Virginia, US

Jan 20 2017

Fragomen Immigration Update: January 13 – 19, 2017

Austria, Belarus, Canada, Colombia, India, Ireland, Italy, Panama, Peru, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sweden, Thailand, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States

In United States immigration news this week, a new U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) regulation will allow qualifying entrepreneurs to apply for up to five years of temporary stay if they have established a U.S. start-up that has substantial U.S. investment and the potential for rapid growth and job creation. The rule is set to take effect on July 17, 2017, but its disposition in the new administration is not yet known.

Also in the United States, USCIS is accepting public feedback until April 11, 2017 on a proposal to increase EB-5 investment minimums and other related program changes. Starting January 22, 2017, employers must use the revised edition of the I-9 employment eligibility verification form.

In the United Kingdom, Prime Minister Theresa May highlighted key points on the government's position on Brexit, implying that free movement to the United Kingdom from Europe will likely end, and setting her intention to guarantee the residency rights of EU nationals in the United Kingdom if European countries also grant UK nationals residence rights. Also in the United Kingdom, starting in April 2017, certain Tier 2 visa applicants and their dependents will need to provide a criminal record certificate from any country in which they have lived for 12 months or more in the past 10 years as part of their entry clearance application.

In Ireland, the Economic Migration Policy Unit is seeking input from employers until January 27, 2017 for the Employment Permit Minimum Annual Remuneration thresholds. In Belarus, effective February 12, nationals of 80 countries will be eligible for a visa-free business and tourist stay up to five days if they enter through the Minsk National Airport.

In Thailand, effective February 1, the One Stop Service Centre visa renewal applications will require the 2016 personal income tax returns.

In Saudi Arabia, job advertisements posted by employers on the Taqat portal must now remain posted for at least 45 days, up from the previous 14-day requirement.

These items and other news from Austria, Colombia, India, Ireland, Italy, Panama, Peru, Qatar, Sweden, Thailand, Turkey, United Arab Emirates and the United States follow in this edition of the Fragomen Immigration Update.

 

Important Updates in Immigration This Week

United States, January 18, 2017
Reminder - New Edition of Form I-9 Becomes Mandatory On January 22

USCIS’s new “smart” PDF version of Form I-9, dated 11/14/16, will become mandatory on January 22, 2017.  Until that date, employers can use either the current version or the new version.

To view entire article, click here.

 

United States, January 17, 2017
USCIS Job Portability Rule Takes Effect

With some limitations, the new regulation affords greater job flexibility to foreign nationals awaiting employment-based permanent residence and to nonimmigrants.  It also provides for the automatic extension of work authorization for adjustment applicants and certain other classes of foreign nationals who have filed a timely application to renew an employment authorization document.

To view entire article, click here.

 

United States, January 17, 2017
USCIS Finalizes International Entrepreneur Parole Program

A new U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services regulation will allow qualifying entrepreneurs to apply for up to five years of temporary stay if they have established a U.S. start-up that has substantial U.S. investment and the potential for rapid growth and job creation. The rule is set to take effect on July 17, 2017, but its disposition in the new administration is not yet known.

To view entire article, click here.

 

United States, January 13, 2017
USCIS Proposes Significant Increase in EB-5 Investment Minimums and Other Program Changes

If the USCIS proposed regulation is made final, the EB-5 investment minimum for targeted employment areas (TEAs) would increase by 170%, to $1.35 million, and the minimum for non-TEA investment would increase by 80%, to $1.8 million.  The proposal would also give USCIS the exclusive authority to designate TEAs under stricter standards.  USCIS is accepting public feedback on the proposal through April 11, 2017.

To view entire article, click here.

 

United Kingdom, January 19, 2017
Criminal Record Certificate Requirement for Entry Clearance Process to be Extended

Tier 2 visa applicants who are applying to work in certain occupations within the education, health and social care sectors on or after April 2017 will need to provide a criminal record certificate from any country in which they have lived for 12 months or more in the past 10 years as part of their entry clearance application. The requirement will also apply to their adult dependants. The new requirement may delay documentation gathering during the entry clearance process. Failure to provide the criminal record certificate may result in refusal of the visa.

To view entire article, click here.

 

Saudi Arabia, January 18, 2017
Labour Market Testing Period Extended

Effective immediately, job advertisements posted by employers on the Taqat portal must remain posted for at least 45 days, up from the previous 14-day requirement.

To view entire article, click here.

 

Thailand, January 18, 2017
Initial Board of Investments Work Permit Applicants Subject to Longer Long-Term Visa Process

Effective immediately, employees of companies registered with the Board of Investments filing their initial Work Permit applications to the One Stop Service Center (OSSC) must first obtain their Work Permit booklet from the Employment Department Section before applying for a long-term visa from the Immigration Section. This will delay the application process since it will require an extra appearance at the OSSC.

To view entire article, click here.

