Connecticut, US

Dec 30 2020

Weekly Immigration Update: December 24–30, 2020

European Union, Germany, Ireland, Netherlands, Portugal, Republic of the Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Spain, The Bahamas, United Kingdom, United States

In immigration news this week:

  • Worldwide: Jurisdictions around the world continue to adapt their coronavirus-related travel restrictions and quarantine measures, and many have implemented extension policies and other concessions. Recently, many countries have implemented and/or extended travel restrictions for travelers from the United Kingdom. Visit Fragomen’s COVID-19 website for the latest immigration updates.
  • Brexit: Authorities in Spain published further guidance on post-Brexit residence permits or residence registration options (‘Article 50 residence permits’) for current UK national residents and their non-EU national family members. Check this consolidated information page for more information.
  • United States: President Trump signed budget and economic stimulus legislation that funds the U.S. government – including immigration operations – through FY 2021. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has extended its remote I-9 document inspection policy through January 31, 2021.


These items and other news from Germany, the Netherlands, Portugal, Saudi Arabia and the United States follow in this edition of the Fragomen Immigration Update.


Important Updates in Immigration This Week


European Union/United Kingdom, December 30, 2020

Trade and Cooperation Agreement Reached

  • The United Kingdom and the European Commission have reached an agreement on the terms of their cooperation following the end of the Brexit transition period on December 31, 2020.
  • The EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement includes a limited framework for business mobility between the United Kingdom and EU Member States, specifically around business travel and intracompany transfers.
  • The impact of the Agreement will depend on how the United Kingdom and each EU Member State adheres to the Free Trade Agreement in their national rules, and also on the existing national legislation in EU Member States.
  • In principle, the Agreement could provide UK nationals more favorable treatment than other non-EU citizens, especially for short-term business visitors and contractual service suppliers.
  • Both parties must now sign and ratify the Agreement for its full implementation.

To view entire article, click here.


Ireland, December 29, 2020

Details on Pre-Clearance Scheme for UK Nationals’ Non-EEA Family Members Published

  • UK citizens will have an unrestricted right to reside and work in Ireland after December 31, 2020. However, their non-European Economic Area (EEA) family members will require immigration permission to enter, reside and work.
  • Irish authorities have now published full details of the new pre-clearance scheme for non-EEA family members of UK citizens arriving after December 31, 2020, including a detailed policy document.
  • Applications can take up to six months to process and can only be made from the applicant’s country of legal residence. Applicants must remain outside Ireland while their application is being processed.
  • Financial thresholds apply for the sponsor.


To view entire article, click here.


United States, December 28, 2020

Spending Legislation Enacted; Extends Expiring Immigration Programs, Broadens Recovery Rebate Eligibility for Nonimmigrants

  • The FY 2021 budget and economic stimulus legislation has been signed into law by President Trump.  The law funds the U.S. government – including immigration operations – through FY 2021.
  • The measure extends E-Verify for one year and the EB-5 Regional Center Program for six months, among other immigration extensions.  It also provides limited cap relief for the H-2B temporary nonagricultural visa program.
  • The legislation also creates a second pandemic recovery rebate program, with less stringent Social Security Number requirements for nonimmigrants.


To view entire article, click here.


United States, December 23, 2020

January 2021 Visa Bulletin: Advancement in Employment-based Categories; USCIS to Honor Final Action Dates for Employment-based Categories

  • EB-1 China and EB-1 India Final Action dates will advance by five months to September 1, 2019.
  • EB-2 China will advance by one month to June 1, 2016, and EB-2 India will advance by one week to October 8, 2009.
  • EB-3 China will advance by six weeks to December 15, 2017, and EB-3 India will advance one week to March 22, 2010.
  • EB-5 China will remain at August 15, 2015, and EB-5 Vietnam will advance by two weeks to September 15, 2017.
  • USCIS has announced that it will honor Final Action dates for employment-based adjustment of status applications, for the first time in several months.

To view entire article, click here.


