Connecticut, US

Dec 12 2019

Weekly Immigration Update: December 6-12, 2019

Albania, Algeria, Angola, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Belgium, Bermuda, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei, Bulgaria, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Estonia, Ethiopia, European Union, Finland, France, Gabon, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Guatemala, Guyana, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Latvia, Lesotho, Liberia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macau, Madagascar, Malaysia, Malta, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Montenegro, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Nepal , Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Korea (South Korea), Republic of the Philippines, Romania, Russia, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Serbia, Singapore, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Tanzania, Thailand, Trinidad & Tobago, Tunisia , Turkey, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States, Uruguay, Venezuela, Vietnam, Zambia

In immigration news this week:

  • United States: U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services will implement its long-anticipated H-1B cap registration for the upcoming cap season. The initial registration period will run from March 1 through March 20, 2020, and selected cases may be submitted starting April 1.
  • Norway: Locally-hired, non-EU foreign workers should now secure a local residence address before travelling to Norway in order to comply with a new requirement for obtaining a permanent social security number or personal identification number.
  • India: A new rule requires foreign nationals of Indian origin applying for an Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) Card to have lived in India or any third country for six months prior to submitting their application, where previously, foreign nationals could apply immediately after arrival in India.
  • United Arab Emirates: A new employment law meant to make the immigration and employment process more flexible for employers in the Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) free zone is expected to go into effect on January 1, 2020.
  • Austria / Czech Republic / Netherlands: Effective January 1, 2020, minimum monthly salary levels will increase for key employees and university graduates in Austria, foreign workers in the Czech Republic and certain highly-skilled migrants and EU Blue Card holders in the Netherlands.
  • Saudi Arabia: On January 26, 2020, the Ministry of Labor and Social Development (MLSD) will eliminate the yellow band of the Nitaqat program. Yellow-rated companies will automatically be moved to the red band and will be considered noncompliant with Saudization levels until their rating improves.
  • Worldwide: During the holiday season and into the new year, many government offices worldwide will experience processing delays for work permits, residence permits and visas. 



These items and other news from Colombia, Czech Republic, Dominican Republic, the European Union, India, Nigeria, Panama, the Philippines, RussiaSaudi Arabia, South Korea, Sweden, and the United Arab Emirates follow in this edition of the Fragomen Immigration Update.

 

Important Updates in Immigration This Week

United Arab Emirates, December 12, 2019

Employment Regulations Forthcoming in Abu Dhabi Global Market

  • An employment law for the Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) free zone is expected to go into effect on January 1, 2020.
  • The law is meant to make the immigration and employment process more flexible for employers in the ADGM, covering topics such as the provision of employment contracts, employment termination and an expanded definition of “employee”.
  • Employers should ensure that their internal policies comply with the new law.

 

To view entire article, click here.

 

Czech Republic, December 12, 2019

New Delhi Embassy Implements New Lottery System

  • The Embassy of the Czech Republic in New Delhi announced that the e-mail appointment scheduling system for Employee Card applicants from Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Maldives and Sri Lanka has been cancelled and a new lottery system has been introduced.
  • Fragomen therefore advises affected applicants to submit Employee Card applications based on one of the special government programs (including Key and Scientific personnel or Highly-Qualified Workers programs) that allow submission without registration through the lottery system.

 

To view entire article, click here.

 

Austria, December 11, 2019

Minimum Salary Levels for Red-White-Red Card Applicants to Increase in 2020

The monthly minimum salary for the Red-White-Red Card (for key employees and university graduates) will increase starting January 1, 2020 as follows:

  • Key employee applicants over 30: EUR 3,222 gross per month.
  • Key employee applicants under 30: EUR 2,685 gross per month.
  • Graduates from an Austrian university: EUR 2,416.50 gross per month

 

Employers of foreign nationals seeking to obtain or renew a Red-White-Red Card on or after January 1, 2020 must increase foreign nationals’ salaries to comply with the new rule.

To view entire article, click here.

 

United States, December 10, 2019

White House and Congressional Democrats Reach Agreement on USMCA

  • The White House and Congressional Democrats have reached agreement on revisions to the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), moving the trade pact closer to ratification in Congress.
  • The labor mobility provisions of the USMCA – which closely track those of NAFTA – are not affected by the revisions.
  • Until the USMCA is ratified by the three signatory countries, the provisions of NAFTA will remain in effect.

