Mar 11 2016

Fragomen Immigration Update: March 4 - 10, 2016

Austria, Bosnia, Canada, Chile, Croatia, Finland, France, Hungary, Israel, Macedonia, Morocco, United States, Venezuela
In United States immigration news this week, a revised optional practical training program for foreign students with a qualifying U.S. STEM degree will take effect on May 10, 2016. Qualifying students will be eligible for 24 months of additional OPT, but their employers will be required to prepare a detailed training plan and meet other new obligations. 
Also in the United States, the Department of Labor has sent a proposed regulation to modernize the PERM labor certification system for federal review – the first step toward changes to the 11-year-old system.
Canada announced its 2016 permanent resident immigration levels; the levels for economic categories are substantially lower than 2015 levels. Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada's selection process for the Express Entry draw continues to indicate flexibility. 
In France, a new law is expected to reorganize and create new work permit categories, create a work permit exemption for eligible foreign workers on assignments under three months and consolidate residence permit options. 
These items and other news from Austria, Bosnia, Chile, Croatia, Finland, Hungary, Israel, Macedonia, Morocco, Venezuela and the United States follow in this edition of the Fragomen Immigration Update.
Important Updates in Immigration This Week
United States, March 10, 2016
DOL Sends Proposed PERM Modernization Regulation for Federal Review
The confidential proposal is thought to recommend improvements to labor certification recruitment requirements to make them more consistent with standard business practices, among other changes. No changes to the current system will be implemented until the proposed regulation is finalized - a process that typically takes many months. 
To view entire article, click here.
United States, March 9, 2016
Revised STEM OPT Program Will Take Effect May 10
Under a new DHS regulation, F-1 students with a qualifying STEM degree will be eligible for 24 months of additional optional practical training (OPT), but their employers will be required to prepare a detailed training plan and meet other new obligations.
To view entire article, click here.
United States, March 9, 2016
April 2016 Visa Bulletin: Further Advancements in EB-2 and EB-3 India and China Final Action Dates Next Month
The cutoff dates for final issuance of an immigrant visa will advance by one month for EB-2 China and three weeks for EB-2 India. EB-3 cutoff dates will advance by two and a half months for China, three weeks for India, and six weeks for most other countries. EB-5 China will advance by only one week. Cutoff dates for filing eligibility will not advance for any backlogged category.
To view entire article, click here.
France, March 10, 2016
New Law to Consolidate Work and Residence Permit Categories; Create Work Permit Exemption
A new law is expected to reorganize and create new work permit categories, create a work permit exemption for eligible foreign workers on assignments under three months and consolidate residence permit options. The implementation date of the new provisions is expected to be announced in November 2016, along with related process and documentary requirement changes. 
To view entire article, click here.
Canada, March 9, 2016
Latest Express Entry Selection Shows Ongoing Flexibility
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) will invite 1,013 candidates to apply for permanent residence in its most recent Express Entry draw, which ends tomorrow. The selection process continues to indicate flexibility since IRCC is selecting candidates who do not have a valid Labour Market Impact Assessment or Provincial Nomination approval at the time their profile is selected. 
To view entire article, click here.
Canada, March 9, 2016
Permanent Resident Immigration Levels for 2016 Announced
The projected number of permanent residents in various categories in 2016 is expected to be between 280,000 and 305,000 (target 300,000), which includes a substantially lower projection for all economic categories (151,000 - 162,000) as compared to the amount projected in 2015. This announcement confirms the Liberal government's prioritization of family and humanitarian-based immigration streams.
To view entire article, click here.
Other Immigration News This Week
United States: USCIS Updates H-2B Cap Count – USCIS reports that as of March 2, 2016, it had received filings on behalf of 38,318 H-2B beneficiaries for the first half of FY 2016. Of these, 31,156 had been approved and 7,162 remained pending. For the second half of FY 2016, USCIS received filings on behalf of 1,036 H-2B beneficiaries. Of these, 200 had been approved and 836 remained pending. 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. 
Austria/Bosnia/Croatia/Finland/Hungary/Macedonia: Easter Closures - The following are notable closures during the Easter holiday:
• Austrian and Finnish immigration authorities will be closed March 25 and 28, 2016.
• Bosnian immigration authorities will be closed May 2 and May 3, 2016.
• Croatian immigration authorities, the state police, courts and other ministries will close at noon on March 25 and will be closed March 28, 2016. 
• Hungarian immigration authorities will be closed March 14, 15 and 28, 2016.
• Macedonian immigration authorities will be closed April 29 and May 2, 2016.
Foreign nationals should plan around the closures and should be prepared for delays after the holiday.
Chile/Morocco: Apostilled Documents to Be Accepted by Consulates – Chile and Morocco have joined the Hague Convention on Legalization, which means that on or about August 30, 2016, authorities in both countries will accept documents legalized with apostille, which involves a streamlined legalization process. Consular legalization will no longer be required once the announcement is fully implemented. Applicants planning to submit supporting documents for visa applications that require authentication in Chile or Morocco should contact their immigration professional for further guidance.
Hungary: Additional Personal Appearance Required for Health Insurance Registration – Foreign nationals on local payroll - who must register for the national Health Insurance Scheme in Hungary - must now appear at the public administration office twice to obtain their Health Insurance Card. The foreign national must first appear to submit their registration application form and to receive a Health Insurance Identification Number.  After the employer registers with the Hungarian Tax Office, the foreign national (or representative) must now appear at the administrative office a second time to obtain the Health Insurance Card. Previously, the foreign national received the card prior to tax registration. Although there should not be a delay in processing registrations, the legal fees for this service may increase.
Israel: Holiday Closures May Cause Delays – Israeli immigration offices and other government agencies will be closed on March 24, 2016 for Purim except for urgent cases, which will need to be arranged by telephone. 
Government offices will be also closed from April 22 through April 30, 2016 for Passover. During this time, no work permits or visa applications will be processed. Israeli consular posts abroad may also suspend their operations or conduct limited processing during this time. Visa applicants may experience processing and issuance delays following the holiday closures. 
Employers should take the delays into consideration when setting employment start dates. Visa applicants should check with their local consulate for specific information on holiday operations.
Venezuela: Reduced Government Work Hours May Cause Immigration Processing Delays – Due to reduced public administration office work hours, document, legalization, visa and work permit applicants should expect potential processing delays until further notice. The reduced operating hours may also result in a smaller window for applicants filing documents at public offices in person. Reducing working hours is a common tactic used in Venezuela to cut administrative costs. Applicants can contact their immigration professional to discuss the extent of the delays.  
Global Immigration News Links
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and other Silicon Valley leaders filed a friend-of-the-court brief urging the Supreme Court to uphold President Obama’s immigration executive actions.
India has filed a complaint with the World Trade Organization over steep fee increases for U.S. H-1B and L-1 nonimmigrant temporary work visas.
The anti-immigration party of Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico won parliamentary elections though did not capture a majority. Slovakia is due to take over the EU’s rotating presidency from July, increasing its role in EU policy discussions over the bloc’s migration crisis.
International business students may be deterred from studying at UK universities because of stringent visa policies, a new report has claimed.
This alert is for informational purposes only. If you have any questions, please contact the global immigration professional with whom you work at Fragomen.