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Mar 02 2018

Weekly Immigration Update: February 23 – March 1, 2018

Argentina, Australia, Azerbaijan, Czech Republic, Honduras, Iraq, Ireland, Israel, Poland, Turkey, United Kingdom, United States, Venezuela

In United States immigration news, a new USCIS policy requires H-1B employers to disclose detailed information about vendor and end-client relationships when petitioning for employees who will be placed at third-party sites.

The U.S. Supreme Court declined the Trump Administration’s request to review a federal district court order that temporarily enjoined the Administration from terminating the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will continue to accept DACA renewal applications until further notice. Also in the United States, DHS plans to publish a proposed rule to rescind the H-4 spousal work authorization regulation in June 2018 as opposed to its original target of February 2018.

The United Kingdom Home Office is proposing that EU nationals and their family members be able to move to the United Kingdom during the Brexit transition period on the same basis as they do now.

In Australia, reforms to abolish the Temporary Work (Subclass 457) visa and replace it with the new Temporary Skilled Shortage (Subclass 482) visa will take effect in the first half of March 2018. 

Poland’s minimum monthly salary for Blue Card holders has increased.

Israel has further clarified how a company can become eligible to sponsor foreign workers under the Hi-Tech (HIT) Visa. In Iraq, exit visa requests must be submitted with the respective Ministry of Interior's Directorate of Residence before the foreign national's departure from the country.

These items and other news from Argentina, Azerbaijan, Czech Republic, Ireland, Turkey, the United States and Venezuela follow in this edition of the Fragomen Immigration Update.

 

Important Updates in Immigration This Week

United States, March 1, 2018
DHS Postpones Proposed H-4 EAD Rescission Rule

  • DHS now plans to publish a proposed rule to rescind the H-4 spousal work authorization regulation in June. Its original target was February 2018.
  • The postponement means that the H-4 EAD program will remain in place longer than anticipated, while DHS completes the months-long regulatory review process.
  • USCIS continues to accept and process H-4 EAD applications.


To view entire article, click here.

 

United States, February 26, 2018
Supreme Court Declines Trump Administration’s DACA Review Request

  • The Supreme Court will not hear a fast-track review of a California federal district court injunction that temporarily blocks the Trump Administration from terminating the DACA program. The Administration’s appeal to the Ninth Circuit is pending. 
  • The Department of Homeland Security will continue to accept DACA renewal applications in accordance with the district court’s order until further notice.


To view entire article, click here.

 

United States, February 23, 2018
USCIS Toughens Requirements for Third-Party Placement of H-1B Employees

  • Petitioners planning third-party placements of H-1B employees will be asked to submit contracts, specific itineraries, and detailed information from end-clients covering the entire period of employment. 
  • USCIS adjudicators will scrutinize contractual relationships among H-1B petitioners, subcontractors and end-clients to assess whether petitioners will retain the right to control H-1B employees throughout the period of employment. 
  • USCIS may limit H-1B approval periods to the length of time corroborated by contracts and other end-client documentation, or deny cases if documentation is deemed insufficient.  
  • The new guidelines have immediate effect and will apply to FY 2019 H-1B cap petitions as well as H-1B extension requests.


To view entire article, click here.

 

Ireland, March 1, 2018
UPDATE: Government Offices Closed, Appointments Cancelled

Due to extreme weather conditions, all government departments and agencies not involved in essential services are closed March 1-2, 2018 in Dublin and in the Leinster and Munster regions. All immigration appointments are cancelled and employment permit processing remains suspended. Public transport and postal services are suspended and many flights are cancelled.

To view entire article, click here.

 

United Kingdom, February 28, 2018
Home Office Clarifies Position on EU Nationals During Brexit Transition

  • The Home Office has set forth its position on EU nationals arriving in the United Kingdom during the Brexit transition period, which begins after the United Kingdom officially withdraws from the European Union on March 29, 2019. 
  • The Home Office is proposing that EU nationals and their family members be able to move to the United Kingdom during this transition period on the same basis as they do now.
  • This would also apply to UK nationals moving to the European Union during this period. This proposal will be subject to negotiation with the European Union.


To view entire article, click here.

 

Honduras, February 28, 2018
Suspension of Marriage Certificate Issuance Causes Immigration Delays

The National Registry office in Honduras is temporarily unable to issue marriage certificates. Foreign nationals may be unable to obtain certain visas which require marriage certificates for processing.

