Jan 15 2016

Fragomen Immigration Update: January 8 - 14, 2016

Canada, China, France, Germany, Indonesia, Israel, Madagascar, Poland, Republic of the Philippines, Romania, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States
In United States immigration news this week, Australian E-3 and Chilean and Singaporean H-1B1 nonimmigrants will benefit from a new rule that grants 240 days of additional work authorization to those with a timely application for an extension of stay.
According to the State Department's February Visa Bulletin, the cutoff dates for final issuance of an immigrant visa will advance by six months for EB-2 India and one month for EB-2 China. EB-3 cut-off dates will advance modestly for China, India and the Philippines. Cutoff dates for filing eligibility will remain unchanged for all categories and countries. Next month, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services will only accept employment-based adjustment applications from foreign nationals with a priority date that is current for final action under the February Visa Bulletin. 
Effective February 1, employers in Canada will have to open new accounts to advertise jobs on the new Job Bank website. Citizenship and Immigration Canada’s selection process for the Express Entry draw continues to indicate flexibility.
Israel has increased the 2016 minimum monthly prevailing wage for foreign experts. Foreign nationals in Turkey filing certain visa applications at a consular post must submit application documents online before appearing for their consular appointment.
In Germany, the Federal Employment Agency decided not to implement a rule, which would have excluded certain allowances provided by the employer from the minimum salary calculation.
These items and other news from China, Indonesia, France, Madagascar, the Philippines, Poland, Romania, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, and the United States follow in this edition of the Fragomen Immigration Update.
Important Updates in Immigration This Week
United States, January 14, 2016
USCIS to Provide Extension of Work Authorization to H-1B1s and E-3s with Timely-Filed Application to Extend a Stay
H-1B1 and E-3 nonimmigrants with a timely-filed application to extend a stay will benefit from a 240-day extension of work authorization, under a final regulation that will take effect on February 14, 2016. Separately, the new regulation gives employers more flexibility in the types of evidence they can submit to support EB-1 petitions for outstanding researchers and professors.  
To view entire article, click here.
United States, January 13, 2016
February Visa Bulletin Update: USCIS to Honor Employment-Based Final Action Dates Only Next Month
In February, USCIS will only accept employment-based adjustment applications from foreign nationals with a priority date that is current for final action under the February Visa Bulletin.  
To view entire article, click here.
United States, January 8, 2016
February 2016 Visa Bulletin: EB-2 India and China Final Action Dates Will Advance Next Month; Moderate Advancements for EB-3 India, China and the Philippines, and EB-5 China
The cutoff dates for final issuance of an immigrant visa will advance by six months for EB-2 India and one month for EB-2 China. EB-3 cut-off dates will advance modestly for China, India and the Philippines, while EB-3 cutoff dates for all other countries will remain the same. EB-5 China will advance by only one week. Cutoff dates for filing eligibility will remain the same across the board.  
To view entire article, click here.
Madagascar, January 14, 2016
Authorities Clarify Work Permit and Transformable Visa Requirements
Based on a recent clarifying statement published by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Transformable Visa has not been discontinued, but in fact, can only be applied for after the issuance of a work permit by the Economic Development Board of Madagascar.
To view entire article, click here.
Canada, January 13, 2016
Latest Express Entry Selection Shows Ongoing Flexibility
Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) will be conducting its second Express Entry draw for this month, today through tomorrow, January 14, 2016, and 1,518 candidates will be 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 approval at the time their profile was selected. 
To view entire article, click here.
Israel, January 13, 2016
Minimum Prevailing Wage Increased for Foreign Experts
The minimum monthly prevailing wage for foreign experts for 2016 has been increased to 18,668 NIS gross. Foreign nationals under Short Employment Authorization visas or STEP visas (short-term expedited process) are not affected by the increase.
To view entire article, click here.
United Kingdom, January 12, 2016
Visa Fees Likely to Increase
The Home Office presented a new law for approval by Parliament that would raise visa and other immigration application fees over the next four years. The first of the increases is likely to happen in April 2016.
To view entire article, click here.
Canada, January 12, 2016
Job Postings to be Listed on New Job Bank
On or after February 1, 2016, employers will not be able to advertise new jobs in their job bank accounts created before February 24, 2015, and instead will have to open a new job bank account on the new Job Bank website. To open a new job bank account, employers must have a Canadian social insurance number. Once registered, employers can use a third-party representative to manage their account.
To view entire article, click here.
Germany, January 11, 2016
Expected Salary Limitations Not Implemented
The Federal Employment Agency has decided not to implement a rule that would have excluded non-cash benefits such as housing, cars and meals provided by the employer and travel expenses, among other allowances, from the calculation of the minimum salary when comparing the foreign national's salary with a local salary. Rules regarding the general minimum salary calculation remain unchanged.
To view entire article, click here.
