Aug 08 2019

Weekly Immigration Update: August 2-8, 2019

Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Brunei, Croatia, Iraq, Ireland, Kuwait, Malaysia, Oman, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of the Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United States

In immigration news this week:

  • Azerbaijan: Widespread changes to immigration and nationality law have been implemented and touch upon the Temporary Residence Permit, work permit, permanent residence and citizenship rules.
  • Poland: Permanent residence card eligibility has been expanded to include nationals of any country who can demonstrate their Polish origin and who can speak Polish.
  • Ukraine: In-country visa processing for non-visa nationals is expected to be introduced this year to comply with a recently implemented law that allows foreign nationals with visa-free status to apply for a long-term visa (type D) in country.
  • Middle East, North Africa, Asia Pacific: Government offices will be closed due to the upcoming Eid al-Adha holiday from August 11 through August 18, depending on lunar sightings in each region.

These items and other news from Azerbaijan, Croatia, Ireland, Portugal, Saudi Arabia, Schengen Area, and the United States follow in this edition of the Fragomen Immigration Update.


Important Updates in Immigration This Week

Poland, August 8, 2019

Eligibility for Permanent Residence Card Expanded

  • Nationals of any country who can demonstrate their Polish origin and who speak Polish are now eligible for the Karta Polaka, a status that grants permanent residence immediately upon arrival in Poland. Previously, the card was only available to nationals of certain areas of Russia, as determined by law.
  • Foreign nationals who travel to Poland with the card can apply for permanent residence without meeting the minimum length of stay requirement, which is usually five years unless the foreign national is married to a Polish national, when the requirement is reduced to three years.

To view entire article, click here.


Azerbaijan, August 8, 2019

Multiple Immigration Law Changes Implemented

Multiple immigration law changes have been effective in Azerbaijan since July 24, 2019 for Temporary Residence Permit (TRP), Permanent Residence and citizenship applications:

  • TRP holders must now register a new address within five business days of their move, down from the previous 10 business days. Applicants who fail to register their address may have their TRP cancelled or their extension refused.
  • TRP applicants now benefit from relaxed financial documentation requirements.
  • Foreign nationals must now have lived in Azerbaijan for two years without a break in order to be eligible for permanent residence. Absences of 90 days or more during any 180-day period will constitute a break in residence, whereas previously absences from Azerbaijan during the two-year period were not tracked.
  • If an Azerbaijani national’s citizenship is cancelled upon acquiring another nationality, he or she will need to leave Azerbaijan or apply for a TRP, whereas previously this was not required.

To view entire article, click here.


Middle East and North Africa, Asia Pacific, August 7, 2019

Eid al-Adha Holiday Closures

Government offices across the Middle East, North Africa and Asia Pacific will be closed due to the upcoming Eid al-Adha holiday from August 11 through August 18, depending on lunar sightings in each region. Employers and employees should expect longer processing times for various immigration applications during and after the closures. 

To view entire article, click here.


Ukraine, August 7, 2019

In-Country Visa Process for Non-Visa Nationals Forthcoming

  • A new law allowing foreign nationals with visa-free status in Ukraine to apply for a long-term visa (type D) in country went into effect on June 26, 2019.
  • In practice, in-country applications are not yet available in Ukraine but are expected to be introduced this year to comply with the new law.
  • Once in-country applications become available, non-visa foreign nationals who are in Ukraine will be able to apply for a D visa on specified grounds without leaving the country. This will make the process easier and less expensive.

To view entire article, click here.


Weekly News Briefs

Azerbaijan/Turkey: Mutual Visa Waiver with Turkey Forthcoming – Beginning September 1, 2019, Turkish nationals will be eligible for visa-free entry into Azerbaijan for stays of up to 30 days for business, personal and touristic purposes. Turkish nationals who stay in Azerbaijan for more than 30 days will be required to apply for the appropriate long-term visa. The same policy will also apply to nationals of Azerbaijan entering Turkey for up to 30 days for business, personal or touristic purposes. A personal visa allows dependents to travel to Azerbaijan and submit a Temporary Residence Permit application in the host country, whereas this is not possible with a tourist visa. Work is not permitted under the visa waiver categories. 

Croatia/Schengen Area: Potential Accession to Schengen Area Forthcoming – The European Commission is due to assess if Croatia has met the technical criteria to join the border-free Schengen Area in September 2019. It is expected that the Commission will conclude that the requirements have been met and Croatia will likely be able to join the Schengen Area. However, some Schengen member states may oppose accession due to unresolved border disputes between Croatia and its neighbors, as well as concerns surrounding illegal immigration at its borders with non-EU nations, which could potentially halt the accession process. By joining the Schengen Area, travelers entering Croatia from a Schengen member state or leaving Croatia to go to a Schengen member state would be able to travel visa-free and these travelers would see significantly shorter lines at border crossings, particularly during the tourist season. 

