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Dec 22 2016

Fragomen Immigration Update: December 16 – 22, 2016

Austria, Brazil, Ecuador, European Union, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Singapore, Sweden, Tanzania, United Arab Emirates, United States

In United States immigration news this week, a final regulation gives the Justice Department broader powers to investigate immigration-related employment discrimination cases and increases the bases upon which an employer may be found liable for discrimination. The rule takes effect on January 18, 2017. Also, effective December 23, 2016, the Department of Homeland Security is rescinding regulatory authority for the now obsolete National Security Entry-Exit Registration System (NSEERS) and removing all related outdated regulations.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has determined that it will accept employment-based adjustment applications from foreign nationals with a priority date that is current for final action under the State Department's January Visa Bulletin.

Employers in Singapore can no longer transfer an Employment Pass (EP) holder to a related company in the case of a merger or acquisition without the new employer submitting a new EP application.

A forthcoming law in Ecuador will create two new residence visa categories and likely, new visa application requirements.

In the Netherlands, effective January 1, 2017, non-European Economic Area nationals applying for work and/or residence authorization will be subject to higher minimum salary levels.

In Italy, new provisions regarding foreign seasonal workers relax certain application procedures but impose more severe penalties for noncompliant employers.

In Luxembourg, a forthcoming EU intracompany transferee work permit will allow holders to remain in the country for a period of more than 90 days.

These items and other news from Austria, Brazil, the European Union, Hungary, Ireland, Sweden, Tanzania, the United Arab Emirates and the United States follow in this edition of the Fragomen Immigration Update.

 

Important Updates in Immigration This Week

United States, December 21, 2016
Justice Department Broadens Employer Liability for Immigration-Related Employment Discrimination Claims

A final regulation gives the Justice Department broader powers to investigate immigration-related employment discrimination cases and increases the bases upon which an employer may be found liable for discrimination. The rule takes effect on January 18, 2017.

To view entire article, click here.

 

United States, December 21, 2016
January Visa Bulletin Update: USCIS to Honor Employment-Based Final Action Dates Only Next Month

In January, 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 January Visa Bulletin.

To view entire article, click here.

 

Singapore, December 21, 2016
Employment Pass Holders Transferring to Related Employer Now Require New Application

Employers can no longer transfer an Employment Pass (EP) holder to a related company in the case of a merger or acquisition without the new employer submitting a new EP application. Once the new EP is approved, the previous employer can cancel the old EP, without re-advertising the role in the job bank.

To view entire article, click here.

 

Italy, December 20, 2016
Relaxed Application Processes, But Stricter Penalties for Employers of Seasonal Workers

New provisions regarding foreign seasonal workers relax certain application procedures but impose more severe penalties for noncompliant employers. The provisions aim at reducing the number of unauthorized foreign seasonal workers and facilitating reentry procedures.

To view entire article, click here.

 

Ecuador, December 20, 2016
Proposed Visa Categories Would Create New Processes and Delay Processing

A proposed new law that would become effective in four months would create two new residence visa categories and likely, new visa application requirements. Visa approvals are likely to be delayed due to regulatory changes. Foreign nationals with a work visa will not be affected until their visa expires, at which time, a new visa would be issued according to the new regulation.

To view entire article, click here.

 

Luxembourg, December 19, 2016
EU Intracompany Transferee Work Permit Forthcoming

To comply with the EU Directive on intracompany transferees (ICT), a proposed law set to be implemented in the coming weeks will introduce a new EU ICT Work Permit for non-EU managers, specialists and graduate trainees sent from a company outside the European Union to an entity in the same corporate group in Luxembourg for a period of more than 90 days.  Holders of the EU ICT Permit in Luxembourg will be able to stay in other EU Member States for up to 90 days in a 180-day period per Member State, which is more relaxed than the Schengen rules.

To view entire article, click here.