 

To view entire article, click here.

 

India, December 10, 2019

Overseas Citizenship of India Card Applicants Subject to New Travel Restriction

  • Foreign nationals of Indian origin seeking to apply for an Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) Card must now have lived in India or any third country for six months prior to submitting their application, where previously, foreign nationals could apply immediately after arrival.
  • OCI Card applicants can no longer travel internationally until their OCI Card application is submitted. If they leave the country, the six-month period resets and they must again not travel for six months to apply for an OCI Card.

 

To view entire article, click here.

 

Saudi Arabia, December 10, 2019

Elimination of Yellow Band from Nitaqat Program

  • The Ministry of Labor and Social Development (MLSD) will eliminate the yellow band of the Nitaqat program on January 26, 2020.
  • Yellow-rated companies will automatically be moved to the red band and will be considered noncompliant with Saudization levels until their rating improves.
  • Downgraded companies will not be able to apply for new visas for foreign nationals, change foreign nationals’ occupations or renew work permits until their ratings improve.

 

To view entire article, click here.

 

Colombia, December 9, 2019

Users of SIRE Notification System Experiencing Technical Issues

  • Host companies in Colombia cannot submit required notifications of foreign nationals’ start or termination dates due to technical issues on Migración Colombia’s online platform, SIRE.
  • Specifically, the system is incorrectly auto-populating foreign nationals’ visa expiration dates within the notification, which users are unable to edit.
  • In order to ensure the submitted notifications are accurate, host companies and foreign nationals are advised to wait until it is absolutely necessary to file the notification within the 15-day period to allow time for the system issue to be fixed.

 

To view entire article, click here.

 

Worldwide, December 9, 2019

Immigration Processing During the Holiday Season

  • During the holiday season, many government offices worldwide will close or have reduced staff and operating hours, likely resulting in processing delays for work permits, residence permits and visas over the coming weeks and into the new year.
  • Employers and foreign nationals with travel or relocation plans between now and early 2020 should contact their immigration service provider to discuss the impact of holiday closures on their specific circumstances.

 

To view entire article, click here.

 

United States, December 9, 2019

DHS Extends Deadline for Public Comments on Proposed USCIS Fee Changes

  • DHS will accept feedback on the fee proposal for an additional 15 days, or until December 30.
  • The agency has indicated that it may reduce the amount of USCIS filing fees that are earmarked for Immigration and Customs Enforcement activities.

 

To view entire article, click here.

 

Czech Republic, December 9, 2019

Minimum Salary Level to Increase

Effective January 1, 2020, the minimum monthly salary for foreign workers in the Czech Republic will increase to CZK 14,600, up nine percent from 2019.

To view entire article, click here.

 

Norway, December 9, 2019

Local Hires Must Now Arrange Residence Before Travel

  • In a change of policy for in-country registrations, locally-hired foreign workers in Norway should now secure a local residence address before travelling to Norway, since a new rule requires a local address to obtain a long-term social security number or personal identification number.
  • Obtaining the lease agreement prior to entry can save the applicant 8-11 weeks' processing time in Norway for the permanent identification number, which is mandatory to open a bank account and receive wages, among other services in Norway.

 

To view entire article, click here.

 

United States, December 6, 2019

H-1B Cap Registration To Take Effect for Upcoming Cap Season

  • U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services will implement its H-1B cap registration for the upcoming fiscal year (FY) 2021 cap season.
  • The initial registration period will run from March 1 through March 20, 2020.
  • A $10 registration fee will be required for each H-1B cap registration at the time of submission.
  • The agency will issue more information and guidance on use of the system in the coming weeks.

 

To view entire article, click here.

 

Netherlands, December 6, 2019

Minimum Salary Levels to Increase

Minimum monthly salary levels for some foreign workers in Netherlands will increase on January 1, 2020. The new amounts will be:

  • Highly-skilled migrants over 30 years old: EUR 4,612
  • Highly-skilled migrants under 30 years old: EUR 3,381
  • Highly-skilled migrants (after orientation year permit or those who fulfill criteria for the orientation year permit): EUR 2,423.
  • EU Blue Card holders: EUR 5,403.

 

Applications received by immigration authorities on or after January 1, 2020 must comply with the new minimum amounts.

To view entire article, click here.

