Connecticut, US

Jan 19 2018

Weekly Immigration Update: January 12 – 18, 2018

Australia, Azerbaijan, Hungary, Oman, Panama, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Singapore, Slovak Republic, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States

In United States immigration news this week, debate over the FY 2018 budget and relief for DACA beneficiaries continues, increasing the possibility of a federal government shutdown. U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that it would accept DACA renewal applications from foreign nationals who were previously granted DACA benefits. USCIS also opened the final re-registration period for El Salvador and Haiti Temporary Protected Status on January 18.   

Also in the United States, USCIS will begin accepting H-1B cap petitions for employment in FY 2019 on Monday, April 2, 2018 and demand is expected to be high. 

In Australia, streamlined processing arrangements have been outlined for the new temporary skill shortage visa.

In the United Kingdom, the monthly quota for non-European Economic Area nationals sponsored under the Tier 2 (General) Visa category has been exceeded again. Additionally, the Home Office has issued further guidance on changes to student visas, sponsorship obligations under Tier 2 and on the entrepreneur visa category.

Minimum salary levels have increased in Hungary, Serbia and Turkey.

These items and other news from Azerbaijan, Oman, Panama, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Slovakia, the United Arab Emirates and the United States follow in this edition of the Fragomen Immigration Update.


Important Updates in Immigration This Week

United States, January 18, 2018
February Visa Bulletin Update - USCIS to Honor Employment-Based Final Action Dates Only Next Month

In February, USCIS will only accept employment-based adjustment applications from foreign nationals with a priority date that is current for final action under the State Department's February Visa Bulletin.

To view entire article, click here.


United States, January 18, 2018
Reminder – Preparing for a Possible Federal Shutdown
If Congress is unable to pass a spending bill or stopgap measure by Friday, January 19:

  • Immigration functions at the Department of Labor would be completely suspended;
  • USCIS and State Department application processing would continue but could be delayed;
  • E-Verify, the EB-5 Regional Center program and other immigration programs would expire if they are not reauthorized or temporarily extended by the deadline.


To view entire article, click here.


United States, January 17, 2018
Final Re-Registration Period for Haiti TPS Set to Open January 18

  • Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Haiti will expire on July 22, 2019.
  • Current Haitian TPS beneficiaries will have 60 days to re-register in order to maintain status through the program expiration date, according to a USCIS notice that is to be published on January 18.
  • Employment authorization documents that expire on January 22, 2018 will automatically be extended through July 21, 2018.


To view entire article, click here.


United States, January 17, 2018
Final Re-Registration Period for El Salvador TPS Set to Open January 18

  • Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for El Salvador will expire on September 9, 2019.
  • Current El Salvador TPS beneficiaries will have 60 days to re-register in order to maintain status through the program expiration date, according to a USCIS notice that is to be published on January 18.
  • Employment authorization documents that expire on March 9, 2018 will be automatically extended through September 5, 2018.


To view entire article, click here.
 

United States, January 17, 2018
February 2018 Visa Bulletin: EB-2 and EB-3 China and India Continue to Advance

According to the State Department’s February Visa Bulletin, cutoff dates for issuance of an immigrant visa will advance as follows:

  • EB-2: China will advance by more than seven weeks, to October 1, 2013. India will advance by two weeks, to December 8, 2008.
  • EB-3 (Professional and Skilled Workers): China will advance by five months, to September 15, 2014. India will advance by one month, to December 1, 2006.
  • EB-3 (Other Workers): China will advance by almost six weeks, to February 1, 2007. India will advance one month, to December 1, 2006.
  • EB-5: China will remain at July 22, 2014. The Regional Center Program may become unavailable for all countries after January 19, 2018 unless Congress reauthorizes it.


To view entire article, click here.


United States, January 14, 2018
USCIS Issues DACA Renewal Instructions Following Federal Court Order

  • USCIS will accept renewal applications from foreign national who were previously granted DACA benefits.
  • Foreign nationals never previously granted DACA benefits are not eligible to file.
  • Applications for advance parole will not  be accepted from DACA beneficiaries.


