Connecticut, US

Jan 11 2019

Weekly Immigration Update: January 4-10, 2019

Democratic Republic of the Congo, Estonia, Germany, Guatemala, Hong Kong, Italy, Netherlands, Nigeria, Poland, Republic of the Philippines, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Sri Lanka, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United States

In immigration news this week:

  • Germany/Netherlands: 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: Although the Department of Labor resumed iCERT operations on January 7, because of a large backlog of H-2B and LCA filings, processing delays could increase for prevailing wage requests and PERM applications.
  • Estonia: Effective January 1, the minimum monthly wage and legal income required for foreign nationals and their family members increased by eight percent and seven percent, respectively, from last year.
  • United Arab Emirates: The Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation introduced a list of job descriptions as part of the new occupational classification scheme used for work permit applications in the mainland.
  • Philippines: Foreign nationals holding a valid Alien Certificate of Registration Identity Card and working under a long-term work visa must file their Annual Report in person at a Bureau of Immigration office by March 1, 2019.



These items and other news from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Estonia, Guatemala, Hong Kong, Italy, Netherlands, Nigeria, Poland, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Sri Lanka, Ukraine, and the United States follow in this edition of the Fragomen Immigration Update.

 

Important Updates in Immigration This Week

Philippines, January 10, 2019

Foreign Nationals Holding ACR I-Cards Must File Their Annual Report by March 1

  • All foreign nationals holding a valid Alien Certificate of Registration Identity Card and working under a long-term work visa in the Philippines must file their Annual Report in person at a Bureau of Immigration office by March 1, 2019. Failure to do so may result in fines and/or imprisonment.
  • Foreign nationals can authorize their Fragomen immigration professional to file the Annual Report on their behalf, which would waive the personal appearance.



To view entire article, click here.

 

Germany, January 7, 2019

Government Publishes First Immigration Plans for No-Deal Brexit

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

  • After Brexit, UK nationals would be required to hold a national immigration status to continue residing and/or working in Germany (for example as an employee, student, or dependent family member);
  • The requirement to hold a permit for UK nationals living in Germany would be waived between March 30 and June 30, 2019, with the possibility of an administrative extension of this deadline; and
  • UK nationals would retain the right to reside and work in Germany while their immigration application is adjudicated as long as it is timely filed. 



The government's plans require further approval by German parliament. Fragomen expects the plans to be enacted into law in the coming weeks.

To view entire article, click here.

 

Netherlands, January 7, 2019

No-Deal Brexit Plans for UK Nationals Published

The Dutch federal government has published plans for the treatment of UK nationals residing in the Netherlands to take effect after March 29, 2019 in case of a no-deal Brexit. Central details of the plan include:

  • A 15-month transition period, commencing on March 29, 2019, during which time UK nationals already residing in the Netherlands would be invited by the Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND) to apply for a residence permit.
  • UK nationals residing in the Netherlands for five years or longer would be able to apply for a permanent residence permit under the same requirements as for qualifying EU nationals. Applicants would be exempt from civic integration.
  • UK nationals residing in the Netherlands for a period shorter than five years would be able to apply for a temporary residence permit under the same requirements as for EU nationals residing in the Netherlands for longer than three months.
  • UK nationals seeking to live and work in the Netherlands after March 29, 2019 would be required to apply for a residence and work authorization, but would be exempt from an entry permit.



To view entire article, click here.

 

Netherlands, January 7, 2019

Government Filing Fees Decrease for Foreign Nationals but Increase for Recognized Sponsors

The Dutch Immigration Authority reduced government filing fees by more than half for foreign workers and their dependent family members. However, government filing fees for employers to register as recognized sponsors increased slightly. Employers should benefit from a significant decrease in the cost of sponsoring foreign workers and their family members. 

To view entire article, click here.

 

Estonia, January 7, 2019

Minimum Wage Level Increased

Effective January 1, 2019, the minimum monthly wage in Estonia has increased to EUR 540, up eight percent from last year. Additionally, the minimum monthly legal income required for foreign nationals and their family members has increased to EUR 300 per family member, up seven percent from last year. The minimum wage level applies to EU nationals under a local employment contract in Estonia; EU workers on assignment are not subject to a minimum salary requirement. Non-EU workers are subject to a separate higher threshold which is not expected to change soon, but must receive at least the minimum legal income for each family member. 

To view entire article, click here.

 

United Arab Emirates, January 7, 2019

New Occupations List with Job Descriptions Introduced for Work Permit Applicants

The Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation has introduced a list of job descriptions as part of the new occupational classification scheme used for work permit applications in the mainland. Employers may find it more difficult to select an appropriate job title under the new scheme since it contains fewer positions than the previous scheme and may have to choose job titles that require the foreign national to provide a degree certificate. The new scheme is effective immediately. 

