Virginia, US

Jun 02 2017

Weekly Immigration Update: May 26 - June 1, 2017

Brazil, European Union, India, Morocco, Nigeria, Peru, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States

In United States immigration news this week, a final rule that would provide qualifying international entrepreneurs with permission to stay in the United States for up to five years has been sent back to the Office of Management and Budget for further review. The rule was originally set to take effect on July 17, 2017.

Nigeria issued an executive order mandating that all Business and Tourist Visa applications be processed within 48 hours of submission. Failure to meet this timeline will render the application automatically approved.

Effective June 1, 2017, employers in Morocco must submit all Work Permit applications through an online portal.

A new migration law was signed in Brazil, which will take effect on November 21, 2017.

These items and other news from India, Peru, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom and the United States follow in this edition of the Fragomen Immigration Update.

Important Updates in Immigration This Week

United States, May 26, 2017
International Entrepreneur Rule Under Review

A final rule that would provide qualifying international entrepreneurs with permission to stay in the United States for up to five years has been sent back to the Office of Management and Budget for further review. Though the government has not made public its plans for the rule, the additional review suggests that it could be amended, postponed or withdrawn. The rule was originally set to take effect on July 17, 2017.

To view entire article, click here.

Morocco, May 31, 2017
Online Portal Introduced for Work Permit Applications

Effective June 1, 2017, employers must submit all Work Permit applications through an online portal. Manual submission of the current forms will no longer be accepted.

To view entire article, click here.

Brazil, May 30, 2017
New Migration Law Approved

A new migration law was signed by the Brazilian President and published in the Official Gazette.  It will go into effect on November 21, 2017.

To view entire article, click here.

Nigeria, May 26, 2017
Reduced Processing Times for Business and Tourist Visas

The Nigerian Federal Government issued an executive order mandating that all applications for Business and Tourist Visas be processed within 48 hours of submission. Failure to meet this timeline will render the application automatically approved.

To view entire article, click here.

Weekly News Briefs

United States: Employers Now Have 30 Days to Complete PERM Sponsorship Questionnaire – The Department of Labor’s Office of Foreign Labor Certification (OFLC) has confirmed that employers now have 30 days to complete the PERM sponsorship verification process, up from the previous seven days.  After filing a PERM application, sponsoring employers receive an automated email, directing them to complete an online questionnaire which allows them to verify their sponsorship of the foreign worker. 

Under the new process, employers who do not complete the questionnaire within seven calendar days will be sent a follow up email reminding them that there are 23 days left to respond. If the employer does not have an email address listed on its ETA Form 9089, the OFLC will verify sponsorship via a telephone call or a mailed request for sponsorship verification. The employer's attorney/agent will also receive a courtesy email regarding the employer's timeframe to respond to the sponsorship request, if applicable.

United States: DHS Response to Grassley Inquiry Suggests Changes to H-1B Category – The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) intends to revise H-1B rules and guidance, increase site visits, and expand its oversight capabilities in targeting H-1B violators, the agency stated in a letter responding to a recent bipartisan inquiry led by Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA).

Specifically, in accordance with the Presidential Executive Order on Buy American, Hire American, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) intends to propose new rules and guidance seeking to supersede or revise previous rules and guidance, with a focus on protecting U.S. workers by creating an H-1B allocation process which prioritizes higher-skilled, higher-paid workers. Further, an agency group specifically focused on H-1B issues is reviewing all H-1B related policies as USCIS plans to publish an updated H-1B guidance section to the USCIS policy manual. The agency did not specify when this will occur.

The agency also remains committed to several initiatives to combat H-1B fraud and abuse, as announced on April 3, 2017, including targeted site visits. Under its Administrative Site Visits and Verification Program, USCIS Fraud Detection and National Security officers conducted over 10,000 unannounced site visits in FY 2016 to collect information as part of a compliance review from a number of employers.  Finally, USCIS is currently working with the Secretary’s office and the Office of Management and Budget to produce legislative reforms to send to the Committee on the Judiciary to improve the H-1B program, and DHS plans to provide recommendations to enhance the program’s integrity and protect U.S. workers from being undercut by beneficiaries of the H-1B program.

United States: New CBP Feature Reminds VWP Travelers of Departure Date – Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has announced that it will now remind Visa Waiver Program (VWP) travelers of their last possible departure date via email and its new "View Compliance" feature on the I-94 website for VWP travelers. CBP plans to update the View Compliance feature to incorporate additional nonimmigrant travelers at a later date.

United States/Oman: Certain Omanis May Be Eligible for Visa Interview Waiver – Effective June 1, 2017, certain qualified Omanis who are renewing their U.S. tourist and business visas (B/1B2 or B2) may be eligible for renewal by a mail-in service without coming to the embassy for an interview.

