Virginia, US

Aug 11 2017

Weekly Immigration Update: August 4 – 10, 2017

Colombia, Denmark, Egypt, Ivory Coast, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Pakistan, Republic of the Philippines, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States, Vietnam

In United States immigration news this week, worldwide EB-2 final action cutoff dates will advance for all countries, while EB-3 cutoff dates will advance for India and the Philippines, and remain unchanged for China and current for most other countries, according to the State Department’s September Visa Bulletin. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has determined that it will only accept employment-based adjustment applications from foreign nationals with a priority date that is current for final action under the State Department's September Visa Bulletin.

In the United Kingdom, the Migration Advisory Committee issued a Call for Evidence, seeking comments on the potential social and economic impacts of the United Kingdom's exit from the European Union and the alignment of the UK immigration system with a modern industrial strategy. The deadline for responses is October 27, 2017. Fragomen can assist clients in preparing responses.

Effective November 1 in Colombia, a new immigration law will reclassify existing immigration categories and create new processes and requirements. Effective August 14, foreign nationals in the Ivory Coast must apply for a biometric residence card to replace their temporary residence cards.

These items and other news from Denmark, Egypt, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Philippines, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, Vietnam and the United States follow in this edition of the Fragomen Immigration Update.

Important Updates in Immigration This Week

United States, August 10, 2017
September Visa Bulletin Update: USCIS to Honor Employment-Based Final Action Dates Only Next Month

In September, USCIS will only accept employment-based adjustment applications from foreign nationals with a priority date that is current for final action under the State Department's September Visa Bulletin.

To view entire article, click here.

United States, August 9, 2017
September 2017 Visa Bulletin: Worldwide EB-2 Advances; EB-3 Remains Current For Many Countries and Advances for India

In the EB-2 category, final action cutoff dates will advance for most countries by nine months. EB-2 China will advance by three weeks and EB-2 India will advance by one month. EB-3 cutoff dates will advance by three months for India, five months for the Philippines, and will remain current for most other countries except China, which will remain unchanged. EB-1 India and China will remain backlogged.

To view entire article, click here.

Nicaragua, August 10, 2017
New Document Required for Entry

All foreign nationals entering Nicaragua for purposes other than tourism must obtain a host company representative’s signature on a new entry request form. The form takes at least seven business days to process. Those without the form will not be allowed entry into Nicaragua.

To view entire article, click here.

Ivory Coast, August 10, 2017
New Biometric Residence Cards Introduced

Due to the introduction of a new biometric residence card system, on or after August 14, 2017, foreign nationals in the Ivory Coast must apply for a biometric residence card to replace their temporary residence cards.

To view entire article, click here.

Colombia, August 9, 2017
New Immigration Law to be Introduced November 1, 2017

A new immigration law that will reclassify existing immigration categories and create new processes and requirements will go into effect on November 1, 2017. Current visa conditions are valid, and visas under the current system will continue to be granted until then.

To view entire article, click here.

United Kingdom, August 4, 2017
Call for Evidence Regarding Brexit Released

The Migration Advisory Committee released a Call for Evidence with questions about the potential social and economic impacts of the United Kingdom's exit from the European Union and how the UK immigration system could be aligned with a modern industrial strategy. The deadline for responses is October 27, 2017. Fragomen can assist clients in preparing responses.

To view entire article, click here.

Weekly News Briefs

United States: DOL Releases Proposed Revisions to LCA Form – The Department of Labor (DOL) has proposed changes to Forms ETA 9035 & 9035E for the Labor Condition Application (LCA). A completed LCA is required for the filing of an H-1B, H-1B1 or E-3 nonimmigrant visa petition. The agency is accepting public comments on the proposed form changes through October 2, 2017.

Among the key proposed changes:

·         Employers would be required to indicate whether any H-1B/E-3/H-1B1 employees would be placed at third-party worksites and to name the third-party organizations.

·         Employers would be required to specify the number of workers who would work at each location listed in the LCA.

·         Employers who are H-1B dependent or willful violators would be required to specify the basis for any exemption from the additional attestations and provide additional information about exempt employees in an appendix.

United States: Latest PERM and PWD Processing Times – As of July 31, 2017, the Department of Labor (DOL) was conducting analyst review for PERM applications filed in May 2017 or earlier, and processing audited cases filed in January 2017 or earlier. There is no update on the government error queue. DOL is working on standard reconsideration requests submitted in July 2017 or earlier.

With regard to prevailing wage determinations (PWDs), DOL is processing initial PERM and H-1B requests filed in May 2017, PERM PWD redeterminations requested in January 2017, and H-1B PWD redeterminations requested in May 2017. The Department is all PWD center director reviews requested in May 2017.    

This report is available on the iCERT homepage.

Denmark: Delays in Application Processing – The Danish Agency for International Recruitment and Integration has stated that it is currently unable to meet the service goals for processing work and residence permit applications. As such, delays of up to 10 days should be expected for all work and residence permit applications.

