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Aug 03 2017

Weekly Immigration Update: July 28 – August 3, 2017

Colombia, Egypt, Germany, Ireland, Israel, Japan, Russia, Slovak Republic, South Africa, United States, Uruguay

In United States immigration news this week, President Trump and Senators Tom Cotton and David Perdue unveiled the RAISE Act, a bill that, if approved, would replace the current employment-based green card system with a points-based system. The bill would also reduce family-based immigration, limit refugee admissions to 50,000 per year, eliminate the Diversity Visa lottery program and restrict foreign nationals' access to public benefits. The RAISE Act is likely to face significant opposition. 

In Germany, the EU Intracompany Transferee Directive and the Directive on Students and Researchers took effect on August 1. The laws introduce two new work permit categories as well as new regulations regarding students, trainees and scientists. 

Japan introduced shorter residency requirements for certain professionals applying for permanent residence.

Israel has begun a three-year trial period for its Innovation Visa, which will be available to foreign nationals interested in developing new technologies. In Egypt, authorities have confirmed that nationals of 36 countries must now register within seven days of entry with the Immigration Authority or a respective police station with an Immigration Department desk.

These items and other news from Colombia, Egypt, Ireland, Russia, Slovak Republic, South Africa, Uruguay and the United States follow in this edition of the Fragomen Immigration Update.

Important Updates in Immigration This Week

United States, August 2, 2017
Immigration Bill Would Create Points System for Employment-Based Permanent Residence

The RAISE Act would assess employment-based green card applicants on the basis of their education, salary level, investment level, age, achievements and English proficiency. Twice per year, the highest-scoring applicants would be invited to apply for permanent residence.  The bill would also impose significant reductions in family-based immigration, eliminate the Diversity Visa lottery program and cap refugee admissions. The RAISE Act is likely to face significant opposition.

To view entire article, click here.

United States, July 28, 2017
CIS Ombudsman Highlights Continued Challenges Facing Employment-Based Petitioners

The CIS Ombudsman's 2017 Annual Report to Congress confirms continued USCIS processing delays for employment authorization documents and EB-5 filings, as well as low rates of success on appeal for employment-based petitioners.

To view entire article, click here.

Egypt, August 3, 3017
Mandatory Registration Required for More Nationalities within Seven Days of Entry

Authorities have confirmed that nationals of 36 countries must now register with the Immigration Authority or a respective police station with an Immigration Department desk, within seven days of each entry into Egypt, regardless of immigration status. Since an official list of affected nationalities has not been published, additional nationalities may currently be and may become subject to this registration requirement.

To view entire article, click here.

South Africa, August 2, 2017
Lawmaking Process Started in Response to Public Comment on Policy Paper

Following the South African Cabinet's approval of the White Paper on immigration changes, lawmakers have started to draft legislation that is expected to amend and create new immigration policies. The White Paper was drafted in response to the public comments on the policy paper that proposed reviewing the immigration system. It provides direction for the drafting of the new and amended regulations and sets the tone for the government's long-term strategy for immigration.

To view entire article, click here.

Egypt, August 2, 2017
Personal Appearance Required for Residency Permit Applications

Foreign nationals must now appear in person at the Immigration Authority in Egypt to submit initial and renewal Residency Permit applications for themselves and their dependents, and to endorse their own or their dependents' visas. Third parties can still appear on behalf of applicants under a power of attorney, but employers can no longer obtain such powers of attorney on an employee's behalf.

To view entire article, click here.

Israel, August 1, 2017
Innovation Visa Introduced

The Israeli government has begun a three-year trial period for a visa for foreign nationals interested in developing new technologies, called the Innovation Visa. Foreign nationals under this visa will be able to stay in Israel for up to 24 months. Select Innovation Visa holders are eligible for an Expert Visa, a work permit valid up to five years.

To view entire article, click here.

Germany, July 31, 2017
EU Intracompany Transferee Directive and Directive on Students and Researchers Take Effect August 1

Legislative changes due to the implementation of the EU Intracompany Transferee Directive and the Directive on Students and Researchers will become effective on August 1, 2017. The new laws introduce two new work permit categories - the ICT Card and the Mobile ICT Card  - and new regulations regarding students, trainees and scientists. 

To view entire article, click here.

Japan, July 28, 2017
Shorter Residency Requirements for Permanent Residence

The Immigration Bureau has recently introduced shorter residency requirements for certain foreign professionals applying for Permanent Residence. Applicants who score over 70 points in the points-based eligibility system will be eligible to apply for Permanent Residence after just three years of residency in Japan, while those who score over 80 points will become eligible after just one year of residency. Qualified foreign nationals holding any visa category are eligible to apply for Permanent Residence as long as they meet the points criteria.