Ireland: New Online System for Students Forthcoming – Starting August 26, 2019, eligible students from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) who reside in Dublin and are progressing to the second year or later of a degree course will be able to renew their existing immigration permits online. They will be able to submit most supporting documentation and pay the registration fee online, then mail their passport to the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS). The passport will be stamped and returned by registered mail, followed separately by the new Permit card. The Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service is expected to consider extending the system to other categories the future. Up to 8,000 students are expected to benefit from this new process between September and November 2019, potentially making available a significant number of in-person appointment slots for other categories of EEA nationals, such as employment permit holders, and speeding up the in-country process generally. Fragomen will continue to report on developments. 

Portugal: Tech Certificate Now Requested for Highly Skilled Visas – Although it is not legally required, Portuguese consular posts are increasingly requesting Tech Certificates for Highly-Skilled visa applications where the role qualifies for a Tech Visa – a pilot program which came into force in January 2019. A Tech Certificate establishes that a role is highly skilled, without requiring any other evidence to be shown to the immigration officer, and expedites the immigration process. Employers should consider applying for a Tech Certificate before submitting a Highly Skilled visa application to avoid processing delays. The certification process is free of charge and can be completed online. It usually takes at least 20 business days during which time the registration body may request additional documents such as a Certificate of Commercial Register or an annual statement, among other documents.

Saudi Arabia: Mandatory Registration Forthcoming for Foreign Nationals in Accounting Professions – Beginning September 1, foreign nationals in accounting positions applying for work permits or renewing existing work permits in accounting positions must register with the Saudi Organization for Certified Public Accounts (SOCPA) before they can obtain approval.  The new requirement stems from a Memorandum of Understanding signed between the Ministry of Labor and Social Development and the Human Resources Development Fund in March 2019, which aims to employ 20,000 Saudi nationals in private sector accounting professions by the end of 2022. Additionally, the registration requirement follows a previously instated registration requirement for foreign engineers and select technicians in the country.

Saudi Arabia: Revised Penalties Announced for Select Labor Law Violations – The Ministry of Labor and Social Development (MLSD) issued revised penalties for employers who violate select labor law conditions. Some of the fines that may be imposed for noncompliance include: SAR 1,000 for employment without a written or authenticated employment contract (previously SAR 5,000); SAR 3,000 for not paying salaries on time (previously SAR 5,000); SAR 5,000 for withholding an employee’s passport, residence permit or medical insurance without their written consent (previously SAR 2,000); and SAR 20,000 for filing a false abscondment report (filed by employers if an employee does not show up for work for a number of days). Employers must pay the fines within 10 business days from the date the MLSD issued the fine (previously, the deadline was one month), otherwise the fine will be doubled. Repeat violations will also cause a fine to be doubled.

Saudi Arabia: Relaxed Laws Approved Expanding Saudi Women’s Rights – The Saudi Arabian government approved an amendment to the Travel Documents Law, which will allow Saudi women to apply and obtain passports without the approval of a male relative. Although the new regulation does not explicitly refer to the freedom of travel for women, Fragomen expects that Saudi women will be allowed to exit the country without a male relative’s consent (which is currently required) when the law comes into force. The government also amended laws to allow Saudi women to notify authorities of birth, death, marriage and divorce and to obtain family records, which was previously restricted to paternal relatives. Additionally, an amended labor law provides new protections against discrimination based on gender, disability and age, among other changes. It is not yet clear when the amended laws will go into effect.

United States: A Grant of Temporary Protected Status Does Not Cure a Green Card Applicant’s Unlawful Entry or Failure to Maintain Status, USCIS Says – A grant of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) will not cure an unlawful entry or status violation committed by a TPS holder applying for lawful permanent residence, according to a new U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Service (USCIS) policy memorandum. The memorandum adopts the Administrative Appeals Office’s decision in Matter of H-G-G-, Adopted Decision 2019-01 (AAO July 31, 2019), which aimed to clarify and resolve disparate federal appeals court decisions regarding whether a grant of TPS cures certain bars to applying for a green card while in the United States (an adjustment of status application). Though TPS holders remain protected from removal and are considered lawfully present in the United States while their grant of TPS is in effect, the USCIS memorandum clarifies that TPS holders cannot bypass certain requirements when applying to adjust status, including the requirement that the applicant was inspected and admitted or paroled into the United States and, for non-immediate relative petitions, the requirement that the applicant has continuously maintained lawful status since entry. The new policy applies to all adjustment of status applications filed throughout the United States, with some exceptions for applications filed in the Sixth and Ninth Circuits, where federal appeals courts took different positions from USCIS.

United States: Latest PERM and PWD Processing Times – As of July 31, 2019, the Department of Labor (DOL) was conducting analyst review for PERM applications filed in June 2019 or earlier, and processing audited cases filed in January 2019 or earlier. DOL is working on standard reconsideration requests submitted in April 2019 or earlier.

DOL is issuing prevailing wage determinations for PERM and H-1B requests filed in April 2019. The agency has been processing PERM and H-1B redeterminations requested in May and June 2019, respectively, PERM center director reviews requested in June 2019, and H-1B center director reviews requested in July 2019. These reports are available on the iCERT 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.