 

Netherlands, December 19, 2016
Minimum Salary and Government Filing Fees to Increase

On or after January 1, 2017, the minimum gross monthly salary for Knowledge Migrant applications will increase to EUR 4,324 for those over age 30; to EUR 3,170 for those under age 30; and to EUR 2,272 for those who already possess or fulfill the requirements of an Orientation Year Permit. Salaries under the new EU ICT Permit must conform to the market salary level, which is considered to be the level of the increased Knowledge Migrant salary thresholds for applicants over and under 30 years old. The minimum gross monthly salary for EU Blue Card applications will increase to EUR 5,066; to EUR 4,669.92 for Short-Term Work Permit applications; and to EUR 3,423,60 for Short-Term Knowledge Migrant Work Permit applicants under age 30. The Dutch Immigration Authorities' government filing fees will also increase.

To view entire article, click here.

 

Hungary, December 19, 2016
Expedited Work Permit Processing Available for Workers with In-Demand Skills

Third-country nationals who are considered to have in-demand skills are now eligible for a new expedited two-to-three week Single Permit processing time. Currently, expedited processing is only available to nationals of a neighboring country of Hungary, however the list of eligible nationals may be expanded to all third-country nationals.

To view entire article, click here.

 

Austria, December 16, 2016
Reminder on Document Retention Requirements and Increased Audits in 2017

Immigration authorities have increased the amount of audits conducted on companies employing foreign workers. Employers should work with their immigration professional to ensure the documents are ready for production in case of an inspection.

To view entire article, click here.

 

Other Immigration News This Week

United States: DHS Removes NSEERS Regulation – Effective December 23, 2016, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is rescinding regulatory authority for the now obsolete National Security Entry-Exit Registration System (NSEERS) and removing all related outdated regulations. This comes amid President-Elect Donald Trump's renewed calls to bar Muslims from entering the United States.

Between 2002 and early 2011, the U.S. government registered certain foreign nationals in the National Security Entry-Exit registration System (NSEERS, or "special registration"), so that these individuals could be tracked and monitored throughout their stays in the United States. NSEERS required special registrants to comply with enhanced screening, reporting and departure requirements, but relied on now-outdated manual systems. On April 28, 2011, DHS ceased use of the NSEERS program, finding it redundant, and announced that it would no longer register foreign nationals in NSEERS and that foreign nationals would no longer be subject to compliance with that system’s reporting and departure requirement.

Brazil: New Registration Rules for Renewals and Transformations – Foreign nationals renewing 1-Year Technical visas or converting their visas to permanent residence ('transformation') may now register with the Federal Police for a new identification (RNE) card at any time following the approval of their application. Previously, foreign nationals were required to register within 90 days of the publication of the respective approval in the National Gazette. Foreign nationals who did not comply with the 90-day time frame sometimes requested republication of the approval in order to gain another 90 days to register.  Per the new rules, approval notices will be republished only in cases of material error, such as misspelled names, inaccurate dates or other information. Also, foreign nationals applying for transformations or 1-Year Technical visa renewals may no longer complete registration if their visa has expired or if they have remained outside of Brazil for more than two consecutive years. These new rules come from a new Ministerial Order issued by the Ministry of Justice on December 15, 2016.

Hungary: Minimum Salary to Increase in 2017 – The minimum monthly salary for unskilled workers will increase to HUF 127,500  (approximately EUR 410), up from HUF 111,111, for applications submitted on or after January 1, 2017. The minimum monthly salary for skilled and highly-skilled workers will be HUF 161,000 (approximately EUR 520), up from HUF 129,000.  Applications submitted in 2016 that are still pending after the increase will be subject to the current minimum salary level.  Employers should ensure that their foreign employees' salaries meet or exceed the minimum salary level, and should note that the immigration and labor authorities generally do not accept applications with salaries set at the minimum for skilled and highly-skilled workers.

