Jun 17 2021

Weekly Immigration Update: June 11–17, 2021

Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bahrain, Belgium, Bermuda, Bolivia, Brunei, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Chile, Colombia, Curaçao, Denmark, Egypt, European Union, Finland, France, Gabon, Honduras, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, Iraq, Ireland, Israel, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kenya, Kuwait, Lithuania, Macau, Madagascar, Malaysia, Malta, Mauritius, Morocco, New Zealand, Norway, Peru, Poland, Republic of the Philippines, Russia, Singapore, Spain, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, The Bahamas, Tunisia , Uganda, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States, Uruguay, Vietnam

In immigration news this week:

  • Worldwide: Jurisdictions worldwide continue to adjust their 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.
  • In Spain, a technical issue with the online immigration system is preventing applications from being submitted.
  • In Malta, a one-year Digital Nomad Residence Permit is now available to foreign nationals seeking to reside in Malta while continuing to work on behalf of their home employer via telecommunications tools.
  • United States: U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ (USCIS) fiscal year 2022 H-1B cap statistics show that cap registrations increased by more than 12 percent over the FY 2021 filing season. USCIS selected only 28 percent of the total beneficiaries registered in FY 2022, while it selected 45 percent in FY 2021. According to the State Department’s July Visa Bulletin, there will be a significant advancement in the EB-3 India category, in addition to a strong movement across all employment-based visa categories.
  • European Union: Many EU Member States are now issuing EU Digital COVID Certificates through their national health centers or authorities. The certificate must be issued and accepted in all EU Member States by July 1, with a phasing-in period of six weeks for the issuance of certificates for those Member States that need additional time.
  • Montenegro will update its minimum wage level in October 2021. Check our consolidated page on minimum salary changes for more information.

 

These items and other news from Australia, Austria, Bolivia, Cape Verde, Colombia, Denmark, the European Union, New Zealand, and Spain follow in this edition of the Fragomen Immigration Update.

 

Important updates in immigration this week



United States, June 16, 2021

July 2021 Visa Bulletin: Significant Advancement in EB-3 India, Strong Movement Across All Employment-Based Categories

  • EB-1 China and EB-1 India will remain current. 
  • EB-2 China will advance by seven months, to December 1, 2017, and EB-2 India will advance by six months to June 1, 2011.
  • EB-3 China will advance by four months to January 1, 2019, while EB-3 India will advance by fourteen months to January 1, 2013.
  • EB-5 China (Non-Regional Center program) will advance by seven weeks, to November 8, 2015, and EB-5 Vietnam will advance by almost two years to April 1, 2020.



To view entire article, click here.

 

Mauritius, June 15, 2021

Occupation Permit-Related Improvements Forthcoming

  • Mauritius’ Minister of Finance has published proposals that if adopted, would improve conditions associated with the Occupation Permit, including granting longer validity, allowing foreign nationals to change jobs without a new Occupation Permit application, and eliminating the maximum age for dependents, to name a few benefits.
  • The proposals will come into operation once they have been passed by the Parliament.

 

To view entire article, click here.

 

Malta, June 15, 2021

Digital Nomad Permit Now Available

Malta now offers a one-year Digital Nomad Residence Permit for foreign nationals seeking to reside in Malta while:

  • working for an employer registered abroad with whom they have an employment contract; or
  • conducting business activities for a company registered abroad, of which they are partners or shareholders; or
  • offering freelance or consulting services to foreign clients with whom the applicant has a contract.

 

Applicants must generate EUR 2,700 gross monthly income, with additional funds for accompanying dependents.

To view entire article, click here.

 

Ireland, June 15, 2021

Certain Healthcare Occupations Now Eligible for Employment Permits

  • Effective immediately, certain healthcare occupations have been removed from the Ineligible Categories of Employment List in Ireland, making foreign nationals in these positions eligible for Employment Permits.
  • Additionally, the Dietician occupation has been added to the Critical Skills Occupations List, making applicants in this role eligible for a Critical Skills Employment Permit in certain circumstances.

 

To view entire article, click here.

 

European Union, June 15, 2021 (updated June 17)

Many EU Member States Are Issuing Digital COVID Certificates

  • The EU Digital COVID Certificate (‘COVID passport’ or ‘Digital Green Certificate’) is currently being issued by the following European countries: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Poland, Portugal and Spain, through their national health centers or authorities. Sixteen other countries have successfully tested the digital infrastructure and are likely to begin issuing the certificates shortly.
  • The certificate must be issued and accepted in all EU Member States by July 1. However, there will be a phasing-in period of six weeks for the issuance of certificates for those Member States that need additional time.
  • The EU Digital COVID Certificate is currently issued to individuals vaccinated, tested, or recovered in the European Union only. It confirms details on whether a traveler has received recent negative COVID-19 tests, vaccines, or has recovered from COVID-19 in order to standardize recognition of this medical information from country to country.
  • For applicable travelers, the certificate streamlines travel to EU countries that recognize the certificate. However, entry restrictions will continue to be regulated on a national level, so travelers should check individual country rules prior to traveling.