 

Weekly News Briefs

Dominican Republic: Visa Requirement for Nationals of Venezuela – Effective December 16, 2019, nationals of Venezuela will be required to obtain a consular tourist visa before entering Dominican Republic for tourism for up to 30 days. Currently, they can enter Dominican Republic for tourism under a visa-exempt status by purchasing a tourist card on arrival. Venezuelan nationals with a valid visa from the U.S., Canada, the United Kingdom or a member of the Schengen zone will be exempt from the consular tourist visa requirement and may purchase a tourist card on arrival. All Venezuelan national business travelers will still need to obtain a visa from a Dominican Republic consulate prior to travel.

European Union/Sweden: Update on Students and Researchers Directive As an update, Sweden 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. The changes will take effect January 1, 2020. The following countries have yet to implement the Directive: Belgium (no estimated implementation date confirmed), Greece (no estimated implementation date confirmed), and Slovenia (implementing legislation pending with parliament). Fragomen will continue to monitor developments and will keep clients informed.

India: Foreign Spouses Must Now Undergo Interview to Apply for OCI Card – Foreign spouses of Indian citizens or Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) Card holders who are eligible for an OCI Card (under specific Indian legal requirements) must now undergo an interview with an Indian mission/Foreigner Regional Registration Office, where this was previously not required. The interview must take place where the OCI application will be submitted (which is based on the applicant's jurisdiction of residence). Some offices may require scheduling an appointment. This policy was already informally in place but has now been codified. It is unclear if consular posts will continue to accept mailed applications. Applicants are advised to work with their immigration professional for this process.

Nigeria: Visa-on-Arrival for African Nationals Forthcoming – Nigeria will implement a visa-on-arrival for African nationals in January 2020. African nationals will no longer need to apply for a visa before traveling to Nigeria. Currently, the visa-on-arrival is for urgent travelers and foreign nationals without a Nigerian consular post in their home country. Further information on the application process, date of implementation and cost will be published once the authorities release these details.

Panama: Passport Requirements Relaxed for Venezuelan Nationals – Effective December 13, 2019, the Panamanian government will allow Venezuelan nationals with expired passports to carry out any immigration or labor application or process, or any other governmental process in the country. The passport must have expired after December 13, 2016 and will be considered valid until December 13, 2021. Currently, a Venezuelan's expired passport is considered valid only if it has an extension stamp, or if the Venezuelan national already applied for a new passport or an extension, in which case the foreign national has to also obtain a consular certification to this effect. Panamanian authorities are taking this measure to alleviate the challenges Venezuelan nationals continue to face in obtaining and renewing such documents.

Russia: 2020 Temporary Residence Permit Quota Numbers Released – The Russian government has released 60,270 total quota spots for temporary residence permits for foreign nationals in 2020, down from 83,480 in 2019. The quota amount becomes effective January 1, 2020. The government accepts quota applications for temporary residence permits starting mid-January. Foreign nationals must apply for a quota spot at the beginning of the year as quota spots get filled quickly. The total available spots are divided by region and are only required for applicants who are not seeking a work permit, for which a different quota applies.

Russia: Labour Books to be Made Electronic – Electronic labour books – which record a foreign national's work activity in Russia – will replace paper labour books by January 1, 2021. Paper labour books will no longer be available for employees who started their activities after December 31, 2020, while those who started before this date will be able to choose which format to apply for. To prepare for this transition, employers will need to amend their labour agreements and internal company manuals and codes to ensure that employees have access to email (since the electronic labour books will require an electronic signature acquired by email) and will need to educate their employees about the transfer to the electronic system. Employers will need to submit electronic information about their employees to the Pension Fund regardless of whether the employee opted to use the paper labour book or electronic labour book. Other rules apply regarding the return of paper labour books after the end of an employee's term or employment or if they switch employers.

Russia: Citizenship Application Process Simplified for Foreign Nationals with Russian Citizen Children – A bill is under review with the Duma that if approved, would simplify the citizenship application process for permanent residents who have children over the age of 18 who are Russian citizens and live in Russia. These foreign nationals would be able to apply for Russian citizenship without having to reside in Russia for five years under a permanent residence permit (as required for other citizenship applicants). Such applicants would receive their citizenship one year after they apply.

Philippines: Inspections Increase – Over 400 new labor inspectors were deployed in key areas to inspect establishments employing foreign nationals. During the inspection, the inspectors will check the company's business permit and Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) registration, verify the list of local and foreign employees and check the list of Alien Employment Permit applicants. The labor inspectors will submit a report to the Department of Labor and Employment regional director one day after the inspection.

