Virginia, US

Feb 17 2017

Fragomen Immigration Update: February 10 – 16, 2017

Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Greece, Guatemala, Myanmar, Nicaragua, Panama, Serbia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States

In United States immigration news this week, a forthcoming executive order is expected to impose a new entry ban on foreign nationals from designated countries of concern, and could also address employment-based immigration.  Foreign nationals from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen should exercise extreme caution before traveling to or departing from the United States in light of the President’s announcement.

In the United Kingdom, employees of Tier 2 (General) and Tier 2 (Intra-company Transfer) visa applicants will be subject to an Immigration Skills Charge at the time of assigning the Certificate of Sponsorship. This charge will be effective April 6, 2017, subject to parliamentary approval.

In Belgium, effective February 18, 2017, third-country nationals and their dependents applying for an initial long stay visa or residence permit will be required to sign a statement affirming that they understand the fundamental values and norms of Belgian society.

These items and other news from Brazil, Canada, China, Greece, Guatemala, Myanmar, Nicaragua, Panama, Serbia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom and the United States follow in this edition of the Fragomen Immigration Update.

 

Important Updates in Immigration This Week

United States, February 16, 2017
President Trump Promises Revised Entry Ban Order Next Week

A forthcoming executive order is expected to impose a new entry ban on foreign nationals from designated countries of concern, and could also address employment-based immigration.  Foreign nationals from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen should exercise extreme caution before traveling to or departing from the United States in light of the President’s announcement today.

To view entire article, click here.

 

United States, February 16, 2017
March Visa Bulletin Update - USCIS to Honor Employment-Based Final Action Dates Only Next Month

In March, 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 March Visa Bulletin.

To view entire article, click here.

 

Panama, February 16, 2017
Two Work Permit Categories Now Require Additional Documents

Work permit applicants within the Foreign Professionals and Specific Countries categories must now include the applicant's labor contract and the company’s payroll document as supporting documents with their work permit applications.

To view entire article, click here.

 

United Kingdom, February 14, 2017
Immigration Skills Charge Forthcoming in April 2017

The government has confirmed that employers of Tier 2 (General) and Tier 2 (Intra-company Transfer) visa applicants will be subject to an Immigration Skills Charge on or after April 6, 2017, subject to parliamentary approval.

To view entire article, click here.

 

Belgium, February 14, 2017
Integration Requirements Introduced for Third-Country Nationals

Third-country nationals and their dependents applying for an initial long stay visa or residence permit on or after February 18, 2017 will be required to sign a statement affirming that they understand the fundamental values and norms of Belgian society and will act accordingly. Upon renewal of their visa or residence permit, authorities will require that the third-country national prove that they have integrated into Belgian society, which would require presentation of specific evidence. Immigration authorities can cancel a foreign national's residency rights if they determine that a foreign national has not met the requisite integration efforts.

To view entire article, click here.

 

Other Immigration News This Week

United States: New I-9 Employer Handbook Now Available – USCIS has released a new edition of the M-274 Handbook for Employers, the agency's extensive guidance on the Form I-9 employment eligibility verification process. The new handbook was released in conjunction with the latest revision of Form I-9, which is available for use and becomes the only acceptable edition of the form as of January 22, 2017.

United States: R. Alexander Acosta Tapped for Labor Secretary – President Donald Trump has announced his intention to nominate R. Alexander Acosta for Labor Secretary after Andrew Puzder, the previous nominee, withdrew from consideration for the Cabinet post. Acosta is Dean of Florida International University College of Law, a former U.S. Attorney for Southern District of Florida, one-time National Labor Relations Board member, and the first Hispanic to ascend to the top of the U.S. Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division.

Canada: International Masters, PhD Graduate and Human Capital Priorities Streams to Reopen in Ontario – Next week, the Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program (OINP) will be reopening and launching online applications for the International PhD Graduate Stream, the International Masters Graduate Stream and the Ontario’s Express Entry Human Capital Priorities Stream.

When the International Masters Graduate Stream reopens, eligible applicants will be able to apply even if they are residing outside Ontario. Applicants will also have the option to use more service providers to complete their language test.

Additionally, the OINP will begin applying the Express Entry pool for qualified applicants to issue Notifications of Interest.

Fragomen will report on further developments when they are available, and affected foreign nationals can check the Ontario government website for further updates on February 21, 2017. 

China/Serbia: Reciprocal Business and Tourist Visa Exemption Implemented – Effective January 15, 2017, Serbian nationals may conduct business in, transit through and stay in the People's Republic of China without a visa for up to 30 days, and vice versa. This exemption does not apply to students or those who intend to work or participate in media-related activities. Those interested in more information about the exemption should contact their immigration professional.

