Jan 14 2021

Weekly Immigration Update: January 8–14, 2021

Albania, Angola, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bolivia, Canada, Chile, China, Costa Rica, Czech Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, India, Iraq, Ireland, Israel, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Latvia, Lesotho, Lithuania, Macau, Malaysia, Mauritius, Mexico, Montenegro, Namibia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Norway, Oman, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of the Philippines, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Singapore, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Taiwan, Tunisia , Turkey, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States, Uruguay, Venezuela

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 Germany, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway and Slovenia 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.
  • Minimum salary requirements: France updated its 2021 minimum wage level. Check this consolidated information page for more information.
  • United States: The Department of Labor (DOL) has revised and reissued a prevailing wage rule that lifts wages for H-1B, E-3, and H-1B1 nonimmigrant cases and the PERM labor certification program.  Though the rule is to take effect March 15, increased wage minimums will not be imposed until July 1, and will be coupled with a multi-year phase-in period. Starting January 26, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will require all airline passengers aged two years or older who are traveling from any foreign country to the United States to provide either a negative COVID test or documentation of COVID recovery.
  • China: The Expert Bureau has updated its online system and will use a new online portal under the Ministry of Science and Technology’s Service Platform to integrate foreign nationals’ Work Permit applications with other government services.



These items and other news from Bahrain, Egypt, Finland, Japan, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, 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 12, 2021

CDC Imposes COVID Testing Requirement for All International Travel to the United States

  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has ordered that starting January 26, 2021, airline passengers departing from any foreign country to the United States must first provide either a negative COVID test or documentation of COVID recovery in order to be permitted to board an aircraft.
  • The new requirement applies to airline passengers two years and older, including U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents.
  • The order is scheduled to expire on December 31, 2021 unless there is an earlier determination that rescission or revision is warranted.
  • The order does not supersede the regional COVID-19 public health bans applicable to certain foreign nationals present in a particular country or region within 14 days prior to departure for the United States. The CDC order adds an additional requirement to travel for these foreign nationals.

 

To view entire article, click here.

 

United States, January 12, 2021

DOL Issues Revised Rule Increasing PERM and H-1B Wage Minimums

  • The regulation will restructure the prevailing wage system for the H-1B, E-3, H-1B1 and PERM Programs, imposing higher government wage minimums, though not as high as those initially sought by DOL.
  • Entry-level wages for H-1B and PERM cases, for example, will increase to the 35th percentile of wages for the occupation and geographic location, from the 17th percentile— just above the current wage minimum for Level II.
  • Though the rule is to take effect March 15, 2021, increased wage minimums will not be imposed until July 1, 2021 and will be coupled with a multi-year phase-in period.
  • Most positions will undergo an 18-month transition period. However, special adjustments are to be made for the next three and a half years for H-1B workers who, as of October 8, 2020, were the beneficiaries of an I-140 petition or eligible for a post-sixth year H-1B extension.
  • The rule could be placed on hold by the incoming Biden Administration as it reviews this and other rules finalized in the last days of the Trump Administration. The regulation could also be challenged in federal court. 

 

To view entire article, click here.

 

China, January 12, 2021

Online Portal for Work Permit Applications Updated

  • The Expert Bureau in China has updated its online system and will use a new online portal under the Ministry of Science and Technology’s Service Platform to integrate foreign nationals’ Work Permit applications with other government services.
  • Companies must register and submit Work Permit applications for foreign nationals using the new portal.

 

To view entire article, click here.

 

Other Weekly News Briefs

Bahrain/Egypt/Qatar/Saudi Arabia/United Arab Emirates: Travel Restrictions with GCC Countries and Egypt Continue to be Lifted – Following the signing of the Al-Ula agreement on January 5, 2021, and the subsequent announcement of the reopening of borders between Saudi Arabia and Qatar, other Gulf Cooperative Council (GCC) countries and Egypt have also agreed to lift travel restrictions. At this time, Saudi Arabia has opened its land border with Qatar and air traffic has resumed; the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain have announced the reopening of their respective airspace with Qatar; and it is expected that Egypt will resume air traffic with Qatar beginning on January 18, 2021. It is expected that details related to the opening of borders, including entry, residency, transit and business travel between these countries and Qatar may be in flux as further announcements are anticipated in the coming weeks.

Finland: Increase in Government Filing Fees – Finland has increased government filing fees for hardcopy Specialist and EU Blue Card applications to EUR 610, up from EUR 520 and for general employment permit applications, to EUR 690, up from EUR 640. Online application fees are unchanged.

Japan: Application Forms No Longer Require Company Seals – The Japan Immigration Service Agency (ISA) no longer requires a company seal for immigration applications. Previously, the company seal was required with the authorized signatory’s signature to endorse application forms for immigration submissions. However, in line with the government's policy that started in July 2020 to eliminate the use of seals and to support workers who are telecommuting during the COVID-19 pandemic, manual certifications using the company seal are no longer necessary and only the authorized signatory’s signature is now required for endorsing applications. Until further notice, the ISA is still accepting applications with the previous version of the forms which contain the company seal.

Russia: Highly Qualified Specialist Salary Notifications Due January 29 – Employers have until January 29, 2021 to file third quarter notifications for salaries paid to highly-qualified specialists (HQS), using new notification forms. The notification must state the salary paid to HQS from October 1, 2020 through December 31, 2020. The reported HQS salary should be no less than RUB 167,000 per calendar month or RUB 501,000 per quarter (if there was a break in work during the reported period). Violations of the established notification procedures, including failure to notify, will result in administrative fines for the employer.

Saudi Arabia: Authorities Launch a New Digital Identification Card – The Ministry of Interior (MOI) announced the launch of a Muqeem digital identification card for both foreign nationals and Saudi citizens. The digital card will replace the plastic copy of the original residency permit and can be used in lieu of the physical Muqeem card for identity verification by authorities within Saudi Arabia. Individuals can obtain the digital version of the Muqeem card by logging into the new application, Absher Afrad, “Absher Individuals”, and downloading the digital copy of their Muqeem Digital ID. Individuals can save the digital card on their mobile phone to present to authorities when they do not have internet access. The digital card will allow individuals to avail themselves of certain services without presenting their national identity, physical card, driver’s license or vehicle registration. The Saudi authorities will also be able to verify the identity of individuals through the MOI’s Maidan database and security platform.

United States: Latest PERM and PWD Processing Times – As of December 31, 2020, the Department of Labor (DOL) was conducting analyst review for PERM applications filed in June 2020 or earlier, and processing audited cases filed in February 2020 or earlier. DOL is working on standard reconsideration requests submitted in August 2020 or earlier. DOL is issuing prevailing wage determinations (PWDs) for PERM and H-1B requests filed in July 2020. The agency has been processing PERM redeterminations requested in November 2020 and H-1B redeterminations requested in December 2020. PERM center director reviews requested in November 2020 remain pending. These reports are available on the FLAG 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.