Virginia, US

May 11 2018

Weekly Immigration Update: May 4 – 10, 2018

Algeria, Austria, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belgium, Brunei, Canada, Ecuador, France, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Kuwait, Malaysia, Morocco, Mozambique, Netherlands, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United States

In United States immigration news this week, the Department of Homeland Security released its Spring 2018 regulatory agenda, which reiterates plans announced last fall to propose new regulations, pushes back the projected publication dates for certain key proposed regulations and adds additional areas for rulemaking. If finalized, these rules would significantly impact the B-1 and B-2 temporary visitor categories, the H-1B and EB-5 programs, F-1 practical training and H-4 employment authorization.

Also in the United States, temporary Protected Status for Honduras will be terminated effective January 5, 2020. According to the U.S. State Department’s June Visa Bulletin, cutoff dates in most categories will remain unchanged, with the exception of EB-2 India and EB-5 China and Vietnam, which will advance slightly.

Starting in June, Hong Kong will pilot a new technology employment visa program.

Turkey has introduced stricter requirements for Short-Term Residence Permit applications. In Qatar, foreign nationals holding valid Work Residence Permits for any engineering profession must now register with and pass an examination administered by the Ministry of Municipality and Environment.

In the Middle East, North Africa, Turkey and parts of Asia, foreign nationals and their employers can expect immigration processing delays from mid-May through mid-June during the observance of Ramadan and Eid-al-Fitr.

These items and other news from Austria, Belgium, Canada, Ecuador, France, Mozambique, Netherlands, Zimbabwe and the United States follow in this edition of the Fragomen Immigration Update.


Important Updates in Immigration This Week

United States, May 10, 2018
June 2018 Visa Bulletin - No Movement for Most Categories

  • Dates in most categories will remain unchanged.
  • EB-2 India will advance by four days, to December 26, 2008.
  • EB-5 China and Vietnam will advance by ten days, to August 1, 2014.

To view entire article, click here.


United States, May 10, 2018
DHS Releases Its Spring 2018 Regulatory Agenda

  • According to its regulatory plan for spring 2018, the Department of Homeland Security is expected to propose a rule that will clarify and possibly limit the criteria for B-1 and B-2 classification.
  • DHS is also expected to briefly delay its publication of draft rules that would impose stricter eligibility and cap selection criteria on H-1B employers and change regulations for the EB-5 program.
  • DHS has reiterated its intention to propose rules that would terminate the H-4 employment authorization program and significantly revise the practical training program for foreign students.

To view entire article, click here.


United States, May 4, 2018
DHS to Terminate TPS for Honduras with 18-Month Delay

Temporary Protected Status for Honduras will be terminated effective January 5, 2020. Honduran TPS beneficiaries will be required to re-register to extend their benefits through the expiration date.

To view entire article, click here.


Hong Kong, May 10, 2018
New Technology Employment Visa Program Piloted

The Hong Kong government has announced a three-year pilot scheme of a new employment visa, the Technology Talent Admission Scheme, which is expected to streamline the admission of research and development professionals from overseas and mainland China participating in either the Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation or the Hong Kong Cyberport Management Company Limited.

To view entire article, click here.


Turkey, May 10, 2018
Restricted Rules for Short-Term Residence Permit Applications

The Migration Directorate has introduced the following key stricter requirements for Short-Term Residence Permit applications, among others: 

  • A new appointment system that will result in fixed appointment dates for initial Residence Permit applications; 
  • New rule to include a police clearance from the applicant's country of nationality; and
  • A shorter permit validity of one year, with a maximum renewal period of five months.  

To view entire article, click here.


Mozambique, May 8, 2018
National Minimum Monthly Wage Increased

The minimum monthly wage for foreign workers in Mozambique has increased for several economic sectors. Since government fees are calculated based on the minimum wages for each sector, foreign nationals will see an increase in the government fees for work permit applications. Since foreign nationals typically earn more than the national minimum wage, there is a low level of impact to employers employing foreign workers.

To view entire article, click here.


Qatar, May 8, 2018
Mandatory Registration and Examination Announced for All Engineers

Effective immediately, foreign nationals holding valid Work Residence Permits for any engineering profession must register with the Ministry of Municipality and Environment (MME) and pass an examination administered by the MME. Foreign nationals who do not comply with the new requirements will not be allowed to renew their permits or register new employment contracts and they and their employers may face fines or other sanctions.

To view entire article, click here.