To be eligible, the applicant must currently be in Oman; have a prior two-year B1/B2 or B2 visa issued at the U.S. Embassy in Muscat less than three years from the renewal filing date; not have been refused a visa after the expiration of a previously issued visa; never have held citizenship of a country different than the passport from which they are applying; and have never been arrested or convicted of a crime, deported from the United States, or denied entry to the United States. The applicant must also submit their most recent B1/B2 or B2 visa issued for two years and have their fingerprints taken at the U.S. embassy in Muscat. Applicants under 14 years of age must have at least one parent with a valid, two-year B1/B2 or B2 visa. All applicants must accurately complete all sections of the DS-160 online application, pay the visa fee, print the "Drop box confirmation letter", include the supporting documents and drop off in the drop-box at the entrance of the U.S. embassy. Applicants will be notified by email when the visa is ready for pick up. Visa processing generally requires three business days, but may take longer. The use of the mail-in service does not guarantee visa issuance. In some cases, applicants may still be required to appear for a visa interview.

European Union/Ukraine: Reciprocal Visa-Free Agreement Published – The short-stay visa waiver agreement between the European Union and Ukraine was published in the EU Official Journal.  This exemption will become available 20 days after this publication, on June 11, 2017.  This means that effective June 11, 2017, Ukrainian nationals in possession of a biometric passport will not need a visa to travel to the Schengen Area for business, tourism or family reasons for 90 days in a 180-day period, and vice versa.  The visa exemption for Ukrainian nationals will not apply in the United Kingdom and Ireland, as they are not part of the Schengen Area.

European Union/United Kingdom: Brexit Negotiation Mandate Adopted – The Council of the European Union has adopted the Brexit negotiation mandate as recommended by the European Commission on May 3, 2017.  The recommendation reflected a two-phase approach.  First, the negotiations with the UK will focus on the withdrawal arrangements.  Second, talks about the transition and the future EU-UK relationship will begin after significant progress on the withdrawal agreement has been made.  The first priority of the negotiations is safeguarding the status and the rights derived from EU law for EU nationals 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. 

India: Temporary Processing Delays in Bangalore – Foreign nationals submitting immigration applications at the Foreigners’ Regional Registration Office (FRRO) in Bangalore are experiencing delays in obtaining Residential Permits and visa endorsements. Depending on the number of applications filed, immigration officers will either issue Residential Permits and endorsements on the same day or will only accept the application and notify the foreign national via email or text once the Residential Permits are ready for collection.  The current processing time for registrations is three to four business days, while the processing time for visa extensions is seven to 10 business days.  Foreign nationals who have immediate travel plans will be required to submit a copy of their travel tickets for urgent processing.

Peru: Delays on Appointments for MERCOSUR Visa Filings – The immigration authorities in Peru (Superintendencia Nacional de Migraciones) are currently experiencing significant delays when scheduling appointment for MERCOSUR Visa filings. Most visa appointments are typically granted within one to two weeks of submission.  However, the earliest appointments available for MERCOSUR Visas at this time are for the end of July.  Employers and foreign nationals should therefore anticipate increased processing times for MERCOSUR Visas.

United Arab Emirates: Reduced Fines for Delays on Work Permit Renewal and Employment Contract Submissions – The Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MOHRE) has reduced the administrative fines for delayed submission of employment contract and work permit renewal applications. Employers that fail to submit fully executed employment contracts to the MOHRE within 60 days of the foreign national’s arrival or change in immigration status will be fined AED 100 per month of delay, a reduction from the previous fine of AED 500. Fully executed employment contracts for the Mission Work Permit applications must be submitted within 30 days of arrival; failure to do so will result in a fine that remains at AED 100 per day of delay.  Delays in renewing awork permit within 60 days of expiry is now subject to a fine of AED 200 per foreign national, a reduction from the previous fine of AED 500. The maximum fine for these violations has been capped at AED 2,000 per foreign national.

United Kingdom: U.K. Visas & Immigration Changes Commercial Partner for Customer Enquiries – Effective June 1, 2017, customer enquiries for the U.K. Visas and Immigration Service will be handled by their new commercial partner, Sitel UK. As a result, all phone numbers and hours of operation will change. Additionally, customers will be charged when contacting the UKVI by email, and the number of languages offered will be reduced to eight.

Global Immigration News Links

A recent study by the American Action Forum finds that Senator Ron Johnson's recently proposed State Sponsored Visa Pilot Program – a plan which would give states authority over their own nonimmigrant worker programs – would generate economic growth, resulting in the creation of 900,000 to 1.2 million jobs for U.S. workers, increase the number of temporary work visas by 495,000, and allow temporary foreign workers to move between employers.

New findings from the Migration Policy Institute reveal a shift in composition of immigration flows over the past decade, with immigrants’ human capital rising sharply. Most notably, 48 percent of recently arrived immigrants to the United States were college graduates—compared to just 27 percent of arrivals a quarter-century earlier.

An investment strategist has warned that Britain will be forced to concede on immigration if it wants  access to the single market.

British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn has said he will not make false promises about cutting migration if Labour wins the election, and would manage migration based on the needs of the country, BBC reports.

Australia is preparing itself for large scale changes to its skilled labor immigration, intended to promote greater employment of Australian citizens and less displacement by foreign visa holders.

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