Virginia, US

Jan 04 2019

Weekly Immigration Update: December 28, 2018-January 3, 2019

Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, European Union, Hungary, Indonesia, Iraq, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, Qatar, Romania, Singapore, United Kingdom, United States, Vietnam

In immigration news this week:

  • United States: During the ongoing partial government shutdown, most immigration functions remain largely in operation, with some exceptions. An outage of the Department of Labor’s iCERT system, caused by a recent surge in H-2B submissions, could delay filings for certain immigration benefits.
  • Australia/Canada/Japan/Mexico/New Zealand/Singapore/Vietnam: These countries, except for Vietnam, implemented the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) on December 30, 2018. The Agreement will be implemented by Vietnam on January 14, 2019.
  • Romania: On January 1, Romania increased its minimum salary requirements and created two levels of wage minimums based on whether a position requires university studies.
  • Denmark: On January 1, the minimum annual salary for foreign workers under the Pay Limit Scheme increased by 2.2 percent from last year.
  • Indonesia: Indonesian employers must submit annual reports on their foreign workers and the training of their Indonesian counterparts by January 10.
  • United Kingdom: Starting January 28, UK employers will be able to check online to determine whether a foreign national is eligible to work.

These items and other news from Belgium, Brazil, the European Union, Hungary, Iceland, Iraq, Lichtenstein, Norway, Qatar, and the United Kingdom follow in this edition of the Fragomen Immigration Update.

Important Updates in Immigration This Week

United States, January 3, 2019

What to Expect During the Federal Shutdown - Updated Information for Employers and Foreign Nationals

  • As the federal shutdown continues, most immigration functions remain in operation.
  • U.S. consular functions are operating, but if the shutdown is prolonged, visa processing could be limited.
  • E-Verify deadlines are suspended while the system is offline.
  • USCIS continues to accept EB-5 Regional Center-related visa petitions and adjustments, but processing is on hold until the program is reauthorized.

To view entire article, click here.


Romania, January 3, 2019

New Minimum Salary Requirement

Effective January 1, 2019, Romania has increased minimum salary requirements and divided them based on whether the position requires university studies, a distinction which did not exist before. The new monthly salary requirements are as follows:

  • RON 2,350 (USD 574) for positions that require university studies, up 23.7 percent from the previous threshold;
  • RON 2,080 (USD 508) for positions that do not require university studies, up 9.5 percent from the previous threshold.

Although the increase is significant, the changes should not directly affect employers of foreign workers, as foreign workers typically receive a salary well above the threshold. Salary requirements for highly-skilled workers applying for an EU Blue Card have not changed.

To view entire article, click here.


Belgium, January 3, 2019

Reminder - Single Permit Scheme and Flemish Immigration Policies Implemented

Significant legislation has taken effect in Belgium that implements the Single Permit scheme for foreign nationals seeking to work in Belgium for over 90 days and new policies and diverging salary thresholds in the Flanders region.

To view entire article, click here.


Denmark, January 3, 2019

Minimum Salary Level Increased

Effective January 1, 2019, the minimum annual salary for foreign workers in Denmark under the Pay Limit Scheme has increased to DKK 426,985.06 (DKK 35,583 / USD 5,431 per month), up 2.2 percent from last year. The increase also affects Fast Track Scheme applications using the Pay Limit Scheme track. Employers of foreign workers should budget for the small increase in the minimum salary threshold.

To view entire article, click here.


United Kingdom, January 3, 2019

Online Right to Work Check to be Introduced

Beginning January 28, 2019, UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) will allow UK employers to check eligible foreign national's right to work online. This will allow employers to confirm a foreign national's right to work more easily and grant the employer a guaranteed statutory defense against illegal working. The new service will initially only be available for European Economic Area (EEA) nationals who have been granted settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme and non-EEA nationals who hold biometric residence permits. Despite the introduction of this additional service, employers can continue to secure a statutory defense by holding original right to work documentation or utilizing the UKVI's Employer Checking Service when a foreign worker is unable to present original documentation. 

To view entire article, click here.


United States, January 2, 2019

DOL iCERT Outage Will Delay LCAs, Wage Determinations, and Temporary Labor Certifications

  • Due to a system malfunction on January 1, the iCERT system is expected to be offline for at least several days. It is not yet clear when the system will be back in operation. DOL expects to provide an update on Thursday, January 3.
  • While the system is offline, no labor condition applications, prevailing wage requests, or H-2A/H-2B temporary labor certifications can be filed or accessed, which could delay filings for certain immigration benefits. The PERM system remains in operation.

