Virginia, US

Mar 10 2017

Fragomen Immigration Update: March 3 – 9, 2017

Bolivia, Canada, Colombia, European Union, Hong Kong, Hungary, Italy, Panama, Peru, Spain, United Arab Emirates, United States

In United States immigration news this week, President Trump’s new executive order imposes an entry ban on foreign nationals from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen, effective 12:01am ET on March 16.  The ban does not apply to U.S. lawful permanent residents, dual nationals holding a passport from a non-restricted country and foreign nationals who hold a valid U.S. visa.

Starting April 3, 2017, USCIS is suspending premium processing of all H-1B filings, including cap-exempt filings, extensions, amendments and changes of employer. The suspension will be in effect for up to six months.

Also in the United States, cutoff dates for final issuance of an immigrant visa will advance by one month for EB-2 China and three weeks for EB-2 India, according to the State Department's April Visa Bulletin. Final action dates for EB-3 will advance by five months for China and two and a half months for most other countries, with little movement for EB-3 India.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) launched a new permanent residence pilot program for skilled foreign nationals and international student graduates in the Atlantic provinces called the Atlantic Immigration Pilot Program.

In the European Union, the European Parliament passed a resolution asking the European Commission to end the short-term visa exemption for U.S. citizens traveling to the European Union. There is no immediate impact of this resolution for U.S. citizens traveling to the European Union.

These items and other news from Bolivia, Colombia, Hong Kong, Hungary, Italy, Panama, Peru, Spain, the United Arab Emirates and the United States follow in this edition of the Fragomen Immigration Update.

 

Important Updates in Immigration This Week

United States, March 9, 2017
April 2017 Visa Bulletin: Final Action Dates Advance for EB-2 China and India, EB-3 China and Worldwide

In April, the cutoff dates for final action on an immigrant visa will advance by one month for EB-2 China and three weeks for EB-2 India. Final action dates for EB-3 will advance by five months for China and two and a half months for most other countries, with little movement for EB-3 India. Cutoff dates for filing eligibility will not advance in any backlogged category.

To view entire article, click here.

 

United States, March 6, 2017
President Trump Signs Revised Entry Ban

The new executive order imposes an entry ban on foreign nationals from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen, effective 12:01am ET on March 16.  Nationals of Iraq are not subject to the ban. The ban does not apply to U.S. lawful permanent residents, dual nationals holding a passport from a non-restricted country and foreign nationals who hold a valid U.S. visa. 

To view entire article, click here.

 

United States, March 3, 2017
USCIS to Suspend H-1B Premium Processing Starting April 3

The suspension will affect H-1B cap cases, as well as cap-exempt filings, extensions, amendments and changes of employer, and will be in effect for up to six months. Premium processing will remain available for other nonimmigrant petitions filed on Form I-129, including L-1 and O-1 petitions, and for eligible I-140 petitions.

To view entire article, click here.

 

Italy, March 8, 2017
Guidelines Issued for New EU Intracompany Transferee Work Permit Category

Guidelines on the new EU Intracompany Transferee (ICT) Permit category have been released. Key rules include a statutory processing time of 45 days from the date of filing, a mandatory three-month cooling-off period and the introduction of specific reasons for the denial of an ICT Permit application, among other rules. Since the previous work permit category available for ICTs is no longer available, holders of this work permit may have difficulty extending their permit past its expiration.

To view entire article, click here.

 

Canada, March 7, 2017
New Permanent Residence Pilot Program Launched in Atlantic Provinces

A new permanent residence pilot program is available in the Atlantic provinces for skilled foreign nationals and international student graduates, called the Atlantic Immigration Pilot Program. While their permanent residence application is being processed, applicants who receive a job offer from an employer and a Referral Letter issued by one of the Atlantic Provinces are eligible to apply for a Labour Market Impact Assessment-exempt work permit valid for one year or until the expiry of the travel document, whichever is earlier.

To view entire article, click here.

 

European Union, March 7, 2017
European Parliament Approves Resolution Regarding Visa Exemption for U.S. Citizens

The European Parliament has passed a resolution asking the European Commission to end the short-term visa exemption for U.S. citizens traveling to the European Union. This exemption allows tourism and business travel up to 90 days in any 180-day period. There is no immediate impact for U.S. citizens traveling to the European Union. If upon review, the European Commission determines that the resolution is sufficient, it can suspend the U.S. visa exemption for 12 months.  However, the European Parliament or Council may object to such a decision within four months of its adoption. 

To view entire article, click here.

 

Other Immigration News This Week

United States: Latest PERM and PWD Processing Times – As of March 3, 2017, the Department of Labor (DOL) was conducting analyst review for PERM applications filed in December 2016 or earlier, and processing audited cases filed in July 2016 or earlier. There is no update on the government error queue. DOL is working on standard reconsideration requests submitted in December 2016 or earlier.

DOL is issuing prevailing wage determinations (PWD) for PERM and H-1B requests filed in November 2016. The agency has been processing PERM and H-1B redeterminations requested in November 2016, and PERM and H-1B center director reviews requested in November 2016.

PERM and PWD processing times are available on the iCERT home page.

United States: USCIS Updates H-2B Cap Count – USCIS reports that as of March 7, 2017, it had received filings on behalf of 36,136 H-2B beneficiaries for the second half of FY 2017. Of these, 24,787 had been approved and 11,349 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 employ fewer H-2B beneficiaries than reflected in their petitions.  

