Virginia, US

Feb 06 2020

Weekly Immigration Update: January 31-February 6, 2020

Argentina, Australia, Czech Republic, Egypt, Finland, France, Germany, Guatemala, Indonesia, Israel, Netherlands, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Slovenia, Taiwan, United Kingdom, United States

In immigration news this week:

  • Worldwide: Jurisdictions around the world have implemented travel restrictions, closed government offices, and taken other measures to control the spread of the coronavirus. Visit Fragomen’s updated coronavirus-related news page for the latest immigration updates.
  • United States: U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has issued extensive policy guidance and revised application forms as it prepares to implement its new public charge regulation slated to take effect February 24. In a webinar for employer stakeholders, USCIS disclosed new details about the forthcoming H-1B cap registration process. The Department of Homeland Security announced that it will not accept applications for new and renewed Trusted Traveler Program memberships from New York State residents, on account of that state’s new law that limits the sharing of information with federal authorities. Under a new presidential proclamation effective February 21, foreign nationals from Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, Myanmar (Burma), and Nigeria will not be issued any immigrant visas, with some exceptions, and foreign nationals from Sudan and Tanzania will not be issued Diversity Lottery immigrant visas.
  • United Kingdom: The Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) Visa will be replaced on February 20 by the Global Talent Visa, expanding the pool of eligible foreign nationals.
  • Israel: The Population and Immigration Authority has clarified that a subcontractor's employer must sponsor work visa applications for its own employees, where previously the subcontractor's host company could sponsor such applications. Human resource companies also cannot sponsor applications for employees. Effective January 1, the minimum monthly salary for foreign experts increased by 2.9 percent from 2019.
  • France: The website where UK nationals can register for French residence permits prior to Brexit is not expected to be available for new registrations until July 2020.

 

In Brexit news this week:

  • European Union/United Kingdom: Though the United Kingdom left the European Union on January 31, there will be a transition period until December 31, 2020 where the United Kingdom will remain in the EU customs union and single market. During this time, UK nationals will retain the right to reside and work in the European Union and vice versa, and freedom of movement between the European Union and the United Kingdom will continue.

 

These items and other news from Argentina, Australia, Czech Republic, Egypt, Finland, Germany, Netherlands, Qatar, Russia, the Schengen Area, and Slovenia follow in this edition of the Fragomen Immigration Update.

 

Important Updates in Immigration This Week

United States, February 6, 2020

USCIS Previews H-1B Cap Registration System

  • Each H-1B cap sponsoring entity will need to create an account in the new USCIS H-1B cap registration system, starting February 24, 2020.
  • The FY 2021 H-1B cap registration period will open at noon ET on March 1, 2020 and will close at noon ET on March 20, 2020. All cap registrations must be received during this period. The USCIS system will not allow registrations to be drafted before the registration period opens on March 1.
  • USCIS will conduct the FY 2021 H-1B cap selection lotteries and notify sponsoring employers of winning entries by March 31, 2020.
  • Employers may submit petitions for winning registrations starting April 1, 2020. The petition filing period will close no earlier than June 30, 2020.

 

To view entire article, click here.

 

United States, February 6, 2020

Coronavirus Update: U.S. Adds Four More Airports to Screen Individuals Traveling from China; Visa Issuance Delays Likely for Those with Recent China Travel

  • The U.S. government has expanded its advanced coronavirus screening efforts by adding four U.S. international airports to the list of those currently screening for the virus.
  • The additional airports are: Washington Dulles, Newark Liberty, Dallas/Fort Worth, and Detroit Metropolitan.
  • The expansion follows the imposition of travel restrictions that took effect on Sunday, February 2 for certain individuals traveling from China, including directing flights from China or with passengers who recently traveled there, to designated U.S. airports.
  • Foreign nationals who have recently traveled to China may experience visa issuance delays at U.S. consulates abroad.



To view entire article, click here.

 

Netherlands, February 6, 2020

2021 Plans for UK Nationals Published

The Dutch immigration authority has published plans for the treatment of UK nationals residing in the Netherlands prior to Brexit and during the Brexit transition period, which runs through December 31, 2020. Central details of the plan include:

  • The Dutch immigration authority will invite UK nationals and their family members registered in the Netherlands to apply for a residence permit at a modest fee through 2021.
  • A six-month national grace period runs until July 1, 2021, during which time UK nationals already registered in the Netherlands would still be able to apply for a national residence permit.
  • The type of permit issued will depend on length of residence in the Netherlands (at least five years, or less than five years).

 

To view entire article, click here.

 

United States, February 6, 2020

DHS Suspends Trusted Traveler Enrollments and Renewals by New York State Residents

  • New York State residents will not be able to enroll or renew membership in Global Entry, NEXUS and other Department of Homeland Security Trusted Traveler Programs until further notice.
  • New York State residents with current and valid Trusted Traveler membership should be able to continue to use their benefits, though delays or additional screening at U.S. ports of entry are possible after international travel.
  • The suspension does not apply to Trusted Traveler members residing in other U.S. states, nor does it appear to apply to the TSA-Pre-Check program. 



To view entire article, click here.