To view entire article, click here.

 

Ireland, February 28, 2018
Government Offices Closed - Employment Permit Processing Delayed, Appointments Unaffected

Due to adverse weather conditions, the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation (DBEI) is closed today, February 28, 2018. Employment permit processing is suspended until the DBEI reopens. The Irish Naturalization and Immigration Service office in Dublin (Burgh Quay) and the Garda National Immigration Bureau (GNIB) in Dublin are open. Irish Residence Permit (IRP, formerly GNIB card) appointments in Dublin still stand. 

To view entire article, click here.

 

Australia, February 27, 2018
Countdown to Temporary Work Visa Reforms

  • Australia's Department of Home Affairs has advised that reforms to abolish the Temporary Work (Subclass 457) visa and replace it with the new Temporary Skilled Shortage (Subclass 482) visa will take effect in the first half of March 2018. 
  • These reforms will also restrict the eligibility criteria for permanent employer-sponsored visa categories. 
  • Fragomen's dedicated microsite has the latest updates including detailed information about the reforms from the Department of Home Affairs. 


To view entire article, click here.

 

Iraq, February 26, 2018
Longer Process for Obtaining Exit Visa Re-Introduced

  • Effective immediately, the Ministry of Interior has again suspended the process enabling foreign nationals to obtain exit visas at immigration counters at international airports in Federal Iraq. 
  • Instead, exit visa requests must be submitted with the respective Ministry of Interior's Directorate of Residence before the foreign national's departure from Iraq. As a result, it will take longer for foreign nationals to obtain exit visas as compared to the previous process.


To view entire article, click here.

 

Argentina, February 23, 2018
Expedited Appointments Temporarily Suspended

  • Foreign nationals are currently not able to obtain expedited appointments to file for Temporary Residence or 24 h) Transitory Work Authorization. 
  • As a result, all foreign nationals who expected to attend an upcoming expedited appointment will not be able to do so until the payment system issue is resolved.
  • Mercosur nationals filling for Temporary Residence or 24 h) Transitory Work Authorization are most affected by this suspension, as the next available appointment through regular processing for such nationals is not until August 30, 2018.


To view entire article, click here.

 

Israel, February 23, 2018
Hi-Tech Company Classification Process Clarified

The Ministry of Interior and the Innovation Authority have further clarified how a company can become eligible to sponsor foreign workers under the Hi-Tech (HIT) Visa.

To view entire article, click here.

 

Poland, February 23, 2018
Minimum Salary Level for Blue Card Holders Increased

Effective February 13, 2018, the minimum monthly salary for Blue Card holders has increased to 6,407.27 PLN, up six percent from last year.

To view entire article, click here.

 

Weekly News Briefs

United States: FY 2018 H-2B Cap Is Reached – The FY 2018 quota for H-2B nonimmigrants was reached on February 28, 2018, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced. During the first five business days beginning February 21, the agency received approximately 2,700 H-2B cap-subject petitions requesting approximately 47,000 workers for the second half of FY 2018. As a result, the agency conducted a lottery on February 28 to randomly select enough petitions to meet the cap. USCIS will reject and return the petitions and associated filing fees to petitioners that were not selected, as well as any cap-subject petitions received after February 27. The agency will continue to accept H-2B petitions that are exempt from the congressionally mandated cap. The agency will also continue to accept petitions for H-2B employment in FY 2019, which begins on October 1, 2018.

The H-2B cap for each fiscal year is 66,000, with 33,000 for workers who begin employment in the first half of the fiscal year (October - March) and 33,000 for workers who begin employment in the second half of the fiscal year (April – September). USCIS typically accepts filings in excess of the cap to account for petition withdrawals, revocations and denials, as well as cases in which employers ultimately employ fewer H-2B workers than requested in their petitions.

Argentina: Document Requirements Eased For Venezuelan Nationals – The immigration authorities in Argentina (Dirección Nacional de Migraciones (DNM)) are easing requirements for Venezuelan nationals seeking to obtain initial visas due to the difficulties that Venezuela is experiencing in issuing and legalizing documents. Usually, foreign nationals seeking Argentinian visas must submit documents such as a valid identification document proving their nationality; proof of residential address in Argentina; an Argentine police clearance; and a police clearance from their home country. However, the DNM is allowing Venezuelan nationals to provide only the first three documents when they apply for a visa and will allow them to submit the police clearance from Venezuela at a later date. This should allow Venezuelan nationals to obtain a provisional residence certificate (Residencia Precaria) which will allow them to work while their visa application is pending, and also to obtain the visa once it has been approved. Fragomen is still recommending that as best practice, Venezuelan nationals should obtain a police clearance, if possible.