Egypt: Certificate of Movement Required for Applicants Who Exited During Application Processing – Foreign nationals who exit and re-enter Egypt after submitting a residency permit application will face a suspension of their visa endorsement process until they have obtained a Certificate of Movement from the main Immigration Authority. The Certificate serves as a proof of immigration status, and indicates the reason the endorsement was not effected immediately after submitting the residency permit application, as is typically required. The Certificate is processed internally by the Immigration Authority and the foreign national’s involvement is not required. Foreign nationals cannot travel internationally during the processing of the Certificate. Following the issuance of the Certificate, the applicant must complete the visa endorsement process to depart Egypt.

Nigeria: Residence Permit Applicants Will be Required to Apply for National Identity Number – Foreign nationals seeking to apply for a residence permit will have to apply for a new national identity number on or after January 1, 2018. Failure to apply for an identity number will preclude the foreign national from applying for a residence permit. The national identity number system will be implemented to allow immigration authorities to better monitor the influx of foreign nationals. Fragomen will report on further information on the application process once it becomes available.

Pakistan: Personal Appearance at the Ministry of Interior No Longer Required for Short-Term Visa Renewal – Effective immediately, foreign nationals renewing their visitor visas in Pakistan are no longer required to obtain Ministry of Interior (MOI) approval if the extension is for less than three months. As a result, foreign nationals will only have to appear at the respective Regional Passport Office to submit their immigration application.  Foreign nationals who require a renewal of more than three months must still appear at the MOI office for visa application submission and approval.

Philippines: Proof of Publication Required for 9(g) Visa Applications – Effective immediately, foreign nationals applying for a 9(g) Pre-Arranged Employment Visa must now submit proof of publication of their Alien Employment Permit (AEP) application. To comply with this requirement, they can submit the original newspaper clippings of the published AEP application containing the name of the visa applicant and petitioning company, or in its absence, a Certification of Publication issued by the newspaper publisher. Previously, applicants were only required to submit a certified true copy of the approved AEP as proof of AEP filing. Fragomen can assist with securing the publication or the certification prior to filing the 9(g) visa application. Existing 9(g) visa processing times are not expected to be significantly affected by this new rule.

Turkey: New Visa Exemption for Nationals of Kuwait – Kuwaiti passport holders are now visa exempt when entering Turkey for the purposes of business or tourism. They may remain in Turkey under visa-exempt status for up to 90 days in a 180-day period. Those who enter under this status cannot work in Turkey without a work permit.

United Arab Emirates: Saudi Arabian Embassy Suspends Commercial and Working Visit Visas for Muslims During Hajj – The Saudi Arabian Mission in the United Arab Emirates has suspended processing Saudi Commercial and Working Visit Visas for Muslims of all nationalities whose invitation letters and pre-approved visa notifications are processed in the cities of Mecca, Jeddah and Medina until the end of September. Non-Muslim applicants can apply for Saudi visas as usual during this period. Muslim applicants with invitation letters and pre-approved visa notifications for Commercial and/or Working Visit Visas from the cities of Riyadh and Al-Khobar are not subject to the suspension. Normal visa processing will resume only after the Hajj season is concluded. This is a typical annual suspension to allow the Saudi authorities to control migration during the Hajj. Instead of the above visas, Muslims can file for Hajj visas during this period, preferably in their home location, however, this visa category is strictly for pilgrimage and does not allow work. 

United Arab Emirates: Sponsorship of Dependents Now Requires Tenancy Agreement from Abu Dhabi – Foreign nationals in Abu Dhabi must now provide tenancy agreements registered in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi to support new and renewed residency permits for their dependents. Applicants with tenancy contracts from other emirates will be turned away by the Immigration Authority. Exceptions are made for sponsoring individuals who can provide a company letter in Arabic with their employer confirming that they have a legal entity in the emirate where the tenancy contact is registered. Such requests are reviewed on a case-by-case basis by an immigration officer who then makes a final decision.

Vietnam: New Business Visa Filing Process in Ho Chi Minh City – Effective immediately, immigration authorities in Ho Chi Minh City have adopted a new process for Multiple Entry Business Visa (MEBV) applications. Under the new process, Fragomen can help complete and print a unique official Application Form known as NA-2  in the Immigration Department's online portal. This is then signed by the local company representative before being physically filed with the local immigration authorities for approval. This replaces the previous method of filling a pre-printed copy of an Application Form known as Form NA-18. This process change is not expected to extend to other provinces in Vietnam nor have any significant impact on current processing times of MEBV applications filed in Ho Chi Minh City.

Global Immigration News Links

The National Foundation for American Policy (NFAP) analyzes the impact of a points-based immigration system on agriculture and other business sectors, in light of the recently introduced RAISE Act, a bill that, if approved, would replace the current employment-based green card system with a points-based system.

U.S. states passed 90 percent more legislation related to immigration in the first half of 2017 than in all of 2016, according to a report from the National Conference of State Legislatures, a bipartisan national organization for state lawmakers.

Bloomberg provides insight into what businesses expect from the eventual Brexit deal.

Employers are facing more difficulties in recruiting staff as the number of candidates for jobs shrinks in the UK due to Brexit.

This alert is for informational purposes only. If you have any questions, please contact the global immigration professional with whom you work at Fragomen.