Virginia, US

May 05 2017

Weekly Immigration Update: April 28 – May 4, 2017

Angola, Canada, China, Costa Rica, Estonia, European Union, Malaysia, Taiwan, Thailand, United Kingdom, United States

In United States immigration news this week, Congress passed a spending bill which funds the federal government through FY 2017, reauthorizes E-Verify, the EB-5 Regional Center program and other expiring immigration programs through September 30, 2017, and provides limited cap relief for the H-2B program. The President is expected to sign the bill soon.

Also in the United States, beginning May 8, all qualifying citizens of Argentina will be eligible to apply for membership in the Global Entry trusted traveler program, which facilitates expedited U.S. immigration and customs clearance at participating airports. The State Department has selected the winners of the FY 2018 Diversity Visa Lottery; lottery entrants must check the State Department's official Diversity Visa Lottery website to learn whether they have been chosen. In H-1B news, USCIS has completed data entry for FY 2018 H-1B cap cases.

In the European Union, the European Commission has decided against the suspension of the visa waiver program for U.S. citizens. In EU-United Kingdom news, heads of EU Member States adopted Brexit negotiation guidelines and the European Commission presented its recommendation for a negotiation mandate, which must be approved by the European Council on May 22.

In Canada, the initiative to restrict the application window for ports of entry in Southern Ontario has been delayed until further notice. Foreign nationals may still attempt Permanent Residence landings and may still apply for new work permits at these ports of entry.

Estonia has created a residence permit for intracompany transferees, and new residence permit categories for investors and startup employees, among other changes.

Starting June 1, Taiwan will extend the visa exemption for nationals of Brunei and Thailand; grant visa-exempt status for Philippine nationals; allow nationals of Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam to obtain two-year multiple-entry visas on the online visa portal; and expand the electronic visa eligible countries list.

Angolan authorities have amended a presidential decree that will grant employers and foreign nationals greater flexibility in employment agreements.

These items and other news from Canada, China, Costa Rica, Estonia, Malaysia, Thailand and the United States follow in this edition of the Fragomen Immigration Update.

 

Important Updates in Immigration This Week

United States, May 4, 2017
Congress Passes Spending Bill; Key Immigration Programs Reauthorized

The bill funds the federal government through FY 2017 and reauthorizes E-Verify,  the EB-5 Regional Center program and other expiring immigration programs through September 30, 2017.  It also provides limited cap relief for the H-2B program.  The President is expected to sign the bill soon.

To view entire article, click here.

 

United States, May 3, 2017
USCIS Completes FY 2018 H-1B Cap Data Entry

USCIS has finished initial data entry of all FY 2018 H-1B cap cases selected in the lottery.  Receipting of H-1B cap cases is expected to continue for at least several more days.  USCIS will soon begin to return unselected cases and fee checks to petitioners, but has not identified a time frame for returns. 

To view entire article, click here.

 

United States, May 2, 2017
U.S. State Department Selects FY 2018 Diversity Visa Lottery Winners

Lottery entrants must check the State Department's official Diversity Visa Lottery website to learn whether they have been chosen.  The State Department does not send direct notification to lottery winners. Successful entrants can submit an application for permanent residence during FY 2018, which begins on October 1, 2017.

To view entire article, click here.

 

United States, May 1, 2017
Global Entry Opens to All Eligible Citizens of Argentina

Qualifying citizens of Argentina will be eligible to apply for Global Entry membership beginning May 8. 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.

 

European Union/United States, May 4, 2017
European Commission Decides Not to Suspend Visa Waiver for U.S. Citizens

The European Commission has decided against the suspension of the visa waiver program for U.S. citizens due to its belief that it would be counter-productive to do so.  In its decision, the Commission also considered the United States' long-standing commitment to admit Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Poland and Romania to the U.S. Visa Waiver Program once they have met the requirements stipulated by the related U.S. legislation. Until the visa waiver reciprocity issues that triggered the consideration of this measure are resolved, nationals of Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Poland and Romania must continue to obtain consular visas prior to travelling to the United States for business or tourism.

To view entire article, click here.

 

Canada, May 4, 2017
Southern Ontario Ports of Entry Application Submission Window Restriction Delayed

The initiative to restrict the application window for ports of entry in Southern Ontario (Queenston-Lewiston Bridge, Niagara Falls Rainbow Bridge, and Fort Erie Peace Bridge) has been delayed until further notice. Therefore, foreign nationals may still attempt Permanent Residence landings and may still apply for new work permits at these ports of entry.

To view entire article, click here.

 

Costa Rica, May 4, 2017
Accredited Companies Eligible for Streamlined Identification Card Appointment

Effective immediately, immigration authorities have implemented a streamlined process that will allow accredited companies to schedule registration appointments in order to obtain an identification card for initial and renewal residency card applications, change of employer or change of status processes on behalf of their foreign employees for a much sooner date than before.

To view entire article, click here.

 

European Union/United Kingdom, May 4, 2017
Brexit Negotiation Guidelines Adopted; Negotiation Mandate Recommendation Presented by the European Commission

On April 29, 2017, heads of EU Member States adopted Brexit negotiation guidelines and on May 3, the European Commission presented its recommendation for a negotiation mandate, which must be approved by the Council of the European Union on May 22. The first priority of the negotiations is safeguarding the status and the rights derived from EU law for EU citizens residing and/or working in the United Kingdom and vice versa. Talks with the United Kingdom regarding this mandate will most likely begin in June 2017, after the General Election in Britain.

To view entire article, click here.