Greece: Ministry of Interior Temporarily Suspends Acceptance of Visa Applications – The Ministry of Interior will not be accepting visa applications until February 22, according to an announcement on the Ministry's website. Applicants should hold their applications until the Ministry starts accepting applications.

Guatemala: Internal Issues at Immigration Office Causing Delays – Foreign nationals with pending visa applications and those submitting new visa applications and renewals in Guatemala should expect significant delays, due to internal issues including understaffing, file reassignment following layoffs, the temporary suspension of appointments for case reviews and consultations with the head of the Immigration Department, an ongoing internal audit and a new limit on the number of requests that can be made per applicant to review or consult files.   Affected applicants should contact their immigration professional for information on the extent and impact of the delays.

Myanmar: Draft Bills Regulating the Status of Foreign Nationals Submitted to Parliament – Myanmar’s Ministry of Labour, Immigration and Population submitted two draft bills for deliberation on January 30. The proposed changes are intended to modernize the immigration system by adopting similar updates as other countries in the region. Some key proposals include:

  • Stricter penalties for failing to register and obtain a Foreigner Registration Certificate (FRC) (required for those intending to remain in Myanmar for more than 90 days);
  • New notification and pre-approval requirements for foreign nationals travelling in Myanmar for more than 24 hours;
  • The creation of a new national committee to assess the eligibility of prospective foreign workers; and
  • The creation of a new work permit system (with a maximum validity of four years for a work permit).

United Nations employees and diplomatic staff would be exempt from the proposed requirements.

These proposed provisions will have to be approved by Parliament before they become law.

The new law is expected to bring predictability, clarity and transparency to current immigration practice and processes. Fragomen is monitoring the situation and will continue to report on further developments.

Panama/Brazil/Nicaragua: Yellow Fever Vaccination Requirements and Recommendations Expanded – Effective immediately, individuals traveling from Brazil entering Panama must provide an international vaccine card showing that their yellow fever vaccination was completed at least 10 days prior to arrival, according to a recommendation document issued by the Ministry of Health in Panama. This does not apply to transiting passengers that will not leave the Panama airport to enter Panama. This is due to an increase in yellow fever cases in certain Brazilian states in December 2016, as reported by the Brazilian Ministry of Health. Panamanian nationals entering Brazil were already subject to the yellow fever vaccination requirement if they traveled to certain countries and should check with the consulate to which they are applying for further information.

Effective immediately, vaccinations are now recommended for all travelers entering the following Brazilian states: Bahia, Espirito Santos and Rio de Janeiro. Previously, the yellow fever vaccination was recommended only for those visiting rural areas in the following Brazilian states: Acre, Amapá, Amazonas, Distrito Federal, Goiás, Maranhão, Mato Grosso, Mato Grosso do Sul, Pará, Rondônia, Roraima and Tocantins.

Lastly, as a reminder, travelers from Panama are also now required to obtain a yellow fever vaccination to enter Nicaragua.

Turkey: Travel as a Visitor While Work Visa/Permit Application Is Processing Now Presents Risk of Denial – According to an internal practice change by the Ministry of Labor, traveling to Turkey as a visitor during a pending work visa/permit case may be grounds for a denial of an initial work permit. It remains unclear whether a very short trip for strictly non-work purposes is acceptable (i.e. house or school hunting, meeting staff, etc.). Therefore, foreign nationals with pending visa or permit applications are advised not to travel to Turkey until their applications are approved. Renewal applicants are not affected by this policy change. Fragomen worked closely with the Bener Law Office of Istanbul to prepare this alert.

United Arab Emirates: Security Deposit Required for Establishment Card – Effective immediately, new companies setting up a business at the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) must submit a security deposit of AED 2,500 for an immigration establishment card application, in addition to the standard fee of AED 1,000 for procurement of the card. The deposit will be refunded after the establishment card has been cancelled. Additionally, the DIFC Authority has announced that sponsorship transfers from an individual sponsor to a company in DIFC, and vice-versa, are no longer permissible.

United Kingdom: Milkround Recruitment and Certificate of Sponsorship Rules Restricted – Effective April 6, 2017, a migrant must have been offered a role within six months of the end of the milkround recruiting campaign. A Certificate of Sponsorship must be assigned within 48 months of the milkround taking place. For more information, sign into Fragomen's webinar on milkround recruitment on February 23, 2017 at 11am GMT.

 

Global Immigration News Links

Businesses across the United States were closed on Thursday and foreign-born residents stayed home from work to show support for a national ‘Day Without Immigrants’ in protest of the Trump administration’s immigration policies.

Recent raids by U.S. immigration authorities targeting undocumented immigrants are creating a wave of distress through America’s agricultural sector, Bloomberg reports.

Tech companies that keep satellite offices in Vancouver are exploring whether to move more jobs over the Canadian border.

According to the latest poll from Ipsos MORI, UK voters are more concerned about Brexit than immigration.

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

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