Connecticut, US

Jun 22 2018

Weekly Immigration Update: June 15 - 21, 2018

Australia, Bulgaria, Canada, China, Colombia, Croatia, European Union, Greece, Israel, Malta, Netherlands, Nigeria, Panama, Portugal, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States, Vietnam

In United States immigration news this week, EB-3 China will retrogress while cutoff dates for EB-2 India, China and EB-3 India will advance, according to the State Department’s July Visa Bulletin. USCIS subsequently announced that next month it will only accept employment-based adjustment applications from foreign nationals with a priority date that is current for final action under the State Department's July Visa Bulletin. 

Canada has made changes to the list of shortage occupations available to companies applying for a Labour Market Impact Assessment under the Global Talent Stream. Also in Canada, the Alberta Immigrant Nominee Program has implemented two new immigration streams.

The Council of Ministers of the European Union have adopted stricter rules in an amendment to the Posted Workers Directive. The United Kingdom will leave the European Union on March 29, 2019; the pre-settled and settled status application process will open in late 2018; and the Brexit transition period will run until December 31, 2020.

Authorities in Colombia have confirmed that foreign nationals under safe passage (salvoconducto) status cannot conduct work activities.

Israel has announced that it will conduct unannounced worksite inspections in the coming weeks to check labor and immigration compliance at companies employing foreign workers.

These items and other news from Australia, Bulgaria, Canada, China, Croatia, Greece, Israel, Malta, the Netherlands, Nigeria, Panama, Portugal, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, Vietnam and the United States follow in this edition of the Fragomen Immigration Update.

 

Important Updates in Immigration This Week

United States, June 19, 2018

July Visa Bulletin Update - USCIS to Honor Employment-Based Final Action Dates Only Next Month

In July, USCIS will only accept employment-based adjustment applications from foreign nationals with a priority date that is current for final action under the State Department's July Visa Bulletin.

To view entire article, click here.

 

United States, June 15, 2018

House Republicans Release Draft Immigration Bill

  • The bill would create a points-based permanent residence program for DACA-eligible foreign nationals and certain children of E-1, E-2, H-1B and L-1 nonimmigrants.
  • The bill would eliminate per-country quotas on employment-based immigrant visas and reallocate 65,000 family-based immigrant visas to employment-based programs.
  • Visa applicants, visa holders and Visa Waiver Program entrants would be subject to heightened screening before and after entry to the United States.
  • The House is expected to vote on this and another immigration reform bill, though prospects for both bills are uncertain.



To view entire article, click here.

 

United States, June 15, 2018

July 2018 Visa Bulletin: Retrogression for EB-3 China, Advancements for EB-2 China and India, EB-3 India

  • EB-3 China will retrogress by nearly two and a half years, to January 1, 2013.
  • EB-2 China will advance by four months, to January 1, 2015.
  • EB-2 India will advance by nearly three months, to March 15, 2009.
  • EB-3 India will advance by six months, to November 1, 2008.



To view entire article, click here.

 

United Kingdom, June 21, 2018

Secretary of State Announces Policy for Settled and Pre-settled Status for EU Migrants

The United Kingdom will leave the European Union on March 29, 2019, and in late 2018, the pre-settled and settled status application process will open. A Brexit transition period will run until December 31, 2020. According to UK Secretary of State's policy statement released today, after this date, new entrants will likely need a visa and permission to live in the United Kingdom. The deadline for pre-settled and settled status applications will be June 30, 2021 (other than in some family cases). 

To view entire article, click here.

 

European Union, June 21, 2018

Stricter Rules Adopted in Amendment to Posted Workers Directive

On June 21, 2018, the Council of Ministers of the European Union adopted an amendment to the Posted Workers Directive, which is the final step of the directive's adoption path. The amendment aims to reduce differences in employment conditions between posted and host country workers. Major changes include:

  • the calculation of remuneration; 
  • the application of employment laws; 
  • the replacement of posted workers; and
  • the application of the directive to the transportation sector.

 

To view entire article, click here.

 

United Arab Emirates, June 20, 2018

Insurance Scheme to Replace Bank Guarantee System in Mainland

The Cabinet of the United Arab Emirates has announced that an insurance scheme will replace the bank guarantee system in the mainland. The insurance and bank guarantee systems are meant to ensure employers can cover the costs of foreign employees' unforeseen circumstances, such as workplace accidents and unpaid wages.

To view entire article, click here.

