Jan 07 2021

Weekly Immigration Update: December 31, 2020–January 7, 2021

Austria, Barbados, Belgium, Botswana, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Curaçao, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Equatorial Guinea, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Guatemala, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Ireland, Israel, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kuwait, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macau, Malaysia, Mexico, Morocco, New Zealand, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Peru, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Korea (South Korea), Republic of the Philippines, Romania, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Slovenia, Sweden, Taiwan, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States, Vietnam

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 Cyprus, Hungary, Italy, Lithuania and Poland 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.
  • Minimum salary requirements: Austria, Denmark and Turkey published the 2021 minimum wage level. Check this consolidated information page for more information.
  • United States: President Trump has extended through March 31, 2021 the ban on entry in H-1B, H-2B, L-1, and certain J-1 statuses, including dependents, as well as the ban on certain immigrant entries. National interest exceptions remain in place. The Department of Homeland Security has finalized a regulation that will replace its random, computerized H-1B cap lottery with a selection process that allocates H-1B visa numbers according to the Department of Labor’s wage level system.
  • Denmark: Effective January 1, the minimum salary level increased by two percent from the previous year, and a Danish bank account is required for Positive List permits, among other changes.


These items and other news from Austria, Iceland, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United States and Zambia follow in this edition of the Fragomen Immigration Update. 


Important Updates in Immigration This Week 

United States, January 7, 2021

DHS Issues Final Rule to Replace Random H-1B Cap Lottery with Selection Process Based on Wage Level

  • The Department of Homeland Security has finalized a regulation that will supplant the random, computerized H-1B lottery with a selection process based on the Department of Labor’s wage level system.
  • Under the regulation, H-1B visa numbers will be allocated according to salary levels, giving priority to those earning the highest salaries in their respective occupations and geographic areas of employment. 
  • The final rule is set to take effect 60 days from publication, in time for the Fiscal Year 2022 cap filing season this spring. The rule could, however, be placed on hold by the incoming Biden Administration as it reviews this and other rules finalized in the last days of the Trump Administration. The regulation could also be challenged in federal court.


To view entire article, click here.


Denmark, January 5, 2021

Danish Bank Account Required for Positive List, Among Other Minimum Salary and Work Requirement Changes

  • The new minimum salary level in Denmark has increased 2% to DKK 445,000 per year, up from DKK 436,000.
  • Positive List permits issued on or after January 1, 2021 must receive their salary in a Danish bank account. This change means that all permit holders issued on or after January 1, 2021 will be required to have their salary paid into a Danish bank account. This adds an administrative hurdle, requires individuals to register an address promptly upon arrival, and could have tax implications.
  • Additionally, for all work permits schemes, the full salary amount must now be paid into the Danish bank account. Previously, only amounts beyond the minimum salary amount could be paid abroad.
  • Lastly, dependents who will be working for the same employer as the principal in Denmark, or a closely related employer, will be required to obtain a separate principal employment permit before starting work. This will also apply if they take up employment after arriving in Denmark under a dependent permit.


To view entire article, click here.


United States, January 4, 2021

President Trump Extends H/L/J Nonimmigrant Proclamation and Immigrant Proclamation to March 31, Though Exceptions Remain

  • President Trump has extended the ban on entry in H-1B, H-2B, L-1, and certain J-1 statuses, including dependents, and the ban on certain immigrant entries, through March 31, 2021. The bans were set to expire on December 31, 2020.
  • Foreign nationals are still exempt from the nonimmigrant proclamation if they were in the United States on June 24, 2020; or held a valid visa in one of the restricted categories on June 24 pursuant to which they seek entry to the United States; or hold a valid advance parole or other U.S. travel document (other than a nonimmigrant visa) pursuant to which they seek U.S. entry.
  • Foreign nationals may still qualify for national interest exceptions from the bans according to State Department criteria.
  • President-elect Joseph Biden is expected to review this and other presidential immigration orders after he takes office on January 20.


To view entire article, click here.  


Other Weekly News Briefs 

Austria: Shortage Occupation List Updated for 2021 – The Austrian government has updated the shortage occupation list for 2021, which is the list of occupations under which applicants can qualify for a special Red-White-Red Card. Occupations added to the list include medical doctor.  Occupations removed from the list include medical technical specialist, cook, mechanic, civil engineer, wood machinery worker, machine fitter, plastics processor, electrical engineer, economics technician, among others.

Iceland: Streamlined Police Clearance Requirement – Effective immediately, Icelandic authorities no longer require police clearance certificates to be apostilled or legalized for use in immigration applications, as was previously required. Additionally, police clearance certificates issued no more than 12 months before the date of application are accepted, up from the previous six months. The Directorate of Immigration retains discretion to request certified original police clearance certificates, as required on a case-by-case basis.

Saudi Arabia/Qatar: Saudi Arabia Reopens Borders with Qatar – Saudi Arabia has agreed to reopen its land, sea and air borders with Qatar. As background, on June 5, 2017, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt severed diplomatic ties with Qatar, resulting in the closure of airspace, land and marine borders. Many aspects of the breakthrough as it relates to entry, residency, transit or business travel remain either unclear or subject to changes without prior notice. It is expected that further announcements will follow the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) summit, which began on January 5, 2021 in Saudi Arabia.

Zambia: Filling Fee for Employment Permits Significantly Increased – The immigration authorities have revised the filling fees for employment permits to have one fee schedule applicable to private, public and non–governmental institutions effective January 1, 2021. As a result, the employment permit filling fee has increased by 300% to ZMW 18,000, from ZMW 6,000; and the fee for employment permit renewals has increased to ZMW 21,000, from ZMW 7,000. The fee for temporary employment permits increased to ZMW 13,500, from ZMW 4,500; the renewal fee for temporary employment permits increased to ZMW 15,750, from ZMW 5,250; and the spouse permit fee increased to ZMW 2,250, from ZMW 750. The exchange rate at the time of the publication of this update is 1 ZMW = 0.055 USD.

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