Virginia, US

Dec 16 2016

Fragomen Immigration Update: December 9 - 15, 2016

Algeria, Angola, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Bulgaria, Cameroon, Canada, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Denmark, Ecuador, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Ghana, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, Indonesia, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macau, Malaysia, Mexico, Mozambique, Namibia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Poland, Republic of Congo, Republic of the Philippines, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Singapore, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Taiwan, Tanzania, Thailand, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States, Venezuela, Vietnam

In United States immigration news this week, a budget resolution signed into law on December 10 extended the EB-5 Regional Center program, E-Verify, the Conrad 30 program and the non-minister religious worker program through April 28, 2017. In H-1B news, employers are beginning to prepare for the FY 2018 H-1B cap filing season, which will open on Monday, April 3, 2017. Though April 3 is several months away, it is not too early for organizations to begin assessing their H-1B needs and making initial preparations for filing.

Also in the United States, cutoff dates for final issuance of an immigrant visa will advance by over two months for EB-2 India and just over three weeks for EB-2 China, according to the State Department's January Visa Bulletin.

Canada has announced several changes to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, including the elimination of the four-year cumulative duration rule. Also in Canada, the Parent and Grandparent Sponsorship program will be subject to a new lottery system on or after January 3, 2017.

In France, a new law significantly overhauls the French immigration system. In Kazakhstan, a forthcoming visa waiver program will allow nationals of 39 countries to become eligible for a new business and tourist visa exemption or after January 1, 2017.

Companies in Malaysia should submit their 2017 projections for Employment Passes and Professional Visit Pass applications as soon as possible. 

Government offices worldwide will close or have shorter hours of operation during the holidays, meaning possible delays in the issuance of visas and work permits.

These items and other news from Hong Kong, Israel, Italy, Kazakhstan, United Kingdom and the United States follow in this edition of the Fragomen Immigration Update.

 

Important Updates in Immigration This Week

United States, December 15, 2016
Reminder: USCIS Immigration Filing Fees Increase on December 23

Filing fees for many USCIS petitions and applications will rise by an average of 21%, with the most substantial employment-based increases imposed on Form I-129, the nonimmigrant worker petition, and on EB-5 investor and Regional Center filings.  A petition or application received at USCIS on or after December 23 must include the new fee.

To view entire article, click here.

 

United States, December 12, 2016
January 2017 Visa Bulletin - Modest Advancements in EB-2 India and China, and EB-3 China Final Action Dates

In January, the cutoff dates for final issuance of an immigrant visa will advance by two and a half months for EB-2 India and just over three weeks for EB-2 China.  Final action cutoff dates for EB-3 professionals and skilled workers China will advance by just over two months, and the Philippines by seven weeks. There will be no movement for EB-3 India.  Cutoff dates for filing eligibility will not advance for any backlogged category. 

To view entire article, click here.

 

United States, December 12, 2016
Budget Resolution Extends Temporary Reauthorization of Four Key Immigration Programs

A budget resolution signed into law on December 10 extended the EB-5 Regional Center program, E-Verify, the Conrad 30 program and the non-minister religious worker program through April 28, 2017.

To view entire article, click here.

 

United States, December 14, 2016
The Upcoming H-1B Season: Planning Ahead is Key

It's not too soon to begin preparing for the FY 2018 H-1B filing season. Demand for H-1B quota numbers is expected to remain high next year. Starting early will help ensure that your organization is ready when the filing period begins on April 3, 2017.

To view entire article, click here.

 

Worldwide, December 15, 2016
Immigration Processing During the Holiday Season

During the holiday season, many government offices worldwide will close or have reduced staff and hours of operation, likely resulting in processing delays for work permits, residence permits and visas over the coming weeks and into the new year.

To view entire article, click here.

 

Kazakhstan, December 14, 2016
New Visa Waiver Program to be Introduced January 1

Nationals of 39 countries will become eligible for a new business and tourist visa exemption for stays up to 30 days on or after January 1, 2017, after the Government Resolution is signed by the Prime Minister.

To view entire article, click here.