European Union: Update on EU Reciprocity with Canada and United States – The European Commission has decided to maintain the visa waiver program for Canadian and U.S. citizens, even though only Canada promised in October to ensure full visa reciprocity for EU nationals by December 2017, according to a recent European Commission report. Discussions with the new U.S. administration are expected to continue with a view to obtain the same objective. The European Commission, European Parliament and Council are expected to ensure the European Union is unified in the negotiations with their U.S. counterparts. A new report summarizing the progress of the discussions will be published by the European Commission before the end of June 2017. Fragomen will provide an update when it is available.

Ireland: New Digital Photo Requirements for Employment Permits – The Irish authorities have updated the digital photo requirements for employment permit applications. Effective immediately, a higher-quality photo is now required with specifications as follows:

·         minimum width and height: 413 pixels x 531 pixels (240 dots per inch);
·         maximum width and height: 448 pixels x 590 pixels (300 dots per inch).

Previously, there were no specific guidelines other than the digital photo had to be clear and in color. Foreign nationals should have their photo taken at a photo studio that can comply with these requirements, or alternatively, can use a website that resizes digital photos. Applicants with questions about the new requirements can contact their immigration professional, who can assist with determining whether photos are acceptable.

Sweden: Work Permit Extension Delays – Foreign nationals with pending work permit extension applications can expect delays of up to two months. The delays are a result of the increased inspection obligations for the Swedish Migration Agency to check that applicants have met work permit requirements for applications submitted in the past seven years. Foreign nationals with pending extension applications should take the delays into consideration when planning their assignments.

Sweden: Decisions on Some Dependents' Applications to be Delayed – The Migration Agency has not been deciding work permit applications for dependents if the main applicant has been granted a permanent residence permit in Sweden. This is due to a new regulation, and there is no information available as to when this will be resolved. Applicants with questions on this issue should contact their immigration professional.

Tanzania: Work Permit Applicants Must Submit Copies of All Passport Pages – Effective immediately, short- and long-term work permit applicants must submit copies of all their passport pages instead of just the biographical page, according to a new requirement implemented by the Tanzanian immigration authorities. This change is meant to assist the immigration authorities in confirming whether an applicant is in Tanzania when an application is submitted and in checking information in their systems. Work permit application processing may be delayed as a result of this additional requirement.

United Arab Emirates: Reminder: Employers Must Enroll Employees in Health Insurance Plan – As reported in May, employers must have enrolled all foreign nationals for a qualifying health insurance plan by June 30, 2016. Although the General Directorate of Residence and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA) has not been enforcing this requirement for immigration purposes, it will begin to do so on or after January 1, 2017, according to an announcement by the Dubai Health Authority (DHA). Therefore, employers should ensure their employees are enrolled in a qualifying plan as soon as possible to be able to provide proof of insurance for the immigration process.

It is expected that enforcement and verification of this requirement will be done through an exchange of information between DHA and the GDRFA. Therefore, it is anticipated that beginning January 2017, the GDRFA in Dubai may not issue or renew residence permits without valid proof of insurance, although no further clarification has been provided by the GDRFA.

Enforcement of the health insurance policy may increase certain post-arrival registration procedures' processing time, such as obtaining a residence permit and Emirates ID card, since proof of insurance is expected to be mandatory for approvals.

Noncompliance with the requirement may result in fines or denial of the immigration application.

Foreign workers and employers with questions on this policy should contact their immigration professional.

 

Global Immigration News Links

The Washington Post discusses the surge in caseloads that immigration lawyers have seen as clients prepare for President-elect Donald Trump.

If President-elect Donald Trump revokes the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program established on June 15, 2012, it could cause businesses to lose $3.4 billion.

Switzerland has backed a bill giving jobseekers already in the country priority over applicants from EU member states in times of high unemployment.

Kazakhstan plans to move towards a more international openness for immigration in 2017 to recapture its previously strong economic growth.

This alert is for informational purposes only. If you have any questions, please contact the global immigration professional with whom you work at Fragomen.

© 2016 Fragomen, Del Rey, Bernsen & Loewy, LLP, Fragomen Global LLP and affiliates. All Rights Reserved.