 

Taiwan, May 4, 2017
New Visa Exemptions and Online Application Eligibility to be Expanded

Starting June 1, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will extend the visa exemption for nationals of Brunei and Thailand, grant Philippine nationals visa-exempt status on a trial basis for one year, allow nationals of Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam to obtain two-year multiple-entry visas on the online visa portal and expand the eVisa eligible countries list.

To view entire article, click here.

 

Angola, May 3, 2017
Amendments Grant Employers and Foreign Nationals Greater Flexibility in Employment Agreements

Angolan authorities have lifted the restrictions on the currency of foreign nationals' salary, the requirement to limit benefits or allowances to 50% of the foreign worker's base salary and the maximum duration of employment agreements.

To view entire article, click here.

 

Malaysia, May 3, 2017
Processing Delays Expected During Holiday Closures in June 2017

Due to the observance of Hari Raya Aidilfitri, the eXpats Service Centre will be closed June 23 through June 27, resuming operations on June 28, 2017. MSC Malaysia status and Information Communication Technology- sector companies should submit applications early to ensure receipt of approvals and endorsements prior to the closure period.

To view entire article, click here.

 

China, May 3, 2017
U.S. Diploma Holders Subject to New Notarization Requirement

Effective immediately, Chinese work authorization applicants with U.S. university diplomas must either have their university registrar certify their diploma before a notary, or, in certain locations, may certify the diploma themselves before having it notarized. Fragomen can no longer certify and notarize copies of foreign nationals' diplomas on their behalf. This may result in extended legalization processing times and delayed work authorization approvals in China.  Applicants with pending applications where diplomas were already certified by another process must withdraw their application and obtain a diploma certified under the new method.

To view entire article, click here.

 

Estonia, May 2, 2017
New Residence Permit for Intracompany Transferees and Investors; New Residence Permit Exemption

A new law has created a residence permit for intracompany transferees, with a requirement for the employee to be placed on local payroll. It also creates new residence permit categories for investors and startup employees, increases the validity period for short-term employment and creates a new short-term residence permit exemption, among other changes.

To view entire article, click here.

 

Thailand, April 28, 2017
Receipt from Revenue Department Required for Long-Term Visa Applications Filed with One Stop Service Center

On or after May 1, 2017, foreign nationals filing initial and renewal long-term visa applications at the One Stop Service Center must include the original receipt issued by the Revenue Department for payment received in connection with the certification of relevant tax documents. Companies registered with the Board of Investments are exempt from this requirement.

To view entire article, click here.

 

Weekly News Briefs

United States: State Department Proposes Expansion of Visa Application Questions for Vetting Purposes – The State Department is proposing an expansion of visa application questions in order to more rigorously evaluate applicants for terrorism or other national security-related visa ineligibilities, according to a notice published Thursday in the Federal Register. The proposal stems from a presidential memorandum, which directed the Departments of Homeland Security, State and Justice to implement more stringent vetting of applicants and petitions for immigration benefits. An emergency review and approval of this information collection has been requested from the Office of Management and Budget by May 18, and, if granted, the emergency approval is valid for 180 days.

The agency is proposing to ask visa applicants for their travel history, including source of funds; address/employment history; social media platforms and identifiers used; among other biographic information. Although some of this information is already collected on visa applications, some requests are new. Applicants may also be requested to provide details of their international or domestic (within their country of nationality) travel, if it appears to the consular officer that the applicant has been in an area while the area was under the operational control of a terrorist organization, and may also be asked to explain the details of their travel, and when possible, provide supporting documentation.

United States: Senate Confirms Acosta as Secretary of Labor – On April 28, 2017, R. Alexander Acosta was sworn in as the 27th Secretary of Labor. Most recently, Secretary Acosta served as the dean of the FIU College of Law. He has also served in three presidentially appointed, Senate-confirmed positions, as a member of the National Labor Relations Board, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, and as the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida.

United States: DHS Announces New CIS Ombudsman Julie Kirchner – Department of Homeland (DHS) Secretary John Kelly announced the appointment of Julie Kirchner as Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS) Ombudsman. Ms. Kirchner, who is most widely known for her work as the executive director of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), most recently served as an advisor to the Acting Commissioner of Customs and Border Protection, Kevin McAleenan. Prior to her role with FAIR, Ms. Kirchner worked as counsel at the Minnesota House of Representatives and as a private litigator and criminal prosecutor.  

Canada: Dependents' Permanent Residence Rules Relaxed – Effective immediately, the age of dependents eligible for permanent residence has increased to 21 from 18 years old.

Additionally, the requirement for spouses or partners to cohabitate with their permanent resident spouses for two years to qualify for permanent residence has been eliminated.

Estonia: New Minimum Salary Scheme for Non-EU Employees – Effective immediately, non-EU employees must earn at least the average gross salary of Estonia (currently EUR 1,146 in Bruto), instead of the previous rule requiring that they earn at least 1.24 times the average gross salary of Estonia. Non-EU employees already in Estonia and those with pending work permit applications are not impacted by this change and must continue to meet the previous standard until they renew their permit.

 

Global Immigration News Links

In a pair of reports, the Migration Policy Institute reveals a changed reality at the U.S.-Mexico border, and a significant decline in attempted re-entries by unauthorized border crossers over the past several years.

In a report by The Institute for Government, a group of academics and experts urge Britain’s government to accept that a new immigration system will not be ready by the time Britain leaves the European Union in April 2019, and argue that Britain will likely accept the free movement of people until a new immigration system is ready to be put into place.

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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