Virginia, US

Dec 15 2017

Weekly Immigration Update: December 8 - 14, 2017

Albania, Algeria, Angola, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Belarus, Bermuda, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, Chad, China, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Estonia, Ethiopia, France, Gabon, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Ivory Coast, Japan, Kuwait, Latvia, Lesotho, Liberia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macau, Madagascar, Malaysia, Malta, Mexico, Montenegro, Mozambique, Namibia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, Oman, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Poland, Republic of Korea (South Korea), Republic of the Philippines, Romania, Russia, Senegal, Serbia, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Tanzania, Trinidad & Tobago, Turkey, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, Uruguay, Venezuela, Vietnam, Zambia

In United States immigration news this week, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services will begin to accept applications for temporary parole under the International Entrepreneur Rule. If you fly within the United States on or after January 22, 2018, your identification must comply with the REAL ID Act. 

Also in the United States, cutoff dates for EB-2 and EB-3 China and India will continue to advance, according to the State Department's January Visa Bulletin. The EB-5 Regional Center Program, which is set to expire on December 22, 2017, will be unavailable next month unless reauthorized by Congress. Fragomen has also updated its answers to frequently asked questions about what to expect in an employment-based adjustment interview.

The UK government has announced changes to the Immigration Rules, which will take effect in January 2018. Some of the key changes include the introduction of an electronic entry clearance visa to replace a physical vignette in the passport and a new requirement for PBS dependants to not spend more than 180 days in any 12-month period outside the United Kingdom in order to qualify for Indefinite Leave to Remain.

As part of its immigration system overhaul, Colombia will simplify the visa system, codify rules and procedures and extend the time that technical visitors can remain in Colombia, among other changes.

In Ireland, the current immigration residence card (known as GNIB card) is being phased out and substituted by the Irish Residence Permit card. In Romania, effective January 1, 2018, minimum salary levels will increase by approximately 31 percent. Estonia has relaxed its rules for the Intracompany Transferee Permit.

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 Argentina, Australia, Austria, Brazil, China, Croatia, European Union, France, Malaysia, Norway, Peru, Rwanda, South Africa, Switzerland, Ukraine and the United Kingdom follow in this edition of the Fragomen Immigration Update.

 

Important Updates in Immigration This Week

United States, December 14, 2017
USCIS to Accept Entrepreneur Parole Applications While It Pursues Rescission of the Program

International entrepreneurs who have established a qualifying business in the United States can submit applications for temporary parole to remain in the United States under an Obama-era regulation. Though U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services will accept these applications, the Trump Administration will continue to pursue its plans to rescind the entrepreneur parole program. 

To view entire article, click here.

 

United States, December 14, 2017
Update: Employment-Based Adjustment Interviews - What Foreign Nationals Need to Know

Personal interviews for employment-based adjustment applicants began on October 1, 2017 for those whose cases were filed on or after March 6, 2017. Adjustment applicants who are called for an interview should be prepared to answer questions about their background, employment and qualifications and to provide application documentation if requested.

To view entire article, click here.

 

United States, December 14, 2017
January 2018 Visa Bulletin: EB-2 and EB-3 China and India Continue to Advance

EB-2 China will advance by five weeks, to August 8, 2013. EB-2 India will advance by three weeks, to November 22, 2008. EB-3 cutoff dates for professionals and skilled workers will advance by five weeks for China, to April 15, 2014, and by two weeks for India, to November 1, 2006. The EB-5 Regional Center Program is set to expire on December 22, 2017 and will be unavailable unless reauthorized by Congress.

To view entire article, click here.
 

United States, December 12, 2017
New Domestic Air Travel ID Requirements Take Effect on January 22, 2018

If you fly within the United States on or after January 22, 2018, your identification must comply with the REAL ID Act.  Your state-issued driver's license or ID card is acceptable for domestic air travel if your state is in compliance or has received an extension to bring its documentation into compliance with the Act.  If your state is not compliant and has not received an extension, you will need alternative identification - such as a valid passport - for domestic air travel on or after January 22, 2018.

To view entire article, click here.

