US

Feb 07 2019

Weekly Immigration Update: February 1-7, 2019

Austria, Bulgaria, Colombia, Croatia, Ecuador, European Union, France, Greece, Israel, Kuwait, Oman, Paraguay, Russia, United Arab Emirates, United States

In immigration news this week:

  • United States: Starting March 1, the State Department will consolidate H and L visa interviews in China to three locations, from five originally. The H-1B cap season for fiscal year (FY) 2020 will begin on Monday, April 1, 2019. Employers should take steps to finalize H-1B needs, gather necessary documents and submit labor condition applications (LCAs), so that they are ready to file H-1B cap petitions during the week of Monday, April 1 to Friday, April 5, 2019. 
  • Colombia: Employers now have until March 8 to register their foreign workers on the Ministry of Labor’s online system called Sistema Único de Registro de Trabajadores Extranjeros en Colombia (RUTEC).
  • Ecuador: The government has published and clarified its rule requiring Venezuelan nationals entering for tourism, business or an initial work permit to present a Venezuelan criminal clearance certificate at the port of entry.
  • Austria, Bulgaria Croatia and Greece: Minimum monthly salaries for foreign workers have increased in these countries.


In Brexit news this week:

  • Austria: Plans have been published on the treatment of UK nationals after March 29, 2019 in case of a no-deal Brexit deal.


These items and other news from the European Union, France, Greece, Israel, Kuwait, the Maldives, Oman, Paraguay, Russia and the United Arab Emirates follow in this edition of the Fragomen Immigration Update.

Important Updates in Immigration This Week

United States, February 7, 2019
Reminder: FY 2020 H-1B Cap Starts April 1

  • Demand for FY 2020 H-1B cap numbers is expected to be high, as in past years.
  • Employers should continue to work with their immigration counsel to identify cap needs, submit labor condition applications and collect supporting documents.
  • USCIS has not yet announced whether premium processing will be available for FY 2020 cap cases.
  • The new H-1B cap online registration system recently unveiled by DHS will not take effect until the FY 2021 H-1B cap, which begins April 1, 2020.


To view entire article, click here.


Austria, February 7, 2019
Minimum Salary Level Increased


Effective January 1, 2019, the minimum monthly salary for foreign workers in Austria has increased to EUR 4,447 for EU Blue Card applicants, up 2.2 percent from last year; and EUR 3,132 for Red-White-Red Card applicants over 30 (EUR 2,610 for applicants under 30), up 4.8 percent from last year. Since foreign workers’ salaries must continue to meet collective bargaining agreement requirements, employers may not be directly affected by the increases.

To view entire article, click here.


Croatia, February 5, 2019
Minimum Salary Level Increased

Effective January 1, 2019, the minimum monthly salary for foreign workers in Croatia has increased to HRK 3,750, up nine percent from last year. The minimum annual salary for Key Personnel and EU Blue Card applicants increased to HRK 144,990, up 3.9 percent from last year. Although the increase is significant, foreign workers typically receive salaries well above the threshold.

To view entire article, click here.


Bulgaria, February 5, 2019
Minimum Salary Level Increased

Effective January 1, 2019, the minimum monthly salary for foreign workers in Bulgaria has increased to BGN 560, up 9.8 percent from last year. Since salaries must also meet the local market salary rate and rates set by collective bargaining agreements, if applicable, the change will not significantly impact foreign workers.

To view entire article, click here.


Colombia, February 4, 2019
Online Registration Deadline Extended

  • Employers now have until March 8, 2019 to register their foreign workers on the Ministry of Labor’s online system called Sistema Único de Registro de Trabajadores Extranjeros en Colombia (RUTEC).
  • Failure to register a foreign employee may result in employer fines.  


To view entire article, click here.


Greece, February 4, 2019
Minimum Salary Level Unified Across All Ages, Sharply Increased

  • Effective February 1, 2019, the minimum monthly salary for foreign workers in Greece has increased to EUR 650 for employees of all ages, up 11 percent from last year (up 27 percent for employees under 25 years old).
  • The government removed the age differentiation in the salary threshold, which results in a steep increase for employees under the age of 25. Nevertheless, foreign workers typically receive salaries well above this threshold.


To view entire article, click here.


Ecuador, February 1, 2019
Venezuelan Nationals’ New Criminal Clearance Certificate Rule Published

  • The Ecuadorian government has published and clarified the rule requiring Venezuelan nationals entering for tourism, business or an initial work permit to present a Venezuelan criminal clearance certificate at the port of entry.
  • There are also related rules for those who have lived in another country prior to entry to Ecuador.
  • Those who fail to present the required documents will be denied entry into Ecuador.


To view entire article, click here.


United States, February 1, 2019
U.S. State Department to Reduce H and L Visa Interviews in China to Three Locations

  • Starting March 1, 2019, H and L visa interviews in China will only be conducted at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing or the U.S. Consulates in Guangzhou or Shanghai.
  • Due to the consolidation of interviews to three locations, from five originally, H and L visa applicants may experience longer wait times at the three consular posts.


To view entire article, click here.


