Virginia, US

Jun 20 2019

Weekly Immigration Update: June 14-20, 2019

Belarus, Belgium, Canada, Costa Rica, European Union, France, India, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, Oman, Russia, Serbia, Spain, United Arab Emirates, United States

In immigration news this week:

  • United States: Green card and naturalization applicants may need to travel farther for their personal interviews as USCIS attempts to reduce backlogs by transferring some cases to field offices with lower case volume. In July, USCIS will accept employment-based adjustment applications from foreign nationals with a priority date that is earlier than the Final Action dates listed in the State Department's July Visa Bulletin.
  • Canada: Quebec’s National Assembly passed a bill which will overhaul the Regular Skilled Worker Program in the province.
  • European Union: The Council of the European Union has formally adopted amendments to the Schengen Visa Code, which are expected to improve procedures for travellers to the Schengen Area in 2020. 
  • Costa Rica: Several directives to be implemented on June 27 will relax regularization and entry requirements for Venezuelan nationals.
  • France: A decree set to take effect on July 1 establishes new deadlines and conditions for employers sending posted workers to France.
  • United Arab Emirates: A forthcoming employment law imposes stricter rules on the Dubai International Financial Center.
  • Russia: The State Duma is evaluating a bill that would make significant changes to Permanent and Temporary Residence Permits for non-employment based immigrants. The bill is expected to pass and go into effect in the next few months.

These items and other news from Belarus, Belgium, Canada, India, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, Oman, Russia, Serbia, Spain, and the United Arab Emirates follow in this edition of the Fragomen Immigration Update.


Important Updates in Immigration This Week

France, June 20, 2019

Rules Set New Deadlines and Penalties for Employers Sending Posted Workers to France

The French Minister of Labor has published rules that:

  • set a 15-day deadline for employers to produce documentation required by the labor authorities;
  • add more required information to the online posted worker notification form; and
  • implement penalties such as temporary suspension of services or closure of worksites for employers that do not comply with posted worker rules.

The Decree will be effective on July 1, 2019.

To view entire article, click here.


Russia, June 20, 2019

Permanent and Temporary Residence Permit Rules to Change

The State Duma is currently evaluating a bill which would make significant changes to Permanent and Temporary Residence Permits for non-employment based immigrants, including that:

  • Permanent Residence Permits (PRPs) would be granted for an indefinite duration, as opposed to the current five years;
  • Additional categories of foreign nationals would be able to obtain a PRP without first obtaining a Temporary Residence Permit (TRP);
  • Processing times would decrease for TRPs; and
  • Residence requirements would become stricter for TRP and PRP holders.

The bill is expected to pass and will go into effect in the next few months.

To view entire article, click here.


Oman, June 19, 2019

New Application Restrictions on Ministry of Manpower Portal

  • Employers in Oman are experiencing issues submitting work authorization applications on the Ministry of Manpower’s online portal. Currently, only individuals listed in the company registration documents have access to the electronic portal whereas previously, other company representatives could access the portal and submit application forms.
  • Employers should confirm which of their employees can access the portal and should prepare all necessary documents in advance to avoid potential fines arising from missed deadlines. Employers can also request the Ministry of Manpower to grant portal access to other individuals.

To view entire article, click here.


Canada, June 18, 2019

Passage of Bill Leads to Overhaul of Quebec’s Regular Skilled Worker Program

  • Quebec’s National Assembly passed a bill which will overhaul the Regular Skilled Worker Program in the province. The stated goals of the bill are to better align applicants with current job market requirements in Quebec; to reduce processing times; and to emphasize French language abilities.
  • Once the bill goes into effect, the government will abandon the processing of all Certificates of Selection (the first step in the Regular Skilled Worker Program application process) submitted before August 2, 2018 that have not yet been processed, which will total approximately 16,000 applications. Foreign nationals who submitted applications before this date will have to reapply through the online Arrima system.
  • There is no impact on foreign nationals who already hold a Certificate of Selection through the Regular Skilled Worker Program.

To view entire article, click here.


