Virginia, US

Jan 13 2017

Fragomen Immigration Update: January 6 – 12, 2017

Canada, Finland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Kazakhstan, Panama, Peru, Sweden, United States

In United States immigration news this week, cutoff dates for final issuance of an immigrant visa will advance by one month for EB-2 China, one week for EB-3 India, three weeks for EB-3 China and nearly three months for the Philippines, according to the State Department’s February Visa Bulletin.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada conducted its 48th Express Entry draw and invited 3,334 candidates to apply for permanent residence.

Panama’s temporary identification card and tourist/business visitor visas now have shorter validity periods.  In Peru, a new law effective March 1, 2017 will reorganize Peru's immigration categories into temporary and resident categories, allow foreign nationals to work in the public sector and spouses of the main visa applicant to work, and relax travel bans but create new fines for foreign nationals violating immigration laws, among other changes.

In Italy, an EU intracompany transferee work permit is forthcoming.  In Ireland, Critical Skills Employment Permit (CSEP) holders cannot apply for a Stamp 4, which allows them to work without company sponsorship, unless they have completed the requisite two years under their current CSEP.

Travelers to East and Southeast Asia during the Lunar New Year holiday season can expect delays and interruptions in government office and business operations. 

These items and other news from Canada, Israel, Finland, Kazakhstan, Sweden and the United States follow in this edition of the Fragomen Immigration Update.

 

Important Updates in Immigration This Week

United States, January 10, 2017
February 2017 Visa Bulletin: Some Advancement in Final Action Dates for EB-2 China, EB-3 India and China

In February, the cutoff dates for final action on an immigrant visa will advance by one month for EB-2 China. Final action dates for EB-3 will advance by one week for India, three weeks for China, and nearly three months for the Philippines. There will be no movement for EB-2 India or China in the EB-3 other worker subcategory. Cutoff dates for filing eligibility will not advance for any backlogged category.

To view entire article, click here.

 

Ireland, January 12, 2017
Critical Skills Employment Permit Policy Restricted

Critical Skills Employment Permit (CSEP) holders cannot apply for a Stamp 4, which allows them to work without company sponsorship, unless they have completed the requisite two years under their current CSEP. Previously, CSEP holders could add up time spent on multiple CSEPs to meet this requirement.

To view entire article, click here.

 

Canada, January 12, 2017
More Invitations Issued in Latest Express Entry Draw

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada invited 3,334 candidates to apply for permanent residence in its most recent Express Entry draw. The minimum qualifying score for this draw was 459.

To view entire article, click here.

 

Panama, January 12, 2017
Temporary Identification Card and Tourist/Business Visitor Visa Now Have Shorter Validity Periods

The Panamanian government has issued an executive decree that implements a new temporary identification card that is only valid for six months, instead of the previous one-year validity period. Additionally, tourists and business visitors will now only be allowed to remain in Panama for three months.

To view entire article, click here.

 

Italy, January 11, 2017
EU Intracompany Transferee Work Permit Forthcoming

A draft law will create a new intracompany work permit for managers, specialists and trainees who have worked in the same corporate group for at least three months prior to transfer to Italy. The permit will allow a stay of up to three years for managers and specialists or one year for trainees. Workers with an Italian ICT Work Permit will be able to work in other EU Member States according to each Member State's rules and regulations for ICTs.

To view entire article, click here.

 

Worldwide, January 11, 2017
Lunar New Year to Cause Government Closures; Travel Delays

Travelers to East and Southeast Asia during the Lunar New Year holiday season can expect delays and interruptions in government office and business operations. Travelers to the area should make advance arrangements and visa and permit applicants should submit applications as early as possible.

To view entire article, click here.

 

Peru, January 10, 2017
New Law to Simplify Immigration Categories, Allow Spouses to Work, Among Other Changes

A new law effective March 1, 2017 will reorganize Peru's immigration categories into temporary and resident categories, will allow foreign nationals to work in the public sector, will allow spouses of the main visa applicant to work, and will relax travel bans but create new fines for foreign nationals violating immigration laws, among other changes.

To view entire article, click here.

 

Other Immigration News This Week

United States: H-2B Cap Reached for First Half of FY 2017 – U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services reports that as of January 10, 2017, the congressionally mandated H-2B cap for the first half of fiscal year (FY) 2017 has been reached.

January 10, 2017 was the final receipt date for new cap-subject H-2B worker petitions requesting an employment start date before April 1, 2017. The final receipt date is when USCIS received enough cap-subject petitions to reach the limit of 33,000 H-2B workers for the first half of FY 2017. This means that no cap numbers from the first half of FY 2016 will carry over to the second half of FY 2017, which begins on April 1, 2017.

