Virginia, US

Aug 03 2018

Weekly Immigration Update: July 27 - August 2, 2018

Argentina, Belarus, Brazil, China, Colombia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Germany, Indonesia, Namibia, Norway, Papua New Guinea, Turkey, United States, Vietnam

In United States immigration news this week, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has delayed implementation of its June 28 enforcement policy memorandum, which directs USCIS adjudicators to initiate removal proceedings against a broader group of foreign nationals, until operational guidance is issued. 

Also in the United States, USCIS issued an RFE in nearly 70% of the H-1B petitions filed with the agency in the fourth quarter of fiscal year (FY) 2017. L-1A and L-1B denials increased by 67% and 32% respectively between the first and fourth quarters of FY 2017. 

Brazil has published two additional Normative Resolutions clarifying portions of the migration law released last November. The resolutions introduce new rules regarding temporary visas for foreign nationals without employment offers as well as a new list of documentary requirements for residence authorization renewals.

A new immigration law in Estonia exempts specialists from the national work permit quota, allows a longer short-term work authorization period, and increases fines for companies found violating immigration laws. In Norway, the minimum annual salary for foreign workers increased effective July 19.

A draft law would guarantee UK nationals' legal status in Germany during the Brexit transition phase between March 30, 2019 and December 31, 2020.

These items and other news from Argentina, Belarus, China, Colombia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Indonesia, Namibia, Papua New Guinea, Turkey and Vietnam follow in this edition of the Fragomen Immigration Update.

 

Important Updates in Immigration This Week

United States, July 30, 2018
USCIS Delays Implementation of Broadened Enforcement Policy

USCIS will delay implementation of its June 28 enforcement policy until after internal guidance has been issued.

To view entire article, click here.

 

United States, July 30, 2018
USCIS Completes Return of Unselected FY 2019 H-1B Cap Petitions

According to the agency, employers should receive returned H-1B cap petition packages and fee checks by August 13, 2018.

To view entire article, click here.

 

United States, July 27, 2018
Report Confirms Significant Increase in H-1B and L-1 RFE and Denial Rates

  • In the fourth quarter of fiscal year (FY) 2017, USCIS issued a request for evidence (RFE) in nearly 70% of the H-1B petitions filed with the agency. Fourth quarter RFEs nearly equaled the number issued in the first three quarters combined.
  • L-1A and L-1B denials increased by 67% and 32% respectively between the first and fourth quarters of FY 2017. 


To view entire article, click here.

 

Estonia, August 2, 2018
New Law Benefits Specialists and Short-Term Workers, Increases Company Penalties

Effective July 15, 2018, a new immigration law in Estonia exempts specialists from the national work permit quota and allows a longer short-term work authorization period, among other changes. In addition, the law increases the fine for companies found violating immigration laws tenfold and introduces other new penalties.

To view entire article, click here.

 

Germany, August 2, 2018
Draft Law Clarifies UK Nationals’ Legal Status During Brexit Transition Phase

A draft law would uphold UK nationals' legal status in Germany during the Brexit transition phase between March 30, 2019 and December 31, 2020. Specifically, the draft law states that all references to EU countries in German laws would continue to include the United Kingdom. In practice, this would guarantee UK nationals' rights in Germany, including the right of entry, stay and work without a visa, residence permit or work authorization and the right to obtain dual citizenship, among other rights.

To view entire article, click here.

 

Norway, July 30, 2018
Minimum Salary Level Increased

Effective July 19, 2018, the minimum annual salary for foreign workers in Norway has increased to NOK 391,800 for positions requiring a Bachelor's degree and NOK 421,700 for positions requiring a Master's degree, up one percent from last year.

To view entire article, click here.

 

Brazil, July 30, 2018
Additional Normative Resolutions Published Clarifying New Migration Law

The Ministry of Labor has published two additional Normative Resolutions clarifying portions of the migration law released last November. One of the Normative Resolution introduces a new list of documentary requirements for residence authorization renewals. The other introduces a new set of rules regarding temporary visas for foreign nationals without employment offers in Brazil based on an International Cooperation Agreement.

To view entire article, click here.

 

Weekly News Briefs

Argentina: Some Nationalities to be Eligible for Electronic Visa Application for Tourism – Chinese and Indian nationals and other nationalities listed below may be eligible to apply for an Electronic Travel Authorization (Autorización de Viaje Electrónica - AVE) in lieu of a consular visa if they hold a valid U.S. visa (it is not yet clear which U.S. visas will qualify foreign nationals for this authorization) or a visa from a Schengen country. The AVE will allow entry into Argentina for tourism for these nationalities once the Argentinian government publishes related regulations.

Nationals of the following countries will qualify for this procedure once the regulations take effect: Albania, Angola, Antigua, Bahamas, Bahrain, Belize, Benin, Bhutan, Belarus, Guinea-Bissau, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cabo Verde, Cambodia, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Congo, Cuba, Djibouti, Dominica, Dominique, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Fiji, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, India, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Kiribati, Laos, Lesotho, Malawi, Maldives, Madagascar, Marshall Islands, Mauritius, Moldova, Mongolia, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nauru, Nepal, Niger, Oman, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Qatar, Rwanda, Salomon Islands, Samoa, São Tomé and Príncipe,  Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Swaziland, Tanzania, Togo, Tonga, Tuvalu, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, Vanuatu, Vatican City, Vietnam, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Belarus / China: Reciprocal 30-Day Visa Waiver Forthcoming – Effective August 10, 2018, nationals of Belarus and China will no longer require a visa for business and tourist purposes in each other’s countries for up to 30 days per trip and 90 days per a calendar year. A visa will still be required if the visit lasts more than 30 days, or citizens of one of the countries intend to reside, study, be involved in employment, journalistic or other activities requiring prior authorization in the other country.

