduce a GBP 25 fee for rejected applications. The increase is meant to ensure that by 2020, the UK immigration system is self funded.
 
To view entire article, click here.
 
 
India, March 16, 2016
Residence Reporting Form Likely to Become Mandatory
 
All hotels and landlords across India may soon be required to report the occupancy of foreign guests and tenants to local police stations, Foreigners' Regional Registration Offices (FRRO) and Foreigners' Registration Offices (FRO) through a form called 'Form C', similar to the practice already in effect in some Indian cities.
 
To view entire article, click here.
 
 
Dominican Republic, March 15, 2016
Business Visitors and Tourists Subject to Exit Fee for Extended Stays
 
Holders of single- and multiple-entry business visas, Business Visa for Employment Purposes and tourists who stay beyond 30 days are now subject to an exit fee. Residence Permit holders are exempt from the exit fee. 
 
To view entire article, click here.
 
 
Australia, March 14, 2016
Expedited Processing Available for Chinese Visitors
 
Starting March 15, 2016, the Australian government will trial a priority processing service for Chinese nationals applying for Subclass 600 (Visitor) visas in the Tourist and Business Visitor streams for an additional fee of AUD 1,000. If the trial is successful, priority processing may be expanded to applicants from other countries.
 
To view entire article, click here.
 
 
Belgium, March 14, 2016
Information Technology Sector Facing Increased Inspections
 
The labour inspectorate has increased inspections of Belgian companies that employ foreign nationals in information technology positions. The focus has been on companies that may have hired Indian nationals to replace local workers.
 
To view entire article, click here.
 
 
Nigeria, March 14, 2016
Status Verification Exercise Requires Personal Appearance by Company Representative
Between March 14 and March 31, 2016, representatives of employers with foreign workers under Combined Expatriate Resident Permit and Aliens Card (CERPAC) status must present documentation for verification to one of the CERPAC Production Centers.
 
To view entire article, click here.
 
 
United Kingdom, March 14, 2016
Tier 2 Certificates of Sponsorship to be Staggered; Tier 2 Minimum Salary to be Maintained
 
The Home Office has published new Immigration Rules that will stagger the availability of Tier 2 Certificates of Sponsorship throughout the year. Additionally, the minimum salary for Tier 2 workers will not increase due to wage inflation.
 
To view entire article, click here.
 
 
Costa Rica, March 11, 2016
Local Identification Card Issuance Subject to Delays
 
Foreign nationals seeking initial or renewed local identification cards (cédulas) should expect processing to take over a month after their cédula appointment, instead of the usual two weeks. Foreign nationals should therefore carry their passport and processing receipt to use local services, and the approval notice of their respective status if they travel.
 
To view entire article, click here.
 
 
United Kingdom, March 11, 2016
Language Assessment Tool for Some Visa Applicants to be Retired
 
On or after April 6, 2016, the English language assessment Points-Based Calculator tool - used by visa applicants whose university classes were conducted in English to prove their English language proficiency- will be replaced by an online service provided by the UK National Recognition Information Centre.
 
To view entire article, click here.
 
 
Other Immigration News This Week
 
United States: USCIS Updates H-2B Cap Count – USCIS reports that as of March 9, 2016, it had received filings on behalf of 38,934 H-2B beneficiaries for the first half of FY 2016. Of these, 33,478 had been approved and 7,456 remained pending. For the second half of FY 2016, USCIS received filings on behalf of 2,583 H-2B beneficiaries. Of these, 524 had been approved and 2,059 remained pending. The cap for each half-year is 33,000, but USCIS accepts filings in excess of the cap because some cases will be denied or withdrawn and because employers may ultimately employ fewer H-2B beneficiaries than reflected in their petitions. 
 
