US

Jan 18 2019

Weekly Immigration Update: January 11-17, 2019

Albania, Austria, Canada, Colombia, Egypt, Estonia, Finland, France, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Israel, Luxembourg, Panama, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, United States

In immigration news this week:

  • United Kingdom: The UK government has until close of business January 21 to set out an alternative plan of action following parliament’s rejection of the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement.
  • Estonia/Poland: Plans have been published by each country on the treatment of UK nationals after March 29, 2019, in case of a no-deal Brexit.
  • United States: A final version of the H-1B cap registration rule moved closer to completion in the regulatory process, though details of the rule remain confidential for now. According to the State Department’s February Visa Bulletin, there will be a modest advancement in cutoff dates overall, with EB-1 projected to remain backlogged while also steadily advancing through the May 2019 Visa Bulletin. 
  • Canada: Starting 12 PM EST on January 28, Canadian nationals and permanent residents will be able to submit interest forms to sponsor parents and grandparents for permanent residence.
  • Hungary/Israel/Luxembourg/Portugal/Turkey: The minimum monthly salary for foreign workers increased in each country on January 1, 2019.  



These items and other news from Albania, Austria, Colombia, Egypt, Finland, France, India, Indonesia, Israel, Panama, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden follow in this edition of the Fragomen Immigration Update.

 

Important Updates in Immigration This Week

Estonia, January 17, 2019

No-Deal Brexit Plans for UK Nationals Published

The Estonian government has published plans for the treatment of UK nationals residing in Estonia after March 29, 2019 in case of a no-deal Brexit. Central details of the plan include: 

  • A 24-month transition period commencing on March 29, 2019 for UK nationals to obtain a residence permit card in Estonia.
  • UK nationals holding an Estonian identification card confirming registration as an EU national would be required to exchange their Estonian identification card for a local residence permit card between January 1, 2020 and the expiry date of the identification card. 
  • UK nationals arriving in Estonia until March 31, 2021 would be able to continue registering as UK nationals.
  • UK nationals residing in Estonia for five years or longer would be able to apply for a permanent residence permit if eligible. Eligibility criteria would be the same as for non-EU applicants. 



The Estonian government would need to pass a law related to these proposals for the rules to be effective.

To view entire article, click here.

 

Israel, January 17, 2019

Minimum Salary Level Increased

Effective January 1, 2019, the minimum monthly salary for B-1 Expert Work Visa and Hi-Tech B-1 Work Visa (HIT Visa) applicants in Israel has increased to ILS 20,278, up 3.4 percent from last year. Employers are advised to adjust salaries for all foreign workers under these permit types to comply with the new rules.

To view entire article, click here.

 

United Kingdom, January 16, 2019

Brexit Withdrawal Agreement Rejected by UK Parliament

The UK parliament has rejected the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement. The government now has three parliamentary working days (by close of business January 21, 2019) to set out an alternative plan of action. Although the next steps are not yet clear, employers are advised to set up contingency plans in case of a no-deal Brexit if no further agreement is approved before March 29, 2019. 

To view entire article, click here.

 

Portugal, January 15, 2019

Minimum Salary Level Increased

Effective January 1, 2019, the minimum monthly salary for foreign workers in Portugal has increased to EUR 600 (calculated over 14 payments), up 3.4 percent from last year. The salary requirement for highly-qualified applicants (as determined by Portuguese law) has increased to EUR 1,307.28. Income requirements for accompanying dependents have increased to EUR 300 for spouses and children over 18 and EUR 180 for children under 18, up 3.4 percent from last year. Although employers must increase salaries of current permit holders, pending and new applications (if necessary), foreign workers typically receive salaries well above this threshold.

To view entire article, click here.

 

Turkey, January 15, 2019

Minimum Salary Level Increased

Effective January 1, 2019, the minimum gross monthly salary in Turkey has increased. As a result, the minimum salary requirement for Work / Residence Permit applicants is now TRY 16,629.60 for high-level managers and engineers; and TRY 10,233.60 for mid-level branch or department managers, mid-level software engineers; up 26.1 percent from last year. Although the increase in TRY salary amounts is significant, foreign workers typically receive salaries well above the thresholds.

To view entire article, click here.