Saudi Arabia: Saudization of Dentistry Professions Forthcoming – The Ministry of Labour and Social Development (MLSD) issued a decision to increase Saudization in all professions that fall under the specialty of dentistry. The new regulation aims to increase the total Saudization ratio in the dentistry profession to 25% by the first quarter of 2020 and to 30% by the third quarter of 2020. Only companies and institutions that employ at least three people as specialists in dentistry will be affected, including the following: medical centers, dental clinics, hospitals, insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies, medical equipment suppliers and dental equipment suppliers. Institutions that do not comply with the new Saudization ratios will be subject to penalties, including the suspension of labor transactions provided by the MLSD.

South Korea: Bachelor's Degree Holders Benefit from Shorter Work Experience Requirement –  Effective November 18, 2019, E-7 Employment Permit applicants with a Bachelor's degree but whose Bachelor’s degree is not relevant to their job function in South Korea only need to prove a minimum of three years of relevant work experience (instead of the previous requirement of a minimum of five years). This proof is made through legalized work verification letter(s) from the relevant employer(s) where the relevant work experience was accumulated. Those without a Bachelor's degree still need to certify at least five years of relevant work experience in legalized work verification letter(s). This new relaxed requirement is subject to change without notice.

Switzerland: Agreement on Rights of Swiss National in the United Kingdom and UK Nationals in Switzerland Post-Brexit Adopted – The Federal Council has adopted the agreement guaranteeing the existing rights of Swiss nationals in the United Kingdom and UK citizens in Switzerland after the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union. Under the agreement, Swiss and British citizens will retain the rights obtained in Switzerland or the United Kingdom based on the Agreement on the Free Movement of Persons (AFMP) with the European Union. This agreement also covers the coordination of social security scheme and the mutual recognition of professional qualifications. Swiss nationals living in the United Kingdom and UK nationals living in Switzerland will continue to be able to live and work without any further action to be taken due to Brexit. The Federal Council will now submit the agreement to Parliament for approval. Once it is approved, the agreement will come into effect at the end of the transition period agreed in the Withdrawal Agreement (currently January 1, 2021).

United Arab Emirates: New Labor Market Testing Platform Launched – The Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MOHRE) launched a new electronic platform called the Emirates Job Bank for employers that must create job advertisements for UAE nationals seeking employment in 160 professions. It is expected that the portal will eventually become the main labor market testing platform in the United Arab Emirates. Currently, government and federal/local semi-government institutions, public shareholding companies and national banks must record job openings through the portal. Companies in the private sector are expected to be required to use the program in the second quarter of 2020. Banks and other financial institutions operating under the Central Bank of the UAE must register with the portal immediately, while banks and financial institutions under the purview of the Dubai International Financial Center Authority (DIFC) are not currently subject to the requirement. It is not known if companies registered in the UAE’s free zones will have to register with the Emirates Job Bank platform; currently, only employers in the mainland are subject to the labor market testing requirement.

United Arab Emirates: New Temporary Work Permit in the Abu Dhabi Global Market – A new temporary work permit is expected to be available to employers in the Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) beginning May 13, 2020. The permit will be issued to foreign nationals with residence permits sponsored by an entity registered outside the ADGM who fall under one of the following categories: interns (students or trainees seeking work for an entity registered in the ADGM in order to gain experience); freelancers (providing services to an entity registered in the ADGM who hold a freelancer’s license issued by a free zone in the United Arab Emirates); secondees (temporarily seconded to an entity registered in the ADGM, who have the right to work in the UAE but do not hold a visa sponsored by the ADGM); and outsourced individuals (temporarily working in the ADGM for one or more entities in the ADGM under an outsourcing agreement who have the right to work in the UAE but do not hold a visa sponsored by the ADGM). The new permit will be available to applicants age 15 and above who hold a residence permit in the UAE (unless they are UAE or GCC citizens) whose validity is longer than the duration of the temporary work permit requested during the application process. The permit is renewable indefinitely for freelancers and outsourced individuals, while the remaining categories will be eligible for a non-renewable permit valid for up to 12 months. Existing regulations in the ADGM provide for the issuance of short-term work permits; however, the rules are non-comprehensive and, in practice, these permits are not commonly issued. 

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