To view entire article, click here.

 

United States, January 4, 2019

DOL iCERT System Expected to Reopen Monday, January 7

  • DOL expects to bring iCERT back online at 2:00 p.m. EST on January 7.
  • When the system resumes operations, employers will once again be able to create, edit and file H-1B, H-1B1, and E-3 labor condition applications, H-2A/H-2B temporary labor certification applications and prevailing wage requests.
  • Because of a large backlog of H-2B and LCA filings, processing delays could increase for prevailing wage requests and PERM applications.



To view entire article, click here.

 

Weekly News Briefs

Democratic Republic of Congo: Immigration Applications Affected by Temporary Internet Blackout The government has temporarily restricted access to public internet in the Democratic Republic of Congo. As a result, there may be immigration application processing delays during and after the shutdown since Fragomen’s communication with its vendors is limited and since online work permit delivery is affected. As an alternative to internet communication, Fragomen is working with courier services to deliver documentation to clients and vendors as needed. Affected applicants should contact their Fragomen professional for case-by-case advice on the extent of the delays.

Estonia: New Quota Figures Published – The new quota for non-exempt residence permit applications in Estonia is 1,351, up 2.7 percent from last year. As before, the quota does not apply to the following categories of applicants: U.S. citizens, Japanese nationals, science / research assignments, stays under 12 months, top specialists (as defined by Estonian law), information technology and communications professionals, students, family reunification applicants, extensions / renewals of any permits, entrepreneurs or investors. The quota is typically exhausted around June of each year.

Guatemala: Migratory Movement Fee Increase – The Immigration Department published new government fees for 2019, reflecting an increase in the Migratory Movement Certificate fee from USD 5 to USD 10. Temporary Residence applicants in Guatemala must obtain this certificate as proof of the date of entry into the country. The information on the certificate must match the information in the passport stamp. This certificate is usually obtained once, unless there is a discrepancy between the information in the certificate and the entry stamp in the passport. 

Italy: Government Announces No-Deal Brexit Plans – The Italian government announced that in case of a no-deal Brexit, UK residents and those with pending town hall registration applications can continue to stay and work in Italy. Affected individuals will be granted sufficient time to apply for a long-term residence permit. Unlike Germany and the Netherlands, the Italian plans thus far do not mention a specific transition period. The Italian government is working on legislation to develop these plan, which would include a specific residence permit application process, in more detail. UK nationals residing in Italy are advised to register with town hall if possible, to maximize their rights after Brexit. Fragomen will report on the transition plans when there are relevant developments.

Netherlands: Criminal Record Declarations No Longer Required for Some Applicants – In a change of policy, the Dutch Immigration Authority (IND) no longer requires applicants without a criminal history to include a signed personal statement on their criminal and immigration record with their immigration application. The change applies to foreign nationals seeking to work at a recognised sponsor company, registered as such with the IND, and their dependents. The following applicants are still required to include a signed personal statement on their criminal and immigration record with their immigration application: applicants with a criminal history; applicants who have previously committed immigration violations; applicants subject to a Schengen entry ban; and applicants seeking to work at non-recognised sponsors in the Netherlands. Notably, recognised sponsor companies are now required to maintain a signed criminal and immigration record statement from all applicants in their personnel files, an obligation that did not exist before. Employers are advised to adjust their internal processes to comply with the new requirement as failure to complete this step may expose employers to penalties and may negatively affect their ability to sponsor foreign workers in the future.   

Netherlands: Appeals to Immigration Decisions Must be Filed Earlier – In a change of policy, the preliminary approval letter issued by the Dutch Immigration Authority for all immigration application types is now considered the final decision on the immigration application. Previously, the issuance of the residence permit card was considered the final decision, which happened at a much later stage in the immigration process. Consequently, objections and/or appeals must now be launched at a much earlier stage in the immigration process. This change allows applicants to challenge unfavorable decisions and obtain clarity on their immigration status at a much earlier stage.

Netherlands/Hong Kong: New Reciprocal Working Holiday Program Introduced – Netherlands and Hong Kong have introduced a reciprocal working holiday program. Hong Kong nationals between 18 and 30 years old can apply for a non-renewable one-year Dutch permit aimed at cultural exchange. The permit allows stay, short-term studies and work authorization for up to 12 consecutive weeks with the same employer. The permit is capped at 100 spots per year. Eligible Hong Kong nationals would benefit from facilitated entry and stay, but the new scheme does not offer an alternative route to applicants seeking to work in the Netherlands as work is only allowed within strict limitations.

