Connecticut, US

Jun 25 2020

Weekly Immigration Update: June 19-25, 2020

Albania, Angola, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Belgium, Bermuda, Brazil, Bulgaria, Chad, Chile, Costa Rica, Curaçao, Cyprus, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Denmark, Ecuador, Egypt, Estonia, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Germany, Guyana, Hong Kong, Hungary, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Malta, Mauritius, Mexico, Morocco, Netherlands, Nigeria, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Poland, Qatar, Romania, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, The Bahamas, Turkey, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States, Vietnam

In immigration news this week:

  • Worldwide: Jurisdictions around the world continue to adapt their coronavirus-related travel restrictions and quarantine measures, and many have implemented extension policies and other concessions. Visit Fragomen’s coronavirus-related news page for the latest immigration updates.
  • United States: A new presidential proclamation suspends the entry of certain H-1B, L-1, H-2B, J-1 nonimmigrants, as well as their dependents, until December 31, 2020. The proclamation also extends the existing ban on certain immigrant entries through December 31, 2020.
  • Estonia: The Digital Nomad Visa, which will allow foreign nationals to live in Estonia while working for a foreign employer or as a freelancer, is expected to become available July 1.


These items and other news from Belgium, Costa Rica, Kazakhstan, Papua New Guinea, and Saudi Arabia follow in this edition of the Fragomen Immigration Update.


Important Updates in Immigration This Week

Estonia, June 25, 2020

Digital Nomad Visa Becomes Available July 1

  • The long-awaited, first-of-its kind Digital Nomad Visa will allow foreign nationals to live in Estonia while working for a foreign employer or as a freelancer.
  • The visa will be available for stays of up to 90 days under a short-term application process, or up to one year under a long-term application process.
  • Due to pandemic-related entry restrictions in Estonia, currently, only those residing in the European Union, Schengen Area or United Kingdom can apply for the visa. As travel restrictions are relaxed in Estonia, the visa will become available to more applicants.

To view entire article, click here.


United States, June 22, 2020

President Trump Imposes Ban on H-1B, L-1, H-2B and J-1 Entry Beginning June 24

  • A presidential proclamation will suspend the entry of new H-1B, L-1, H-2B and certain J-1 nonimmigrants, as well as their spouses and dependents, from 12:01am EDT on June 24 through December 31, 2020, with limited exceptions. The proclamation also immediately extends an existing ban on certain immigrant entries through the end of this year.
  • The ban does not affect foreign nationals holding valid U.S. visas or other travel documents, or those already present in the United States as of the effective date of the ban.
  • The proclamation directs the immigration agencies to develop regulations to further restrict the H-1B program and to toughen standards for certain categories of employment-based permanent residence.

To view entire article, click here.


Other Weekly News Briefs

Belgium: Regional Process Changes Forthcoming – The Flemish government is developing new legislation that would allow short-term work permits to be issued for multiple non-specified work visits up to 90 days in a 180-day timeframe. Currently, short-term travellers can obtain a work permit only for a maximum of 90 consecutive days, which requires obtaining separate permits for separate work visits during the 90-day period. If the legislation is accepted without significant changes, which is likely, these key changes would take effect in Flanders January 1, 2021. Additionally, the Brussels government is considering introducing a lower minimum salary threshold for highly skilled workers under 30 years old, as is currently in place in Flanders, but has not yet drafted corresponding legislation. There is no clarity yet on whether the Walloon government will also seek to take additional measures to attract and retain foreign talent. Separately, Regional Employment authorities will maintain the current e-mail application filing system. A new electronic filing platform is scheduled to become available in the first quarter of 2021. 

Belgium: Fee Increases for Some Residence Permits and D Visa Applications – The Immigration Office announced increased administrative fees for certain residence permits and D visa applications, regardless of whether the application was filed with a Belgian diplomatic post abroad or in Belgium, effective June 1, 2020. Specifically, non-European Union employees and self-employed individuals filing residence applications on the basis of a work permit or a professional card will see the fee increase to EUR 363 from EUR 358, and family reunification residence applicants will see fees increase to EUR 207, from EUR 204. Although the fee increases are already in place and all new applicants should submit applications with the new fee amounts to avoid processing issues, the Immigration Office will accept payment for the previous, lower amount until July 31, 2020.  

