Connecticut, US

Jul 11 2019

Weekly Immigration Update: July 4-11, 2019

Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, France, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal, Switzerland, Thailand, United Arab Emirates, United States, Venezuela

In immigration news this week:

  • United States: The House of Representatives passed a bill to eliminate per-country limits on employment-based green cards. A companion bill has been introduced in the Senate but its prospects for passage are uncertain. According to the State Department’s August Visa Bulletin, significant retrogression will occur for most employment-based categories next month, while EB-2 India will advance ahead of EB-3 India for the first time in many months.
  • Belgium: Under new immigration policies that were adopted on June 1 in the Walloon region, work authorization validity periods for highly skilled workers increased and labor market access restrictions were relaxed, among other changes.
  • Switzerland: Starting January 2020, B and C permit holders will be required to obtain certified language certificates to prove they have met language integration requirements.
  • France: Updates to the website used to submit posted worker notifications are expected to streamline the notification submission process for employers.

These items and other news from Canada, the Czech Republic, France, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal, Republic of Congo, Thailand, the United Arab Emirates, and Venezuela follow in this edition of the Fragomen Immigration Update.


Important Updates in Immigration This Week

Belgium, July 11, 2019

New Immigration Policies in Walloon Region

Work authorization validity periods for highly skilled workers in the Walloon region of Belgium increased, restrictions on labor market access were relaxed, and foreign nationals are able to submit work permit applications from within Belgium under new regional immigration policies that were adopted on June 1, 2019.

To view entire article, click here.


United States, July 11, 2019

August 2019 Visa Bulletin: Significant Retrogression in Most Employment-Based Categories, EB-2 India Advances Ahead of EB-3 India

  • Extensive retrogression will occur in August for most countries in the EB-1, EB-2 and EB-3 categories due to increased demand. State Department suggests that cutoff dates could return to those listed in the July Visa Bulletin on October 1, 2019, the start of FY 2020.
  • EB-1 will retrogress to July 1, 2016 for most countries. India will remain at January 1, 2015.  
  • EB-2 Worldwide will retrogress to January 1, 2017.
  • EB-3 Worldwide will retrogress to July 1, 2016. EB-3 India will retrogress steeply to January 1, 2006, placing it behind EB-2 India for the first time in many months. EB-2 India will advance slightly to May 2, 2009.

To view entire article, click here.


United States, July 11, 2019

House Passes Bill to Eliminate Per-Country Limits on Employment-Based Green Cards

  • The Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act (H.R. 1044) would equalize the waiting times for employment-based permanent residence, which would result in significant advancement in green card availability for employer-sponsored Indian and Chinese nationals, but would cause further backlogs for some other countries.
  • A companion bill has been introduced in the Senate. Its prospects for passage are uncertain. 

To view entire article, click here.


Switzerland, July 10, 2019

Language Requirements to be Made Stricter In 2020

  • Starting January 1, 2020, most foreign nationals will be required to obtain certified language certificates to prove they have met Switzerland’s language integration requirements, which may prolong the document-gathering process for B and C permit applications.
  • Until December 31, 2019, Swiss authorities will continue accepting any language certificate which confirms the requisite language level.

To view entire article, click here.


Greece, July 10, 2019

Immigration Administration Changes Following Election to Bring Delays

  • As a result of the newly-elected president in Greece, the Ministry of Migration has been permanently closed and all immigration processes will now be handled by various departments of the Ministry of Public Order.
  • This change in administration will cause immigration processing delays during the transition to the new department. Other immigration impacts, such as process changes and new immigration routes in Greece, are not known at this time.

To view entire article, click here.


France, July 9, 2019

Updates to Posted Worker Notification Online Platform

  • The French authorities are in the process of updating the website used to submit posted worker notifications. The updates are expected to further streamline the notification submission process for employers.
  • As part of the update, the website will be unavailable on July 10, 2019. Employers will be unable to submit posted worker notifications online on this date and should plan to submit notifications before or after this date.

To view entire article, click here.


Netherlands, July 8, 2019

Processing Delays Ahead

  • Dutch immigration authorities have announced that target government processing times of two to three weeks may not be met from July to August due to a high volume of applications.
  • Foreign nationals applying for entry and residence permits to the Netherlands and their employers should expect delays and plan to submit applications early.

To view entire article, click here.


Other Weekly News Briefs

Republic of Congo/United Arab Emirates: Republic of Congo Nationals Visa Exempt in United Arab Emirates – Effective immediately, nationals of the Republic of Congo are eligible for a short-term multiple-entry visitor visa-on-arrival in the United Arab Emirates. The visa is stamped at the port of entry free of charge. It allows for a maximum stay of up to 30 days for tourism or light business activities as allowed in the United Arab Emirates, with the possibility of a one-time in-country extension.

Canada: Updated List of Occupations Issued for Global Talent Stream – The Canadian government has updated the list of occupations eligible under its Global Talent Stream program effective July 2019. The list now includes computer network technicians, while engineering managers and architecture and science managers have been removed. Additions to the list generally occur when there is a high demand but low supply of workers in a profession, while removals occur when there is low demand or a high supply of workers in a profession. The Global Talent Stream program gives employers in the science, technology, engineering, mathematics and information technology industries a streamlined route for hiring foreign nationals with experience in the listed occupations.