United Arab Emirates, June 18, 2019

Stricter Employment Laws for Dubai International Financial Center Forthcoming

  • The Dubai government approved a new employment law that applies in the Dubai International Financial Center that is expected to go into effect on August 28, 2019.
  • The law introduces updated benefits for employers and employees, covers employment termination, cancelation of residence permits, the issuance of secondment cards, and penalty schedules, among other topics.
  • This law is another example of the continued clarification of labour laws in the United Arab Emirates during the country’s efforts to draw foreign investors.

To view entire article, click here.


United States, June 17, 2019

Green Card and Naturalization Applicants May Need to Travel Farther for Personal Interviews

  • To alleviate growing backlogs, USCIS will transfer some green card and naturalization cases to agency field offices with fewer cases.
  • The change means that some applicants will be interviewed outside of their normal USCIS jurisdiction.
  • USCIS may allow applicants to reschedule interviews in the original jurisdiction, but this could increase application processing times.

To view entire article, click here.


Belgium, June 17, 2019

Government Addresses Single Permit Processing Delay Issues

  • After the Single Permit was introduced in January 2019, the long processing times began causing lapses in status for foreign nationals and exposures to noncompliance risks for employers.
  • As a result, the Federal Immigration Office in Belgium is taking steps to reduce processing times across the country and foreign nationals employed in Flanders are now able to continue their employment while their renewal applications are pending.

To view entire article, click here.


Mexico, June 14, 2019

Commissioner of Immigration in Mexico Resigns and New Commissioner Appointed

  • The Commissioner of the National Immigration Institute (INM), which has authority over immigration in Mexico, resigned today; the competent authorities have already announced his replacement.
  • The new Commissioner is likely to take a much more restrictive approach to immigration and as such, there are expected to be significant policy and staffing changes within the INM.
  • As a result, employers and foreign nationals should expect continued processing delays of work permits and visa applications.

To view entire article, click here.


United States, June 14, 2019

July Visa Bulletin Update: USCIS to Honor Final Action Dates Next Month

In July, USCIS will accept employment-based adjustment applications from foreign nationals with a priority date that is earlier than the Final Action dates listed in the State Department's July Visa Bulletin.

To view entire article, click here.


European Union, June 14, 2019

EU Formally Adopts Schengen Visa Code Amendments

The Council of the European Union has formally adopted amendments to the Schengen Visa Code.  The amendments are expected to improve procedures for travellers to the Schengen Area in 2020. 

To view entire article, click here.


Costa Rica, June 14, 2019

Concessions for Venezuelan Nationals Forthcoming

The Costa Rican General Immigration Directorate has introduced concessions for Venezuelan nationals applying for a visa or residence in Costa Rica, to take effect on June 27, 2019. Key concessions include:

  • Venezuelan nationals in the country legally will be able to file an application with an expired passport;
  • Venezuelan nationals will be able to use apostilled birth certificates issued at any time, instead of the requirement to have them issued within six months of the visa or residence application;
  • Venezuelan nationals will be able to use apostilled police clearance certificates up to one year after their issuance, instead of the previous six-month validity;
  • Venezuelan nationals will not need to apostille digital police clearance certificates and will be able to instead certify them through a Venezuelan consular post in Costa Rica; and
  • Venezuelan nationals will be exempt from the post-arrival consular registration requirement.

Additionally, also effective June 27, 2019, Venezuelan nationals will be authorized to enter Costa Rica with a Venezuelan passport valid for at least one day at the time of entry, instead of the current three-month validity requirement.

To view entire article, click here.


Other Weekly News Briefs

Belarus: New Rules Regarding Mandatory Health Insurance for Foreign Nationals – Starting September 1, 2019, the following key rules will enter into force in Belarus: foreign nationals will be able to enter into their mandatory health insurance contract on the insurer's website (where available), and the insurer's electronic signature will qualify as confirmation of the contract; the foreign insurance policy/card will need to be in issued in English, Russian, or Belarusian, where currently, the legislation does not set forth any language restrictions; and foreign nationals who have been granted refugee status, subsidiary protection or asylum in Belarus will be exempt from obtaining health insurance.