Costa Rica: Regularization Process Available for Agricultural Workers – In response to a shortage of workers for the agricultural sector due to COVID-19 entry restrictions, the Costa Rican government has introduced a special temporary permit (Categoría Especial para Trabajadores Temporales del Sector Agropecuario, Agroexportador o Agroindustrial - CETTSA), which will allow eligible foreign nationals to regularize their status and work in Costa Rica exclusively in the agricultural sector for an initial period of one year. The permit can then be extended for two-year periods. Applicants must prove they entered Costa Rica between January 15, 2016 and January 15, 2020 and that they are working or seek to work in the agricultural sector (by way of a job offer, work contract or sworn declaration for independent workers), among other requirements. Eligible foreign nationals have until September 22, 2020 to request an appointment to file their application with the General Immigration Directorate (or to the Ministry of Agriculture for independent workers). Interested applicants should contact their immigration professional for more information.

Kazakhstan: 2021 Quota Applications Due July 31 – Employers seeking to sponsor foreign workers in 2021 can now submit applications for quota numbers. Sponsoring a foreign worker is generally more difficult, and for some regions impossible, if the employer has not filed a quota request in the previous year. Although applications can be submitted until July 31, 2020, it is advisable to file as soon as possible since quotas may decrease and early applicants are more likely to receive the requested quota numbers. Employers file quota applications with the regional Department of Labor Office where the foreign national will be working. Applications prove the need for foreign workers, specify the number of foreign workers sponsored throughout 2021 (including renewals) and detail foreign workers’ positions. The 2021 quota numbers will be determined in January 2021. 

Papua New Guinea: Significant Fee Increases for Many Immigration Processes and New Expedited Processing Option – The Papua New Guinea government will soon increase government filing fees for Work Permit-related applications. It is not yet clear when the new fees are effective. Key fee increases will include (among others): New (General) Work Permit Application (1 year) - to PKG 2,500, from PKG 1,000; New (General) Work Permit Application (2 years) - to PKG 5,000, from PKG 2,000; New (General) Work Permit Application (3 years) - to PKG 7,500, from PKG 3,000; New (General) Work Permit Application (5 years) GCC - to PKG 12,500, from PKG 5,000; New (General) Work Permit (6 months short term) –to PKG 750, from PKG 500; Renewal (General) Work Permit (1 year) - to PKG 4,500, from PKG 1,000; Renewal (General) Work Permit (2 years) - to PKG 7,000, from PKG 2,000; Renewal (General) Work Permit (3 years) - to PKG 9,500, from PKG 3,000; Renewal (General) Work Permit (5 years) GCC - to PKG 12,500, from PKG 5,000; Application for Bridging Work Permit - to PKG 250, from PKG 100 ; and Reprint of Work Permit Card/Letter - to PKG 250 (each), from PKG 100 (each). At the time of publication of this update, 1 PNG = 0.29 USD. Additionally, applicants will now be charged additional fees for renewal applications filed less than 7 days prior to the expiration of the current work permit. Lastly, a new Express Processing option allows work permit applications to be processed within three business days for PKG 300.

Saudi Arabia: New Company Requirement to Upload Internal Policies to QIWA Portal – The Ministry of Human Resource and Social Development (MHRSD) issued a new regulation requiring companies in Saudi Arabia to upload a policy detailing all internal policies regulating the company and its employees in Saudi Arabia onto their QIWA portal before June 30, 2020. Companies were notified directly of this new policy by the government authorities. Companies have the option to submit a standard form that is available directly on their QIWA portal or may upload their own version of the internal policy. However, if they upload their own version, it must be reviewed by a lawyer in Saudi Arabia whose law firm has been approved by the MHRSD on the QIWA portal to prepare the final version. Companies who fail to adhere to this new rule by June 30, 2020 may be fined SAR 15,000 by government authorities.

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