Jul 08 2021

Weekly Immigration Update: July 2–8, 2021

Australia, Bangladesh, Belarus, Burkina Faso, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Equatorial Guinea, Estonia, European Union, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Indonesia, Japan, Luxembourg, Macau, Mauritius, Morocco, Namibia, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Qatar, Republic of Guinea, Republic of the Philippines, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Spain, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Trinidad & Tobago, Tunisia , Turkey, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, United States

In immigration news this week:

  • Worldwide: Jurisdictions around the world continue to adapt their coronavirus-related travel restrictions and health requirements based on several factors, including fluctuating infection rates and growing vaccination initiatives. Visit Fragomen’s COVID-19 website for the latest immigration updates.
  • United States: The State Department has expanded the validity of its national interest exceptions to the regional COVID-19 travel bans to a 12-month, multiple-entry validity, from its previous validity of 30 days and a single entry. In a policy reversal, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) now states it will reject EB-5 Regional Center Form I-485 adjustment of status applications while Congress deliberates reauthorization of the expired program. USCIS has also broadened its policy on use of receipts in the Form I-9 employment eligibility verification process. In light of the ongoing conflict in Yemen, the Department of Homeland Security has extended and redesignated Yemen for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) from September 4, 2021 through March 3, 2023, and has suspended certain employment authorization rules for Yemeni students in F-1 status.
  • Costa Rica: A new law—which will take effect when published in the Official Gazette—relaxes requirements for the Temporary Residence category for foreign retirees and investors. 
  • European Union: Most EU countries are now issuing Digital COVID-19 Certificates, with Hungary recently added to the list; check this consolidated alert for updates.



These items and other news from Cape Verde, Equatorial Guinea, France, the Middle East, Oman, Russia, Spain, and the United Arab Emirates follow in this edition of the Fragomen Immigration Update.

 

Important updates in immigration this week



United States, July 8, 2021

I-9 Update: USCIS Broadens Its Policy on Use of Receipts in the Employment Eligibility Verification Process

USCIS recently clarified its policy that, if an employee presents a receipt for a lost, stolen or damaged document to complete Form I-9 verification, the employee must return in 90 days to present either the replacement document for which the receipt was issued, or another acceptable document or documents, to complete Section 2 of the Form I-9. If the employee presents a different document or documents than the one for which the receipt was issued, the employer should complete a new Section 2 of the Form I-9 and append it to the previously completed form. 

To view entire article, click here.

 

United States, July 8, 2021

DHS Extends and Redesignates Yemen for Temporary Protected Status; Expands Employment Options for Yemeni F-1 Students

  • The Department of Homeland Security has extended and redesignated Yemen for Temporary Protected Status (TPS), from September 4, 2021, through March 3, 2023.
  • The registration period for new TPS applicants will run from July 9, 2021 to March 3, 2023. Eligible individuals will also be able to apply for TPS-related employment authorization documents (EADs) and travel permission during this time.
  • Current Yemeni TPS beneficiaries who wish to extend their benefits will be required to re-register by September 7, 2021. Those whose EADs expire on September 3, 2021 will receive an automatic extension through March 2, 2022.
  • DHS has also announced that it will suspend certain employment authorization rules for Yemeni students in F-1 status who are experiencing severe economic hardship as a direct result of the crisis in Yemen.

 

To view entire article, click here.

 

United States, July 7, 2021

USCIS Reverses Initial Guidance on Adjustment of Status Applications Submitted Under the EB-5 Regional Center Program

  • In a swift policy reversal, USCIS now states it will reject Form I-485 adjustment of status applications based on a Form I-526 petition approved under the EB-5 Regional Center Program. Originally, USCIS had stated it would accept these applications and place them on hold.
  • The EB-5 Regional Center Program expired at midnight on June 30, 2021 but reauthorization negotiations continue in Congress. 

 

To view entire article, click here.

 

Costa Rica, July 6, 2021

New Law Introduces Immigration and Other Benefits for Investors and Retirees

  • A new law has been approved which relaxes requirements for the Temporary Residence category for foreign retirees (pensionados), investors and those who live off income from their investments (rentistas).
  • The law reduces the minimum investment required for the investor category, streamlines processing, and provides tax benefits to holders.
  • The changes are intended to attract foreign investment in Costa Rica in order to boost economic recovery and growth during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The law will go into effect when it is published in the Official Gazette, expected in the next few days.

 

To view entire article, click here.

 

United States, July 6, 2021

State Department Expands Validity of National Interest Exceptions to Regional COVID Travel Bans

  • The State Department has issued guidance expanding the validity of national interest exceptions (NIEs) granted under the regional COVID-19 travel bans. NIEs will now be valid for one full year after approval and allow for multiple entries – a significant change from the single entry, 30 day NIE validity under the prior policy.
  • The new one year, multiple entry validity policy is effective immediately and also applies to NIEs issued in the last twelve months, provided that the individual’s purpose of travel remains the same.
  • The new policy does not change NIE categories or criteria. Applicants who are not eligible to benefit from the validity expansion will need to qualify for an NIE under existing standards.
  • At this time, there is no apparent change in the validity of NIEs issued by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) at ports of entry and pre-flight inspection sites. CBP-issued NIEs appear to remain valid for 30 days and a single entry for now but stakeholders are seeking clarity.

