Virginia, US

Jan 08 2016

Fragomen Immigration Update: December 31, 2015 - January 7, 2016

Brazil, Canada, Denmark, Ecuador, Hungary, Ireland, Madagascar, Portugal, Republic of the Philippines, Sweden, United Arab Emirates, United States
 
In United States immigration news this week, the Department of Homeland Security published a highly-anticipated regulation which seeks to ease job changes for foreign nationals in the employment-based permanent residence process, establish grace periods for nonimmigrants whose employment has been terminated early, and provide automatic work authorization extensions to adjustment applicants and certain other foreign nationals who have timely filed an application for renewal of an employment authorization document. The agency is accepting public comments on the proposal through February 29, 2016.
 
Canada has reopened its parents and grandparents sponsorship program, with a cap of five thousand applications. Citizenship and Immigration Canada conducted the twenty-fourth Express Entry draw; the selection process continues to indicate flexibility.
 
Ireland increased its national statutory minimum wage on January 1. Since the revised minimum wage applies to foreign nationals with existing work authorization, employers must reassess salaries for employees who only just met the minimum base salary threshold.
 
Foreign nationals seeking to work in Madagascar must now apply for a work permit before entering the country, due to the discontinuation of the Transformable Visa.
 
These items and other news from Brazil, Denmark, Ecuador, Hungary, Portugal, Sweden and the United Arab Emirates follow in this edition of the Fragomen Immigration Update.
 
 
Important Updates in Immigration This Week
 
United States, Updated January 4, 2016
USCIS Proposes Rules Changes for Employer-Sponsored Foreign Nationals
 
With some limitations, the proposed regulation would provide greater job mobility to foreign nationals in the employment-based permanent residence process, offer grace periods to nonimmigrants whose employment has been terminated early, and provide automatic work authorization extensions to adjustment applicants and certain other classes of foreign nationals who have timely filed an application for the renewal of an employment authorization document.
 
To view entire article, click here.
 
 
Canada, January 6, 2016
Latest Express Entry Selections Show Ongoing Flexibility
 
Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) conducted the twenty-fourth Express Entry draw January 6 through January 7, 2016, and 1,463 candidates were invited to apply for permanent residence. The selection process continues to indicate flexibility since CIC selected candidates who did not have a valid Labour Market Impact Assessment or a Provincial Nomination certificate at the time their profile was set up. 
 
To view entire article, click here.
 
 
Madagascar, January 6, 2016
Work Permit Now Required Prior to Entry
 
Due to the discontinuation of the Transformable Visa, foreign nationals seeking to work in Madagascar must now apply for a work permit before entering the country.
 
To view entire article, click here.
 
 
Ireland, January 5, 2016
National Minimum Wage Increased
 
The national statutory minimum wage was increased on January 1 to EUR 9.15 per hour. Since the revised minimum wage applies to foreign nationals with existing work authorization, employers must reassess salaries for employees who only just met the minimum base salary threshold.
 
To view entire article, click here.
 
 
United Arab Emirates, January 4, 2016
Relaxed Mobility Rules Among Policy Changes for 2016
 
New procedures that would impact the work permit application process, including a standardized offer letter and a new employment contract template, are expected to be implemented this month. The policy changes should result in greater mobility for certain employees changing employers.
 
To view entire article, click here.
 
 
Canada, January 4, 2016
Parent and Grandparent Sponsorship Program Reopened
 
Canadian citizens and permanent residents can again apply to sponsor their parents and grandparents since the Parents and Grandparents Program reopened. Application instructions, forms and guidelines are available on Citizenship Immigration Canada's website. 
 
To view entire article, click here.
 
 
Philippines, January 4, 2016
Long-Term Visa Holders Must Comply with Annual Report Requirement by March 3
 
Long-term work visa holders in the Philippines who have been issued Alien Certificate of Registration identity cards indicating "Worker" or "Treaty Trader" status must comply with the Annual Report requirement within the first 60 days of 2016. Those who have completed certain registration steps in 2014 and 2015 can send a representative to complete the annual report on their behalf.
 
To view entire article, click here.
 
 
Other Immigration News This Week
 
Brazil: Tourists from Four Countries Visa Waived for Olympics – Tourists from Australia, Canada, Japan and the United States will be eligible to travel to Brazil for the upcoming Olympics without a visa for up to 90 days for visits between June 1 and September 18, 2016, though no extensions will be available. Proof of Olympic attendance is not required for this visa waiver. Business travelers from these countries will still require business visas during this time. Eligible travelers should be sure to confirm the validity of their travel documents prior to their trips. After September 18, tourists from these countries will require tourist visas for entry.
 
Ecuador: Government Filing Fees Significantly Increased – Government filing fees for various immigration processes have significantly increased. Notable examples include the Visa 12-VI and the 12-IX Acts of Commerce Visa, for which the fee is now USD 400, up from USD 200; the Family Reunion Visa (Visa de Amparo), for which the fee is now USD 200, up from USD 50; and the Visa 9-V, for which the fee is USD 500, up from USD 320.  Employers and foreign nationals should take these higher fees into account when making budgeting plans for 2016.
 
Hungary: Minimum Salary Levels Increased – The minimum salary for unskilled workers has increased to HUF 111,000 per month (approximately EUR 516), and to HUF 129,000 per month (approximately EUR 600) for skilled and highly-skilled workers. Additionally, the personal income tax rate has decreased from 16% to 15%. Employers should ensure that their foreign employees' salaries meet or exceed the minimum salary level, and should note that the immigration and labor authorities generally do not accept applications with salaries set at the minimum for skilled and highly-skilled workers.
 
Portugal: Minimum Salary Level Increased – The minimum salary level for foreign nationals in Portugal has been increased to EUR 530, according to a change in the related employment law. The minimum salary level is set annually through an agreement between the government, employer organizations and employee unions.  It takes into consideration the cost of living, social security payments and factors such as the need for economic development and the national unemployment level.  Employers should ensure that their foreign employees' salaries meet the minimum level set for 2016.
 
Sweden/Denmark: Security Checks Likely to Delay Travel – Train, bus or boat travelers must now present valid photo identification to enter Sweden from Denmark. The new security checks will likely cause travel delays for the following reasons: rail commuters to Sweden will now have to change trains at Copenhagen Airport to undergo security checkpoints; direct journeys from Copenhagen's main railway station to Sweden will no longer be available; and rail operators have reduced the number of trips to Sweden. 
 
Additionally, travelers entering Denmark from Germany are now also subject to document checks. Passengers who fail to present a valid document will be refused entry, and travel operators not imposing checks are subject to penalties.
 
 
Global Immigration News Links
 
 
Canadian Immigration Minister John McCallum announced that the country is committed to doubling the cap on family reunification applications.
 
 
Korea aims to embrace immigrants and foreign workers to tackle its decreasing population, low birthrate and aging society.
 
This alert is for informational purposes only. If you have any questions, please contact the global immigration professional with whom you work at Fragomen.
 
In Brazil, Fragomen operates exclusively as an immigration consultancy and not as a law firm.