 

Hungary, January 15, 2019

Minimum Salary Level Increased

  • Effective January 1, 2019, the minimum monthly salary for foreign workers in Hungary has increased to HUF 195,000 for positions that require a degree or HUF 149,000 for positions that do not require a degree, up eight percent from last year.
  • Since salary requirements are primarily linked to national average salaries for individual positions based on a national occupation classification system (FEOR number), employers should check the FEOR-linked averages before increasing foreign workers' salaries. 



To view entire article, click here.

 

Canada, January 14, 2019

2019 Parents and Grandparents Program to Open January 28

  • Canadian nationals and permanent residents will be able to submit interest forms to sponsor their parents and grandparents for permanent residence in Canada starting 12 PM EST on January 28, 2019.
  • Interested potential sponsors should review document and eligibility requirements to ensure they are ready to apply when the program opens, as applications are selected in the order that they are received.
  • Selected sponsors will have 60 calendar days from the date of their invitation to submit a complete application.



To view entire article, click here.

 

Poland, January 14, 2019

No-Deal Brexit Plans for UK Nationals Published

The Polish government has published plans for the treatment of UK nationals residing in Poland after March 29, 2019 in case of a no-deal Brexit. Central details of the plan include:

  • A 12-month transition period, commencing on March 30, 2019, during which time UK nationals already residing in Poland would be required to apply for a residence permit.
  • UK nationals residing in Poland for five years or longer as of March 29, 2019, would be able to apply for a permanent residence permit under the same requirements as for qualifying EU nationals.
  • UK nationals residing in Poland for a period shorter than five years as of March 29, 2019, would be able to apply for a special three-year temporary residence permit. After this period, permit holders would need to qualify for a standard national permit type under the same eligibility criteria as non-EU nationals.



To view entire article, click here.

 

United States, January 14, 2019

Final H-1B Cap Registration Rule Moves Closer to Completion

  • The final version of the H-1B cap registration rule is now under review at the Office of Management and Budget, the next step in the regulatory process.
  • USCIS is expected to issue the rule before the April 1 start date of the FY 2020 cap filing season. The contents of the final rule remain confidential for now, but USCIS has suggested it could defer its planned online registration requirement to a future year.
  • Employers should continue to prepare as usual for the coming H-1B cap filing season.



To view entire article, click here.

 

United States, January 11, 2019

February 2019 Visa Bulletin: Modest Advancement in Cutoff Dates Overall; EB-1 Projected to Advance Through May 2019, But Will Remain Backlogged

  • EB-1 will advance by two months for most countries, to December 1, 2017; China and India will advance by seven weeks, to February 8, 2017.
  • EB-2 will advance by two months for China, to October 1, 2015, and by less than one week for India, to April 6, 2009. Remaining countries will remain current.
  • The EB-3 subcategory for Professionals and Skilled Workers will remain current for most countries, though China will advance by three weeks to July 1, 2015, and India will advance almost two months to April 22, 2009.



To view entire article, click here.

 

Luxembourg, January 11, 2019

Minimum Salary Level Increased

Effective January 1, 2019, the minimum monthly salary for foreign workers in Luxembourg has increased to EUR 2,485.32 for workers with a higher education diploma and EUR 2,071.10 for other workers, up 1.1 percent from last year. Employers should increase the salaries of current staff and those with pending applications if required to comply with the new threshold.

To view entire article, click here.

 

Weekly News Briefs

Albania: Update on New Document Requirement – The Border and Migration Police are not yet requiring the extract from the Albanian civil registry, a new document requirement for residence permit renewal applications in Albania which was introduced in November 2018. Foreign nationals are nevertheless advised to register with the civil registry office in their local Albanian town hall upon initial arrival to ensure that they can produce this document in case of a renewal application.

Austria: More Restrictive Eligibility Criteria for Some Red-White-Red Card Employees Take Effect As a reminder, more restrictive eligibility criteria for key employees under the Austrian Red-White-Red Card took effect January 1, 2019. Under the new law, more points are awarded for relevant work experience and language skills, fewer points are awarded to young workers, and more points are required to qualify overall. Young applicants with limited work experience would be less likely to qualify for a permit under the new rules, unless they have considerable language skills. Affected applicants should consult an immigration professional to discuss their eligibility under the new system and explore alternatives if necessary.