Canada: New Communities Chosen for Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot – The federal government of Canada selected the following 11 communities to participate in the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot: Thunder Bay, Sault Ste. Mari, Subury, Timmins, and North Bay in Ontario; Gretna-Rhineland-Altona-Plum Coulee and Brandon in Manitoba; Moose Jaw in Saskatchewan; Claresholm in Alberta; and West Kootenay and Vernon in British Columbia. The pilot program aims to attract economic immigration to less-populated areas of Canada. The next step of the pilot program will be for the federal government and these communities to work to identify candidates for permanent residence, with the first immigrants expected to arrive under the program in early 2020.

Canada: Bill Overhauling Quebec’s Regular Skilled Worker Program Implemented – The bill that will overhaul Quebec’s Regular Skilled Worker Program received royal assent on June 16 and is effective immediately. Newly-released information includes that foreign nationals whose Certificates of Selection (CSQs) were cancelled because they applied for a CSQ before August 2, 2018 will be the first ones invited to use the Arrima platform if they were temporarily residing in Quebec at the time of their application or were residing in Quebec on the date the law was approved and who held a study or work permit. See the related alert for more information.

India: Saudi Arabia Added to Nationals Eligible for E-Visa – Nationals of Saudi Arabia are now eligible for India's e-Visa program, bringing the total number of eligible countries to 167. E-Visa users benefit from a faster and easier application and travel process for eligible short-term business trips as well as for tourism, medical and government-sponsored conference purposes. 

Japan: Special Visa for Foreign Workers in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics – Foreign nationals who will conduct work or business activities in projects related to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics/Paralympic Games will be able to apply for a special visa subcategory under the Designated Activities visa, subject to confirmation by the Olympic Organizing Committee. Dependent spouses and children may also be included in the visa application. The special visa will benefit foreign nationals who need to stay in Japan for longer than 90 days but do not qualify under the current available long-term visa categories. The Designated Activities visa is a general visa category typically used by such foreign nationals who do not fall under the other visa categories.

Netherlands: Visa-Free Movement may be Suspended for Albanian Nationals – The Dutch government has petitioned the European Commission to suspend visa-free movement for Albanians due to the growing volume of asylum petitions and involvement in organized crime in the Netherlands. The decision is subject to the European Commission and it is not clear when this decision will be made. Fragomen will report on future developments.

Russia: New Countries Added to High-Migration Risk List – Russia has added the following countries to its high-risk migration list: Croatia, Cuba, Macedonia, Montenegro, Romania and Thailand.  Work permit and visa applications submitted by nationals of high-risk migration countries undergo additional scrutiny, which almost always results in processing delays. Additionally, foreign nationals from the newly added countries may see increased denials and their applications may be required to undergo additional administrative procedures.

Russia: Relaxed Immigration Rules Implemented for Scientists – Effective immediately, foreign nationals are eligible for ordinary business visas for up to 30 days if they are entering Russia to perform scientific work for no more than 30 days. Business visas will be issued for up to one year, or in cases of reciprocity, for up to five years, to foreign nationals who are entering Russia to perform scientific research or teach at the invitation of a scientific organization or organization of higher education (with the exception of religious education organizations).

Serbia/United Arab Emirates: Mutual Visa Waiver Implemented – Effective immediately, Serbian nationals are eligible for visa-free entry into the United Arab Emirates for stays of up to 90 days within a 180-day period for business and touristic purposes; the same policy also applies to Emirati nationals entering Serbia. However, it is expected that nationals under this entry policy are prohibited from obtaining residence, conducting work or studying. The policy change comes as a result of an approved agreement between the governments of Serbia and the United Arab Emirates signed in September 2018. 

Spain: Non-EU Nationals Should Now Apostille Supporting Documents – Based on a new observation of practice and confirmation by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Spanish consulates are increasingly requiring non-EU nationals to apostille documents that support their visa applications, despite the EU rule eliminating this requirement effective in February 2019. Therefore, Fragomen recommends that non-EU visa applicants applying for any immigration status for Spain should apostille their supporting documents that were issued in the European Union (birth certificates, marriage certificates, police clearance certificates, etc.). The apostille process can take a week or more, so foreign nationals are advised to allow extra time for this process in the document gathering stage of their immigration application.

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