To view entire article, click here.


Australia/Canada/Japan/Mexico/New Zealand/Singapore/Vietnam, December 28, 2018

Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership to be Implemented

Australia, Canada, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand and Singapore implemented the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) on December 30, 2018, and Vietnam is expected to do so on January 14, 2019. The agreement includes immigration provisions that could result in new immigration programs or longer stays for business visitors, investors and skilled workers from CPTPP member countries. However, some countries' immigration laws may remain unchanged. Brunei Darussalam, Chile, Malaysia, and Peru are also signatories to the CPTPP, but they have yet to complete their domestic ratification processes or to identify an implementation date.

To view entire article, click here.


Indonesia, December 28, 2018

Employers Must Report Information of Foreign Workers by January 10

The Ministry of Manpower in Indonesia has published the required content of the annual reports that employers must submit on foreign workers and the training of their Indonesian counterparts and has set a deadline of January 10, 2019 for submission of the first report to the Ministry. The deadline may be extended due to the expected high volume of such reports. Failure to submit the reports may result in administrative sanctions, including a temporary suspension of the company's ability to sponsor work permits.

To view entire article, click here.


Weekly News Briefs

Brazil: General Immigration Coordination Office Now Part of Ministry of Justice - The General Immigration Coordination Office, which processes and approves all initial work permit and visa applications for both consular and in-country processes, is now part of the Ministry of Justice. Previously, the General Immigration Coordination Office was part of the Ministry of Labor, which is now being eliminated. It is expected that some immigration processes will be affected by this change, but no announcements have been made yet. Fragomen will monitor the situation and provide updates as they occur.

European Union/Hungary: Hungary Implements Students and Researchers Directive - As an update, Hungary has implemented the EU Students and Researchers Directive, which harmonizes and simplifies rules on stay, labor market access and intra-EU mobility for qualified researchers, students and trainees. Implementing legislation is still pending with parliament in the Czech Republic. The following six countries also have yet to implement the Directive: Belgium (currently scheduled for implementation around May 2019), Cyprus, Greece, Poland, Slovenia and Sweden (scheduled for implementation on July 1, 2019). Fragomen will continue to monitor developments and will keep clients informed.

Iraq: Arrival Notification Card Introduced in Federal Iraq - The Ministry of Interior has introduced an Arrival Notification Card that must be completed by foreign nationals traveling for employment to Federal Iraq and handed to an immigration officer upon entry. Foreign nationals should fill out two cards and retain one after it has been stamped by an immigration official. When obtaining a multiple entry-exit visa, the card must be included in the application packet. The card is also required for departure if foreign nationals decide to exit Iraq before they have completed the post-arrival immigration process and obtained a multiple entry-exit visa.

Qatar: Visa Service Center Now Open in Pakistan - The Ministry of Interior announced that a visa service center for pre-arrival immigration processes is now open in Karachi, Pakistan. Going forward, all Pakistani nationals applying for new employment visas will have to complete their medical examination, biometric data and employment contract before obtaining an entry permit for travel to Qatar. This is part of a new Qatari requirement for foreign nationals from select countries to complete specific immigration procedures at visa service centers in their home country before traveling to Qatar.

United Kingdom/Iceland/Liechtenstein/Norway: Separation Agreement Would Protect Citizen’s Rights After Brexit - The United Kingdom and Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway have reached a Separation Agreement to protect the rights of European Economic Area (EEA) nationals living in the United Kingdom and vice versa after Brexit. The agreement is not yet formally concluded but is scheduled to be concluded before March 29, 2019. Once concluded, the agreement would also need to be ratified by the responsible national authorities. However, Fragomen does not expect there to be any changes made to the provisions of the agreement during the conclusion and ratification process. The draft agreement would ensure that nationals generally continue to benefit from the same rights as they currently do. The draft agreement covers residence rights; access to healthcare, pensions and education; social security coordination and mutual recognition of professional qualifications. In the meantime, the current rules governing the relationship between the United Kingdom and EEA countries will continue to apply. Once formalised, EEA nationals residing in the United Kingdom will be able to register under the EU Settlement Scheme in the same way as EU citizens. A similar agreement that would apply in a no-deal scenario to protect the rights of those residing by March 29, 2019 is still being negotiated.

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