 

Vietnam, June 20, 2018

New Validity Period Restriction for Ho Chi Minh City Work Permits

Effective immediately, the Labor authorities in Ho Chi Minh City will not grant a Work Permit to a foreign national beyond the expiration date of the sponsoring company's business license.  

To view entire article, click here.

 

Israel, June 18, 2018

Worksite Inspections Announced

The Population and Immigration Authority in Israel announced that it will conduct unannounced worksite inspections in the coming weeks to check labor and immigration compliance at companies employing foreign workers.

To view entire article, click here.

 

Australia, June 18, 2018

Significant Subclass 457 and Temporary Skills Shortage Visa Delays

The Department of Home Affairs is experiencing significant delays processing Subclass 457 visa cases lodged prior to March 18, 2018, and Temporary Skills Shortage visa applications lodged since March 2018.

To view entire article, click here.

 

United Kingdom, June 15, 2018

Home Office Announces Medical Staff to be Exempt from Tier 2 Quotas, Other Changes for Tiers 1, 2, and 4

Medical staff will soon be exempt from Tier 2 quotas for skilled non-EU workers, which should result in higher overall approval rates and faster processing for these workers. Other industries should also benefit from the change, as removing medical workers from the quota system is expected to mean that other skilled workers would be granted certificates of sponsorship. The Home Office also announced a series of technical changes to Tiers 1, 2, and 4.

To view entire article, click here.

 

Canada, June 15, 2018

New Provincial Nominee Streams in Alberta

The Alberta Immigrant Nominee Program has implemented two new immigration streams. Effective June 14, 2018, candidates can apply for a provincial nomination using the following streams:

  • the Alberta Opportunity stream (which replaces the Employer-Driven and the Strategic Recruitment Streams). This stream is expected to streamline application processes, reduce processing times; and
  • the Alberta Express Entry stream. This stream will allow the province to nominate a limited number of qualified applicants from the federal Express Entry pool of candidates.



To view entire article, click here.

 

Slovak Republic, June 15, 2018

Significant Delays for Non-EU Nationals Seeking Single Permits

There are delays for many immigration processes for non-EU local hires due to delays at the Labour Office in Bratislava. Non-EU nationals who submitted Single Permit applications whose workplace is located in Bratislava are impacted.  

To view entire article, click here.

 

Canada, June 15, 2018

Update to Occupations Included in the Global Talent Stream

Immigration, Refugees, Citizenship Canada has made changes to the list of shortage occupations available to companies applying for a Labour Market Impact Assessment under the Global Talent Stream. Technicians, electronic technicians and technologists have been removed from the list. Engineering managers, architects, science managers, mathematicians and statisticians have been added to the list. 

To view entire article, click here.

 

Portugal, June 15, 2018

Appointment and Processing Delays

Visa application processing, in-country appointment booking and application processing are delayed for all application types in Portugal. This may cause extensive travel delays and restrictions, and affects renewal application timing and the timing for filing dependent applications.

To view entire article, click here.

 

Colombia, June 15, 2018

Salvoconducto Holders Cannot Work, Authorities Confirm

Authorities have confirmed that foreign nationals under safe passage (salvoconducto) status in Colombia cannot conduct work activities under this status. Companies that allow their foreign nationals to conduct work activities under this status could face fines between half and fifteen Colombian salaries.

To view entire article, click here.

 

Nigeria, June 15, 2018

Visa-on-Arrival Holders Must Submit Biometrics Upon Entry

Effective June 13, 2018, foreign nationals travelling to Nigeria under a visa-on-arrival must submit biometrics at the port of entry upon arrival in Nigeria prior to receiving an approved visa. This process will result in extra time and cost at the port of entry.

To view entire article, click here.

 

Weekly News Briefs

United States: USCIS to Recall 800 Incorrectly Printed Employment Authorization Documents – USCIS began recalling approximately 800 Employment Authorization Documents (EADs) that were issued in conjunction with Form I-589, Application for Asylum and for Withholding of Removal, which were granted by USCIS asylum officers. The cards, which were mailed to recipients in April and May 2018, contain a production error that transposed the first and last names of the individuals receiving the EADs. 

Affected individuals and their attorneys or accredited representatives will receive a notice from USCIS, informing them of the error and instructing them to return the incorrect EADs to USCIS in the provided pre-paid envelope within 20 days of receiving the notice. Recipients may also return their EADs to a USCIS field office. Replacement EADs will be sent within 15 days of receiving the incorrect card.

The recall does not affect these individuals’ employment authorization since they are authorized for employment without needing an EAD. Affected recipients’ Form I-94 showing that they were granted asylum is also evidence that they are authorized to be employed.