 

United Kingdom, January 17, 2017
Prime Minister’s Speech Implies End of Free Movement into the UK and Desire for Residency Rights for UK Nationals in Europe

Prime Minister Theresa May highlighted key points on the UK government's position on Brexit in a speech today, implying that free movement to the United Kingdom from Europe will likely end, and setting her intention to guarantee the residency rights of EU nationals in the United Kingdom if European countries also grant UK nationals residence rights.

To view entire article, click here.

 

Panama, January 17, 2017
New Consular Visa Exemption Eliminates Exemption for EU and Schengen Visa Holders

A new decree replaces the current Consular Visa exemption with a new one only for those holding a valid Australian, Canadian, UK or U.S. multiple-entry visa valid for at least one year from the date of entry and used at least once, for stays up to 90 days. The previous exemption, allowing EU or Schengen country visa holders to qualify for the exemption as well, has been eliminated.

To view entire article, click here.

 

Thailand, January 16, 2017
One Stop Service Centre Visa Renewal Applications to Require 2016 Income Tax Form Starting February 1

On or after February 1, 2017, the One Stop Service Centre will only accept Personal Income Tax Return for 2016 (PND 91) to support long-term visa renewal applications. Applicants may still use their 2015 PND 91 to support applications until February 1. These changes do not apply to companies registered under the Board of Investments.

To view entire article, click here.

 

Belarus, January 13, 2017
New Visa Exemption Created for Business Visitors

On or after February 12, 2017, nationals of 80 countries - including all EU Member States, the United States, Brazil, Indonesia and others - will be eligible for a visa-free business and tourist stay up to five days if they enter through the Minsk National Airport.

To view entire article, click here.

 

India/Austria/United States, January 13, 2017
Biometrics Requirement Introduced in Austria and San Francisco

According to a change in practice, foreign nationals seeking Indian visas in Austria will be subject to biometrics requirements on or after January 23, 2017, and effective immediately, those filing in-person Indian visa applications in San Francisco are subject to biometrics and new pre-appointment requirements. This is in line with efforts to enhance security within the Indian immigration environment.

To view entire article, click here.

 

Ireland, January 13, 2017
Irish Authorities Seeking Input from Employers for Minimum Annual Remuneration Analysis for Foreign Workers

The Economic Migration Policy Unit is seeking stakeholder input for a review of the Employment Permit Minimum Annual Remuneration thresholds, focusing on four employment permit categories: Critical Skills, General, Intra-Company Transfer and Contract for Services. The goal of the review is to consider the appropriateness of the Minimum Annual Remuneration in Ireland. The submission period closes January 27, 2017.

To view entire article, click here.

 

Other Immigration News This Week

United States: DHS Extends TPS for Somalia – The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has extended the designation of Somalia for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for 18 months, from March 18, 2017 through September 17, 2018.

Current Somalia TPS registrants will have from January 17, 2017 through March 20, 2017 to re-register. USCIS will issue new EADs with a September 17, 2018  expiration date to eligible Somalia TPS beneficiaries who timely re-register and apply for EADs under this extension. DHS recognizes that not all re-registrants will receive new EADs before their current EADs expire on March 17, 2017. Accordingly, through this Notice, DHS automatically extends the validity of EADs issued under the TPS designation of Somalia for six months, through September 17, 2017.

Re-registration is limited to persons who have previously registered for TPS under the designation of Somalia and whose applications have been granted. Certain nationals of Somalia (or aliens having no nationality who last habitually resided in Somalia) who have not previously applied for TPS may be eligible to apply under the late initial registration provisions, if they meet at least one of the late initial filing criteria, and all TPS eligibility criteria, including continuous residence in the United States since May 1, 2012, and continuous physical presence in the United States since September 18, 2012.

Colombia: Minimum Salary Increased – The minimum monthly salary has increased to 737.717 Colombian pesos. Visa applicants are subject to this new minimum effective immediately, including those with pending applications.

Colombia: New Online Renewal System for Tourists – The Special Administrative Unit Migración Colombia recently launched an online system for tourists under PIP-5 status to renew their permits online. This new service will expedite the PIP-5 renewal process since tourists will no longer be required to appear at a Migración Colombia office in person. Note that the system is working intermittently during the implementation phase.

Ireland: Critical Skills Employment Permit Holders Policy Reversed -  Due to a reversal of the policy change effected last week, Critical Skills Employment Permit (CSEP) holders can again apply for a Stamp 4, which allows them to work without company sponsorship, even if they have not have completed two years under their current CSEP. Therefore, CSEP holders can again add up time spent on multiple CSEPs to meet this requirement. Applicants with questions about the policy should contact their immigration professional.