Similarly, Dutch nationals between 18 and 30 years old can apply for a non-renewable one-year Hong Kong visa under the Working Holiday Scheme aimed at cultural and educational exchange. Applicants must have sufficient financial means and a return air ticket to qualify, among other criteria. The permit allows stay, short-term studies or training (not exceeding six months in total) and employment authorization for up to six months with the same employer. The permit is capped at 100 spots per year.

Nigeria: Combined Expatriate Permit and Aliens Card Fee Increase – The Nigerian immigration authorities have increased the Combined Expatriate Permit and Aliens Card (CERPAC) fee from USD 1,000 to USD 2,000, effective immediately. Foreign nationals working in Nigeria or visiting Nigeria for longer than 56 days are required to obtain a CERPAC. Employers should review their budgets in accordance with the increased fee.

Poland: Single Permit, Quotas, New Salary Requirements Ahead – The Polish government has introduced a number of new programs, with further implementation details forthcoming on each. First, the new Single Permit for Shortage Occupations, announced in June 2018, has been formalized through legislation. However, since a list of shortage occupations has not yet been published, the permit is not yet available. Eligibility criteria and the application process are similar to the standard Single Permit. Applicants under this permit type will be exempt from labor market testing, as is already the case for shortage occupations under other work authorization types. Permit holders will qualify for permanent residence after four years instead of the standard five. Second, the government was granted authority to introduce annual quotas on the issuance of residence permits (Single Permits, Blue Cards, EU Intracompany Transferee Permits, entrepreneur permits). Similar authority to introduce work permit quotas has been in place since early 2018, but has not been used thus far. Quotas may be introduced for specific regions, occupations, contract types and/or industries. Finally, looking ahead, new salary requirements for EU Blue Card applications are expected to be published in February 2019, and the government is expected to submit draft legislation implementing the Students and Researchers Directive to parliament in the coming months. Fragomen will report on relevant developments as they occur.

Saudi Arabia: Saudi Visa Application Process in Dubai Restricted to UAE Residence Permit Holders – Foreign nationals who are not residents of the United Arab Emirates can no longer apply for a visa to Saudi Arabia through the Saudi visa application center in Dubai. Previously, foreign nationals applying for Saudi visas could do so through the Saudi application center in Dubai even if they were not residents in the United Arab Emirates. Foreign nationals are advised to apply for Saudi visas in their country of residence. The government has not yet made an official announcement on this change in practice.

Serbia: Employers of Foreign Workers Subject to Additional Tax –​ As of January 8, 2019, employers of work permit applicants in Serbia are subject to a second tax of RSD 310. Proof of payment must be provided in the work permit application. Pending work permit applications and new applications submitted on or after January 8, 2019 are subject to the tax. The original tax of RSD 13,470 also applies. The new tax can be paid at the same stage as the initial tax, i.e. while immigration application documents are being collected, but must be paid in a separate payment.

Sri Lanka: New Cabinet Causing Delays in Issuance of Recommendation Letters – Due to a new, smaller Sri Lankan Cabinet being sworn in on December 23, 2018, government Ministries are being forced to reallocate their work. A gazette notification is expected to announce the new division of responsibilities among the Ministries, but it has not yet been issued. Ministry officials have also been shifted due to a reallocation of work. As a result, foreign nationals should expect delays in the issuance of recommendation letters until there is more clarity on the division of responsibilities among the Ministries and the identification of officers in charge of particular immigration processes.

Ukraine/Russia: Entry Restrictions on Russian Men Continue After Martial Law Ends – The President of Ukraine has requested the Ukrainian State Border Authority to uphold entry restrictions on Russian men aged 16-60 seeking entry to Ukraine, despite martial law ending on December 26, 2018. Russian men who currently hold a valid Ukrainian residence permit are likely not affected by the restrictions, but could still face additional scrutiny when attempting to enter Ukraine. Applicants with pending applications are advised to stay in Ukraine until their permit is approved and the corresponding residence permit card has been collected. Additional restrictions may be put in place in the coming weeks. Employers are advised to postpone business trips and plan for delays in work start dates of affected applicants.

United States: Latest PERM and PWD Processing Times – As of December 31, 2018, the Department of Labor (DOL) was conducting analyst review for PERM applications filed in October 2018 or earlier, and processing audited cases filed in June 2018 or earlier. DOL is working on standard reconsideration requests submitted in October 2018 or earlier. There is no update on the government error queue, though these cases appear to be current.  



DOL is issuing prevailing wage determinations for PERM requests filed in August 2018 and H-1B requests filed in September 2018. The agency has been processing PERM and H-1B redeterminations requested in November 2018, and PERM center director reviews requested in October 2018. There are no pending H-1B center director reviews. 



These reports are available on the iCERT home page. 

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