 

United States, February 5, 2020

USCIS Prepares to Implement Public Charge Regulation

  • USCIS is closer to implementing its new public charge regulation after issuing policy guidance and new forms today.
  • The rule takes effect February 24, 2020 and changes the application process for foreign nationals seeking adjustment of status and for employers and beneficiaries seeking nonimmigrant extensions and changes of status.
  • Due to a federal court injunction, USCIS cannot apply the new rules to applicants, petitioning employers or beneficiaries who have a physical address in Illinois. Until further notice, these applications are subject to the old forms and legacy public charge standard.

 

To view entire article, click here.

 

France, February 5, 2020

Website for Residence Permit Applications for UK Nationals to Open July 2020

  • The French government is currently updating the website on which UK nationals were able to register for French residence permits prior to Brexit. The website is not expected to be available for new registrations until July 2020.
  • French law, interpreting the Brexit deal agreed between the European Union and the United Kingdom, requires UK nationals and their family members residing in France, and those planning to enter France before December 31, 2020, to obtain a French residence permit by July 1, 2021. They will be able to register once the website re-opens.

 

To view entire article, click here.

 

Israel, February 4, 2020

Minimum Salary Level Increased

  • Effective January 1, 2020, the minimum monthly salary for foreign experts in Israel has increased to ILS 20,856, up 2.9 percent from 2019.
  • Employers must revise salaries of current permit holders if required to comply with the new rule.

 

To view entire article, click here.

 

Israel, February 4, 2020

Subcontractor Sponsorship Restricted

  • Effective immediately, subcontractors’ employers must sponsor work visa applications for their own employees, where previously it was understood that the subcontractors’ host company could sponsor such applications.
  • Additionally, it was clarified that human resource companies cannot sponsor applications for employees.

 

To view entire article, click here.

 

Worldwide, January 31, 2020

Consular Closures in China During Coronavirus Crisis

  • Jurisdictions around the world have been issuing travel advisories, implementing limited travel restrictions, closing government offices, and taking other measures in order to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus. 
  • Many consular posts in China are limiting their operations or closing their offices altogether. Applicants are advised to check embassy websites or contact consular offices directly for specific information.
  • Access the Coronavirus Update Page for updated coronavirus-related immigration news. There have been updates from Brunei, Japan, Kazakhstan, Mainland China, Mongolia, Papua New Guinea, Singapore, Trinidad and Tobago, the United States and Vietnam.



To view entire article, click here.

 

United States, January 31, 2020

President Trump Suspends Immigrant Visa Issuance to Foreign Nationals From Six Countries, with Exceptions

  • Starting February 21, foreign nationals from Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, Myanmar (Burma), and Nigeria will not be issued most types of immigrant visas under a Presidential Proclamation signed by President Trump today.
  • Under the same order, foreign nationals from Sudan and Tanzania will not be issued Diversity Lottery immigrant visas starting on that date.
  • Current lawful permanent residents and those holding immigrant visas who have not yet entered the United States are exempt from the proclamation.



To view entire article, click here.

 

United States, January 31, 2020

USCIS Issues New Edition of Form I-9

  • The new edition of Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, is dated 10/21/2019 but will not become mandatory until May 1, 2020.
  • Through April 30, employers can choose to use the 07/17/2017 edition or the new edition.



To view entire article, click here.

 

United Kingdom, January 31, 2020

Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) Visa Replaced by Global Talent Visa

  • Effective February 20, 2020, the Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) Visa will be rebranded as the Global Talent Visa. More foreign workers will be eligible for the new program.
  • Under the program, individuals who are leaders in their fields of science, engineering, digital technology and arts and culture will be able to enter and work in the United Kingdom on a path to permanent residence.
  • Applicants will be required to obtain endorsement from a government-approved endorsing body.

 

To view entire article, click here.

 

Brexit News and Related News Briefs This Week

European Union/United Kingdom, January 31, 2020

United Kingdom Leaves European Union

  • At 11pm GMT on January 31, 2020, the United Kingdom left the European Union, completing a Brexit process that started in June 2016.
  • There will be a transition period until December 31, 2020 where the United Kingdom will remain in the EU customs union and single market, during which time UK nationals will retain the right to reside and work in the European Union and vice versa, and freedom of movement between the European Union and the United Kingdom will continue.

 

To view entire article, click here.

 

For more information, please visit Fragomen's dedicated Brexit site, which contains news, FAQs, and analysis/commentary in the form of blogs, videos, webcasts and events.

 

Other Weekly News Briefs

Argentina: Electronic Travel Authorizations Temporarily Suspended – The National Immigration Directorate has temporarily suspended the issuance of Electronic Travel Authorizations (Autorización de Viaje Electrónica - AVE), which were available to visitors from China and 73 other countries who hold a valid U.S or Schengen country visa. Until further notice, these foreign nationals will need to obtain their visa from an Argentine consular post prior to traveling, which, depending on the location, takes approximately four weeks. It is not clear at this time whether the Argentine government has taken this measure in relation to the spread of the coronavirus.

