Virginia, US

Jan 16 2020

Weekly Immigration Update: January 9-16, 2020

Belarus, Denmark, Egypt, European Union, Japan, Kazakhstan, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Singapore, Slovenia, Taiwan, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United States, Uzbekistan

In immigration news this week:

  • Singapore: Employers with foreign workers found guilty of workplace discrimination now face stricter penalties and higher fines. This includes employers that do not comply with the requirement to consider Singaporean applicants fairly.
  • Luxembourg: Effective January 1, the minimum monthly salary for graduate and non-graduate foreign workers increased by 2.5 percent from 2019.
  • Slovenia: Effective January 1, the minimum wage for local and foreign workers increased by six percent from 2019.
  • Turkey: Effective January 1, the minimum monthly wage increased by 15 percent from 2019. Salaries for foreign workers, which are linked to the minimum wage, also increased. 

These items and other news from Belarus, Denmark, Egypt, the European Union, Japan, Kazakhstan, the Netherlands, Taiwan, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, the United States, and Uzbekistan follow in this edition of the Fragomen Immigration Update.


Important Updates in Immigration This Week

Singapore, January 16, 2020

Harsher Penalties Imposed for Employers Not Following Local Worker Recruitment Requirements

  • Based on recent updates to the regulatory framework that assigns penalties for workplace violations, employers with foreign workers in Singapore found guilty of workplace discrimination now face stricter penalties, including longer bans of up to 24 months on work pass and renewal sponsorship during the period of the ban.
  • Notably, this includes employers found not to have complied with the requirement to consider Singaporean applicants fairly, especially when it comes to advertising requirements for certain job openings.
  • In just the last month, the Ministry of Manpower has penalized five companies under the new framework, of which four were found to have pre-selected an Employment Pass applicant or had failed to fairly consider local applicants.


To view entire article, click here.


Luxembourg, January 15, 2020

Minimum Salary Level Increased

  • Effective January 1, 2020, the minimum monthly salary for graduate foreign workers in Luxembourg has increased to EUR 2,570.39, and the minimum monthly salary for non-graduate foreign workers has increased to EUR 2,141.99, up 2.5 percent from 2019.
  • Employers must increase foreign workers’ salaries to meet the new threshold, if required.


To view entire article, click here.


Slovenia, January 13, 2020

Minimum Wage Increased

  • Effective January 1, 2020, the minimum wage for local and foreign workers in Slovenia increased to EUR 940.58 per month, up six percent from 2019.
  • Foreign workers typically receive higher salaries as their salaries must be comparable to a local worker. However, employers are advised to check current permit holders’ salaries to ensure compliance.
  • Notably, a new definition of minimum wage came into effect in Slovenia on January 1, 2020, practically making benefits, allowances, collective bargaining amounts, bonuses and any other payments other than base salary not eligible for inclusion in the minimum salary calculation.


To view entire article, click here.


Turkey, January 10, 2020

Minimum Salary Level Increased

  • Effective January 1, 2020, the minimum monthly wage in Turkey has increased to TRY 2,943, up 15 percent from 2019. Since salary requirements for foreign workers are linked to the minimum wage, salary levels for foreign workers have similarly increased.
  • Employers should budget for the increases when filing new or renewal work permit applications.

To view entire article, click here.


Weekly News Briefs

Denmark: Temporary Closure of Immigration Agency to Delay Application Processing and Filing – The Danish Agency of International Recruitment and Integration (SIRI), Denmark’s main immigration authority, will be closed January 17 at 12 noon to January 23, 2020 at 14:00 local time due to the implementation of a new information technology system. As a result, all foreign nationals and employers seeking Danish immigration services in or outside Denmark will not be able to file any online immigration applications during this time, and pending applications will not be processed during the closure. There are no alternative ways to file immigration documents or applications other than the SIRI system. Applicants seeking to file urgent applications should submit all documents before noon local time on January 16. A backlog or delay is not expected after the reopening of the system.

Egypt: Extended State of Emergency May Delay Residence Permit Processing – A state of emergency, which has been in place in Egypt since June 2018, was recently extended for an additional three months, through April 27, 2020. As a result, 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.