 

To view entire article, click here.

 

Other weekly news briefs



Cape Verde: Visa Agreement Signed by Cape Verde and Equatorial Guinea – The governments of Cape Verde and Equatorial Guinea have signed an agreement to waive visas for holders of ordinary passports from both countries. The governments have not yet announced an implementation date or the duration of visits for nationals of both countries. The visa waiver agreement is expected to ease mobility of business travelers and tourists and to improve investment. Cape Verde and Equatorial Guinea are members of the Community of Portuguese Language Speaking Countries, and the visa waiver agreement is part of the organization’s initiative to promote mobility among member states.

France: Post Brexit Permit Applications Will Continue to Be Accepted through September 30 – France will allow the filing of applications for UK nationals with rights under the Withdrawal Agreement until September 30, 2021. This will allow British nationals who were unable to file their application on the website by the July 1 deadline to file their applications by September 30, 2021. Beginning October 1, 2021, all UK nationals over the age of 18 will be required to possess a residence permit. Until this date, UK nationals maintain their rights of residence, professional activity and social rights in France. See this consolidated page for detailed information.

Middle East: Government Closures During Eid Al Adha Holiday – Government offices across the Middle East and North Africa will close during the upcoming Eid Al Adha holiday. The holiday is expected to start on July 19 and end on July 22, 2021; however, the exact dates depend on a lunar sighting and are expected to be announced for each country separately. Employers and employees in Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and other Middle Eastern and North African countries should expect longer processing times for various immigration applications during the holiday, which may continue in the weeks following the holiday and exacerbate delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Oman: Long-Term Residency Program Announced for Foreign Investors – The Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Investment Promotion announced the Investment Residency Program which will offer five- and 10-year renewable residence permits to investors in select economic sectors, including tourism, education, health, information and technology, beginning in September 2021. Applicants will have to meet specific criteria which are expected to be announced in the coming months.

RussiaHighly Qualified Specialist Salary Notifications Due July 30 – Employers have until July 30, 2021 to file second quarter notifications for salaries paid to highly-qualified specialists (HQS) using new notification forms. The notification must state the salary paid to HQS from April 1, 2021 through June 30, 2021. 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.

Russia: Mandatory Fingerprinting and Medical Exams for Certain Foreign Nationals – Effective December 29, 2021, a new law will go into effect which requires foreign nationals arriving in Russia for work purposes or arriving for other purposes and staying for longer than 90 days to undergo fingerprinting and a medical examination. Specifically, foreign nationals will have to undergo fingerprinting at the following times: Highly-Qualified Specialists, upon collection of their work permit; patent holders, upon filing an application for their patent; other workers, including Eurasian Economic Union nationals and standard work permit holders, within 30 days from entry; and for those entering for non-work purposes, within 90 days from entry. The medical examination must be conducted by a medical institution in Russia from an approved list and will have to be completed at the following times: upon entry for work purposes, within 30 days from entry; upon entry for longer than 90 days, within 90 days from entry; repeated check-up upon expiry of previously received certificates, within 30 days from expiration. Foreign nationals are exempt from these processes if they are nationals of Belarus; children under the age of six; or employees of intergovernmental organizations or foreign diplomatic missions (with reciprocal agreements in their home countries) and their family members. Failure to complete the fingerprinting and medical examination will result in a reduced period of stay.

Spain: Online Immigration System Partially Operational – The online system of the Directorate General of Immigration is partially running again, after experiencing technical issues for weeks. At this time, initial immigration applications and renewals are able to be filed, but it is still not possible to download the government fee form for payment. Therefore, it is still not possible to file complete immigration applications. Affected applicants can contact their Fragomen immigration professional for case-specific advice.

United Arab Emirates: Work Permit for Golden Visa Holders Employed in the Mainland Introduced – The Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratization (MOHRE) announced the introduction of a work permit for holders of the United Arab Emirates’ long-term residence permit (Golden Visa) who are currently employed (pursuant to an employment residence permit and employment contract) or are seeking to be employed in the mainland. As a result, those Golden Visa holders who are seeking to obtain an initial work permit or those who are due to renew their work permit with an employer in the mainland, including those with a Golden Visa who are in a dependent status, must obtain the new work permit from the MOHRE. Previously, Golden Visa holders in the mainland could not obtain a work permit pursuant to this visa; however, those working in free zones were able to obtain work authorizations issued by the relevant free zone authority. It is expected that further details related to the conditions of the new work permit, including information on the application process and government fees will be published by the MOHRE in the coming weeks.

 

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