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Feb 02 2017

Fragomen Immigration Update: January 27 – February 2, 2017

Angola, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Israel, Qatar, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Switzerland, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States

In United States immigration news this week, an entry ban remains in place for certain foreign nationals from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria or Yemen.  The U.S. government has provided some limited guidance on implementation of the order, but the current travel situation remains fluid.

Also in the United States, qualifying citizens of Switzerland can now apply for membership in the Global Entry trusted traveler program. Successful applicants will benefit from expedited U.S. immigration and customs clearance at participating airports.

The UK government published a White Paper setting out Theresa May's plans for leaving the European Union and the government’s strategy as it begins the negotiation period, which will be triggered by Article 50 in the coming months. Denmark has updated the minimum salary for non-EU visa applicants to DKK 408,800 per year. In Belgium, effective March 1, 2017, administrative fees will increase for certain residence permits and long-term visa D applications.

Romania announced that 5,500 work permit spots will be available for foreign workers in 2017.

As of January 1, 2017, Croatian nationals will no longer need to obtain a long stay entry visa in their home country prior to travelling to Switzerland, though they still will require a work permit.

In Israel, a forthcoming visa program will exempt qualifying technology companies from housing and contract requirements, exempt qualifying employees from the medical check requirement and provide faster visa processing.

These items and other news from Angola, Finland, Qatar, Romania, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and the United Kingdom follow in this edition of the Fragomen Immigration Update.

 

Important Updates in Immigration This Week

United States, February 2, 2017
Further Updates on the U.S. Entry Ban

An entry ban remains in place for certain foreign nationals from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria or Yemen.  The U.S. government has provided further updated guidance on implementation of the order, but the current travel situation remains fluid.

To view entire article, click here.

 

United States, February 2, 2017
Global Entry Opens to All Eligible Citizens of Switzerland

Qualifying citizens of Switzerland are now eligible to apply for Global Entry membership. Applicants who meet program requirements and pass a background check can benefit from expedited entry to the United States at designated airports.

To view entire article, click here.

 

United States, January 31, 2017
President Trump Expected to Issue Executive Order on Employment-Based Immigration

The order is expected to direct U.S. immigration agencies to begin a wide-ranging review and revision of employment-based immigration programs, rules and guidance.  It is also expected to direct the Department of Homeland Security to broadly expand the agency's employer site visit program and other audit and investigation functions. The review and some of the investigative actions would begin immediately, but the process and any changes to statute and regulation would likely take many months.

To view entire article, click here.

 

United States, January 27, 2017
President Trump Suspends Entry of Foreign Nationals from Seven Countries

Nonimmigrants, immigrant visa holders and U.S. lawful permanent residents from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen - including dual nationals in one of these countries and another foreign country - will not be permitted to enter the United States until at least April 27, 2017 and possibly longer, under an executive order that was signed today. 

To view entire article, click here.

 

United Kingdom, February 2, 2017
UK Government Publishes White Paper Setting Out Brexit Plans

The government today published a White Paper setting out Theresa May's plans for leaving the European Union. The document restates the 12 principles for Brexit that the Prime Minister set out in last month’s speech, and follows yesterday’s vote by Parliament in favour of triggering Article 50. The Paper sets out the government’s strategy as it begins the negotiation period, which will be triggered by Article 50 in the coming months.

To view entire article, click here..

 

Belgium, February 1, 2017
Substantial Fee Increase for Residence Permit and Visa D Applications

On or after March 1, 2017, administrative fees for certain residence permits and long-term visa D applications will increase, regardless of whether the application is filed with a Belgian diplomatic post abroad or in Belgium.

To view entire article, click here.

 

Switzerland, February 1, 2017
Croatian Nationals Exempt from Entry Visa Requirement

As of January 1, 2017, Croatian nationals do not need to obtain a long stay entry visa in their home country prior to traveling to Switzerland. They will still, however, require a work permit. During an initial transition period, they will continue to be subject to a labor market test and a quota for stays up to four months, however, they will be considered over non-EU/European Economic Area nationals.

To view entire article, click here.

 

Romania, January 31, 2017
Work Permit Quotas for 2017 Announced

The Romanian Government has announced that 5,500 spots will be available for foreign workers in 2017. The General Immigration Inspectorate will start issuing work authorizations as this information has been already published in the Official Gazette of Romania.

To view entire article, click here.

 

Denmark, January 30, 2017
Minimum Salary Level for Non-EU Employees Updated

The Danish Agency for International Recruitment and Integration has amended the minimum salary for non-EU visa applicants due to a technical error. The updated minimum salary level is DKK 408,800 per year.

To view entire article, click here.

