Connecticut, US

Apr 11 2019

Weekly Immigration Update: April 5-11, 2019

Argentina, Australia, Belarus, Bolivia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, European Union, Greece, Guatemala, Hong Kong, India, Italy, Mexico, Panama, Peru, Spain, Sweden, Thailand, United Kingdom, United States, Venezuela
In immigration news this week:
 
  • United States: On April 5, USCIS confirmed receipt of enough H-1B cap petitions to reach the annual regular quota of 65,000. The agency has not yet determined whether it has received a sufficient number of petitions to meet the H-1B advanced-degree cap exemption of 20,000. Current South Sudanese Temporary Protected Status (TPS) beneficiaries have until June 4 to re-register to maintain status through November 2, 2020.
  • Australia: The Senate Committee released recommendations following its inquiry into the temporary skilled visa system and related issues.
  • Italy: Employers can submit work permit applications under the 2019 quota starting April 16, and seasonal work permit applications starting April 24.
  • Guatemala: Significant immigration reforms concerning background checks, temporary and permanent residence permits and business visitors will take effect.



​In Brexit news this week:

  • European Union/United Kingdom: The UK and EU government representatives agreed to further postpone the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union until October 31, 2019.
  • European Union: UK nationals will be able to enter the European Union for tourism and business trips without a visa after Brexit for stays up to 90 days in a 180-day period, in either a deal or no-deal scenario.



​These items and other news from Argentina, Belarus, Bulgaria, Chile, Denmark, Greece, Hong Kong, India, Latin America, Spain, Sweden, Thailand, and the United States follow in this edition of the Fragomen Immigration Update.



 

Important Updates in Immigration This Week



Guatemala, April 11, 2019
Immigration Reforms Forthcoming



Several immigration reforms will take effect on April 19 in Guatemala. Key changes include:
  • Stricter background checks for temporary and permanent residence permits; 
  • Extended validity for temporary residence permits; 
  • Stricter eligibility criteria for permanent residence permits, requiring continuous and uninterrupted residence for at least five years; and 
  • Temporary residents will be eligible for Guatemalan Identification Cards. 

As part of the package of reforms, the government has already implemented restrictions for business visitors, including a shorter allowable length of stay and a more restricted definition of business activities.

To view entire article, click here.





United States, April 10, 2019
Canadian Citizens Face Challenges When Renewing L-1 Status at the U.S. Border 
  • A number of ports of entry and pre-flight clearance stations are refusing to process applications from Canadian citizens seeking to renew or extend L-1 status, taking the position that these cases must first be approved by USCIS. 
  • Canadian citizens planning to apply for renewal of L status should consult their immigration counsel to discuss options. 



​To view entire article, click here. 





Italy, April 9, 2019

Work Permit Quotas for 2019 Published

  • The overall quota for foreign workers in Italy remains unchanged at 30,850, although allocations for various categories have been amended. 
  • Employers can file applications for work permits under the new quota starting April 16, 2019, and for seasonal work permits under the new quota starting April 24, 2019. 



​To view entire article, click here





Australia, April 8, 2019

Senate Committee Releases Report and Recommendations on Temporary Skills Visa System



This week, the Australian Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs References Committee released its recommendations following its inquiry into the temporary skilled visa system and related issues, exploring the below key issues: 

  • The interaction between the temporary skilled visa system and the system in place for training Australian workers, including how a skills shortage is determined; 
  • The current skills assessment regime; 
  • The effectiveness of the current labour market testing arrangements; and 
  • The use and effectiveness of labour agreements. 



​As Australia heads for a Federal Election in May, and with the possibility of a change of government, Fragomen will report any changes adopted in immigration rules.



To view entire article, click here.





United States, April 5, 2019

The Standard H-1B Cap of 65,000 Has Been Reached for FY 2020

  • USCIS has received enough H-1B cap petitions to reach the annual regular quota of 65,000.
  • The agency has not yet determined whether it has received a sufficient number of petitions to meet the H-1B advanced-degree cap exemption of 20,000.
  • Because of recent changes in the H-1B cap selection process, USCIS may not announce whether the advanced-degree cap has been reached until after it completes an initial cap lottery or other preliminary intake procedures. A further announcement is expected in the coming days.



​To view entire article, click here.





United States, April 5, 2019

South Sudan TPS Re-Registration Period Opens 

  • Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for South Sudan is extended for 18 months, from May 3, 2019, through November 2, 2020.
  • Current South Sudanese TPS beneficiaries have until June 4, 2019 to re-register to maintain status through November 2, 2020.
  • Current South Sudanese TPS employment authorization documents with an expiration date of May 2, 2019 or November 2, 2017 will automatically be extended through October 29, 2019. 