Colombia: Minimum Salary Increased – Effective January 1, 2019, the minimum salary in Colombia increased to COP 828,116 (approximately USD 276), up six percent from COP 781,242 in 2018. Foreign nationals are not directly impacted as they typically earn far above the minimum salary level. However, new legal entities seeking to sponsor foreign nationals to work in Colombia must prove that they paid at least the equivalent of 100 times the minimum salary to the Chamber of Commerce upon the creation of the business. With this increase, this payment equals COP 82,811,600 (approximately USD 27,603). The minimum paid capital is listed in the company’s registration documents filed at the Chamber of Commerce and is a prerequisite to work permit filing. When a sponsoring company files a work permit application, the employer must submit a copy of the employer's business bank account statement showing at least that amount at the time of filing the application.

Egypt: Extended State of Emergency May Delay Residence Permit Processing – A state of emergency has been in place in Egypt since June 2018 and was recently extended. Foreign nationals seeking employment and residency in Egypt should expect extensive security screening that may delay their immigration process. The security clearance is the first stage of the application process for work and residence permits.

Finland: Policy Change Results in Stricter Salary Document Requirement – In a change of policy, Finnish immigration authorities now require a clear salary breakdown for Residence Permit for a Specialist applications, a requirement that did not previously exist. The salary breakdown should specify the core salary, any applicable allowance amounts in EUR, and an indication of whether the allowances are taxable (taxable allowances must be expressed in gross). The breakdown can be included in the employment contract or assignment letter, or in a separate document signed by a company representative. The breakdown is required for all initial and renewal applications submitted after January 7, 2019. For pending applications, the authorities may request a breakdown if this information is not yet clear from other supporting documents. For renewal applications, applicants must additionally submit pay slips and a bank statement matching the salary and allowances listed in the salary breakdown. Affected applicants should plan for longer document gathering times to account for the new requirements, and applications may be delayed for a few days during a transition period to allow authorities to review the additional documents. Fragomen will review current pending applications and will contact affected applicants in case it is advisable to submit a salary breakdown to the authorities proactively to prevent delays.

France: Brexit Website Launched – The French government has launched an informational website on Brexit-related changes. The site provides guides and information for individuals and companies impacted by Brexit.  Interested parties are encouraged to review the site for general information and to contact their Fragomen profession should they need additional support.

India: New Designated Ports of Arrival Introduced to e-Visa Program – Three new designated ports of arrival have been introduced to support the e-Visa program (Bhubaneshwar Airport, Madurai Airport and Port Blair Airport). E-Visa facilities are now available for entry at a total of 28 designated airports and five seaports. Travelers using the e-Visa program must enter India via designated ports of arrival, but can exit from any authorized immigration check point. Previously, foreign travelers availing the e-Visa facility could enter via 25 airports and five seaports, namely: Ahmedabad Airport, Amritsar Airport, Bagdogra Airport, Bengaluru Airport, Calicut Airport, Chandigarh Airport, Chennai Airport & Seaport, Coimbatore Airport, Delhi Airport, Gaya Airport, Goa Airport & Seaport, Guwahati Airport, Hyderabad Airport, Jaipur Airport, Kochi Airport & Seaport, Kolkata Airport, Lucknow Airport, Mangalore Airport & Seaport, Mumbai Airport & Seaport, Nagpur Airport, Pune Airport, Tiruchirappalli Airport, Trivandrum Airport, Varanasi Airport and Vishakhapatnam Airport.  

Indonesia: Cities Designated as Filing Locations for VITAS Applications Reduced – The Directorate General of Immigration (DGI) recently reduced the number of designated cities where Limited Stay Visa (VITAS) applications may be filed from 65 to 22. The decrease may be temporary given that some Indonesia consulates are not yet ready to implement the new online system. The number of designated cities will likely increase as more consulates become ready to process VITAS applications. In the meantime, foreign nationals and their employers should expect longer VITAS application process and additional travel costs, especially if their location is far from a designated city. Currently, VITAS applications may only be filed in the following cities: Bangkok, Beijing, Berlin, Davao City, Den Haag, Dili, Guangzhou, Hong Kong, Jeddah, Johor Bahru, Kota Kinabalu, Kuala Lumpur, Kuching, Los Angeles, Penang, Seoul, Singapore, Songkhla, Sydney, Taipei, Tawau and Tokyo.