To view entire article, click here.

Weekly News Briefs

United States: Elaine Duke Serves as Acting Secretary of DHSElaine C. Duke became the acting Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on July 31, 2017, following former DHS Secretary John F. Kelly’s acceptance of the role of White House Chief of Staff. Acting Secretary Duke has served as DHS's Deputy Secretary since April 10, 2017. She has three decades of federal government experience, most recently as DHS's Under Secretary for Management from July 2008 to April 2010.

United States: Latest PERM and PWD Processing Times – As of June 30, 2017, the Department of Labor (DOL) was conducting analyst review for PERM applications filed in April 2017 or earlier, and processing audited cases filed in December 2016 or earlier. There is no update on the government error queue. DOL is working on standard reconsideration requests submitted in May 2017 or earlier.

DOL is issuing prevailing wage determinations (PWD) for PERM and H-1B requests filed in April 2017. The agency has been processing PERM redeterminations requested in January 2017, H-1B redeterminations requested in May 2017, and PERM and H-1B center director reviews requested in April 2017.   

These reports are available on the iCERT home page.

Colombia: Venezuelan Nationals Eligible for New Permit to Remain in Colombia – Venezuela nationals in Colombia whose current visa or permit is set to expire soon are now eligible to apply for a Special Stay Permit (Permiso Especial de Permanencia). The permit will allow them to remain and work in Colombia as long as they meet other legal requirements. Specifically, applicants must: (i) be in Colombia on July 28, 2017; (ii) have legally entered Colombia; (iii) not have a criminal record in Colombia or abroad; and (iv) not have an open deportation order in Colombia.  The permit will be valid for 90 days and will be renewed automatically for the same period, for a maximum period of two years. Interested applicants should contact their immigration professional for more information.

Ireland: Delays and Application Suspensions at Irish Embassy in New Delhi – Due to increased case volumes, the Irish Embassy in New Delhi has suspended processing for long-stay category D Residency Join Family/Parent/Spouse visas until October 2017.  Exceptions have been put in place for family members of Critical Skills Employment Permit holders and Intra-Company Transfer Employment Permit holders, and by members of the Business Express Programme. Visa applications that were filed up to and during the month of July 2017 will continue to be processed. Additionally, visa processing delays should be expected, particularly for visa applications based on European Union Treaty Rights. The Embassy has not provided a timeframe of how long the delays will last. Foreign nationals seeking to apply for category D Join Family visas should contact their immigration professional to discuss alternative options given the suspension. Foreign nationals should check the Irish Embassy website for more information on the general processing delays for other visas.

Russia: Annual Quota Adjustment Deadlines Approaching – The deadline for adjusting Work Permit quota numbers for 2017 is August 25, 2017 in Moscow and September 15, 2017 in St. Petersburg.  The period for adjustments to the 2018 quota numbers in Moscow is October 9-27, 2017. Employers should contact their immigration professional for quota adjustment instructions.

Slovak Republic: Changes to Wait Times at Foreign Police Office – There has been a reduction in the overall wait time for foreign nationals at the Foreign Police Office in Bratislava. Currently, the overall wait time is between a half day and one day. Due to the fact that representatives can no longer wait in line on behalf of foreign nationals, foreign nationals will need to arrive approximately one hour earlier in the morning on the day of their appointment than they would have needed to previously.  Fragomen will notify affected applicants at the time they need to appear at their appointment.

Uruguay: New Document Submission Rules for Temporary Residence Applications – Per a new verbally-confirmed directive, Temporary Residence applicants must provide a legalized police clearance from their country of origin.  Previously, the application could be filed without the police clearance and the applicant could present it once it became available, as government processing times for the clearance can reach three months. This directive applies to all Temporary Residence applications, including the MERCOSUR category for nationals of Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru and Venezuela. Police clearances must be issued at the federal level in the country of issuance, legalized for use in Uruguay and translated by a certified translator in Uruguay (if issued in a language other than Spanish).

Additionally, the other required documents for a Temporary Residence application, such as police clearances from the applicant's countries of residence in the past five years and a medical certificate, must be presented within 10 business days of filing. Previously, there was no deadline for submission.  Applicants should contact their immigration professional for assistance with procuring the legalized police clearance and other application documents.

Global Immigration News Links

According to data released by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, 336,107 H-1B visa petitions have been filed so far this year, compared to 399,349 filed in all of 2016, Bloomberg reports. A little more than 58 percent of the cases filed this year have been approved, a rate considerably lower than that of 2016, when 87 percent were approved. 

BBC provides an at-a-glance view of UK-EU Brexit negotiations.

CNN looks at whether Japan can survive without immigrants, in the face of fewer workers paying taxes to support its growing senior population.

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