To view entire article, click here.


United States, January 12, 2018
Planning for the Upcoming H-1B Cap Filing Season

  • USCIS will begin to accept H-1B cap petitions for employment in FY 2019 on Monday, April 2, 2018.
  • Demand for new H-1Bs is expected to be high, as in past years.
  • Employers should expect continued heightened scrutiny of H-1B cap petitions and higher rates of USCIS requests for evidence (RFEs).


To view entire article, click here.
 

United Kingdom, January 18, 2018
Further Guidance on Immigration Law Changes

The UK Home Office has updated its guidance documents in line with the changes in immigration rules which took effect January 11, 2018. The update provides further clarification on sponsorship obligations under Tier 2 and on the entrepreneur visa category.

To view entire article, click here.
 

United Kingdom, January 18, 2018
Tier 2 General Cap Reached Again

As anticipated, the monthly quota for non-European Economic Area nationals sponsored under the Tier 2 (General) Visa category has been exceeded again. Only prioritised applications for this category have been granted.

To view entire article, click here.
 

Australia, January 17, 2018
Streamlined Processing Arrangements Outlined for New Temporary Skill Shortage Visa

  • New streamlined processing arrangements will be introduced to support the Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) visa when it comes into effect in early March 2018. These initiatives include auto-approval of certain nominations lodged by accredited sponsors and a streamlined sponsorship renewal process.
  • The Department of Home Affairs has also advised that new occupation lists have been introduced from January 17, 2018, and has released information regarding proposed transitional arrangements in the lead up to the TSS implementation.


​​To view entire article, click here.


United Kingdom, January 17, 2018
Further Guidance on Student Visa Changes

The UK Home Office has updated its guidance documents, providing further clarification on recent changes in immigration rules affecting the Tier 4 visa category for foreign students. Key changes include:

  • An allowance for part-time study to be undertaken under the Tier 4 visa category;
  • A restriction on the requirement for students to prove sufficient funds to study in the United Kingdom; and
  • Reduced documentary requirements for students who have studied abroad or who require an extension to be able to work as part of their studies.


To view entire article, click here.


Serbia, January 17, 2018
Minimum Salary Level Increased

Effective January 1, 2018, the minimum salary for locally hired foreign workers has increased to RSD 143 net per hour, up 10 percent from last year.

To view entire article, click here.


Hungary, January 12, 2018
Minimum Salary Level Increased

Effective January 1, 2018, the minimum monthly salary for unskilled foreign workers has increased to HUF 138,000 (approximately EUR 445), up 8.2 percent from last year. The minimum monthly salary for skilled workers has increased to HUF 180,500 (approximately EUR 582), up 12.1 percent from last year.

To view entire article, click here.
 

Turkey, January 12, 2018
Minimum Salary Level Increased

Effective January 1, 2018, the minimum monthly salary for foreign workers in Turkey has increased by 14 percent from last year. The applicable salary threshold for foreign workers varies per occupation type.

To view entire article, click here.
 

Weekly News Briefs

Azerbaijan: Form Replaces Reference Number - Effective January 15, 2018, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs provides a pre-filled, signed and stamped application form rather than a reference number or Letter of Authorization for visa applications.  Applicants who were recently issued a reference number can still use the reference number to apply for a visa; they are not required to file a new application to obtain an application form. Applicants with a reference number should file their visa application promptly.

For some applications, the Azerbaijani host company must submit a pre-filled form to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, with supporting documents. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs will automatically provide a form instead of a reference number. 

Azerbaijan: Longer E-visa Validity - E-visas for Azerbaijan can now be issued for multiple entries and for up to 90 days. Previously, e-visas could be obtained for single entry and for up to 30 days.

