Jun 19 2015

Fragomen Immigration Update: June 12 - 18, 2015

Australia, Brazil, China, Curaçao, Germany, Indonesia, Italy, Kazakhstan, Qatar, Turkey, United Kingdom, United States

This week in United States immigration news, U.S. consulates remain unable to process visas due to persistent technical problems affecting the State Department’s worldwide databases. Though the agency has resumed issuing passports to U.S. citizens abroad, it estimates that nonimmigrant and immigrant visa issuance will be on hold until next week at least. Nonimmigrant visa applicants and their employers should expect additional delays of 10 to 14 days after the system is restored.

UK Prime Minister David Cameron announced that efforts were underway to reduce non-EU immigration. The UK’s Migration Advisory Committee is seeking stakeholder comments on the impact of significant minimum salaries increases for all Tier 2 workers. 

In China, forthcoming relaxed immigration rules and procedures for highly-skilled foreign nationals should make it easier to obtain Permanent Residence status and Residence Permits, and should simplify various visa application procedures for investors. There are also plans to extend the visa-free policy from 72-hour stays to 144-hour stays.

China and Australia signed a Free Trade Agreement, which should facilitate travel for each country’s business visitors, intracompany transferees and skilled workers, enhance investment opportunities and reduce trade restrictions between the two countries. The Australian Senate restored the market salary rate exemption level to AUD 250,000, the amount set in July 2013.

The Qatari Ministry of Interior started issuing new residence cards to replace existing identification cards and passport stickers for foreign residents. The cards will serve as sole proof of identity and residency in Qatar.

These items and other news from Brazil, Curaçao, European Union, Germany, Indonesia, Italy, Kazakhstan, Turkey and the United States follow in this edition of the Fragomen Immigration Update.


Important Updates in Immigration This Week

United States, June 17, 2015

Ongoing Technical Problems Likely to Delay Visa Processing Until Next Week, State Department Projects

Unless they have an emergency need to travel, foreign nationals will be unable to receive U.S. visas until State Department systems are back online. Once technical issues are resolved, visa applicants should expect further delays of 10 to 14 days while consulates work through the processing backlog that accumulated during the outage.

To view the entire article, click here.


United States, June 15, 2015

After a Brief Reopening, the FY 2015 H-2B Cap Is Reached Again

USCIS has received enough H-2B petitions to exhaust the FY 2015 H-2B cap numbers that were made available on June 5. The agency will not accept any further H-2B petitions for employment start dates in FY 2015 unless they are exempt from the cap, but it continues to accept petitions for H-2B employment in FY 2016, which begins on October 1, 2015.

To view the entire article, click here.


Australia / China, June 19, 2015

Free Trade Agreement Creates Reciprocal Benefits for Business Travelers, Workers and Businesses

The China-Australia Free Trade Agreement, signed on June 17, 2015, will facilitate travel for each country’s business visitors, intracompany transferees and skilled workers, and will enhance investment opportunities and reduce trade restrictions between the two countries. China will also provide equivalent entry and stay rights for dependents and spouses of Australian intracompany transferees or contractual service suppliers on stays over twelve months.

To view the entire article, click here.


Australia, June 18, 2015

Market Salary Rate Exemption Reversed

The Australian Senate has restored the market salary rate exemption level to AUD 250,000, the amount set in July 2013. The level was purportedly reduced to AUD 180,000 in April due to the entry of a legislative instrument by the Minister of Immigration and Border Patrol, however, the Senate voted to disallow the instrument on June 16, 2015. This decision may impact any pending subclass 457 visa nominations that relied on the previous AUD 180,000 exemption level.

To view the entire article, click here.


United Kingdom, June 18, 2015

Advisory Committee Proposes Minimum Salary Increases

The Migration Advisory Committee has published a consultation document that that asks stakeholders to comment on the impact of significant minimum salaries increases for all Tier 2 workers. The MAC has asked for responses by July 3, 2015. The MAC will make recommendations to the Home Secretary on July 21, 2015, and any resulting policy changes would be implemented on October 6, 2015.