The cap for each half-year is 33,000, but USCIS accepts filings in excess of the cap because some cases will be denied or withdrawn and because employers may ultimately employ fewer H-2B beneficiaries than reflected in their petitions.

United States: State Department Proposes to Amend Summer Work Travel of the Exchange Visitor Program – The State Department is proposing to amend existing regulations to provide new program requirements for the Summer Work Travel category of the Exchange Visitor Program. The agency is accepting comments through February 27, 2017. The agency proposes to:

  • Specify general program administration requirements for sponsors and their third parties;

  • Enhance transparency in the recruitment of exchange visitors;

  • Limit exchange visitor repeat participation to a total of three visits;

  • Require all exchange visitors to be placed in advance of the exchange visitor’s arrival in the United States;

  • Outline additional sponsor responsibilities for use and vetting of host entities; and

  • Specify host entity requirements for program participation.

Canada: New Cabinet Includes Immigration and Labour Ministry Changes – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has announced changes to his cabinet. Key relevant appointments include Ahmed Hussen, the new Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada and Patty Hajdu, the new Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour.

Hussen is Canada’s first Somali-Canadian Member of Parliament and was a refugee himself, having arrived in Canada unaccompanied as a teenager. Hussen replaces John McCallum, who is being reassigned as Canada's ambassador to China.

Hajdu is moving from her previous post as Minister of Status of Women. Her new department, Employment, Workforce Development and Labour, oversees the Labour Market Impact Assessment process

Israel: Minimum Salary Level Increased for Foreign Experts – The minimum monthly prevailing wage for foreign experts for 2017 has increased to 19,086 NIS gross (up from 18,668 NIS in 2016). Those with a pending B-1 visa application as of January 1, 2017 and those submitting a new B-1 visa application will need to meet the new minimum for their applications. Foreign nationals under Short Employment Authorization visas or STEP visas (short-term expedited process) and SEA Visas are not affected by the change. Employers with foreign experts should ensure that they comply with the new minimum prevailing wage requirements established for 2017.

Finland: Some Dependents Eligible for Streamlined Application Processes – Effective immediately, EU nationals applying for residence cards for their non-EU dependents can submit their family's residence card applications at a Finnish Immigration customer service point, in addition to the option of the current process which involves submitting a paper application. This benefits affected residence card applicants since it streamlines the application process. Dependents and the main applicant must still appear personally at the end of the application process.

Additionally, non-EU dependents of non-EU visa applicants can now apply online for their residence permits, in addition to the in-person process at Finnish consular posts.

Finland: Residence Permit Processing Delayed – Since the transfer of pending residence permit applications from the Finnish police to the Finnish Immigration Service at the beginning of 2017, residence permit application processing has been delayed and estimated processing times provided by the police last year are no longer accurate. Requests to expedite are only granted in exceptional circumstances. Those with pending applications can check the Finnish Immigration Service website for current processing times. Approved residence cards will be sent by mail and applicants will not be able to pick up their cards in person.

Kazakhstan: Visa-Free Travel Extended to More Countries – Kazakhstan has added the following countries to the list of visa-exempt nationals for tourism and business travel: Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Lithuania, Malta and Romania.  Now, nationals of 45 countries do not need to obtain a visa if conducting permitted business activities for stays of up to 30 days. Work activities are not permitted under a business visa. Applicants from affected countries with questions on the policy should contact their immigration professional.

Sweden: Applicants with Dependents Should Adhere to Updated Application Requirements – Following the Migration Agency's halt on deciding work permit applications for dependents if the main applicant has been granted a permanent residence permit in Sweden, it is likely that the Migration Agency will start analyzing principal applicants' applications according to the following new requirements:

  • Whether the principal applicant can support themselves and their family members who are applying for residence permits, including proof of a sufficiently-sized residence, salary slips and income statements;

  • Whether the principal applicant has regular work-related income;

  • Whether the principal applicant has sufficient savings or other assets for themselves and their family members applying for residence permits; and

  • Whether the principal applicant's lease has been approved by a landlord, tenant-owners’ association or regional rent tribunal in cases when a family is subletting an apartment.

Applicants with dependents should contact their immigration professional to discuss the application requirements.

 

Global Immigration News Links

U.S. Senate Democrats are introducing a new bill that would prevent the establishment of a federal religion-based registry for immigrants.

Italy and Libya signed an accord to combat immigration and human trafficking.

French presidential candidate Francois Fillon will lay out his proposals to cut immigration to a “strict minimum” through the use of quotas.

British Immigration Minister Robert Goodwill has suggested that companies could be charged to hire skilled workers from the EU 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.

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