Virginia, US

Mar 04 2016

Fragomen Immigration Update: February 26 - March 3, 2016

Canada, Colombia, Ecuador, European Union, Germany, India, Japan, Kenya, Netherlands, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Slovak Republic, Switzerland, Turkey
In United States immigration news this week, the FY 2017 H-1B cap filing season begins in just over four weeks. Organizations must act quickly to identify remaining needs so that H-1B cap petitions can be filed between April 1 and April 7, 2016, the critical filing period for cap-subject employment in the coming fiscal year. In U.S. business travel news, all eligible Visa Waiver Program (VWP) travelers must present an e-Passport when entering the United States on or after April 1, 2016. 
 
Also in the United States, the Labor Department confirmed that it is taking more than 80 days to process PERM-based prevailing wage requests, but is not expected to return to normal 60-day processing in the near term. 
 
Visa-exempt nationals who plan to enter or re-enter Canada by air are now able to board their flight without an Electronic Travel Authorization until fall 2016; the initial eTA registration deadline was March 15. Canada doubled its Parent and Grandparent Program quota to 10,000 applications for this year. 
 
India has extended its e-Tourist Visa program to applicants from 37 additional countries. Also, the visa-on-arrival program for certain Japanese nationals who are unable to apply for a regular or electronic visa has been relaxed to allow multiple visits per calendar year. Lastly, the deadline for Person of Indian Origin card holders to apply for the Overseas Citizen of India card in lieu of Person of Indian Origin card has been extended until June 30, 2016.
 
In the European Union, due to continued border controls, travelers to Denmark, Belgium and other EU countries will need to present travel documents to enter from another Schengen country. In the Netherlands, eligible foreign graduates can now apply for a new work and residence permit. Germany will soon implement a points-based trial program for eligible vocationally-trained foreign nationals. In Switzerland, the first-quarter quota for L-permits for EU nationals on assignments lasting more than four months has been exhausted. 
 
These items and other news from Colombia, Ecuador, Japan, Kenya, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Slovakia and the United States follow in this edition of the Fragomen Immigration Update.
 
 
Important Updates in Immigration This Week
 
United States, March 2, 2016
Reminder: FY 2017 H-1B Cap Filing Season Opens Soon
 
With just over four weeks left before the FY 2017 H-1B cap filing season begins, organizations must act quickly to identify remaining H-1B cap needs so that petitions can be filed between April 1 and April 7, 2016, the critical filing period for cap-subject employment in the coming fiscal year. 
 
To view entire article, click here
 
 
United States, March 2, 2016
Visa Waiver Program Passport Requirements Take Effect April 1
 
Visa Waiver Program (VWP) travelers must present an e-Passport containing a biometric chip in order to enter the United States visa-free after March 31, 2016.  VWP travelers who do not hold an e-Passport should apply for a new passport as soon as possible to ensure that they can continue to use the program without interruption. The e-Passport requirement applies only to VWP travelers; it does not affect holders of U.S. visas.
 
To view entire article, click here
 
 
United States, March 1, 2016
Department of Labor Confirms Delays in Processing Prevailing Wage Determinations
 
DOL has confirmed that it is taking more than 80 days to process PERM-based prevailing wage requests, due to a significant increase in filings. The agency is aiming to reduce processing times below 80 days, but is not expected to return to normal 60-day processing in the near term. 
 
To view entire article, click here.
 
 
Canada, March 3, 2016
Electronic Travel Authorization Deadline Relaxed
 
It has been announced that visa-exempt nationals who plan to enter or exit and re-enter Canada by air will be able to board their flight without an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) from March 15, 2016 until fall 2016.
 
To view entire article, click here.
 
 
Saudi Arabia, March 3, 2016
Stricter Fines Implemented for Overstaying Visitors
 
Visitor visa holders who overstay their legal status and their sponsors will now be subject to more severe penalties, including higher fines, imprisonment and deportation.
 
To view entire article, click here.
 