Oman: Cancellation of Work Visas Discontinued for Those Without a Resident Card - With immediate effect, foreign nationals travelling to Oman under a work visa must obtain a Resident Card in order to later cancel their visa and exit Oman legally. A Civil Number that is printed in the Resident Card is now required for the visa cancellation process. This will result in time-consuming processes that short-term visitors (travelling for less than 30 days) could previously avoid.

As background, work visas in Oman are issued for up to 24 months and require an employer-initiated pre-arrival application process and a number of foreign-national-initiated post-arrival procedures that have to be completed within 30 days of arrival. These procedures include undergoing a medical examination and obtaining a Resident Card.

Before the change, short-term visitors could have their visa cancelled even if they did not obtain their Resident Card, as the Civil Number was not required for the cancellation process. Due to this change in policy, affected foreign workers, regardless of the total duration of stay in Oman, should plan for the additional time the post-arrival processes will take to obtain the Resident Card.

Panama: New Biometric Registration System Implementation Delayed – The implementation of the Ministry of Labor's new biometric registration system has been delayed. Until the system is implemented, foreign nationals do not need to fulfill the new requirements of appearing at the Ministry of Labor to submit biometrics and registering their passports before obtaining or renewing a work permit.  The Ministry has not confirmed a new date for when the system will be ready for use. Fragomen will monitor the situation and provide an update once a new implementation date has been confirmed.

Saudi Arabia: New Levy Exemption for Small Businesses -The Ministry of Labour and Social Development announced that effective immediately, companies with a total headcount of five or fewer workers are exempt from the mandatory monthly levy for employment of foreign nationals.  Companies with six to nine employees must pay the levy for the number of workers exceeding five.

Singapore: Deadline Extended for Mandatory Use of CorpPass to Access Employment Pass Online– The Ministry of Manpower has pushed back the deadline to the third quarter of 2018 for mandatory use of CorpPass to access EP Online – the system used by companies to submit applications, renewals, extensions and cancellations with the Ministry of Manpower. Although most companies have registered for a CorpPass account since the announcement last year, those that have not yet registered have until June 2018 to do so before other existing login methods, such as SingPass, become unusable.

Singapore: Employment Pass Online System Availability Extended - The Ministry of Manpower has started upgrading its Employment Pass Online (EPOL) service in phases and has extended its availability based on the following schedule:

  • Applications can be submitted and enquiries can be made every day, except 3am to 4am, SGT.
  • Other services (e.g. renewing or cancelling Employment Pass applications) can be conducted Monday to Friday 8am to 8pm; Saturday: 8am to 2pm, except public holidays.


Slovak Republic: Foreign Police Move May Cause Delays - The Foreign Police in Bratislava – which manages immigration applications – is relocating temporarily (dates still to be confirmed), which could cause immigration application delays of unknown duration before, during and/or after the move. Foreign nationals should file immigration applications early to account for potential delays.

United Arab Emirates: More Egyptian Employment Visa Applicants Subject to Consular Process - Effective immediately, Egyptian nationals applying for a new employment residence permit sponsored by a company in the Jebel Ali Free Zone (JAFZA) must process their immigration application through a designated UAE visa service center in Cairo in order to obtain an entry visa. Egyptian nationals applying for new employment residence permits sponsored by companies in the Dubai International Financial Centre Free Zone (DIFC), the Dubai Airport Free Zone (DAFZA) and the Dubai Creative Clusters Free Zone (DCCA) have already been impacted by this new requirement. Affected Egyptian nationals should ensure that they have additional blank pages in their passport for endorsement of the entry visa, residence visa and entry stamps. Those residing in a third country (including another Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member state) will be required to travel to Egypt to complete their medical examination and apply for the entry visa. Employers should prepare for longer processing times and additional costs related to the visa processing. Egyptian nationals in the United Arab Emirates (e.g., on a visit visa) are currently not impacted by this change.
 

Global Immigration News Links

  • ICE pledges to increase I-9 worksite inspections.
  • The United Kingdom and France plan to sign a new immigration treaty regarding border issues stemming from an influx of refugees.  

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