​To view entire article, click here.

 

Brexit News and Related News Briefs This Week



European Union / United Kingdom, April 11, 2109
Brexit Date Moved to October 31, 2019

 
  • UK and EU government representatives agreed to further postpone the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union until October 31, 2019. 
  • This could change if both the United Kingdom and European Union ratify the Withdrawal Agreement before then. In that case, the United Kingdom would leave the European Union the first day of the following month. 
  • During the extension, the United Kingdom will remain a member of the European Union and UK nationals will continue to benefit from the rights provided to EU nationals, meaning they will not need work permits to work in EU countries. 
  • However, if the United Kingdom does not hold elections for the European Parliament between May 23-26, 2019 and does not ratify the Withdrawal Agreement before May 22, 2019, a no-deal Brexit will occur on June 1, 2019, unless a further extension is granted. 



To view entire article, click here.





European Union, April 9, 2019

UK Nationals’ Visa Exemption After Brexit Confirmed



The European Union has adopted a regulation confirming that UK nationals will be able to enter the European Union for tourism and business trips without a visa after Brexit for stays up to 90 days in a 180-day period, in either a deal or no-deal scenario.



To view entire article, click here.





Spain: Update on No-Deal Contingency MeasuresAs an update, Spanish authorities have published further details on the permit types applicable to UK nationals and their family members in case of a no-deal Brexit, as well as instructions for applicants without correct EU registration certificates and EU dependent permits. Residents for under five years must apply for a special national identity card, which will be valid until the applicant reaches five years of residence, within the grace period. Residents for over five years must apply for a long-term residence permit. UK nationals without an EU registration certificate must first apply for a special residence permit before applying for a special national identity card; and must demonstrate residence in Spain prior to the United Kingdom’s withdrawal, proof of sufficient funding and health insurance to qualify. Family members of UK nationals holding a dependent residence permit must similarly apply for a special national identity card within the grace period. Family members of UK nationals without the appropriate dependent residence permit must first apply for a dependent permit before applying for the special national identity card; must demonstrate residence in Spain prior to Brexit day, proof of family ties, sufficient funding and health insurance to qualify.



Sweden: Further Update on No-Deal Brexit Plans As an update to prior guidance from Swedish authorities that UK residents seeking to travel after Brexit day in case of a no-deal Brexit should obtain a passport stamp from the Swedish Migration Agency, authorities have confirmed that appointments for such stamps can only be scheduled once a no-deal Brexit is confirmed, which is expected to occur very close to Brexit day. Processing times for a passport stamp are estimated at one week. Swedish border police has advised that UK residents with urgent travel needs around Brexit day carry alternative proof of current residence in Sweden (e.g., rental agreement, utilities bills related to local housing mentioning a Swedish address and the applicant’s name, proof of local registration, employer support letter plus a local employment contract) to facilitate re-entry. 

 

Other Weekly News Briefs



Argentina: Visa Exemption for Indian Nationals Extended to Business Activities – Indian nationals entering under an Electronic Travel Authorization (Autorización de Viaje Electrónica - AVE) can now perform business and commercial activities in Argentina, in addition to tourist activities, as was previously allowed. Indian nationals may enter Argentina with a previously- approved AVE in lieu of a consular visa, if they hold a valid U.S or Schengen country visa with a validity of at least three months at the time of entry to Argentina. The period of stay under the exemption is 60 days and can be extended in country for the same period.



Belarus/Hong Kong: Visa Waiver Raised to 30 Days – Belarus has increased the allowed period of visa-free travel for entry, exit, transit and temporary stay for Hong Kong nationals from 14 to 30 days. The agreement does not outline whether business activities are allowed under this visa exemption, therefore, travelers should contact their immigration professional for case-by-case advice. Hong Kong nationals should benefit from more relaxed visa waiver timing in planning their trips. Note that Hong Kong has not yet increased the visa waiver period to 30 days; Fragomen will report if it does.



Bulgaria: Authorities Enable Online Posted Workers Notifications – As an update, the Bulgarian Labor Inspectorate now allows posted worker notifications, required for foreign workers temporarily assigned to Bulgaria irrespective of nationality or duration of the posting, to be filed online. Previously, employers could file notifications only personally and in some exceptional cases by mail. The online process should streamline the process slightly. As before, the home employer must notify the Labor Inspectorate before the start of work, and the host entity must notify the Labor Inspectorate within seven days of the start of work.  