To view the entire article, click here.


China, June 18, 2015

Relaxed Immigration Rules and Procedures Forthcoming for Foreign Workers in Shanghai

New immigration policies should make it easier for highly-skilled foreign nationals to obtain Permanent Residence status and Residence Permits, and will simplify various visa application procedures for investors and those starting businesses in Shanghai. The changes will be piloted starting July 1, 2015. There are also plans to extend the visa-free policy from 72 hour-stays to 144 hour-stays.

To view the entire article, click here.


United Kingdom, June 15, 2015

Efforts to Reduce Non-EU Immigration and Increase Minimum Salary Threshold Announced

The Prime Minister announced last week that the Home Secretary has instructed the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) to advise on reducing the volume of work migrants from outside the EU and whether minimum salaries should be increased for skilled workers. A policy report is expected to be released by the MAC by the end of the year, while a related immigration bill is expected to be introduced to Parliament next month.

To view the entire article, click here.


Germany, June 15, 2015

Mail Delivery Strike Delays Receipt of Immigration Application Approvals

A strike involving mail delivery personnel is causing significant reductions in post office services and is delaying the receipt of work permit pre-approvals and other immigration application notifications by at least one week, and longer in some cases. It is not clear how long the strike will last.

To view the entire article, click here.


Qatar, June 15, 2015

Residence Card to Replace Identification Card

Starting June 15, the Ministry of Interior will issue new residence cards for foreign residents. The residence cards will replace existing identification cards and passport stickers and will serve as sole proof of identity and residency in Qatar. The residence cards will be valid for one, two, three or five years, depending on certain circumstances.

To view the entire article, click here.


Other Immigration News This Week

United States: Supreme Court Upholds Consular Nonreviewability of Visa Denials – On June 15, the United States Supreme Court upheld the longstanding doctrine that blocks the visa application decisions of U.S. consulates from judicial review in Kerry et al. v. Fauzia Din.  

The Court vacated the Ninth Circuit’s finding that Fauzia Din, a U.S. citizen whose Afghan husband’s immigrant visa application was refused for security reasons, had due process rights that allowed her to seek judicial review of the decision. The husband, who had worked as a civil servant during the Taliban regime, was found inadmissible under a statute blocking immigrants who have taken part in terrorist activities.

In a plurality opinion, Justices Scalia, Roberts and Thomas found that Din was not deprived of life, liberty or property without due process, and therefore, was not entitled to a review. Justices Kennedy and Alito wrote that the brief notice issued by the government about the visa denial was enough to satisfy due process requirements.

Brazil: Work Permit Applications Must Be Submitted Online – Starting August 28, 2015, the Ministry of Labor will stop accepting hard-copy work permit application submissions, according to an announcement in Brazil's Official Gazette. Instead, applications must be e-filed on the Ministry of Labor's website. Both options will be available until August 28, 2015.  This change should not delay processing of work visa applications, as the online function has been available since 2013.

Curaçao: U.S. Passport Holders Eligible for Indefinite Residence Permits – U.S. passport holders are now eligible for a multiple-entry work and residence permit with an indefinite validity in Curaçao, according to a decision of the Court of Justice.  This residence permit is the same as that offered for Dutch nationals born abroad (Verklaring van Rechtswege, or Admission by Right). U.S. passport holders can apply for the work and residence permit from abroad or in Curaçao.  Previously, U.S. passport holders had to apply for a work permit separately from a residence permit in country only, with varying, fixed validity periods.

European Union: Forthcoming Visa Exemption for Colombian and Peruvian Nationals – Colombian and Peruvian nationals are expected to be eligible for visa-free entry and stay for up to 90 days in a 180-day period in the EU (excluding the United Kingdom and Ireland). As part of the agreement, EU nationals are expected to be eligible for visa-free entry for tourism in Peru, while EU tourists can already enter Colombia for tourism without a visa. Business visitors to either Colombia or Peru, including those from the EU, will still need to obtain the appropriate entry visa for business trips. The exemption is expected to be effective by November 2015.  

