Virginia, US

Mar 03 2017

Fragomen Immigration Update: February 24 – March 2, 2017

Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Ethiopia, European Union, Georgia, Hungary, New Zealand, Romania, South Africa, Tanzania, Thailand, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States, Zambia

In United States immigration news this week, employers may see more site inspections by USCIS anti-fraud officers verifying the employment of foreign workers. Make sure to review Fragomen’s detailed FAQ about USCIS’s worksite inspections. 

Also in the United States, F-1 students seeking or working on optional practical training or planning a change of status to H-1B should be aware that traveling abroad could impact their F-1 status, ability to change status and ability to reenter the United States.

The United Kingdom Home Secretary has announced that the UK government will consult on the design of a new immigration system this summer, in preparation for Brexit.  Related media reports suggest that the Prime Minister will announce that the virtually automatic right to permanent residence for EU nationals will not be offered to those entering after March 15. 

New Zealand’s Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment has revised the occupation shortage lists following an annual review. Changes to Essential Skills in Demand took effect on February 27, 2017. Also in New Zealand, employment law breaches on or after April 1, 2017 can result in foreign national hiring bars.

The South African immigration authorities are considering reversing the recently-issued guidance document regarding travel under a visa with an expiry date beyond that of a traveler's passport. In Tanzania, employers must present their foreign workers’ work permits to the labour authorities by March 24, 2017.

These items and other news from Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Ethiopia, European Union, Georgia, Hungary, Romania, Thailand, United Arab Emirates, Zambia and the United States follow in this edition of the Fragomen Immigration Update.

 

Important Updates in Immigration This Week

United States, March 2, 2017
USCIS Site Inspections: What Employers Need to Know

In the current climate of increased immigration enforcement, employers may see more site inspections by USCIS anti-fraud officers verifying the employment of foreign workers.

To view entire article, click here.

 

United States, February 28, 2017
Travel Tips for F-1 Students on OPT or Planning a Change of Status to H-1B

If you are an F-1 student who has applied for or is working on optional practical training (OPT) or who is seeking a change of status to H-1B in this year's H-1B cap lottery, be aware that traveling abroad could affect your F-1 status, your ability to change status and your ability to reenter the United States. Before you travel internationally, make sure you understand the risks and requirements.

To view entire article, click here.

 

European Union, March 1, 2017
Visa Waiver Suspension Rules Broadened

The European Union has modified the rules regarding the suspension of short-stay visa waiver agreements to allow for faster application of penalties when certain factors such as increased security concerns or public policy risk are involved. The new rules will be effective 20 days after they are published in the EU Official Journal.

To view entire article, click here.

 

New Zealand, March 1, 2017
Employment Law Breaches Can Now Result in Foreign National Hiring Bars

Employers that incur penalties for severe breaches of employment laws on or after April 1, 2017 may face a bar from recruiting foreign nationals for six months to two years. 

To view entire article, click here.

 

Ethiopia, March 1, 2017
Fees for Immigration Services Increased

Ethiopian immigration authorities have published the revised fee schedule for immigration services, effective immediately.  Immigration service fees have not been increased in years.

To view entire article, click here.

 

Azerbaijan, February 28, 2017
Foreign Worker Estimate Due May 1

Per the work permit quota system implemented in Azerbaijan, employers that intend to hire foreign nationals in the country must submit an estimate of their foreign workers to the State Migration Service by May 1, 2017.

To view entire article, click here.

 

Tanzania, February 28, 2017
Employers Must Present Work Permits to Authorities by March 24

Employers must present their foreign workers' work permits to the labour authorities by March 24, 2017, according to a new rule that requires verification of foreign workers' immigration rights.

To view entire article, click here.

 

Thailand, February 28, 2017
New Personal Appearance Requirement for Foreign Nationals Changing Passports

Foreign nationals and dependents sponsored under the Board of Investments process are now required to file long-term visa extension applications at the One Stop Service Center after they obtain a new passport. This requires an additional personal appearance after the visa endorsement transfer.

To view entire article, click here.

 

New Zealand, February 27, 2017
Annual Review of Shortage Occupation List Conducted

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment has revised the occupation shortage lists following an annual review. The Essential Skills in Demand changes will take effect on February 27, 2017.  Affected foreign nationals should contact their immigration professional to discuss immigration options.

To view entire article, click here.

 

United Kingdom, February 27, 2017
Consultation on Brexit and Announcement on End of Automatic Rights to Permanent Residence Expected

The Home Secretary has announced that the UK government will consult on the design of a new immigration system this summer to prepare for Brexit.  Related media reports suggest that the Prime Minister will announce that the virtually automatic right to permanent residence for EU nationals will not be offered to those entering after March 15. 

To view entire article, click here.