 

Colombia, December 14, 2017
Details on New Immigration Law Released

On December 15, 2017, as part of its immigration system overhaul, Colombia will simplify the visa system by reducing the number of visa types from 21 to three (each with the corresponding sub-categories), but will not substantially alter the entry rules for most foreign nationals; codify rules and procedures such as mandating a timeframe by which authorities must adjudicate a visa application and requiring foreign nationals to apply for a new visa if their circumstances change; and extend the time that technical visitors can remain in Colombia from 180 days to up to two years. While this is largely a reorganization and will not significantly alter the rules or processes for most foreign nationals seeking to work in Colombia, employers and foreign nationals should pay particular attention to the details and completeness of their applications. All applications filed on or after December 15 will need to meet the new rules. Some delays can be expected as a result of the temporary suspension of the online system.

To view entire article, click here.

 

China, December 14, 2017
Work Permit Renewal Filing Rule to be Strictly Enforced

Starting February 28, 2018, authorities will enforce the requirement for Work Permit renewal applications to be filed at least 30 days prior to expiry of the existing Work Permit.

To view entire article, click here.

 

Switzerland, December 14, 2017
Significant Delays in the Canton of Ticino

The Canton of Ticino is currently facing a significant backlog for all immigration-related requests. Current processing times are a minimum of three months.

To view entire article, click here.

 

China, December 14, 2017
Processing Changes for Shanghai Work Authorization Process

The Shanghai Expert Bureau has recently implemented processing changes for work authorization applications which are expected to reduce the processing time of Notification Letters for Work Permit and Work Permit applications in Shanghai.

To view entire article, click here.

 

Malaysia, December 13, 2017
Companies Must Submit 2018 Employment Pass and Professional Visit Pass Projections

Due to holiday closures and the expected high volume of projection applications, companies should submit their 2018 projections for Professional Visit Passes and Employment Passes as soon as possible to avoid delays.

To view entire article, click here.

 

Luxembourg, December 12, 2017
Minimum Salary Levels Increased for EU Blue Card Occupations

Effective immediately, the minimum salary level for EU Blue Card positions has increased for both regular and shortage occupations.

To view entire article, click here.

 

Malaysia, December 12, 2017
Upcoming Closures for Immigration Systems due to Maintenance and Holidays

Immigration authorities in West Malaysia recently announced their closure periods due to the scheduled maintenance of its MYXpats Centre and Expatriate Services Division online system. Affected companies should submit their applications as early as possible to ensure that approval and endorsement processes are completed prior to the closure period.

To view entire article, click here.

 

Argentina, December 11, 2017
Police Clearance Online System Temporarily Disabled

The National Registry office's online system at the Puerto Madero area of Buenos Aires has been disabled and is expected to remain down through the week. Foreign nationals seeking to obtain urgent police clearances at this location will not be able to do so until the system is functional.

To view entire article, click here.

 

The Netherlands, December 11, 2017
Minimum Salary Levels and Government Filing Fees to Increase

Effective January 1, 2018, minimum salary levels will increase by approximately 2 percent. Government filing fees will increase by 1.3 percent. 

To view entire article, click here.

 

Romania, December 11, 2017
Minimum Salary Levels to Increase

As projected, effective January 1, 2018, minimum salary levels will increase by approximately 31 percent.

To view entire article, click here.

 

Ireland, December 11, 2017
Current Residence Card Replaced by Irish Residence Permit Card

The current immigration residence card (known as GNIB card) in Ireland is being phased out and substituted by the Irish Residence Permit (IRP) card. The new card does not confer any new rights or entitlements.

To view entire article, click here.

 

Worldwide, December 11, 2017
Immigration Processing During the Holiday Season

During the holiday season, many government offices worldwide will close or have reduced staff and hours of operation, likely resulting in processing delays for work permits, residence permits and visas over the coming weeks and into the new year.

To view entire article, click here.

 

Estonia, December 8, 2017
Intracompany Transferee Permit Rules Relaxed

Effective immediately, the rules for the Intracompany Transferee (ICT) Permit in Estonia have been relaxed. ICTs can now remain on home contract and payroll; and employers can apply for an ICT Permit without conducting a labor market test.