Italy: Same-Sex Spouses Now Eligible for Dependent Status – The Italian parliament has published and implemented a law recognizing same-sex civil unions. Therefore, same-sex partners who are legally married in their home country (even before the law became effective) can now qualify as dependents in immigration applications. Previously, only opposite-sex spouses qualified as dependents.  Due to the legal change, foreign nationals who cannot obtain a certificate of no impediment to the union from his or her home country – a document required in Italy to attest that he/she is not already married, that the partners are not blood relatives and other declaration – can submit a self-certification statement instead. Affected foreign nationals should contact their immigration professional to discuss the impact of this change on their immigration application

Italy: Reminder: Deadline for Posted Workers' Notification Approaching - All non-Italian employers sending EU and non-EU employees to work in Italy on a temporary basis must file a secondment notification by January 26, 2017 to comply with new legal obligations for new secondments that started after December 26, 2016 and any secondment that started after July 22, 2016 and will continue past January 26, 2017. New secondment notifications must be filed by midnight on the day preceding the assignment start date to be in compliance with legal obligations. The Italian Ministry of Labor website provides an overview of the current regulation. Employers should work with their immigration professional to ensure they comply with the new regulations.

Peru: Registration Process Delayed - Due to the large amount of Venezuelan nationals entering Peru and requesting temporary residence, the registration process at Interpol (the office that issues a report required for the immigration process) is delayed, causing lines to form as early as the night before an appointment. Those in line after the first 100 people are being turned away and asked to return the following day. Client teams will coordinate with those seeking the Interpol report in Peru for the applicant to arrive at Interpol while a representative waits on line. Interpol registration is required only for Resident Worker Visa applicants and extension of Appointed Worker visa applications.

Qatar: Block Visa Requirement for Sponsorship Transfers Cancelled – The Ministry of Administrative Development Labour and Social Affairs (MADSLA) has eliminated the requirement that new sponsors obtain block visa approval for male applicants in the case of sponsorship transfers. The requirement for a block visa remains unchanged for female applicants. Foreign nationals who seek to change employers within the private sector must still notify their current employer at least 30 days before the expiration of their employment contract for fixed-term and open-ended contracts where the duration of the service is up to five years. For open-ended contracts where the duration of service is more than five years, the required notice is 60 days. The request must be registered through the MADSLA’s website.

Additionally, individuals of 60 years and above are no longer restricted from the sponsorship transfer process.

Sweden: Work and Residence Permit Delays – The Swedish Migration Agency has reported longer processing times for work and residence permit applications due to the strict assessment of salary and insurance coverage. Foreign nationals should expect a one- to two-month backlog for initial work permit applications and an approximately five-month backlog for work permit extensions. Initial applications with previous work permit history in Sweden in the past seven years should also expect an approximately five-month backlog. Further delays are possible. Affected applicants should contact their immigration professional to discuss the effect of the delays.

Turkey: New Citizenship Category for Foreign Investors – Effective immediately, the below foreign investors now qualify to apply for citizenship (in lieu of the residency requirement or marriage to a Turkish national):

·         Those who have has invested at least USD 2 million as a free capital investment (as proven to the Ministry of Economy);
·         Those who have invested at least USD 1 million in real estate in Turkey, bought with a deed restriction which blocks selling for three years (as proven to the Ministry of Environment and Urbanization);
·         Those who employ at least 100 employees (as proven to the Ministry of Labor);
·         Those who have invested at least USD 3 million for three years with an active Turkish bank (as proven to the Committee on Banking Supervision); and
·         Those who have invested at least 3 million in the Turkish government’s debt with a deed restriction which blocks selling for three years (as proven to the Under-Secretariat for the Treasury).

Interested applicants should contact their immigration professional to discuss procedures for the new regulations. We worked closely with the Bener Law Office of Istanbul to prepare this update.

UAE: Dubai Free Zone Requires Representative's Personal Appearance for Electronic Signature Process – The Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC) Free Zone Authority has announced that on or after January 22, 2017, only electronic signatures will be accepted for employment-related services (e.g. employment contract). Therefore, companies in the DMCC Free Zone must appoint at least one authorized signatory to immediately enroll their e-signature online and to visit one of the DMCC offices with the representative's valid passport, UAE residence permit or Emirates ID Card for verification. Companies can appoint a shareholder, director, license manager, secretary, legal representative or any active employee as an authorized signatory. An authorized signatory cannot sign documents for themselves, therefore it is important that more than one signatory represent the business. Employers can contact their immigration professional for registration assistance.

 

Global Immigration News Links

President-elect Trump has promised a revamped immigration plan that is both “very firm” but will also “have a lot of heart” for undocumented immigrants in difficult situations, Politico reports.

The Obama Administration has repealed a measure granting automatic residency to most Cubans who arrived in the United States, whether or not they had visas.

Forty-one percent of Americans are satisfied with the current level of immigration into the country, a higher percentage than at any time since Gallup began tracking this issue in 2001.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that he will speak in defence of immigration in talks with U.S. President-elect Donald Trump.

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.