Australia: Further Labor Market Concessions for Certain Nationals Following Ratification of International Trade Agreements – The Australian government has signed three new international trade agreements with Hong Kong SAR, Indonesia and Peru which, when effective, will exempt their nationals and/or permanent residents from mandatory labor market testing under the Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) visa program. The agreement with Hong Kong SAR went into effect on January 17, 2020 and exempts permanent residents of Hong Kong SAR; the agreement with Peru will take effect on February 11, 2020 and will exempt Peruvian nationals and permanent residents; and the agreement with Indonesia, which does not yet have an effective date, will exempt Indonesian nationals only. Under the agreements, employers will benefit from a shortened application process for eligible intra-corporate transferees under the TSS program as these foreign nationals will not have to undergo labor market testing. Since the Department of Home Affairs has not yet updated its policy guidelines to incorporate these new Trade Agreements, it is unclear at this time whether any broader exemptions will apply to these nationalities, for example, in instances where the nominated position does not involve an intra-corporate transfer. Fragomen will continue to monitor the policy release and provide an update once available.

Czech Republic: Biometric Appointment Delays at Brno PersistAs an update, biometric submission appointment delays at the Ministry of Interior filing location of Brno persist. The next available appointment is within six to eight weeks, up from four to six weeks reported in July 2019. Applications under the special government program for Key and Scientific personnel benefit from expedited appointments, with waiting times of one to two weeks.

Egypt: Foreign Nationals Now Eligible for Egyptian Citizenship – The Council of Ministers issued a decision allowing foreign nationals to obtain Egyptian citizenship if they meet one of the following conditions: purchase a property worth at least USD 500,000 in one of the areas designated by the relevant authorities in Egypt; invest at least USD 400,000 in a new or existing business; deposit USD 750,000 with the Central Bank of Egypt (refundable after five years with no interest); deposit USD 1 million with the Central Bank of Egypt (refundable after three years with no interest); or deposit USD 250,000 with the Central Bank of Egypt as a non-refundable payment towards direct revenue to the state. Applicants must be able to meet all eligibility conditions for a minimum of five years (with some exceptions), otherwise they must pay a non-refundable fee of USD 250,000 in order to maintain their citizenship. Further information regarding all applicable procedures, documentary requirements and additional conditions are expected to be published in the coming months.

Finland/Schengen Area: Finnish Authorities Apply Increased Schengen Visa Fee – Finnish authorities announced that they will apply updated Schengen Visa rules effective immediately. As a reminder, the new rules include a fee increase to EUR 80 from EUR 60 and the option to file applications six months before travel, up from three months. EU countries had the option to apply the new rules as of February 1, 2020. The Netherlands and Switzerland already announced that they now apply the new rules. Fragomen expects other countries to make similar announcements in the upcoming weeks.

Germany: Reminder: Legislative Changes to take Effect March 1, 2020As a reminder, German immigration legislation will change March 1, 2020. Changes include increased labor market access for lesser-educated foreign nationals; streamlined processing for employment-related permits; increased company review on tax, social security and solvency; additional questions on application forms; and a new duty for the employer and foreign national to notify local immigration authorities of early employment or early assignment end. Employers should create internal reporting processes for early termination and raise awareness on new disclosure obligations. Employers risk a EUR 30,000 fee for violation of the new notification and disclosure requirements. 

Netherlands: Online Posted Worker Notifications Available February 10 – As a reminder, online posted worker notifications for the Netherlands will be available starting February 10, 2020, and will be mandatory for any posted workers with a start date after March 1, 2020. Employers based in the European Economic Area or Switzerland providing temporary services in the Netherlands through assigned staff, as well as certain independent contractors, must notify key posting details before the start of work activities. A host company representative based in the Netherlands must confirm the notification within five days of receipt. Notifications can be amended, including changes of foreign workers within a certain posted project. Detailed information is available on the Ministry of Social Affairs website. The Labor Inspectorate will institute a six-month grace period for errors purely related to the notification system, during which time warnings will be sent instead of fines. After this grace period, fines of up to EUR 12,000 can be imposed on both home and host employer. 

Qatar: New Temporary Work Visa Announced – The Ministry of Interior has issued a resolution introducing, but not yet implementing, a new temporary work visa. Foreign nationals will be eligible for the visa if they are in select professions and seek short-term work for six months or less. The employer will be required to submit an application with corporate documentation along with documents from the foreign national, including an employment contract. The foreign national will also be required to undergo a medical examination and submit biometrics. Further details regarding the visa, including detailed eligibility criteria, local pay requirements and costs, are expected to be announced in the coming weeks.

Russia: Streamlined Visa Extension Applications – Russian authorities have streamlined the visa extension application process by allowing applications from authorized representatives, where this was not previously possible; clarifying document requirements for visa extensions; providing a standard format for the visa extension support letter; abolishing the requirement to submit all passport pages with information on them; and requiring detailed explanations for document rejections. The changes do not affect application processing times or initial visa applications.

Slovenia: Legislation on Hold Pending New Government Formation – As an update, legislation amending implementation of the EU Intracompany Transferee Permit and implementing the Students and Researchers Directive is on hold while a new coalition government is formed following the resignation of the Slovenian prime minister. Fragomen will provide relevant updates on Slovenia’s implementation of these Directives.  

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