 

Tanzania, February 27, 2017
Employers Should Prepare for Workplace Immigration Inspections

The Tanzanian Labour authorities will be conducting labor inspections to ensure that foreign employees possess valid work permits.  Foreign employees will have to present their immigration documents and those found to be living and working in Tanzania without a valid work permit and their employers may be subject to penalties.

To view entire article, click here.

 

South Africa, February 24, 2017
Visa Validity Position Potentially Reversed; Visas Remain Valid Beyond Passport Expiration Date

The South African Immigration authorities are considering reversing the recently-issued guidance document stating that visas with an expiry date beyond that of a traveler's passport are to be withdrawn and the holder must submit an application for a new visa to ensure legal residence in South Africa. Therefore, until further announcements are made, South African visa holders with a valid visa in an expired passport and additionally holding a renewed passport should be able to enter South Africa and those already in South Africa with a valid visa on an old passport and holding a new passport should be allowed to transfer their visa from the old passport to a new passport. Those with expired passports must obtain a renewed passport and will not be allowed to enter the country with just their expired passport. Since the authorities have not published an official announcement on this position, the situation remains subject to change and affected foreign nationals should contact their immigration professional.

To view entire article, click here.

 

Zambia, February 24, 2017
Fees for Immigration Services Significantly Increased

Zambian immigration authorities have published the revised fee schedule for immigration services, effective March 6, 2017. Immigration service fees have not been increased in years and the increase will range from 50% to 100%. 

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 1, 2017, it had received filings on behalf of 23,778 H-2B beneficiaries for the second half of FY 2017. Of these, 14,348 had been approved and 9,430 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 employer fewer H-2B beneficiaries than reflected in their petitions.

Bahrain: Additional Fees Imposed for Employers Noncompliant with Bahranization – On or after May 1, 2017, employers who do not comply with Bahranization rates will be subject to additional fees when renewing work permits for foreign nationals, according to a Labour Market Regulatory Authority (LMRA) announcement. Previously, additional fees were applicable to new work permit applications only. Employers can determine the number of Bahraini workers they must employ to avoid additional fees for new or renewed work permits by accessing the LMRA’s Expat Management System.  Additional government fees will depend on the validity of the work permit and will be imposed in addition to standard processing and insurance fees.

European Union/Georgia: Reciprocal Visa-Free Agreement Approved – The Council of the European Union has approved a short-stay visa waiver agreement between the European Union and Georgia. This means that Georgian nationals in possession of a biometric passport will no longer need a visa to travel to the Schengen Area for business, tourism or family reasons for 90 days in a 180-day period, and vice versa. This exemption will be effective 20 days after publication in the EU Official Journal, following the European Parliament and Council's formal signature.  On the same day, the new EU visa suspension mechanism will enter into force. The visa exemption for Georgian nationals will not apply in the United Kingdom and Ireland, as they are not part of the Schengen Area.

Hungary: Permit Renewals and Status Changes Now Require Bank Statement and/or Declaration – Assignees renewing work permits must now provide a bank statement from the most recent three months, or a declaration if the applicant does not have such bank statements. Applicants changing their immigration status to a work permit must also provide a declaration regarding the change of their status. Affected applicants should contact their immigration professional for assistance with preparation of the declaration.

Romania: Minimum Salary for Foreign Workers Increased – Effective immediately, the minimum salary for foreign workers, assignees maintaining their payroll outside Romania and assignees moving to Romanian payroll has increased to RON 3,131 per month, up from 2,681 per month. Employers of applicants with pending work permit applications that do not meet this minimum level must increase the applicant's salary and resubmit their applications.

United Arab Emirates: New Electronic Portal for Immigration Applications in the Dubai Healthcare City – Effective immediately, all Dubai Healthcare City (DHC) applications must be processed through a new electronic portal, called Masaar.  Employers that seek to process immigration and employment-related applications should urgently obtain login credentials to Masaar.  During the data transition from the previous AXS portal to Masaar, users may face difficulties in accessing data and delays in processing applications.  Employers requiring technical support may contact the DHC Authority at info@masaar.ae or support@masaar.ae

 

Global Immigration News Links

In his first joint address to Congress, President Trump called for a “merit-based” immigration system – one that puts a priority on skills and employability over family ties, the New York Times reports. The Washington Post analyzes every mention of immigration, immigrants or the border in his address.

President Trump’s revised travel ban executive order is not expected to be released until next week at the earliest, the Associated Press reports.

Former U.S. president George W. Bush said he supported a welcoming immigration policy, Reuters reports.

EU citizens will not face an imminent Brexit cut-off date to move to Britain, Business Insider reports.

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

© 2017 Fragomen, Del Rey, Bernsen & Loewy, LLP, Fragomen Global LLP and affiliates. All Rights Reserved.