Australia: Newly Acceptable Means of Labour Market Testing – Universal, mandatory labour market testing was introduced in March 2018. In response to feedback from business and industry, including Fragomen, the Department of Home Affairs has agreed to accept the following media as recruitment activity that meets labour market testing requirements:

  • LinkedIn's online Recruiter platform; and
  • Industry-specific recruitment websites relevant to the nominated role and that are significantly or commonly used in that industry.



These media join other acceptable forms of job advertising which include national job websites, national print media, and national radio. The change is effective immediately.

Australia: Skilling Australians Fund Levy – Two Australian Acts, enacted to establish the Skilling Australians Fund (SAF) and implement the SAF Levy, received Royal Assent on May 22, 2018. Though a precise date for the commencement of the legislation has not yet been determined, the Department of Home Affairs has announced implementation will occur between July and September 2018. Learn more about the SAF here.

Bosnia/China: Reciprocal Visa Agreement in Effect – Chinese nationals are now visa exempt for tourist and business trips to Bosnia for up to 90 days in a 180-day period. As before, business visitors can only participate in allowable business activities and must be able to document their purpose and duration of stay. 

Reciprocally, Bosnian nationals are visa exempt for business trips to China for up to 90 days per year, and tourist trips for up to 90 days in a 180-day period. Those who undertake business activities in China for more than 90 days cumulatively in a calendar year require a work permit.

Bulgaria: Applications Processed Faster, New Fine and Ancestry Waiver Introduced – Following legislative amendments, further implementing legislation has been published that confirms the following changes:

  • Combined Work and Residence Permits – the primary work authorization category in Bulgaria, suitable for locally hired staff – are now processed in 20 days, down from 30. Seasonal Worker Permits are now processed in 10 days, down from 15.
  • Foreign workers found to be working without proper work authorization can now be fined BGN 500-5,000 (around EUR 250-2,500), depending on the severity of the breach.
  • Foreign nationals with a Bulgarian ancestor (parent, grandparent or higher) no longer require a work permit after completing a Bulgarian origin procedure, typically processed in one to three months by a consular post abroad or by the State Agency for Bulgarians Abroad. Applicants are also required to register with the Employment Agency before starting work.
  • A work permit waiver for interns is expected to be published in the coming weeks, but requires further implementing legislation to regulate the requisite registration procedure with the Employment Agency.



Canada: Stricter Rules Proposed for Fraudulent Citizenship Documents – Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has proposed changes to the Citizenship Regulations regarding fraudulent documents, due to inconsistent practices in dealing with suspicious documents received as part of the Citizenship program. The changes include:

  • Implementing procedures to be followed once a decision has been made to seize a suspected fraudulent document;
  • Mandating that the seizing authority disclose information about the document to the Canada Border Services Agency;
  • Allowing the seized document to be kept for the amount of time necessary to determine if it is genuine or has been unlawfully altered; and
  • Mandating that the seizing authority return the document to the person who provided it, if determined that the document was not fraudulently or improperly obtained or used.



IRCC is asking that written comments on the proposed changes to the Citizenship Regulations be sent to IRCC.CITConsultations-ConsultationsCIT.IRCC@cic.gc.ca during the 30-day consultation period. All comments received will be taken into account and a final regulation will be published.

Croatia/Malta/Netherlands/Slovenia/United Kingdom: Reciprocal Immigration Restrictions Lifted – As a reminder, Croatia will lift reciprocal immigration restrictions on nationals from Malta, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom starting July 1, 2018. Reciprocal restrictions will remain in place for nationals of Austria and Slovenia. 

Malta has already lifted work permit restrictions on Croatian nationals in anticipation of the June 30, 2018 deadline.

The former Slovenian government planned to extend immigration restrictions on Croatian nationals, but has since resigned, and relevant draft legislation is not yet approved by parliament. Since a new government is currently being formed, it is expected that legislation to extend the restrictions will not be approved before the June 30, 2018 deadline.

In the United Kingdom, Croatian nationals will be exempt from the Restricted Certificate of Sponsorship allocation as they will not need to apply for work authorisation starting July 6. Under the Tier 1 (exceptional talent) category, Croatian nationals will not be counted against the number of available endorsements. This will effectively free up the quotas for applicants of other nationalities.