 

Canada, December 14, 2016
Parent and Grandparent Program Intake Process to Become a Lottery

The Parent and Grandparent Sponsorship program will be subject to a new lottery system on or after January 3, 2017. This will prevent the typical exhaustion of the program quota within days.

To view entire article, click here.

 

Kazakhstan, December 14, 2016
Heads of Branches to Remain Work Permit Exempt

Despite last week's announcement that heads of branches and representative offices of foreign entities in Kazakhstan will no longer be exempt from the Work Permit requirement, the government has decided to retract this announcement and the exemption will remain.

To view entire article, click here.

 

Hong Kong, December 13, 2016
Stricter Entry Requirements Forthcoming for Indian Nationals

Indian passport holders entering Hong Kong for business and tourism - who are currently allowed to enter Hong Kong without a visa for up to 14 days - will be required to complete an online pre-registration called a Pre-Arrival Registration (PAR) prior to travel on or after January 23, 2017. The new measures are meant to address the increasing number of Indian economic migrants who enter Hong Kong illegally.

To view entire article, click here.

 

Canada, December 13, 2016
Temporary Foreign Worker Program Changes Announced

The Temporary Foreign Worker Program has undergone several changes aimed at increasing access to the program. Notably, the four-year cumulative duration rule, which limits work for some workers in Canada to four years, has been eliminated and the requirement for low-wage employers to advertise to underrepresented groups in the workforce has been made stricter and clarified, among other changes.

To view entire article, click here.

 

Malaysia, December 13, 2016
Companies Must Submit 2017 Employment Pass and Professional Visit Pass Projections

Companies submitting Professional Visit Pass (PVP) applications in 2017 are required to submit projections for the number of foreign nationals they wish to sponsor. Due to holiday closures and the expected high volume of projection applications, companies should submit their 2017 projections for Employment Passes and PVPs as soon as possible to avoid delays.

To view entire article, click here.

 

France, December 12, 2016
New Law Significantly Changes Immigration System

A new law implemented in March with initial provisions effective November 1, 2016 and additional provisions effective January 1, 2017, significantly overhauls the French immigration system. Notably, there is a new short-term work permit exemption, a new immigration category for highly-skilled foreign workers that combines 10 professional  immigration categories and a new intracompany transferee (ICT) permit that replaces the previous salarié en mission détaché permit and implements the EU Directive on ICTs, among other changes.

To view entire article, click here.

 

United Kingdom, December 12, 2016
Sponsors' Document Retention Rules Relaxed

UK Visas and Immigration has reduced the period of time for which sponsors must retain documents for their sponsored migrant workforce. Employers must still retain evidence of a right to work check for two years following the end of employment.

To view entire article, click here.

 

Kazakhstan, December 9, 2016
Work Permit Process to be Simplified; Exemption for Heads of Branches to be Eliminated

On or after January 1, 2017, Work Permit applicants will be no longer be subject to a labor market test or bank deposit requirement and local hires will no longer be subject to Special Conditions, among other simplifications to Work Permit rules. However, heads of branches and representative offices of foreign entities in Kazakhstan will no longer be exempt from the Work Permit requirement.

To view entire article, click here.

 

Other Immigration News This Week

United States: BRIDGE Act Introduced to Protect Young Undocumented Individuals from Deportation – On December 9, 2016, Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Dick Durbin (D-IL) introduced bipartisan legislation – S. 3542: Bar Removal of Individuals who Dream and Grow our Economy (BRIDGE) Act – to protect young undocumented individuals should President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program be discontinued. The BRIDGE Act would provide temporary relief from deportation and work authorization for three years after the date of enactment of the legislation to undocumented individuals who were brought to the United States as children.

United States: Latest PERM and PWD Processing Times – As of December 3, 2016, the Department of Labor (DOL) was conducting analyst review for PERM applications filed in September 2016 or earlier, and processing audited cases filed in May 2016 or earlier. There is no update on the government error queue. DOL is working on standard reconsideration requests submitted in November 2016 or earlier.

DOL is issuing prevailing wage determinations for PERM and H-1B requests filed in July 2016 and August 2016, respectively. The agency has been processing PERM redeterminations requested in September 2016 and H-1B redeterminations requested in October 2016, and H-1B and PERM center director reviews requested in August 2016.