 

Israel, January 30, 2017
New Visa Program Forthcoming for Qualifying Technology Companies

Israel is expected to launch a program in the second quarter of 2017 that will exempt qualifying technology companies from housing and contract requirements, exempt qualifying employees from the medical check requirement and provide faster visa processing.

To view entire article, click here.

 

Other Immigration News This Week

Angola: Deadline to Submit List of Employees Approaching – The deadline for employers to submit the annual list of employees to the Ministry of the Public Administration, Labour and Social Security (MAPTSS) is April 30. The submission period is April 1 - April 30 for all companies except those employing seasonal workers, who are subject to different deadlines. Employers should use an online form provided by the Ministry of Labour to submit their list.  Failure to comply with this obligation may result in a penalty. Employers should refer to the Ministry of Labour for details on the submission process.

Finland: Residence Permit Processing Continues to be Delayed; No Status Updates AvailableSince the transfer of pending residence permit applications from the Finnish police to the Finnish Immigration Service at the beginning of 2017, residence permit application processing has been delayed and estimated processing times provided by the police last year are no longer accurate. Calls cannot be made to inquire on the status of applications as immigration officers are not answering phone calls. Requests to expedite are only granted in exceptional circumstances, however, there is now a backlog for these requests as well. Those with pending applications can check the Finnish Immigration Service website for current processing times.

Qatar: Exit Permits Now Free of Charge – The Ministry of Interior announced that exit permits for foreign residents in Qatar are now issued free of charge. Transactions can be processed online through the Ministry’s website, and applicants are not required to present a printed receipt on departure. Previously, sponsors were required to pay QAR 10 for a single exit permit. Foreign nationals must obtain an exit permit before they can depart from Qatar and must also have their sponsor’s consent before their application can be processed.

Qatar: Electronic Employment Contracts Mandatory – Following the implementation of an electronic system for employment contracts, the Ministry of Administrative Development Labour and Social Affairs (MADLSA) has stopped accepting hard copy contracts for employment and immigration purposes. Employers are now required to prepare employment contracts through the MADLSA’s electronic portal. Any additional terms and conditions which cannot be covered in the available template must be prepared as an attachment, which will then be reviewed by the Ministry’s legal department.

Romania: Minimum Wage Increased – Effective February 1, 2017, the national minimum wage has increased to RON 1,450 per month, up from 1,250 per month. This affects the minimum required salary for principal visa applicants accompanied by dependents in Romania since for each dependent, the sponsor’s required salary (which is RON 2,681 for permanent residents/seconded employees, or RON 10,724 for highly-skilled employees) must be increased by the minimum wage to determine whether the principal applicant has the means to support their dependents' stay in Romania.

Saudi Arabia: System Failure Affects Residence Permits Renewal – Employers in Saudi Arabia are unable to renew or transfer their employees’ residence permits due to a failure of the Ministry of Labour and Social Development’s electronic system. The Ministry has yet to announce when the system will be fully functional again. A residence permit renewal in Saudi Arabia must include approvals from the Ministry of Interior (MOI) and the Ministry of Labour and Social Development (MOLSD). Although the MOI’s systems are working normally, the renewal process cannot be completed due to the MOLSD’s system breakdown. Failure to renew a residence permit once triggers a fine to the sponsor of SAR 500, and repeat violations trigger a fine of SAR 1,000 and may result in the foreign national’s deportation from Saudi Arabia. Further, foreign nationals who have not provided renewed residence permits to their banks may have their bank account frozen. Employers may request a penalty exemption from the National Information Centre.

United Arab Emirates: Visitor Visas-On-Arrival to be Extended to Russian Nationals – The UAE Cabinet approved a new law making Russian passport holders eligible for a visa-on-arrival in the UAE, with an allowable stay of up to 30 days. The decision was made during the latest session of the Cabinet, but the first day of the program is yet to be announced. Currently, 48 nationalities are allowed to enter the UAE without applying for a visa before travelling. The visa is stamped at the entry port and is free of charge. Russian passport holders should contact their immigration professional to inquire about the status of the law before they travel.

United Kingdom: EEA Nationals Applying for Residence Visas Subject to Mandatory Forms – Effective February 1, 2017, the Home Office now requires European Economic Area nationals applying for Residence visas in the United Kingdom to submit applications with the prescribed forms and specified documentary evidence. Previously, use of these forms was optional. For more information on the mandatory forms, please visit the Home Office’s website.

 

Global Immigration News Links

U.S. tech companies responded to President Trump’s executive order suspending immigration from seven countries, framing their arguments largely in moral terms.

The New York Times looks at some of the U.S. areas where immigrants from President Trump’s banned seven countries are highly concentrated.

British Prime Minister Theresa May said she wants to see a "seamless, frictionless border" between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland after the United Kingdom leaves the European Union.

A European green card could possibly help the British economy after Brexit, according to the Financial Times.

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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