To view entire article, click here.

 

Brazil, December 8, 2017
Guidelines Regulating New Immigration Law Published

The Ministry of Labor has released some guidelines that provide detailed information regarding the new immigration law that was implemented on November 21.

To view entire article, click here.

 

United Kingdom, December 8, 2017
Changes to Immigration Rules Forthcoming

The UK government has announced changes to the Immigration Rules, which will take effect in January 2018. The key changes include: the introduction of an electronic entry clearance visa to replace a physical vignette in the passport; flexibility for Tier 4 students switching to Tier 2 sponsorship; and a new requirement for PBS dependants to not spend more than 180 days in any 12-month period outside the United Kingdom in order to qualify for Indefinite Leave to Remain. This is independent to the UK and EU Joint Statement of Citizenship Rights, reported on previously.

To view entire article, click here.

 

United Kingdom/European Union, December 8, 2017
Agreement on the Rights of EU and UK Citizens Post Brexit Reached

The negotiators of the EU and the UK governments have released a joint report on the progress made during the first phase of the negotiations under Article 50 on the United Kingdom's withdrawal from the European Union. This report contains the clearest outline of the rights of EU citizens in the United Kingdom and the reciprocal rights of UK citizens in the European Union to date and provides clarity on various issues.

To view entire article, click here.

 

Weekly News Briefs

Australia: Passage of Enhanced Integrity Bill Delayed – The Australian Parliament failed to pass the Migration and Other Legislation Amendment (Enhanced Integrity) Bill 2017 in its last session of 2017, thereby delaying its passage until at least February 2018, when Parliament reconvenes. As outlined in our previous alert, the Bill is intended to amend the Migration Act to increase enforcement of immigration rules by allowing the Department of Immigration and Border Protection to publish information on its website concerning businesses that were sanctioned for immigration-related violations, use foreign nationals’ tax filing numbers for compliance purposes and enter into an enforceable undertaking to rectify a breach of sponsorship obligations.

Austria: Clarification: Initial Intracompany Transferee Permit Applications Must Be Filed Abroad – In a clarification of policy, Austrian authorities confirmed that an initial Intracompany Transferee (ICT) Permit application with Austria as the primary host location generally must be filed from abroad. One of the conditions of the ICT Permit is that the foreign national applicant must have their main residence abroad. Filing in Austria is only allowed for the principal’s application and if the Austrian host entity (or their legal representation with a Power of Attorney) acts on behalf of the principal to file in Austria.

As a reminder, ICT applications on behalf of dependents can only be filed abroad at Austrian consular posts.

Croatia: Work Permit Quota for 2018 Announced – Croatian authorities have announced the annual work and stay permit quotas for 2018.

  • Total quota. The total annual quota will be set at 31,000 permits. Nine thousand of these are for extensions of previously-issued permits. The overall quota is significantly higher than last year’s quota and for some occupations it has increased by as much as 2.5 times.
  • Intracompany transferee quota. 250 of the 31,000 permits in this year’s quota will be reserved for intracompany transfer permits. Previously, intracompany transfer permits were not subject to a quota.
  • Background. The quota is generally set for occupations with identified shortages and more than 30 types of permits are not limited by the quota.

 

European Union: Commission Sends Letters of Formal Notice – The European Commission has sent letters of formal notice for the below reasons:

  • Excessive fees.
    • The Commission sent Greece, the Netherlands, Portugal and Romania letters of formal notice for charging excessive fees under the Student Directive, Researchers Directive, Blue Card Directive and Single Permit Directive.
    • The Commission sent Greece, Portugal and Romania letters of formal notice for charging excessive fees for applications covered by the Long Term Residents Directive and Family Reunification Directive.
  • Incorrect transposition.  Romania was also sent a letter of formal notice for incorrectly transposing and implementing provisions of EU Directives on legal migration concerning the justification of rejections of applications under Family Reunification, Students, Researchers, Blue Card, and Single Permit Directives.
  • Background. Letters of formal notice are part of the infringement procedure used by the European Commission when it finds that an EU Member State has not translated a Directive into its local laws correctly. A warning in the form of a letter of formal notice is sent first. The Member State has two months to respond and remedy the issue. If the issue is not remedied in this timeframe and the Member State cannot justify the high fees, the European Commission is likely to address reasoned opinions to these countries, which is the second step of the infringement process.