PERM and PWD processing times are available on the iCERT home page.

Brazil: New Law Defines Immigrants' Rights – On December 6, 2016, the House of Representatives approved a proposed law that, if approved after a vote from the Senate, would sets forth new rules for foreign nationals' entry and stay rights and establish rules for the protection of Brazilians abroad.  It would also allow undocumented immigrants in Brazil to become eligible for permanent residency.  If the proposed law is approved, it will replace the current Foreigner's Statute and revoke the Nationality Law.

Brazil: New Companies Eligible for One-Year Technical Visa Sponsorship – Intermediary companies can now sponsor foreign workers under the One-Year Technical Visa, even if they do not receive services directly from foreign workers. The Brazilian company will have to present a contract with the foreign national's employer, which must contain an exclusivity clause as the only provider of that technical service in Brazil. Previously, a Brazilian company could sponsor foreign workers under the One-Year Technical Visa only when it was formed as part of the same corporate group as the foreign national’s employer abroad or received the services directly; in both cases, a legalized Technical Services Agreement was (and is still) required with the foreign national’s employer abroad.

Israel: Same-Sex Spouses Now Eligible for Citizenship – According to a new directive, effective immediately, the rights of legally married same-sex spouses will be the same as those of heterosexual couples in Israel. The Ministry of Interior is expected to issue new or amended regulations that will provide the right of naturalization after 4.5 years of legal status to all married foreign partners regardless of gender.  However, same-sex marriages still cannot be legally performed in Israel. Additionally, this change will allow the foreign spouse to benefit from the State Health Plan, obtain an Israeli identification and exercise voting rights.

Until now, same-sex spouses have been recognized as non-married couples, entitling them to residency rights only, rather than citizenship. During the naturalization application process, the couple will have to provide evidence of a valid marital relationship, including proof of cohabitation, among other documents. Same-sex couples already in Israel who seek to be naturalized should contact their immigration professional to discuss the application process. We worked closely with Kan-Tor & Acco Law Firm (Israel) to prepare this update.

Italy: Update on Same-Sex Couples' Immigration Rights – Following the July law approving same-sex civil unions in Italy that in turn allowed same-sex partners who are legally married in their home country to qualify as dependents in Italian immigration applications, the approval of related decrees has been postponed to March 2017 from the original December deadline. The decrees are expected to clarify the process and formalize related practices. In the meantime, Italian consular posts have been processing citizenship applications from non-EU nationals who have entered into a legally registered civil union with an Italian national. Such applications can be filed two years after the civil union if the couple is residing in Italy, or three years after the civil union, if the couple is residing abroad. Affected foreign nationals should contact their immigration professional for further information.  Fragomen will provide further information when it becomes available.

Kazakhstan: State Fees Introduced for Work Permit – On or after January 1, 2017, initial local hire work permit applications and extensions will be subject to a state fee that will depend on the foreign employee's category and the employer’s economic activity type. The state fee will have to be paid to the relevant local state authority within 10 business days of the work permit approval. Foreign nationals and employers with questions about this new policy should contact their immigration professional.

 

Global Immigration News Links

Skilled immigration was one of the main topics discussed at a meeting between U.S. President-elect Donald Trump and the world’s most powerful tech executives.

The business and populist wings of the Republican Party are set to debate over the nation’s system of legal immigration, the Wall Street Journal reports.

More than 100 employees of technology companies, including Alphabet Inc.’s Google, Twitter Inc. and Salesforce have pledged not to help U.S. President-elect Donald Trump’s administration build a data registry to track people based on their religion or assist in mass deportation.

U.S. President-elect Donald Trump has said that one of his first executive orders after assuming office would be to order investigation into all visa abuses that undermine jobs for the American worker.

The Swiss Parliament has reached an agreement on how to deal with the February 2014 “against mass immigration” referendum within the European Union.

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

© 2016 Fragomen, Del Rey, Bernsen & Loewy, LLP, Fragomen Global LLP and affiliates. All Rights Reserved.