Feb 11 2021

Weekly Immigration Update: February 5–11, 2021

Austria, Belgium, Bolivia, Burkina Faso, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, European Union, France, Gabon, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, Indonesia, Iraq, Ireland, Israel, Japan, Jordan, Kuwait, Latvia, Lesotho, Luxembourg, Macau, Malaysia, Mauritania, Mexico, Namibia, Norway, Pakistan, Portugal, Republic of Korea (South Korea), Republic of the Philippines, Russia, Rwanda, Slovak Republic, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States, Uruguay

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. Visit Fragomen’s COVID-19 website for the latest immigration updates.
  • Brexit: Authorities in Austria and Cyprus 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.
  • United States: The registration period for the FY 2022 H-1B cap season will open at noon EST on March 9 and close at noon EDT on March 25. All cap registrations must be drafted and submitted online during this period.
  • Canada: As of February 8, eligible Hong Kong special administrative region (SAR) residents or British National (Overseas) (BN(O)) passport holders can apply for new open work permits, which allow eligible nationals to work and reside in Canada for up to three years. 
  • France: Due to increasing rates of COVID-19, French authorities have implemented further entry restrictions. Intra-Company Transferees, non-resident UK nationals and posted workers from the United Kingdom are no longer allowed to enter France.
  • Belgium: Belgium now allows UK national business visitors to conduct activities based on the EU-UK Free Trade Agreement, which includes more activities than those generally permitted for business visitors.  

These items and other news from Bolivia, Colombia, Cyprus, the European Union, Hong Kong SAR, Iraqi Kurdistan, Mauritania, Seychelles and Ukraine follow in this edition of the Fragomen Immigration Update.


Important Updates in Immigration This Week

Belgium, February 11, 2021

UK National Business Visitors Granted Broader Business Activity Rights

  • Belgium now allows UK national business visitors to conduct activities based on the EU-UK Free Trade Agreement, which includes more activities than those generally permitted for business visitors.
  • UK nationals can therefore now perform activities such as technical, scientific and statistical research; receiving training in techniques and work practices; and attending a trade fair, among other activities under business visitor status, which means they do not require a work permit.


To view entire article, click here.


France, February 10, 2021

Further Entry Restrictions Implemented

  • French authorities have further restricted entry into France. Intra-Company Transferees, non-resident UK nationals and posted workers from the United Kingdom are no longer allowed to enter France.
  • Individuals holding newly-approved Talent Passport visas remain permitted to enter, among those holding other entry permissions. Even though Talent Passport family visas are not listed on the travel certificate, some consulates are still issuing family visas. There is no guarantee that family members will be allowed to enter France.
  • For up-to-date information on COVID-19-related travel bans, restrictions and concessions, among other information, check Fragomen’s dedicated website.


To view entire article, click here.


Canada, February 9, 2021

Hong Kong Work Permit Program Now Accepting Applications

  • As of February 8, 2021, Hong Kong special administrative region (SAR) residents or British National (Overseas) (BN(O)) passport holders who graduated with a Canadian post-secondary diploma or degree in the last five years or hold an equivalent foreign credential, can apply for a new work permit valid for up to three years. 
  • Eligible Hong Kong residents now have an additional pathway to reside and work in Canada.

To view entire article, click here.


United States, February 5, 2021

USCIS Announces Registration Schedule for FY 2022 H-1B Cap Season

  • The FY 2022 cap registration period will open at noon EST on March 9, 2021 and will close at noon EDT on March 25, 2021. All cap registrations must be drafted and submitted online during this period.
  • USCIS will then conduct the FY 2022 H-1B cap selection and notify sponsoring employers of selected entries by March 31, 2021.
  • If the number of registrations exceeds the H-1B quota of 85,000, USCIS will use a random computerized lottery to select the registrations for which an H-1B cap petition may be filed. USCIS will not implement a wage-based selection system during this cap season.
  • Employers may submit petitions for selected registrations starting April 1, 2021.  The petition filing period will close no earlier than June 30, 2021.

To view entire article, click here.