Greece: Change to Government Filing Fees – Effective September 1, 2018, government filing fees (‘stamp duty’) will be amended as follows:

  • Senior managers and their family members: EUR 150, down from EUR 300;
  • Blue Card, researchers and students: EUR 150, down from 300;
  • Independent economic activity, investors, property owners: EUR 1,000-2,000, up from EUR 300-500;
  • Penalty for late renewal applications: EUR 100, up from EUR 50; and
  • Long-term residence permit: EUR 150, down from EUR 400.



Israel/United States: Progress Toward Reciprocal Investor Visa Effectiveness – An Israeli parliamentary committee has approved draft legislation to create a B-5 employment visa for U.S. investors and their employees. The B-5 visa would allow U.S. investors, their spouse and U.S. employees to stay and work in Israel. Reciprocally, Israeli investors and their employees would qualify for an E-2 Investor Visa in the United States. Investments would need to contribute to the economy and employment to qualify. Steps toward this reciprocal visa access have been ongoing since 2012. The United States must now approve legislation to allow the reciprocal visa for Israel investors to apply in the United States before the new visa option would be effective. Fragomen worked with Kan-Tor & Acco for this update.

Netherlands: Registered Sponsor Companies Must Provide Bank Declarations – The Immigration Authority (IND) now requires companies registered as a recognised sponsor to submit a bank declaration to confirm that the bank account used for direct debit of government filing fees is registered to the sponsor company. The declaration is required once for each sponsor as part of a financial audit of IND records. Application processing is on hold until the declaration is provided. Fragomen will work with affected sponsor companies to alleviate delays.

Panama: Work Permit Cancellation Rationale Confirmed – The Ministry of Labor issued a resolution confirming that foreign nationals’ work permits can be cancelled for the following reasons:

  • Loss or cancellation of immigration status;
  • Performance of work activities that are prohibited or protected by Panamanian laws; or
  • Providing false documentation during the application process.



The National Immigration Service publishes the notice of cancellation in its bulletin (in print and online). Affected foreign nationals can appeal the notice within five days of publication. Employers should review their records with Fragomen to ensure that all foreign nationals are in compliance with this decree.

Portugal: ICT Permit and Visa Validity Policy Updates – Although the EU ICT Permit was implemented under Portuguese law in November 2017, the Immigration Service is not processing applications until further implementing regulations and internal directions are published. It is not yet known when such regulations will be published. Intracompany transfers can continue to use the local permit types until the ICT Permit becomes fully effective.

Additionally, though the authorities planned to issue visas for a validity matching the assignment duration rather than a fixed term of 90 days to eliminate the need for renewals, authorities are now issuing visas for up to one year. It is not yet known how this affects assignment renewals, which normally require a visa renewal application. Foreign nationals and their employers are advised to complete all requisite departure formalities, and to seek advice on potential assignment extensions.

United Arab Emirates: New Residency and Other Programs Forthcoming – In the last quarter of 2018, a new one-year permit will be introduced for women and their children residing in the United Arab Emirates without a visa sponsor due to certain circumstances including a divorce or death of their husband. Additionally, nationals of countries affected by war or natural disasters will be offered an extendable one-year residency permit free of charge, regardless of their current visa status. This regulation will be effective from August until October 31, 2018. Lastly, a new program called ‘Protect Yourself by Modifying Your Status’ will allow illegal residents to correct their immigration status. Illegal residents will be allowed to depart without paying a fine and without facing a return immigration ban and can return to take up other employment.

United Arab Emirates: Updated Rules Regarding Dependents, Transit Visas and Waivers Forthcoming – The Cabinet of the United Arab Emirates announced upcoming changes to the country’s visa system and employment regulations. It is not clear when the policies will go into effect.

  • Dependents’ residency extension. New legislation is currently under review which would allow dependents under parents’ sponsorship to extend their residency period for up to two years after the dependent completes their university studies without leaving the United Arab Emirates. Currently, the sponsorship of sons above the age of 18 is restricted, unless they are attending a higher education program. Currently, sons above age 18 who have completed their education do not qualify for a residency visa under the sponsorship of their parents; instead, they must depart the United Arab Emirates or obtain a new visa under an alternative sponsorship such as a sponsoring employer.
  • Transit visas. Visit visas for transit with a validity period of 48 hours will be issued free of charge, and a one-time extension up to 96 hours will trigger a fee of AED 50. Currently, transit visas are issued for up to 96 hours and cost AED 200-300 (depending on the airline), under the condition that the minimum time between the two trips is eight hours.
  • Other forthcoming changes. The Cabinet also announced new provisions for overstayers, a waiver from immigration bans and the possibility of a six-month temporary visa for job seekers. Fragomen will provide additional information on these subjects as they become available.​

 

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