Turkey, January 8, 2016
Mandatory Online System Implemented for Visa Applicants
Foreign nationals filing certain visa applications at a consular post must now upload their application documents online through the Turkish electronic visa application system prior to appearing at a consular post. Applicants must still submit their visa application forms and supporting documents in person at a Turkish consular post. This system does not impact electronic visas for those nationals eligible for E-visas, but does impact business visitors who must acquire a consular visa.
To view entire article, click here.
Other Immigration News This Week
United States: Latest PERM & PWD Processing Times – As of January 4, 2016, the Department of Labor (DOL) was conducting analyst reviews for PERM applications filed in June 2015 or earlier and processing audited cases filed in November 2014 or earlier. The government error queue is current. DOL is working on standard reconsideration requests submitted in August 2015 or earlier.
As of January 13, 2016, the processing times for PERM prevailing wage determinations (PWDs) are within the 60-day target timeframe. DOL is issuing determinations for H-2B PWDs requested in November 2015, and PERM and H-1B PWDs requested in October 2015. The agency is currently processing PERM and H-1B wage redeterminations and center director reviews requested in November 2015.
PERM and PWD processing times are available on the iCERT home page.
France: Modest Minimum Salary Increases Announced – The new monthly minimum wage for work permit holders is EUR 1,466.62 per month (EUR 17,599.44 per year); and EUR 2,199.93 per month (EUR 26,399.16 per year) for intracompany transferees. In addition to meeting the minimum salary requirements, employers must also meet the requirements of the relevant French labor regulation or collective bargaining agreement, if applicable. The filing fee for employers filing long-term work permits has also increased to a maximum of EUR 2,016.60.
Indonesia: New Online Application Portal Launched – Due to the replacement of the old online application portal with a new portal on January 5, 2016, there may be delays and longer processing times during the first few weeks of the year, especially for employers intending to apply for a RPTKA (Foreign Manpower Utilization Plan) and IMTA (Work Permit). The Department of Manpower has confirmed that RPTKA and IMTA applications must still be filed online; manual submissions will not be accepted. Employers should work with their immigration professionals to file their RPTKA and IMTA applications online as soon as possible to account for the delays associated with the new portal.
Philippines: New Bureau of Immigration Chief Appointed¬ – Ronaldo Geron has been appointed as the new chief of the Bureau of Immigration (BI), replacing Commissioner Siegfred Mison, with immediate effect. Applications with and communications to the BI should now be addressed to the new commissioner. 
Poland: Single Permit, Work Permit and Residence Card Processing Delayed –The Immigration and Labor Offices in Poland are experiencing significant processing delays. Single Permit issuance in Wroclaw is currently taking up to 140 days, instead of the typical 60-90 days; Residence Card issuance in Warsaw is currently taking up to 60 days, instead of the typical 30 days; and Work Permit issuance in Poznan may take over 90 days, instead of the typical 30 days. Since there may also be delays in other cities, foreign nationals filing Single Permit, Residence Permit and Work Permit applications should contact the office in which they seek to file to inquire about the processing time, in order to account for any delays in start dates.
Romania: Minimum Salary Increased for Foreign Workers – The minimum salary for foreign workers has increased from 2,415 RON to 2,681 RON per month. Highly-skilled workers must earn four times that amount (approximately 2,400 EUR) per month. Foreign nationals with dependents must earn an additional 1,050 RON per family member, and this amount is expected to increase in March. Employers should ensure that they account for the increased minimum salary amount when paying foreign workers.
United Kingdom/China: Reciprocal Agreement Offers Longer Visa Validity Periods – A reciprocal visa agreement now makes UK nationals seeking to travel to China, and Chinese nationals seeking to travel to the United Kingdom, eligible for two-year multiple-entry business and visitor visas, for the same price as the previous, shorter-validity visa (GBP 85). Additionally, the UK government announced plans for a ten-year multiple-entry tourist visa for Chinese nationals.
Lastly, there is a new fee schedule for Chinese visas for UK nationals. UK nationals' visa fees no longer depend on the visa type or validity, but now depend on the type of service used. The application center service charge remains unchanged. 
United Arab Emirates: Visitors Can Change Status In-Country – Visitor visa holders can now amend their immigration status to employment or residency status from within the UAE, without having to exit and reenter, as was previously required for certain types of visas, according to an announcement by the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs. It remains unclear whether some categories of visitors, such as holders of visitor visas for Gulf Cooperation Council residents (those from Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates), still need to obtain discretionary approval from Immigration Authorities to change their status. Visitors should contact their immigration professional to determine eligibility.
Global Immigration News Links
Central American immigrants are scrambling to find options to deportation by U.S. immigration authorities, Reuters reports. Meanwhile, the Obama administration is turning to the United Nations to help screen migrants fleeing violence in Central America and to help set up processing centers in several Latin American countries in the hopes of stemming a flood of families crossing the southern border illegally, the New York Times reports.
This alert is for informational purposes only. If you have any questions, please contact the global immigration professional with whom you work at Fragomen.