European Union/BelarusMutual Visa Facilitation Forthcoming – The European Union and Belarus have signed a visa facilitation agreement that would reduce visa fees for EU nationals traveling to Belarus and vice versa to EUR 35 (down from EUR 60-80) and reduce consular processing to 10 calendar days (down from the current 15). Visa fees may initially increase to EUR 80 from the current EUR 60, following the adoption of Schengen Visa Code amendments in June 2019. The agreement must now be ratified by the European and Belarus parliaments, which is expected to occur in the next few weeks. The agreement would take effect on the first day of the second month following ratification, which is expected to occur in June 2020. Negotiations on the agreement started in January 2014.

Kazakhstan: Border Pass Validity for Karachaganak Region Now Limited – Border passes to the Karachaganak location in the Western Kazakhstan region (known as the KPO site), which are required for foreign nationals to enter certain border areas in Kazakhstan and previously allowed business visa holders entry to the area for six months, have now been restricted to a one-month validity. This applies to single- and multiple-entry business visa holders. Only those holding work permits can obtain border passes for a longer validity in this region. Processing of a new border pass can take up to one month; therefore, employers should plan to submit additional border pass applications for business visa holders who need to stay over one month in the affected area. This change was determined by the Committee of National Security and announced by Migration Service West-Kazakhstan. It was implemented because the authorities deemed a six-month validity border pass to be reserved for those working in Kazakhstan, as opposed to those that travel for business reasons only for shorter periods.

Netherlands: Fast-Track Service Piloted in Limburg Region – The Immigration and Naturalisation Service of the Netherlands (IND) has started a pilot program to provide fast-tracked registration and permit collection processes for international knowledge workers, scientific researchers, highly educated professionals, start-up entrepreneurs, foreign investors and their families in the Limburg region. Eligible applicants can complete all their in-country requirements at the Expat Centre Maastricht Region. Notably, the Burgerservicenummer – BSN (resident service number), which is the first and most crucial part of registering in the Netherlands, is issued in three days for such applicants instead of the normal four weeks.

Netherlands/Japan/Taiwan: Reciprocal Working Holiday Program Forthcoming – Beginning April 1, 2020, the Netherlands is expected to introduce a reciprocal working holiday program with Japan and Taiwan. Under the program, Japanese and Taiwanese nationals from ages 18-30 can travel to the Netherlands for a year on a working holiday to explore Dutch culture and society and vice versa. Japanese and Taiwanese participants will take a short course and can carry out incidental paid work to financially support their holiday; they are not required to obtain a work permit. Japanese nationals can submit an application in the Netherlands after the Dutch embassy in Tokyo provides proof of pre-registration for participation in the program. Taiwanese nationals can submit an application for a provisional residence permit through the procedure for Entry and Residence to the Netherlands Trade and Investment Office in Tapei.

Turkey/Uzbekistan: Uzbek Nationals Now Visa-Exempt for 90 Days – In a change of policy, Uzbek nationals travelling to Turkey for tourist or business trips are now visa exempt for 90 days in a 180-day period, up from 30 days.

United Arab Emirates: Five-year Tourist Visa Scheme Announced – The Cabinet of the United Arab Emirates announced a new long-term visa scheme for tourists. According to the announcement, the new visa will be available to all nationalities, will have a validity of up to five years and will allow for multiple entries into the United Arab Emirates. Currently, tourists from countries that are not visa-exempt or subject to a visa-on-arrival can visit the United Arab Emirates with a single- or multiple-entry visa valid for up to 90 days. More information about the new visa, including the maximum allowable duration of each stay and cost, is expected to be released in the following months.

United States: Latest PERM and PWD Processing Times – As of December 31, 2019, the Department of Labor (DOL) was conducting analyst review for PERM applications filed in September 2019 or earlier, and processing audited cases filed in April 2019 or earlier. DOL is working on standard reconsideration requests submitted in July 2019 or earlier.

DOL is issuing prevailing wage determinations for PERM and H-1B requests filed in September 2019. The agency has been processing PERM and H-1B redeterminations requested in November 2019, and H-1B center director reviews requested in December 2019. There are no pending PERM center director reviews. These reports are available on the iCERT 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.