Brazil: New Visa Application Imposes Increased Requirements – Brazilian visa applications now involve more steps, additional questions and a digital photo requirement on the online form, which has also been revised and made more comprehensive.  Certain consulates, such as the New York consulate, are not accepting applications on old forms and may require additional documentation. Visa applicants should contact their immigration professional to discuss the new application process at their particular consulate, since processes can vary greatly.
 
Canada: New International Mobility Program Stream Forthcoming – Starting June 1, 2016, a new Labour Market Impact Assessment-exempt International Mobility Program stream will be introduced for eligible workers in managerial, professional and technical/skilled trades occupations (National Occupational Classification skill level 0, A or B) in French-speaking minority communities outside of Quebec. The Department of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada aims to have French-speaking foreign nationals make up at least four percent of all economic immigrants settling outside of Quebec by 2018. Interested applicants should contact their immigration professional to discuss eligibility for the program. 
 
Ghana: Visa-on-Arrival Program to Expand to Most African Nationals – A new program is expected to allow business travelers and tourists from any African country except Morocco to enter Ghana under a visa-on-arrival program for up to 30 days. The program is expected to be implemented in July 2016.  Eligible travelers will no longer be required to obtain a visa at a consular post or the Ghana Immigration Service prior to visiting Ghana. Currently, only Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) nationals are eligible for a visa-on-arrival to Ghana. Interested travelers should contact their immigration professional to follow up on the implementation of this policy.
 
Norway/Sweden: Processing Delays During the Easter Holiday – Foreign Service Centers in the cities of Oslo, Stavanger and Bergen in Norway will be closed March 21-28, 2016. No immigration applications, police or tax registrations can be submitted during this time.  Public administration offices in Sweden will be open for a half day on March 24, and will be closed March 25 and 28, 2016. Foreign nationals should plan accordingly and take minor delays into consideration.
 
Republic of Korea: Tuberculosis Test Required of Nationals of 18 Countries – Prior to filing their applications, foreign nationals from 18 countries seeking initial or renewal long-term work visas or alien registration cards, and their dependents over the age of five, are subject to a tuberculosis test. The 18 designated high-risk countries are: Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, East Timor, India, Indonesia, Kyrgyzstan, Malaysia, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Russia, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Uzbekistan and Vietnam. Those who obtained a long-term visa outside Korea (including D-7 and E-7 visa holders) without a test and who are applying for an alien registration card in Korea are subject to testing.  
 
The test must be conducted at a clinic or hospital approved by the Korean consulate (if tested outside of Korea) or at a designated public health center in the same jurisdiction as the immigration office where the application is to be filed (if tested in Korea). A-1 (diplomat), A-2 (official) and A-3 (SOFA) visa holders are exempt from the requirement. Nationals of a high-risk country who do not reside in a high-risk country are exempt from the requirement if applying at a consulate. Certain other limited exemptions may apply.
 
Since the test can take seven business days or more to process, start dates may need to be adjusted since the tuberculosis test must first be completed before a visa renewal or alien registration card application can be filed. In particular, it is recommended that visa renewal applicants complete testing from two months up to three weeks prior to their visa expiry date, to ensure ample time to secure the certificate of health and file the visa renewal application.  Foreign nationals should contact their immigration professional to discuss compliance with the new rule.
 
 
Global Immigration News Links
 
Immigration rights organizations are pushing lawmakers to reject a resolution authorizing the Speaker of the House to file an amicus brief to the Supreme Court opposing President Obama’s executive actions on immigration.
 
The U.S. presidential debates reflect two radically different views on the U.S. immigration system, Bloomberg reports.
 
USA Today looks back at immigration laws, proposals and political developments that have led to the current debate on immigration.
 
Canada’s Liberal government is planning to make it easier for international students who have been "shortchanged" by express entry to obtain permanent residency, said Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Minister John McCallum.  Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil is calling on the federal government for fairer treatment when it comes to provincial immigration caps.
 
This alert is for informational purposes only. If you have any questions, please contact the global immigration professional with whom you work at Fragomen.