Other Weekly News Briefs

Bolivia: Visa Requirement for Israeli and U.S. Nationals Reinstated – The government of Bolivia has overturned a visa waiver decree implemented in December 2019 and is now requiring nationals of Israel and the United States to obtain a Tourist or Visit Visa to enter Bolivia for up to 30 continuous or cumulative days in a 12-month period (which can be extended for two similar periods). Israeli nationals must obtain the visa at a Bolivian consular post prior to entry, while U.S. nationals can obtain the visa either at a consular post or at the airport or immigration checkpoint on arrival. Previously, Israeli and U.S. nationals were able to enter Bolivia as tourists under visa-exempt status for up to 90 continuous or cumulative days in a 12-month period. As a reminder, business visitors to Bolivia should continue to obtain either a Multiple Visa or a Specific Purpose Visa from a Bolivian consular post prior to travel. 

Colombia: Mass Regularization Process for Venezuelan Nationals Forthcoming – The Colombian president announced the creation of a Temporary Migrant Protection Statute that will allow Venezuelan nationals in Colombia (including those in irregular immigration status) to register with the government and apply for a Personal Protection Permit to reside and work in Colombia for up to 10 years. The government expects to regularize more than 2,000,000 Venezuelans as a mechanism to facilitate the integration of the Venezuelan migrant population into the country's labor market. The timeline for implementation is not yet known, though the law is expected to be officially published in late February, after the public comment period. ​

Cyprus/European Union: Update on Revised Posted Worker Directive Implementation – Cyprus implemented the Revised Posted Worker Directive, adding a six-month posting extension, where postings on home country employment conditions were previously limited to a maximum duration of 12 months. As under prior rules, if the employment terms that are based on the posted worker’s contract with their home country employer are more favorable than Cypriot law, those employment terms apply. Implementation of the Revised Posted Worker Directive remains pending in Austria, Bulgaria, Denmark, Greece, Ireland, Latvia, Slovenia (legislation currently in initial drafting stage) and Spain.

Hong Kong SAR: British National (Overseas) Passports No Longer Recognized in Hong Kong SAR – The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) government announced that it no longer recognizes British National Overseas (BN(O)) passports as travel documents or as proof of identity in Hong Kong SAR. The announcement came after the United Kingdom government announced the opening of the BN(O) Route allowing BN(O) status holders to live, work and study in the United Kingdom, with the opportunity to obtain permanent residence after five years of residence. BN(O) status is a form of British nationality created before the handover of Hong Kong from the United Kingdom to China in 1997, which allows holders of the status to hold British passports but does not entitle them to full British citizenship. Instead of the BN(O) passport, Hong Kong residents must present their Hong Kong SAR passports or Hong Kong Permanent Identity Cards when boarding flights for Hong Kong SAR. Permanent residents of Hong Kong SAR who are not Chinese nationals and do not have valid travel documents must apply for a Document of Identity for Visa Purposes for international travel.  The Identify for Visa Purpose document would be applicable to foreign nationals who have applied for BN(O) passports and given up their national passports.

Iraqi Kurdistan: Entry Fee Imposed for Visa On-Arrival – The Ministry of Interior of the Kurdistan Regional Government has imposed an entry fee of IQD 100,000 per person for all foreign nationals entering based on a visa on-arrival. Diplomats, UN agents, certain international organizations and individuals who hold a valid residence permit for Iraqi Kurdistan are exempt from the fee.

Mauritania: Online Work Permit Platform Introduced – The Department of Labour has announced that employers and their representatives can now apply for work permits online through the work permit management platform. Previously, applicants were required to complete work permit applications manually and submit them in person to the Department of Labour for adjudication. The new platform is expected to streamline the work permit process by improving access to the application process and reducing turnaround time.

Seychelles: Remote Working Visa to be Launched – The Seychelles Tourism Board (STB) will launch a visa option for travelers intending to work remotely from the country. The program will target travelers between the ages of 28 and 58 who are self-employed and those who have reached management level in their organization. Such travelers will be allowed to stay in the country for up to one month. Further details on the program are expected to be announced soon. Seychelles will be the second African country to announce a remote working visa option aimed at attracting working travelers to the country after COVID-19 affected its tourism sector, following Mauritius, which launched the Premium Visa in October 2020.

Ukraine: Longer Consecutive Stay for Belarussian Nationals – Until December 31, 2021, Belarussian nationals can stay in Ukraine for up to 180 days per year, up from 90 days per 180-day period, without requiring a visa. Travelers can conduct permitted business visitor and tourist activities but require work authorization to perform work activities.

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