To view entire article, click here.

 

United States, June 14, 2021

USCIS’s FY 2022 H-1B Cap Statistics Show Significant Drop in Lottery Selection Rate

  • Employers submitted H-1B cap registrations for 308,613 beneficiaries this year, a 12% increase over the FY 2021 filing season.
  • USCIS selected 87,500 registrations to meet the H-1B quota, or 28% of the total beneficiaries registered. During the FY 2021 season, USCIS selected 124,415 registrations, or 45% of those registered. This year, in addition to receiving more registrations against the cap, the agency adjusted the formula it uses to determine the number of registrations needed to reach the cap.
  • USCIS is accepting H-1B cap petitions on behalf of selected beneficiaries through June 30, 2021.  It is not yet known whether USCIS will conduct a second selection of cap registrations, as it did last year.



To view entire article, click here.



United Kingdom, June 11, 2021

Draft Code of Practice on Preventing Illegal Working Published



To view entire article, click here.

 

Other weekly news briefs



Australia: Increase to Superannuation Guarantee Percentage Rate Forthcoming – Effective July 1, 2021, the Australian government will be increasing the Superannuation Guarantee (SG) percentage rate from 9.5% to 10% and will further increase the SG annually in increments of 0.5% for the next four financial years from 10.5% starting July 1, 2022 up to 12% starting July 1, 2025. The Superannuation Guarantee dictates the minimum percentage of earnings that an employer must pay into a superannuation fund and it is a compulsory employer contribution. This percentage is set and indexed by the Australian government. Employees subject to a salary package inclusive of superannuation will generally experience a decrease in their base salary (by 0.5%), whereby the employer will adjust the base salary down to account for the Superannuation increase. This will equally apply to Australian packaged employees (those whose employment contract specifies that their salary includes superannuation) as well as sponsored Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS), Subclass 457 and Subclass 494 visa holders. Since the change may result in compliance issues resulting from the decrease in base salary, employers may need to consider adjusting the sponsored visa holder’s base salary or lodge new TSS nominations to rectify decreased earnings to maintain compliance. In particular, for TSS/Subclass 494 visa holders (nominations made on or after 18/3/2018), employers must ensure that the Guaranteed Annual Earnings (GAE) for the sponsored employee does not drop below the GAE as specified in the approved TSS/494 nomination. For 457 visa holders (nominations made before 18/3/2018), on the other hand, employers must ensure that the terms and conditions of employment for the sponsored employee are not less favorable than those provided to an Australian to perform equivalent work in the same workplace and location (i.e. to pay market rates) and to maintain the terms and conditions (including salary) as specified in the nomination.

Austria: Significant Delays in Processing Extension Applications – Due to COVID-19-related backlogs in Vienna, immigration authorities are taking six or more months to process immigration application extension applications. Third country nationals’ applications submitted prior to the expiry of their permit can continue working in Austria; however, visa nationals may not travel with an expired permit. Visa-exempt nationals may face re-entry issues if travelling under an expired permit. Affected foreign nationals can apply for an "emergency vignette" if they can provide proof of a booked flight with their application. Extension applications in Austria can only be submitted three months prior to the expiry of the permit. Foreign nationals seeking to travel after their permit expires should contact their Fragomen immigration professional for more information.

Bolivia: Update on Visa Waiver Agreement with Mexico As a follow up to the bilateral visa waiver agreement signed between Mexico and Bolivia, nationals of Mexico traveling to Bolivia as visitors without a visa can now stay for up to 180 days per visit (up from the previous maximum stay of 90 days), and can conduct non-technical business activities during their stay. They must have a passport valid for at least six months. Previously, in practice, nationals of Mexico could conduct certain business activities without a visa only for up to 30 days, as is currently allowed in practice for other foreign nationals. As a reminder, foreign nationals in visitor status in Bolivia cannot work or carry out remunerated or lucrative activities in the country unless they obtain the proper work authorization. 