Brexit News and Related News Briefs This Week

Austria
, February 4, 2019
No-Deal Brexit Plans for UK Nationals Published

The Austrian government has published plans for the treatment of UK nationals residing in Austria after March 29, 2019 in case of a no-deal Brexit scenario. These plans have not yet passed the Austrian parliament. Central details of the plan include:

  • A six-month grace period would apply, during which time UK nationals and their non-EU family members residing in Austria for more than three months prior to March 29, 2019 would be able to apply for a national residence permit. This is an unusual provision as compared to other EU countries’ no-deal contingency plans, which allow foreign nationals already in that EU country to apply for a residence permit.
  • UK nationals currently holding an EU Residence Declaration would be able to continue working and staying in Austria during the six-month grace period.
  • UK nationals and their non-EU family members residing in Austria for a period shorter than five years as of March 29, 2019, and residing in Austria since December 29, 2018 or before, would be able to apply for a Red-White-Red Card Plus without having to demonstrate German language skills and other qualifying criteria.
  • UK nationals and their non-EU family members residing in Austria since December 30, 2018 or after, including new arrivals after March 29, 2019, would be able to stay in Austria until their visa-free stay period expires, but would be required to apply for a national work and residence permit.


To view entire article, click here.


European Union: European Commission Proposes Contingency Plans Covering EU Nationals’ Social Security Rights in Case of No-Deal Brexit - On January 30, 2019, the European Commission proposed a set of contingency measures related to social security rights of EU nationals in case the European Union and United Kingdom do not reach a Withdrawal Agreement. The proposal provides that in a no-deal scenario, periods of insurance, pension and employment accumulated prior to Brexit would be safeguarded after Brexit, and EU Member States would continue to apply the core principles of EU social security coordination. The European Commission will work with the EU Parliament and Council to draft a regulation including the proposed measures. If approved, these measures would be adopted unilaterally by the European Union and would enter into force on March 30, 2019 in the event of a no-deal Brexit. For more information on this proposal, see the Fragomen blog on this topic.


Other Weekly News Briefs

France: Official Minimum Wage Published – The government has confirmed that the minimum wage in France is EUR 1,521.22 per month, up 1.5 percent from last year. (This is in contrast to the amount that Fragomen previously reported, which showed an estimated increase of 1.8 percent.  All previously-reported conditions still apply.) The increase in the minimum wage does not directly affect most French work authorization types, but does impact some Talent Passport categories, as the minimum salary requirements for those categories are linked to the minimum wage. The government is expected to publish the new threshold for the EU Blue Card between April and May 2019. Fragomen will report relevant developments on other countries’ increases and other development in France as they occur.

Greece: Government Filing Fees For Self-Employed and Children Decrease – Greek authorities have reduced government filing fees for independent economic activity (i.e. self-employed) from EUR 1,000 to EUR 150; and for a three-year permit for dependent children 21 and under from EUR 450 to EUR 150 (this applies to dependents who enter Greece at 18 and turn 21 during their stay and for dependents ages 18-21 at the time of entry in Greece). The decrease follows fee and penalty changes in September 2018, and seeks to align Greek government fees with EU policy.

Israel: Hi-Tech Visa Allows Cumulative Calculation of Total Stay - According to a clarification by the Work Permit Unit of the Ministry of Interior, foreign nationals can stay in Israel under the Hi-Tech (HIT) short-term visa for 90 days cumulatively in a calendar year, as opposed to the SEA visa, which restricts travelers to 45 cumulative days in Israel. This means that under the HIT visa, travelers can travel out of Israel for personal trips and return under the same visa, while this is not possible under the SEA visa. For each new entry into Israel under the HIT visa, the traveler must submit a new application at least 10 business days prior to arrival. As a reminder, only visa-exempt nationals who earn at least NIS 20,278 gross annually are eligible for the HIT visa, and company eligibility is determined by the Ministry of Interior and the Israel Innovation Authority, following consultation with the Bureau of Statistics. Interested applicants should contact their immigration provider for more information. Fragomen worked closely with Kan-Tor & Acco Law Firm (Israel & Poland) to prepare this alert.

Kuwait: Changes Forthcoming to Kuwaitization Policies for Private Sector Employers -Beginning in June 2019, employers in the private sector who are noncompliant with prescribed Kuwaitization ratios will be subject to an annual fee of KWD 300 for each work permit issued to a foreign national. This rule comes as a result of a ministerial resolution issued in 2018, determining the Kuwaitization levels for companies in various business sectors, and the general trend in Kuwait of encouraging the hiring of local employees in the private sector. There are likely other changes that will be implemented as a result of this resolution. Fragomen will provide updates as the practical impact of the changes are developed.

Oman: Suspension Extended on Recruitment of Foreign Nationals Across Various Industries - The Ministry of Manpower has again extended the suspension on recruiting foreign workers in 87 professions across various industries for another six months, beginning February 1, 2019. The suspension applies to 16 professions in the information and technology sector, seven professions in the engineering sector and four professions in the administration and human resources sector, among others. Employers will need to continue to hire local workers in all affected positions until the suspension is over. Fragomen expects the suspension to continue as the government in Oman has seen a significant rise in the recruitment of Omani nationals in the private sector since the implementation of the new suspension.

United Arab Emirates/Maldives/Paraguay/Russia: Visa Exemptions Added for Nationals of the Maldives, Paraguay and Russia - Effective immediately, nationals of the Maldives and, Paraguay are eligible for visa-free entry into the United Arab Emirates for up to 90 days for tourism and limited business activities.  Additionally, effective February 17, 2019, Russian nationals are eligible for visa-free entry into the United Arab Emirates for up to 90 days in a 180-day period for business and tourism purposes. Foreign nationals will receive an entry stamp upon arrival. Previously, nationals of the Maldives and Paraguay had to apply for a UAE visa prior to travel and Russian nationals were only able to obtain a 30-day visa-on-arrival.

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