Chile: Tourist Visa Exemption for Indian Nationals – As of April 1, 2019, Indian nationals with a valid U.S. visa with a validity of at least six months at the time of entry to Chile are exempt from a tourist visa to enter Chile. The period of stay under the exemption can vary from 30 to 90 days and is decided at the discretion of the immigration official. This is relevant for Indian nationals entering Chile to work, since they (like all other entrants seeking to work) must enter Chile as a tourist and then apply for a Special Work Permit for Tourists.  Indian national business travelers must still obtain a visa from a Chilean consulate prior to travel. 



Denmark: Update on EU Registration LocationsAs an update to the policy now requiring EU registration applicants to submit their applications in person instead of online, the Danish Agency of International Recruitment and Integration (SIRI) has confirmed that EU nationals seeking to register in Copenhagen should visit the Copenhagen-Elleborjergvej location by appointment. Non-EU family members should file applications at the Copenhagen-Njalsgade office; more filing locations throughout Denmark will be made available for them in the course of 2019. Separately, SIRI’s Copenhagen offices are scheduled to move to a new joint location in June 2019. 



Greece: Stricter Entry/Exit Checks for EU Nationals – Greek authorities announced that EU nationals travelling to or from non-Schengen area countries will be subject to stricter entry and exit checks to allow checks against the Schengen Information System (a database listing individuals refused entry or stay, wanted for arrest or missing, among others) and the Interpol database of stolen and lost travel documents, among others. Authorities indicated that checks would be completed slightly faster for travellers holding a passport rather than an identification card. Affected travellers should allow sufficient time for passport control when planning their trip to Greece.  



India: Deadline Extended for Person of India Card Holders to Obtain Overseas Citizen of India Card – The Ministry of Home Affairs has extended the deadline for all Person of India (PIO) cardholders (machine and non-machine-readable) to obtain an Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) cards from March 31, 2019 to September 30, 2019. Those who fail to convert their card by September 30, 2019 will be denied entry/exit while traveling to and from India. As background, the OCI card and the ‘OCI in lieu of PIO’ card is an identity document for foreign nationals of Indian origin that offers benefits that other countries offer dual citizens, such as entry into India without a visa and exemptions from local registration requirements. After the merger of the PIO and OCI categories in January 2015, all PIO card holders were advised by the Ministry of Home Affairs and Bureau of Immigration to apply for the ‘OCI in lieu of PIO’ card.



Latin America: Government Closures During Easter Week – Due to the observance of Easter Week, government offices in the following countries will be closed according to the below schedule:

 
  • Argentina, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Mexico and Peru: closed Thursday, April 18 and Friday, April 19.
  • Bolivia, Brazil, Chile and Ecuador: closed Friday, April 19.
  • Costa Rica: closed Monday, April 15 through Friday April 19.
  • Panama: open half day on Thursday, April 18 and closed on Friday, April 19.
  • Venezuela: officially closed Thursday, April 18 and Friday, April 19, but likely to close Monday, April 15 through Wednesday, April 17.



​Foreign nationals and employers should expect that government offices in other Latin American countries may be closed on Thursday, April 18 and Friday, April 19.



Thailand: Foreign Nationals Must Submit Notification of Residence with Some Visa-Related Applications – The Immigration Bureau at Chaengwattana (Bangkok) and the Provincial Immigration Offices at Samutprakarn Province and Nonthaburi Province may no longer accept initial and renewal long-term visa applications, multiple re-entry permit applications, and 90-day reports filed by foreign applicants unless the applicant presents a copy of the official receipt of the Notification of Residence of Foreigners (TM 30) with the application. The Immigration Bureau is applying this discretionary rule although under the law, it is the owner/lessor or manager who must file the notification within 24 hours of the foreign national’s occupation of the residence. Previously, only the owner/lessor or hotel manager would face a fine if they did not submit the notification, and there was no immigration impact on the foreign national. Due to this discretionary rule, affected applicants should ensure that they obtain a copy of the official receipt of the TM 30 from their owner/lessor or hotel managers to avoid rejection or delays in the processing of their applications. Note that this currently does not affect applications submitted at the One Stop Service Center (OSSC), but Fragomen will continue to monitor the situation and provide an update should more centers start applying this rule.



United States: Latest PERM and PWD Processing Times – As of March 31, 2019, the Department of Labor (DOL) was conducting analyst review for PERM applications filed in December 2018 or earlier, and processing audited cases filed in September 2018 or earlier. DOL is working on standard reconsideration requests submitted in December 2018 or earlier. There is no update on the government error queue, though these cases appear to be current.  



DOL is issuing prevailing wage determinations for PERM and H-1B requests filed in December 2018. The agency has been processing H-1B redeterminations requested in March 2019 and PERM redeterminations requested in January 2019, and PERM center director reviews requested in February 2019. There are no pending H-1B center director reviews. These reports are available on the iCERT home page. 

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