 
European Union, March 1, 2016
Temporary Border Controls Introduced and Extended
 
Due to the introduction and continuation of border controls in the European Union, travelers to Denmark, Belgium and other EU countries will need to present travel documents to enter from another Schengen country. Such security checks will likely cause travel delays.
 
To view entire article, click here
 
 
Kenya, March 1, 2016
Online Platform Pilot Launched for Some Immigration Applications
 
The Department of Immigration in Kenya has launched a new online platform for work, family and student immigration applications. The platform will be rolled out a pilot basis for some services and is likely to be adopted for all immigration applications in the near future.
 
To view entire article, click here.
 
 
Canada, March 1, 2016
14-Day Reminder - Visa-Exempt Nationals Traveling to Canada to Require Electronic Travel Authorization
 
Visa-exempt nationals who plan to enter or re-enter Canada by air on or after March 15, 2016 must apply for an Electronic Travel Authorization prior to boarding a flight to Canada. 
 
To view entire article, click here.
 
 
India, March 1, 2016
Visa-on-Arrival Policy for Japanese Nationals Allows Multiple Visits Per Year
 
The visa-on-arrival policy that was recently implemented for Japanese tourists, business visitors, conference attendees and medical visitors will now allow multiple visits per calendar year.
 
To view entire article, click here.
 
 
Germany, February 29, 2016
Points-Based Immigration System Trial Program Forthcoming
 
A three-year trial project for foreign nationals with vocational training and further qualifications will be introduced in the state of Baden-Württemberg in the fall of 2016. It will be the first immigration category that uses elements of a points-based system to determine immigration eligibility in Germany. 
 
To view entire article, click here.
 
 
Netherlands, February 29, 2016
Foreign Graduates to be Eligible for New Work Permit Program
 
On or after March 1, 2016, two visa programs for recent foreign graduates will be combined into one visa scheme, called the Orientation Year Permit. The new program will allow eligible foreign graduates to apply for a work and residence permit up to three years following graduation. Scientific researchers are also going to be eligible for the permit.
 
To view entire article, click here.
 
 
India, February 29, 2016
e-Tourist Visa Expanded to 37 Additional Countries
 
India has expanded its e-Tourist Visa (eTV) program to applicants from 37 additional countries. Eligible visitors under the eTV include business visitors and those traveling to sightsee, visit friends or relatives or to make short medical visits. Nationals from a total of 150 countries are now eligible for the program.
 
To view entire article, click here.
 
 
India, February 29, 2016
Deadline for OCI in Lieu of PIO Card Applications Extended Until June 30, 2016
 
The Ministry of Home Affairs has extended the deadline for Person of Indian Origin card holders to apply for the Overseas Citizen of India card in lieu of Person of Indian Origin card until June 30, 2016. 
 
To view entire article, click here.
 
 
Switzerland, February 29, 2016
First Quarter Quota Exhausted
 
The first-quarter quota for L-permits for EU nationals on assignments lasting more than four months has been exhausted. Employers who wish to send EU nationals on assignment to Switzerland will need to wait until April 1, 2016, when second-quarter quotas become available.
 
To view entire article, click here.
 
 
Colombia, February 26, 2016
Employers Must Comply with Engineers' Permit Report Request
 
Employers of Colombian and foreign engineers who have received a request from the Colombian Professional Board of Engineers must submit a report listing engineers' credentials and other information within 15 business days of the request.
 
To view entire article, click here.
 
 
Canada, February 26, 2016
Parent and Grandparent Application Intake Increased
 
The Parent and Grandparent Program quota has been increased to 10,000 applications for this year, doubling the previous cap of 5,000 applications.
 
To view entire article, click here.
 
 
India, February 26, 2016
Japanese Nationals to be Eligible for Visa-on-Arrival
 
Effective March 1, 2016, Japanese tourists, business visitors, conference attendees and medical visitors who are unable to apply for a regular visa or electronic visa will be eligible for a 30-day visa-on-arrival.
 
To view entire article, click here.
 