 

France: Biometrics by Appointment in Paris – Foreign nationals residing in Paris and applying for an EU Blue Card, Talent Passport Salarié en mission or ICT Détaché residence permit must now submit biometric information by appointment at the Préfecture.

  • Background. The biometric data is required for the authorities to create a residence permit card. Upon visiting the Préfecture, the foreign national will receive a temporary residence permit proving their residence status. 
  • Process. The Préfecture will schedule the appointment upon receipt of the residence permit application (the notice is received at least four to five weeks after the application is sent to the Préfecture). Applicants are advised to accept the appointment as scheduled, since appointment slots are limited and cannot easily be rescheduled.
  • Affected applicants. The change affects foreign nationals applying for an EU Blue Card, Talent Passport – Salarié en Mission and ICT Secondment – Détaché. These categories were previously exempt from the biometrics requirement.
  • Impact. This will result in an extra administrative step but should not delay the application process.

 

Norway: Reminder to Apostille/Legalize Registration Documents – As noted previously, immigration authorities are strictly enforcing apostille and legalization requirements for in-country registrations. Specifically, foreign employees traveling with dependents are required to obtain apostilles for their dependents’ marriage and birth certificates. If a non-legalized document is submitted at the application stage, the immigration authorities can use their discretion to decide whether or not to grant the permit without the apostille. Therefore, foreign nationals are advised to obtain the apostille before they submit the application instead of at the later stage of police registration to avoid any issues or processing delays.

Peru: Same-day Issuance of Peruvian Identity Card Eliminated – Foreign nationals can no longer complete their registration with the Immigration Information Registry (RIM) and receive their Peruvian Identity Card on the same day. Instead, they will need to register with RIM and receive a receipt which shows a date and time, two to three business days later, when they can come back to collect their Peruvian Identity Card. The Peruvian Identity Card is the last step in all long-term visa processes, and it serves as proof of status.

Rwanda: Forthcoming Visa on Arrival Change Confirmed to Apply to Business Visitors – According to the Rwandan Directorate of Immigration, the visa-on-arrival program that will come into effect January 1, 2018 will allow business visitors of all nationalities to enter Rwanda for up to 30 days without obtaining a visa in their home country prior to entry.

South Africa: Transition Period for Foreign Nationals on ZSP Permits Announced - South African nationals applying for the Zimbabwean Exemption Permits (ZEP) who are in possession of ZSP permits that expire on December 31, 2017 must be allowed to continue working until they receive their new ZEP permits, effective January 1, 2018. In order to travel to Zimbabwe, such foreign nationals should submit proof of application either for a ZEP permit (in the form of a Visa Facilitation Service receipt or proof of payment of application fee) or for the mainstream visa.

Ukraine: Labor Market Test Abolished – The Ukrainian government has officially eliminated the labor market test for work permits as part of a major legislative reform. Companies are no longer required to conduct a local labor market search before a foreign national is allowed to fill a position.

United Kingdom: Calculation for Absences Requirement Clarified – Further to last week's update on the UK immigration rule changes, the UKVI has provided more information about how the absences requirement will be calculated for migrants applying for Indefinite Leave to Remain ("ILR"). ‎Currently, individuals applying for ILR must demonstrate that they have not been outside of the United Kingdom for 180 days or more per year over the last five years. This is calculated by looking back in 12-month periods from the date of the ILR application. From January 11, 2018, applicants will need to demonstrate they have not been absent from the United Kingdom for 180 days or more in any 12-month period over the past five years. This new rule will apply to foreign nationals already in the United Kingdom and will look back over their entire stay, including before January 11, 2018.

 

Global Immigration News Links

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