Canada: Luxembourg Added to List of Countries Eligible for Youth Mobility Program – Luxembourg has been added to the list of signatories to Canada’s International Experience Canada (ICE) Program, which provides a youth mobility exchange between Canada and 35 partner countries. The new arrangement will allow nationals of Canada and Luxembourg to engage in mutual exchanges for up to 12 months. Eligible nationals can participate in the following programs:  

  • The Working Holiday program, which allows open work permits for foreign nationals to work anywhere and for any employer in the host country;  
  • The International Co-Op Program, which allows employer-specific work permits for full-time students to gain targeted experience as part of their course of study; and  
  • The Young Professionals program, which allows employer-specific work permits for foreign nationals to gain targeted, professional work experience in skilled positions that fit within their field of study or career path.  

Czech Republic: Visa Appointments Temporarily Suspended in Some Locations in Russia and India in Preparation for Policy Changes – Visa applicants at the following Czech consular posts in Russia and India will not be able to schedule an appointment until August due to forthcoming immigration law changes: Embassies in Lviv, Kyiv, Minsk, Moscow, Saint Petersburg and Yekaterinburg; and the Embassy in New Delhi. The temporary suspension has been put in place in order to avoid interference with the proposed quota system, which is a part of new legislation expected to go into effect on September 1, 2019. In spite of this interruption, overall visa processing times are unlikely to be severely delayed since appointments are expected to become available in September. Applicants should nevertheless check the extent of delays with their respective consular post.

France: Further Updates to Posted Worker Online Platform – The government has confirmed that the posted worker online platform will be unavailable between July 12, 2019 and July 15, 2019. Employers will not be able to post notifications during this period. The new version of the website is expected to be launched on July 16, 2019. In addition to the information already reported, the French authorities have confirmed the following additional details:

  • Existing information is expected to be automatically transferred to the new platform. However, some information may be lost or modified. Employers should manually save any information which is currently stored;
  • Existing accounts of employers who list their country of establishment as France will not be transferred to the new version. Impacted companies should temporarily change their country of establishment from France. This will not change the country of the foreign company which is indicated in submitted declarations;
  • The new platform will offer new accounts for companies registered as representatives established in France, which are not currently available. An existing ‘foreign company’ account cannot be converted to a ‘client’ or ‘agent/representative in France’ account. All companies registered as representatives in France will therefore have to create new accounts in the new platform.

Hungary: Social Security Delays Impact Start Dates – The National Health Insurance Fund of Hungary is currently processing social security number applications in 10-15 business days rather than the usual processing time of eight business days. Local hires who require a social security number before they can start work should expect delays to their work start dates. Employers should plan early submission of all local work permits. Delays are expected to remain until further notice and Fragomen will continue to monitor the situation.

Italy/Hong Kong: Reciprocal Working Holiday Program Implemented – On July 5, 2019, Italy and Hong Kong implemented a bilateral Working Holiday Scheme under which 500 nationals of each country aged 18 to 30 years may apply for a visa, which will allow them to study in the other country for up to 12 months. During this period, they can work to finance their stay. Details of visa application procedures for applicants from Hong Kong will soon be available on the website of the Consulate General of Italy in Hong Kong​ and the Immigration Department website.

Portugal: New Residence Card Appointments Suspended Due to Backlog – Immigration authorities in Portugal have suspended initial/renewal and family reunion residence card appointments due to a high volume of applications. Appointments may only become available as a result of cancellations. Foreign nationals without a residence card should continue to check for cancellations and should only travel during the validity of their work visa until they have received their residence card.

Thailand: New Rules for Long-Term Visas in Samut Prakan – The local Immigration Department in Samut Prakan province now requires the Thai counterpart employee to be present at the Provincial Immigration Office in Samut Prakan at the time of filing long-term visa applications on behalf of the foreign employee and their dependents, if any. The Thai employee’s name must also be indicated in the company’s monthly withholding tax payment (PND 1) on behalf of the foreign employee. Additionally, marriage and birth certificates must now be certified by the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) even if the documents are in English. In other locations, personal documents in English do not need to be certified. With this change, personal documents will first need to be translated (if needed) and legalized or authenticated by the relevant consular post in Thailand before they can be certified by the MFA. This additional requirement will lengthen the process and cause delays in the issuance of a dependent's long-term visa.

Lastly, immigration authorities are now visiting company sites to interview visa applicants in their office premises if they fall under the following categories: a) new visa applicants; and b) new visa and renewing visa applicants coming from Watch List countries (Argentina, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Chile, Columbia, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, India, Iran, Liberia, Mali, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Sri Lanka, Togo and Uganda). Missing this interview may cause a delay in the issuance of the long-term visa. These requirements may be expanded to other locations in the future.

United Arab Emirates: Free Tourist Visa Forthcoming for Children of Foreign Nationals Traveling During Summer Months – From July 15-September 15 of each year, children up to age 18 traveling as tourists with at least one parent with a pre-arranged visa for tourism, who currently require a pre-arranged visa for entry to the United Arab Emirates, will be exempt from government fees associated with the visa. Children of foreign nationals who are visa-exempt or subject to a visa-on-arrival already benefit from this cost-free entry.

Venezuela: Update on Tourist Visa Requirement for Nationals of Peru – As previously reported, Venezuelan authorities have revoked the visa exemption for nationals of Peru to enter Venezuela for tourist purposes. As an update, Peruvian nationals seeking to obtain a visa at the Venezuelan Consulate in Lima can now find the visa application process and requirements on the consulate’s website. Affected foreign nationals should consult with their immigration professional as requirements may change and vary by consulate.

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