Panama: Office Closures and Immigration Delays Expected - Government offices in Panama, including the Immigration Office (Servicio Nacional de Migración) and the Ministry of Labor will close at noon January 23 and remain closed through January 25 due to a holiday resulting from the World Youth Day Conference and the Pope’s visit. Additionally, public immigration agencies are expected to be short staffed in preparation for the high influx of tourists. Foreign nationals should expect delays in processing of applications before and shortly after these closures.

Russia: New Obligations for Inviting Companies Forthcoming – A recent Russian law introduces a new obligation for Russian companies inviting visa nationals to Russia on business and work trips, among other purposes of stay, to ensure that these foreign nationals comply with the restrictions related to their purpose of entry and that they leave Russia at the end of their planned stay. Failure to comply with these rules could subject the sponsoring employer and the employee to fines. While the new obligation is already in effect, it cannot be implemented in practice until the Russian government provides further instructions, which is expected to happen in the upcoming months. Fragomen will monitor the situation and will report on relevant developments when they occur.

Saudi Arabia: Block Visa Validity Increased to Two Years – The Ministry of Labor and Social Development (MLSD) announced that the validity of block visas has been extended to two years, up from one year, effective immediately. This is a reversal of a policy implemented in November 2017, which decreased the validity of block visas to one year. Block visas are quotas issued by the MLSD that allow employers to sponsor foreign nationals for long-term work authorization. Due to the extension of the block visa’s validity, employers will now have additional time to prepare their recruitment strategies in order to ensure the eligibility of foreign nationals whom they wish to hire.

Saudi Arabia: Longer Visit Visas for Korean Nationals – Visit visas for South Korean tourists and business travelers to Saudi Arabia are now issued with a maximum validity of five years and a total duration of stay of up to 90 days. Previously, visitor visas (including commercial visit visas and work visit visas) for Korean citizens were typically issued with a validity of one year. The extension stems from an agreement between the governments of Saudi Arabia and South Korea that aims to support tourism and business travel among nationals of both countries. Work and study are not permissible on visit visas under the agreement.

Slovenia: Government Commits to Solution for UK Nationals in No-Deal Brexit - ​The Slovenian government confirmed that it plans to safeguard the rights of UK nationals residing in Slovenia in case of a no-deal Brexit. UK nationals currently residing in Slovenia can continue to work and stay until appropriate national application procedures are developed, and provided that their conditions of residence do not fundamentally change. Once a national application procedure is available, the government plans to contact current UK residents individually to inform them of the requirements for an alternative national permit status and inviting them to apply. The government is working on a formal proposal in light of the UK parliamentary vote and the need to find an EU-wide approach. The government has not yet set out the rules for those who do not qualify for a national work or residence permit. Other EU countries, including Estonia, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Poland have already published contingency plans for UK nationals in case of a no-deal Brexit. Fragomen is closely monitoring the situation and will report on developments as they occur.

Spain: Government Commits to Solution for UK Nationals in No-Deal Brexit – ​The Spanish government announced that it plans to safeguard the rights of UK nationals residing in Spain in case of a no-deal Brexit. It is working on a formal proposal to amend and adopt legislation; ensure sufficient staff and equipment for responsible government departments; and develop structured communication to guide individuals and companies. The government seeks to develop a system to allow eligible UK nationals residing in Spain to change status to a work and residence permit. The government similarly seeks to safeguard rights related to social security, healthcare, studies and recognition of diploma’s and professional qualifications, among others. Other EU countries, including Estonia, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Poland and have already published contingency plans for UK nationals in case of a no-deal Brexit.

Sweden: Residence Permit Cards Temporarily Delayed – Due to a technical issue, residence card issuance in Sweden is delayed for several days. Though the issue has been resolved, delays are expected to persist as a result of the backlog incurred. Since foreign nationals can only start working after the residence permit card has been obtained, employers should anticipate slight delays in the work start dates of affected foreign workers.

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