Azerbaijan: E-Visa on Arrival Improves – Effective May 15, 2018, foreign nationals eligible to enter Azerbaijan under a visa-on-arrival must pay the visa fee via the online ASAN e-visa system, and their visa will be issued as an e-visa. The border officer will print the e-visa on the applicant’s behalf upon entry, and therefore applicants are not required to wait for up to three hours to receive the e-visa via email, as was required in the past. Under the e-Visa, eligible foreign nationals benefit from lower visa fees and streamlined document requirements. Visas-on-arrival are currently available for nationals of Iran (valid for entry up to 15 calendar days), Turkey (60 calendar days) and the United States of America (30 calendar days).

Azerbaijan: Work Permit Regulations More Strictly Enforced – Prior to applying for a work permit, home employers/sponsoring companies who will work or work for British Petroleum (BP) in Azerbaijan should receive approval relating to their foreign workforce and obtain a statement letter from BP. The statement letter, along with all other requested documents, should be submitted to the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan (SOCAR) in order to obtain an Endorsement Letter. Only upon receipt of the Endorsement Letter can foreign nationals submit work permit applications to the State Migration Service of the Republic of Azerbaijan.

Czech Republic: Delays at Czech Consulate in India – Foreign nationals should expect delays in obtaining Employee Card application appointments at the Czech Consulate in New Delhi. This is due to the consulate no longer using the Visapoint system and instead, reverting back to an appointment-booking system where foreign nationals contact the consulate via email to schedule an appointment. The soonest available appointment is for August 2018. At this time, delays are limited to this consulate; however, they are expected to expand to all Czech consulates around the world where the Visapoint system was previously used. Foreign nationals are advised to plan ahead in anticipation of these delays.

Turkey: Mandatory Electronic Filing System for Work Permit Applications Causing Delays – An electronic application system (KEP) for government agencies, initiated to convert many government applications to electronic filing, was introduced in Turkey and is now required for work permit processing. Employers can no longer file work permit applications under the old online system. The abrupt change to the new system is causing delays. In the meantime, the old work permit application system is still operating for work permit applications that were already in progress as of last Friday, February 23. Employers are advised to immediately apply for a KEP account and activate the electronic notification tool for the new work permit system so that they will be ready to use the system to apply for initial and renewal work permits.  Employers can purchase an account through a registered notary or the Turkish postal system. Employers must designate a specific individual in the company to act as the designated contact. Fragomen will report additional updates as the situation progresses.

Venezuela: Personal Appearance Process for Obtaining Legalized Documents – As the website for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is still inoperable, the only workaround for foreign nationals and Venezuelan nationals requiring legalized documents continues to be a personal appearance process. The personal appearance process requires the foreign national or Venezuelan national to travel to Venezuela (if they are not already in the country) and appear at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to request apostille/legalization. A Fragomen representative can meet the individual to assist with the appearance. The apostilled or legalized document can be collected within five business days by a Fragomen representative. Foreign nationals or Venezuelan nationals should plan to stay in Venezuela for a minimum of three business days to complete this process since the business hours at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs can be unpredictable. Foreign nationals and Venezuelan nationals will be required to present a plane ticket that has been validated by the airline, the original certificate that requires the apostille (if Fragomen has not procured it) and a notarized Power of Attorney authorizing Fragomen to collect the certificate. If the Power of Attorney was signed abroad, it will also have to be apostilled at the appointment.

 

Global Immigration News Links

  • The Pew Research Center provides key facts about U.S. immigration policies and proposed changes
  • North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) negotiators agreed to regulatory best practices in the latest talks in Mexico City, Bloomberg reports.
  • The European Parliament is working on legislation that will allow European citizens to complete administrative procedures, such as request for birth certificates, car registration, permits for business activity, etc., online. 
  • The President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker indicated that the Western Balkans candidates for EU membership should all work towards a 2025 date for possible accession.
  • The EU Council of Ministers has adopted new rules to remove geographical barriers to online shopping in the EU.


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