 
Romania, February 26, 2016
Work Permit Quotas for 2016 Announced
 
The Romanian Government has announced that 5,500 spots will be available for foreign workers in 2016. The General Immigration Inspectorate will start issuing work authorizations once this information has been published in the Official Gazette of Romania.
 
To view entire article, click here.
 
 
Other Immigration News This Week
 
United States: DHS Pilots Known Employer Program – The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has announced that it is testing a new Known Employer program, which aims to streamline the adjudication of some employment-based immigration benefit requests.  Working with a group of five U.S. employers, the agency is piloting a process by which participating organizations can apply to have USCIS predetermine that they meet corporate requirements before they submit certain types of immigration petitions and applications.  
 
Under the pilot program – which was first announced in January 2015 and was also a part of the White House’s 2015 immigration modernization plan – participating employers will be vetted by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement.  Employers admitted to the program will submit corporate documentation and other evidence to an online library.  USCIS, CBP and State Department officers will use the document library to adjudicate petitions and applications filed by participating employers, who will not be required to resubmit company documents with each individual case.  H-1B, L-1 and TN nonimmigrant classifications and EB-1 outstanding professors/researcher and multinational manager immigrant classifications will be covered by the predetermination.
 
At the close of the yearlong pilot, DHS is expected to issue an assessment of its effectiveness and a plan for permanent implementation if the pilot is deemed successful.
 
Colombia: PIP-5 Category Expanded; PIP-10 Category Eliminated – The recently-introduced PIP-10 entry permit category for nationals of many European Economic Area countries has been eliminated.  Instead, eligible business visitors, tourists, and those entering for medical treatment and to study up to one semester will now be admitted under the PIP-5 permit upon arrival.  The PIP-5 is valid for an initial period of 90 days per calendar year, extendable for an additional 90-day period. If entering for business purposes, the sponsoring Colombian company must still notify Migracion Colombia of the visitor's start and end date within fifteen calendar days on the online notification system.
 
Eligible nationals for the PIP-5 category include those from the following countries: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.
 
Ecuador: Chinese Nationals Eligible for Entry Visa Exemption – Chinese nationals can now enter Ecuador without a visa, but will need to apply for the 12-IX Acts of Commerce Visa after arrival if they will conduct business activities or short-term work, as other visa-exempt nationals, or other visa categories if they intend to stay beyond 90 days. Chinese nationals are no longer required to obtain an entry visa at a consular post abroad.
 
In an effort to increase tourism, Ecuador offers visa-free entry to most travelers, requiring visas for only ten nationalities: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Cuba, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, and Somalia.
 
Japan/Slovakia: Reciprocal Working Holiday Visa Program Forthcoming – Japanese and Slovakian nationals between the ages of 18 and 30 will be able to travel to and work in each others' countries for up to one year without a work permit under the Working Holiday Visa program, which is expected to be implemented in June 2016.  Interested applicants should contact their immigration professional to discuss eligibility and application options.
 
Turkey: Online Residence Permit System Still Down; New Online Payment Requirement – Turkey's online residence permit system is still experiencing technical issues, preventing users from renewing their residence permits and in some cases, booking initial residence card application appointments. Initial and renewal residency permit applicants should continue to expect processing delays. The technical issue mostly results from the migration of data from the old system to the new online system. 
 
The application payment system now requires applicants to provide either a Turkish Foreign Identification number or a Turkish Tax Identification number.  Applicants should contact their immigration professional to discuss the process for obtaining an ID number for themselves and any dependents.   
 
 
Global Immigration News Links
 
House Speaker Paul Ryan announced a vote on whether to file an amicus brief opposing President Obama's immigration executive orders on the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) and expanded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) programs, which were enjoined last year by a Texas federal judge.
 
Following a UK-France summit in Amiens, French President François Hollande warned of the immigration consequences if the UK votes to leave the European Union.
 
Swiss voters defeated a controversial immigration measure that would have meant the mandatory expulsion of foreigners convicted of even minor offences.
 
This alert is for informational purposes only. If you have any questions, please contact the global immigration professional with whom you work at Fragomen.