Indonesia: Visa-Free Travel for Tourists Reinstated – Visa exemptions that were put on hold in April for nationals of 30 countries visiting Indonesia as tourists have been reinstated.  Foreign nationals from the following additional countries are eligible for the exemption: Austria, Belgium, Bahrain, Canada, China, Czech Republic, Denmark, England, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Japan, Kuwait, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Oman, Poland, Qatar, Russia, South Korea, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Arab Emirates and the United States.  Nationals from these 30 countries must still obtain a visa-on-arrival for business travel. Visa-exempt travelers can enter through the following airports only: Soekarno Hatta (Tangerang – Jakarta), Ngurah Rai (Bali), Kualanamu (Medan), Juanda (Surabaya), Hang Nadim (Batam); and the following seaports: Sri Bintan Pura (Tanjung Pinang), Sekupang (Batam), Batam Center (Batam) and Tanjung Uban (Tanjung Uban). Visa-exempt nationals from the original 15 countries can continue to enter Indonesia as business visitors without a visa.

Italy: Milan Work Permit Applicants Require Detailed CV or Employer's Declaration – Foreign nationals submitting work permit applications to the Milan Immigration Office will no longer be able to use university degrees as evidence of specialization in a specific field.  To prove that they have the required highly specialized skill set, skilled workers with at least six months of relevant experience must submit a legalized or apostilled CV or a declaration from the sending employer confirming the candidate’s skills, with a translation if necessary. Skilled workers with less than six months of experience can submit scanned copies of these documents. Some other Italian application centers will still accept university degrees as evidence of skills.

Italy: Some Software Installers Now Eligible for Work Authorization Exemption – The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has confirmed that visa-exempt foreign nationals sent from a parent company to train the staff of the Italian subsidiary on installing new software on the subsidiaries' sites can carry out such activities in business visitor status. Previously, this activity required a training visa.  Employers with foreign employees conducting such training activities are subject to site visits from local labor authorities to ensure compliance with documentary requirements. Affected foreign nationals should contact their immigration professionals to discuss the types of documents the authorities may inspect.

Kazakhstan: More Flexible Work Permit Deposit Return Option Implemented – When applying for a refund of the security deposit required to ensure the departure of a foreign worker upon expiration of his or her work permit, host companies can now choose between providing a copy of the assignee's airplane ticket or a confirmation letter from the Migration Police confirming the assignee's exit. Previously, in order for the work permit deposit to be returned, an outbound ticket to the assignee's country of residence/citizenship had to be provided. Foreign nationals should benefit from this new option as they can choose the confirmation letter option and thus not be bound to definite travel plans for their exit from Kazakhstan. Implementation of this new rule may not be consistent across all labor authorities. Foreign nationals should therefore contact their immigration professional for specific advice on departure documentation.

Turkey: Work Visa Applicants Require Police Clearance Certificates – The Turkish Consulate has started requiring work visa applicants to submit police clearance certificates from the applicant's country of residence with their work visa applications. An official announcement has not been made about this change in practice. Work visa applicants should contact their immigration professional to discuss the process and timing for obtaining police clearance.


Global Immigration News Links

As candidates gear up for the 2016 U.S. presidential elections, immigration continues to be a major issue. During his presidential campaign launch, Jeb Bush said that “the next President of the United States will pass a meaningful immigration reform … not by executive order.” Meanwhile, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said that, if elected president, she would expand on President Obama’s executive action.

Facebook CEO and FWD.US founder Mark Zuckerberg donated $5 million to TheDream.US, a program that provides scholarships to students who have qualified from the administration’s deferred action program, which delays deportations for many young immigrants.

© 2015 Fragomen