United States: Automatic EAD Extension for Beneficiaries Under El Salvador’s TPS Designation – On July 8, 2016, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary extended the designation of El Salvador for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for a period of 18 months by notice in the Federal Register. Through the same notice, DHS automatically extended for six months the validity of EADs issued under the TPS designation of El Salvador with a September 9, 2016 expiration date printed on the card. These EADs are currently valid through March 9, 2017. USCIS is now automatically extending the validity of these EADs for an additional six months, through September 9, 2017. For Form I-9 employment eligibility verification purposes, employers may accept a TPS-related EAD with a September 9, 2016 expiration date, along with a copy of the most recent Federal Register notice.

Bolivia: Yellow Fever Vaccination Certificate Now Required – Due to a recent outbreak of yellow fever, the Bolivian Health Ministry now requires all travelers entering and leaving the country (including Bolivian nationals) to present a yellow fever vaccination card upon entry/exit. Vaccinations must be completed at least 10 days before entering or exiting the country. Any exceptions will depend on the policies of each specific airline.

Bolivia: Registration Required for Business Visitors and Short-Term Workers – The immigration authorities have clarified that business visitors and short-term workers under the Special Purpose Visa (Visa de Objeto Determinado) are also subject to the registration requirement implemented in late January. Therefore, all foreign nationals, and not just those under a residence visa, must register online before immigration by April 2017. Penalties are likely to be implemented for those who fail to register in time.

Colombia: Commercial and Tax Registration Renewals Deadline Approaching - Colombian employers must renew their Commercial Registration with the Colombian Chamber of Commerce before March 31 and the Tax Declaration between April and May 2017, depending on their Tax Identification Number (NIT). Those who fail to do so cannot continue to employ or hire foreign nationals. Since the registration is a corporate law obligation and the tax declaration a tax matter, employers should contact their Colombian corporate law specialist or coordinate with their human resources department to plan the renewal process for the Commercial Registration and their tax advisors for the Tax Declaration. 

Hong Kong: Visa Requirements Relaxed for Cambodian Nationals – Cambodian nationals can now apply to enter Hong Kong for employment (under the General Employment Policy or the Supplementary Labour Scheme), for investment (to establish or join in business), or to train and study. They may also apply for entry under the Quality Migrant Admission Scheme, the Immigration Arrangements for Non-local Graduates and the Admission Scheme for the Second Generation of Chinese Hong Kong Permanent Residents. Previously, they were restricted from obtaining such visas in Hong Kong.

Hungary: Single Permit Processing Delays Ahead - A reorganization at the Hungarian Immigration Office is delaying the processing of the single permit to approximately 70 days (up from the typical 30-50 days) for third-country assignees. The delays are expected to last through May. It is not currently possible to expedite the process (which decreases processing times to four-five weeks), although this should be available again in the future.

Additionally, nationals of countries who are required to undergo additional national security checks should expect additional delays. In such cases, the assignee must attend a two-three hour interview at the Immigration Office before permit approval following the Labor Office's employment approval. A Fragomen representative can attend the interview to serve as an interpreter for an additional fee.

Panama: New Announcement Seemingly Retracts Quota Requirement for Foreign Professionals and Specific Countries Visas – The Ministry of Labor has issued a communication to clarify the most recent announcement regarding new documentary requirements for Foreign Professional and Specific Countries. The communication states that the labor contract and payroll document are only required for the Ministry to verify the job title and functions that the foreign national will perform, and to verify that the hiring company has the worker signed up for Social Security benefits. Presumably, therefore, the quota restriction of 90% Panamanians for non-technical personnel or 85% Panamanians where the foreign nationals are technical, managerial or specialized personnel, will not be applied to these visa categories. Due to the uncertainty of the application of this announcement, affected foreign nationals should contact their immigration professional.

Peru: Visa Exemption to be Introduced for Indian Nationals – On or after March 26, 2017, Indian nationals with a valid passport who enter Peru as a tourist or business visitor will be exempt from a Temporary Visa for visits up to 180 calendar days in a year if they hold a visa with a minimum validity of six months for, or permanent residence in, Australia, Canada, a Schengen country, the United States or the United Kingdom. Eligible foreign nationals should contact their immigration professional for more information about the exemption.

Spain: Teleworking Now Requires Work Permit – The immigration authorities have clarified that teleworking now requires a residence permit with work authorization. Teleworking is defined as any labor activity undertaken remotely from the physical office of the Spanish company. Foreign nationals who telework without a work or residence permit and their employers are subject to fines ranging from EUR 501 to 10,000 for the foreign worker and EUR 10,001 to 100,000 for the employer.

United Arab Emirates: Domestic Workers’ Applications Now Processed by Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation – The Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation has (MOHRE) been transferred the responsibility of processing employment applications for the domestic workers category from the Ministry of Interior. This change initially applies only to applications from the Emirate of Dubai; other Emirates are expected to join the program in the second quarter of 2017. The process now involves the Tas’heel Service Centers processing the applications, and the respective General Directorate of Residence and Foreigners Affairs issuing the employment entry permit electronically and endorsing the employment residence permit. Previously, the entire process was handled by the Ministry of Interior, and obtaining work permit approval was not required. Lastly, employment contracts must be printed on new templates provided by the MOHRE.

 

Global Immigration News Links

Legal challenges against U.S. President Trump’s revised travel ban sprung as Washington state renewed its request to block the executive order, along with New York and Oregon, a day after Hawaii launched its own lawsuit.

The Migration Policy Institute published its annual compilation of current and historical U.S. immigration statistics, including a detailed look at the nation’s 43.3 million immigrants.

According to a UK House of Lords report, Brexit will not guarantee reduced 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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