Worldwide, May 8, 2018
Immigration Processing Delays Expected During Ramadan

Foreign nationals and their employers can expect immigration processing delays from mid-May through mid-June in the Middle East, North Africa, Turkey and parts of Asia during the observance of Ramadan, followed by the Eid-al-Fitr holiday. Many government offices, embassies and consulates worldwide reduce their hours and/or close during Ramadan and Eid-al-Fitr. Processing delays could continue in the weeks following Ramadan, due to application backlogs that accumulate during the closures.

To view entire article, click here.


Austria, May 7, 2018
Travel in Schengen Area Now Allowed Pending Residence Permit Renewal

Effective April 25, 2018, foreign nationals with a pending Austrian residence permit renewal application can travel in the Schengen area with a one-time emergency visa.  Previously, the emergency visa only allowed travel outside the Schengen area and required the foreign national to return directly to Austria.

To view entire article, click here.


Weekly News Briefs

United States: Latest PERM and PWD Processing Times – As of April 30, 2018, the Department of Labor (DOL) was conducting analyst review for PERM applications filed in December 2017 or earlier, and processing audited cases filed in August 2017 or earlier. DOL is working on standard reconsideration requests submitted in April 2018 or earlier. There is no update on the government error queue, though these appear to be current. 

DOL is issuing prevailing wage determinations for PERM and H-1B requests filed in February 2018. The agency has been processing PERM and H-1B redeterminations requested in March 2018, and PERM center director reviews requested in February 2018. 

These reports are available on the iCERT home page. 

Belgium: Apostilles Now Issued in Electronic Format Only – Effective May 1, 2018, Belgian authorities will issue Apostille stamps exclusively in electronic format. Legalization stamps continue to be issued in both paper and electronic format. The change should not affect the application process, cost or processing times.

Canada: Portugal Added to List of Countries Eligible for Youth Mobility Exchange Program – Effective immediately, Portugal has been added to the list of signatories to Canada’s International Experience Canada Program, which provides for a mobility exchange between the two countries. This program will allow 2,000 Canadian and 2,000 Portuguese youth aged 18 to 35 to work and travel in each other’s country each year, providing an opportunity for young workers to enter Canada and Portugal with or without a job offer.  Eligible nationals can participate in the following programs:

  • The Working Holiday program, which allows work anywhere in the host country;
  • The International Co-op program, which allows employer-specific work permits for full-time students to gain targeted experience as part of their course of study; and
  • The Young Professionals program, which allows employer-specific work permits for foreign nationals to gain targeted, professional work experience in skilled positions that fit within their field of study or career path.

Ecuador: Travelers Report that Health Insurance is Being Requested – Although the implementation of the requirement to provide proof of international health insurance coverage when traveling to Ecuador was postponed until June 22, travelers reported this week that airlines have been requesting the proof at the port of entry in Ecuador. Therefore, despite the postponement, all travelers to Ecuador should obtain proof of health insurance through one of the methods detailed here. Note that Fragomen has found that in practice, those who choose to present a health insurance certificate no longer need to validate the certificate at an Ecuadorian consulate.

France: Update on Immigration Law Reform – On April 22, 2018, the National Assembly passed a draft immigration bill. The bill was introduced late February and is expected to reform the immigration system for intracompany transferees; graduates, au pairs and researchers; the Talent Passport program; recognized sponsorship for employers; and travel documents for minors. The bill will be debated by the Senate June 18-19, 2018. 

Netherlands: EU Students and Researchers Directive Implemented – The EU Students and Researchers Directive has been implemented in the Netherlands and will enter into force on May 23, 2018. Under the Directive, students and researchers will benefit from facilitated admission conditions, longer allowable stays and enhanced intra-EU mobility rights. Additional details will be reported shortly.

Zimbabwe: Online Visa Payment System Initiated – Category B (visa on arrival) and Category C (visa before arrival) visa applicants can now pay for their visa online during the visa application process. Previously, they had to pay the fee at the port of entry, which prolonged the entry process. The option to pay in advance has reduced the visa application processing time to 48 hours.


Global Immigration News Links

  • U.S. House Republicans are leading an effort to force a House vote on four different versions of immigration legislation affecting Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients, the New York Times reports.
  • U.S. Department of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen is likely to issue an additional 15,000 H-2B visas for low-skilled foreign workers this summer, the Wall Street Journal reports.
  • The Trump Administration moved to end Temporary Protected Status for Central Americans and Haitians living and working legally in the United States, despite warnings from senior U.S. diplomats that doing so could trigger a new surge of illegal immigration, the Washington Post reports.
  • European Union states are pushing for a deal at a leaders' summit in June over how to reform their migration and asylum system, Reuters reports.
  • According to a leaked internal paper, the Northern Irish executive has drafted a proposal to introduce customs checks at seaports and airports to prevent a hard border with the Republic of Ireland after 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.