Colombia: Expedited Degree Validation Approval for Venezuelan Nationals – Effective immediately, the Ministry of Education will process and approve degree validation applications for Venezuelan nationals in less than three months. The processing time for other nationalities is approximately eight months.

Colombia: New Special Permit for Venezuelan Nationals Released for Census Participants – The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Migracion Colombia have introduced a new Special Permit (PEP) for Venezuelan nationals without valid immigration status in Colombia. This new permit will be available for Venezuelans who have completed the census that ran in Colombia during June and July of 2018. PEP status will allow Venezuelan nationals to work in Colombia and will provide access to health care services and public education. The PEP, however, will lose its validity if the Venezuelan national remains outside Colombia for more than 90 calendar days. It is not yet clear whether the new PEP will also require applicants to meet the requirements under the previous PEP, in addition to having participated in the census.

Czech Republic / Vietnam: Long-Term Work Visas and Some D Visas Temporarily Restricted for Vietnamese Nationals – Effective July 18, 2018, the Czech government has temporarily suspended the issuance of long-term work visas and some D visa types (issued for stays over 90 days) for Vietnamese nationals. It is not yet known how long the restrictions will stay in effect. Applications for short-term visas, as well as D visas for family reunification, study and scientific research for Vietnamese nationals are still accepted.

Estonia: Language Requirement for Renewal Applications Introduced – A new immigration law recently introduced a language requirement for residence permit renewal applicants who will have been in Estonia for five years on July 15, 2023. Foreign nationals who fit this description will have to demonstrate Estonian language skills at the A2 level in the Common European Framework.

Indonesia: Technical Work at DGI May Cause Delays – The Directorate General of Immigration (DGI) has announced that there will be technical work conducted at the DGI headquarters in Jakarta through August 16, 2018. DGI immigration processes may be delayed due to a disruption in the network. This includes Business Visa pre-approvals, Telex VITAS (Limited Stay Visa Pre-Approval) issuance and biometrics appointments that are part of the ITAS (Limited Stay Permit) process. Employers should keep the start date of their employees flexible in case of any delays.

Namibia: Government Fees Significantly Increased – Immigration authorities in Namibia have announced increased fees for a number of immigration-related processes including Visitor's Visas, Short Term Employment Permits, Long Term Work Permits and Student Permits (Primary Schools and Secondary Schools). The increases are up to approximately 50% of the previous fee. N80 will also be added to each service.  Employers and foreign nationals should review their current budgets due to the significant fee increases.

Papua New Guinea: Polio Vaccination Required for Foreign Nationals – Following the recent outbreak of polio in some parts of Papua New Guinea, the Health Secretary has issued an announcement in local newspapers that international travellers to PNG will be required to obtain polio vaccinations in their home countries prior to travel to PNG. The PNG authorities have not yet set a date for when this new requirement will go into effect. Travellers may need to therefore submit an International Certificate of Vaccination, or Prophylaxis (also called Yellow Booklet), issued after the vaccination, with their visa applications. Although there has been no formal announcement from the PNG Immigration Department or PNG consulates of this policy or its official implementation date, foreign nationals should carry proof of their immunization ready in case this requirement is enforced.

Papua New Guinea: Work Permit System Temporarily Unavailable – Papua New Guinea's Work Permits System at the Department of Labour and Industrial Relations (DLIR) has been shut down effective July 25 for an indefinite period. Due to this shutdown, the following activities performed by the DLIR will not work until further notice:

  • Follow-up on work permit status;
  • Receipt of work permit applications;
  • Processing of work permit applications; and
  • Printing of work permit cards.


Foreign nationals can continue to submit documents to the DLIR for the above processes but should expect delays. Throughout the shutdown, DLIR is still able to receive all applications, conduct pre-screenings and assessments and issue work permits that have already been assessed.

Turkey: Processing Delays Continue – The introduction of an online appointment system is continuing to delay residence permit application processing. Specifically, appointment slots for in-person application filing are now issued at very unpredictable intervals, ranging between one day and several weeks. As a reminder, under the electronic filing system, applications must be registered online, after which the Migration Directorate will either schedule an in-person filing appointment or will reject the application. If the Migration Directorate does not issue either an appointment or rejection within several weeks, applicants can consider cancelling and re-submitting an online application.

Additionally, initial residence permit applications in Istanbul are now subject to an extra processing step at the main Migration Directorate office in Vatan, following the usual local regional processing step. This change has caused a processing delay of up to four weeks. This delay particularly affects applicants seeking exit documents that will allow them to travel outside Turkey, as they can only obtain an exit document after approval at the regional Vatan office. Fragomen will contact affected employers and foreign nationals to seek case-specific solutions to alleviate the delays.

Turkey: Presence in Country Required to File Postal Renewals – The Turkish Migration Directorate now requires foreign nationals filing renewal residence permit applications via post to be physically present in Turkey when signing the application. The Migration Directorate can check the applicant’s presence in Turkey through an electronic database that tracks travelers' entry and exit. As a result, foreign nationals should adjust their travel plans to ensure timely return to Turkey to sign their renewal applications, and may need to postpone travel abroad until they can pick up their exit permit. As a reminder, travel outside Turkey under the postal renewal process is limited to two weeks per trip.

 

Global Immigration News Links

  • A new Migration Policy Institute report examines various changes the Trump administration has set in motion, from enhanced enforcement measures and new application vetting requirements, to cuts in refugee admissions and the scaling back of temporary protections for some noncitizens.
  • A U.S. appeals court agreed with a lower court that President Donald Trump's executive order threatening to cut funding for sanctuary cities exceeded the president's authority.
  • Macedonia will hold a referendum on its name change on September 30, 2018.​


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