United States, December 23, 2020

ICE Extends Interim COVID-19 Protections for Form I-9 Compliance Through January 31

  • Due to the ongoing COVID-19 emergency, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is extending its remote I-9 document inspection policy through January 31, 2021.
  • Eligible employers will not be required to review I-9 identity and employment authorization documents in the employee’s physical presence until the interim policy expires or until three days after the COVID-19 emergency is over, whichever comes first. 
  • The relaxed policy only applies where company employees are working remotely due to the COVID-19 emergency. 


To view entire article, click here.


The Philippines, December 23, 2020

Alien Certificate of Registration Identity Card Registration Due March 1, 2021

  • Foreign nationals holding a valid Alien Certificate of Registration Identity Card (ACR I-Card), such as long-term work visa holders in the Philippines, must appear at a Bureau of Immigration (BI) office by March 1, 2021 to file their Annual Report (AR).
  • They can also authorize their Fragomen immigration professional to file the AR on their behalf, which would waive the foreign national’s personal appearance requirement.
  • Although no additional fines and monetary penalties will be imposed for the non-filing or late filing of the AR due to a temporary suspension of fines, Fragomen recommends that the AR registration be completed before March 1, 2021 to avoid other adverse immigration impacts such as delays to renewal applications.


To view entire article, click here.


Bahamas, December 23, 2020

Extended Access Travel Stay Permit Available for Remote Workers and Students

  • The Bahamas Extended Access Travel Stay (BEATS) permit allows professionals and students to work and study remotely/online from the Bahamas for up to one year (extendable for up to three years).
  • Individuals applying to work remotely in the Bahamas must submit a job letter from their current employer abroad or proof of self-employment, if applicable; students must submit evidence of enrollment in an accredited learning institution and proof of sufficient funds to support themselves during their stay.
  • The permit does not allow gainful employment in the Bahamas.
  • Interested applicants can complete and submit the application online.


To view entire article, click here.


Other Weekly News Briefs

Germany: Reminder - EU Blue Card Minimum Salary to Increase – As a reminder, the EU Blue Card minimum salary will increase 2.9% on January 1, 2021, to a gross annual salary of at least EUR 56,800. The minimum salary for shortage occupations will increase to a gross annual salary of at least EUR 44,304 EUR. Employers of foreign nationals with pending EU Blue Card applications as of January 1, 2021 must increase the foreign national’s salary to comply with the new rule if the employment contract start date is on or after January 1, 2021. Employers are required to guarantee the salary in EUR, since EU Blue Card applicants must be on local payroll and paid in EUR. The general minimum salary for all employees in Germany (regardless of their nationality or permit type) will increase on January 1, 2021 to EUR 9.50 per hour.

The Netherlands: Filing Fees to Increase - Government filing fees for most residence permit with work authorization types in the Netherlands will increase on January 1, 2021 to EUR 320, up approximately 10 percent from 2020. Fees for companies to register as a recognised sponsor with the immigration authority will increase to EUR 4,125, or EUR 2,062 for small companies, up 2.6 percent from 2020. Spouse/partner fees will increase to EUR 192 and fees for children will increase to EUR 64 per child, up 10 percent from 2020. The exchange rate at the time of the publication of this update is 1 EUR = 1.2 USD.

Portugal: More Individuals Eligible for Portuguese Nationality - Under a new law, children of foreign national legal residents for one year at the time of birth will immediately be eligible for Portuguese nationality if born in Portugal. If over age 16 when filing the application, the child must have attended school in Portugal for one year, or the parent must have resided in Portugal for five years immediately preceding the application. The law also offers eased eligibility for spouses of Portuguese nationals, among others.  

Saudi Arabia: New Saudization Rules Announced for the Accounting Sector - The Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development (MHRSD) announced that effective June 11, 2021, companies with five or more workers operating in the accounting sector will have to ensure that 30% of their workforce employed in specific positions identified by the MHRSD, are Saudi nationals. A total of 20 positions have been targeted for Saudization, including general accountant, director of the internal audit department and financial clerk. Additionally, the MHRSD set up the following minimum monthly wages that must be paid to each Saudi worker, depending on their professional level: SAR 6,000 for employees who hold a Bachelor’s degree or above; and SAR 4,500 for employees who hold a high-school diploma or similar. Noncompliant employers will be subject to penalties, including the suspension of select immigration and employment services such as the issuance of new work permits and employment transfer.

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