Cape Verde: Remote Working Visa Launched – Cape Verde has launched a new visa for foreign nationals working remotely (the Cape Verde Remote Working Visa Program). The visa is valid for six months and is renewable. Applicants must meet, among other requirements, a minimum bank balance of EUR 1,500 (or EUR 2,700 for a family in the last six months) and must have medical insurance. Applicants for the Cape Verde Remote Working Visa Program must be employed abroad and cannot take up employment locally. Foreign nationals from Europe, North America, Community of Portuguese Speaking Countries (CPLP) and Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) are eligible to apply. Cape Verde is the third Sub-Saharan African country to launch a remote working visa program as an initiative to revive its tourism sector, which was negatively affected by the pandemic, after Seychelles and Mauritius.

Colombia: Passport Requirements Relaxed for Venezuelan Nationals – The government of Colombia now allows Venezuelan nationals to use their expired passports for up to 10 years beyond the expiration date of the passport or passport extension stamp (if applicable), to enter, transit and exit Colombia; as an identification document in Colombia, provided they received an official entry stamp issued by Migración Colombia); and to apply for a Colombian visa. Previously, a Venezuelan national’s expired passport was considered valid in Colombia for two years beyond its expiration date. The government has implemented this concession in line with the recently implemented Temporary Protection Permit available to Venezuelan nationals in Colombia, which is valid for 10 years.  

Denmark: Additional Salary Check for Pay Limit Scheme Applications – In a change of policy, the Danish Agency for International Recruitment and Integration (SIRI) now conducts a hearing with the Regional Labour Market Council if it questions whether the salary of the Pay Limit Scheme applicant is similar to local workers with similar qualifications in similar positions. If the Regional Labour Market Council considers the salary insufficient, employers must increase the salary or risk rejection of the application. Previously, Pay Limit Scheme applicants only had to meet a fixed DKK 445,000 annual minimum salary threshold, with no market conformity check. The Regional Labour Market Council hearing takes approximately three weeks to process, adding to general immigration processing times for affected applicants. The new policy seeks to ensure equal treatment of foreign workers, particularly relevant in light of local employment concerns in the wake of the pandemic. Employers are advised to check whether the foreign national's salary meets local market standards, and to adjust the salary as needed to prevent this additional step.

European Union: Belgium, Iceland, Portugal Now Issue Digital COVID-19 CertificatesAs an update, Belgium, Iceland and Portugal are now issuing Digital COVID-19 Certificates, verifying whether a traveler has been vaccinated against COVID-19; has recently tested negative on a COVID-19 NAAT (PCR or rapid antigen) test; or has recovered from COVID-19 following a positive NAAT test. The certificate should streamline travel within the European Union and Schengen Area, although travel restrictions and entry requirements remain regulated at the national level. The EU Digital COVID Certificate (‘COVID passport’ or ‘Digital Green Certificate’) is currently being issued by the following European countries: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Poland, Portugal and Spain, through their national health centers or authorities.

European Union: Reminder on Post-Brexit Rights Application Deadline – As a reminder, UK nationals and their family members seeking residence rights under the Withdrawal Agreement based on residence before December 31, 2020 must apply before or on June 30, 2021 in Croatia, France, Germany, Greece, Latvia, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands and Slovakia. Note that in France, Latvia, Luxembourg, Malta and the Netherlands, late applicants will lose their rights under the Withdrawal Agreement. In Germany, late applicants may have difficulties proving their status. In Croatia, Greece and Slovakia, late applicants may face fines but may still be able to retain their residence status, at authorities’ discretion. See this consolidated page for further details.

Spain: Technical Issues on Online Immigration System Causing Delays – The online system of the Directorate General of Immigration is experiencing technical issues and is not currently operating. As a result, immigration applications cannot be submitted on the system; applications related to the Large Companies Unit submitted through other platforms are not being accepted; and notifications related to applications will not be sent until the system is operating. Deadlines to submit documentary requirements and validities of immigration documents are temporarily suspended during the outage. Affected applicants can contact their Fragomen immigration professional for case-specific advice.

New Zealand: Increase in Median Wage and Visa Validity for Applicants Paid Below Median Wage Forthcoming – Effective July 19, 2021, Immigration New Zealand will be using the increased rate of NZD 27 per hour as the median wage in New Zealand when assessing visa applications, up from the previous median wage of NZD 25.50 per hour. Essential Skills Work Visa applicants must be paid at least the set median wage at the time of filing in order to be considered for the maximum initial duration of stay of up to three years. Otherwise, applicants paid below the set median wage may only be considered for the Essential Skills Work Visa with a 12-month duration (recently increased due to new government policy, from only six months previously) and must submit the additional requirement of a Skills Match Report obtained from the Ministry of Social Development. Additionally, the median wage is relevant to other visa assessment processes such as the determination of eligibility to hire workers as an exception to COVID-19-related border restrictions and residence visa applications under the Skilled Migrant Category and Residence from Work Category.

 

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