Virginia, US

Jun 08 2017

Weekly Immigration Update: June 2 – 8, 2017

Bahrain, Colombia, Denmark, Egypt, France, Ireland, Italy, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Libya, Malaysia, Mauritania, Mauritius, Norway, Panama, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Singapore, Slovak Republic, Tanzania, United Arab Emirates, United States, Venezuela

In United States immigration news this week, the Trump administration has asked the Supreme Court for permission to enforce its entry ban executive order and a ruling next term on the constitutionality of the order. Though federal court injunctions against the entry ban remain in place for now, the Supreme Court could reinstate the executive order as early as this month.

Also in the United States, the Labor Secretary has announced plans to aggressively increase its scrutiny of employer compliance with nonimmigrant program rules, including pursuing criminal fraud and abuse. The State Department began implementing new visa application questions for foreign nationals who are deemed by a U.S. consulate to pose heightened security concerns.

In the Middle East, the entry, residency and transit ban of Qatari nationals and the withdrawal of diplomatic staff from Qatar by Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen has taken effect. Qatari nationals must leave Bahrain and the UAE within 14 days of June 5, 2017. Comoros, Djibouti, Jordan, Libya, Maldives, Mauritania, Mauritius and Senegal have also severed their diplomatic ties with Qatar.

These items and other news from Colombia, Denmark, France, Ireland, Italy, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Norway, Panama, Singapore, Tanzania,  the United Arab Emirates, Venezuela, and the United States follow in this edition of the Fragomen Immigration Update.

Important Updates in Immigration This Week

United States, June 6, 2017
Labor Secretary Announces Increased Civil and Criminal Immigration Enforcement

The agency plans to aggressively increase its scrutiny of employer compliance with nonimmigrant program rules, including pursuing criminal fraud and abuse.

To view entire article, click here.

United States, June 2, 2017
Trump Administration Asks Supreme Court to Allow Implementation of Entry Ban

The Administration has asked the Supreme Court for immediate permission to enforce its entry ban executive order and a ruling in the next term on the legality of the order. Though federal court injunctions against the entry ban remain in place for now, the Supreme Court could reinstate the executive order as early as this month. Until that occurs, nationals of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen can continue to apply for visas and enter the United States but should contact their immigration counsel for updates before traveling.

To view entire article, click here.

United States, June 2, 2017
State Department Implements New Visa Application Questions for Some

Consular officers will have broad authority to flag visa applicants for additional scrutiny.  Applicants may be asked to provide in-depth information on their social media use, travel history, employment history and family, which could lead to additional background checks and visa issuance delays.

To view entire article, click here.

Venezuela, June 8, 2017
Legalization and Notarization Services Suspended

SAREN, the entity in charge of registering and notarizing documents in Venezuela, has suspended all services until further notice. This notification comes after SAREN's offices were set on fire during recent protests.

To view entire article, click here.

Kazakhstan, June 8, 2017
Quota Request Applications Due August 1

Employers seeking to sponsor foreign nationals for employment in 2018 should prepare their quota request as soon as possible. The deadline to submit the 2018 quota request is August 1, 2017.

To view entire article, click here.

Middle East, June 8, 2017
Comoros, Djibouti, Mauritius and Senegal Sever Diplomatic Ties with Qatar

Governments of Comoros, Djibouti, Mauritius and Senegal have joined a number of countries in severing their diplomatic ties with Qatar. The closure of borders with neighboring countries and the withdrawal of the diplomatic staff from various embassies in the region have resulted in restrictions on travel to and from Qatar.

To view entire article, click here.

Slovak Republic, June 8, 2017
Shorter Processing Times Available for Strategic Service Center Residence Permits

Non-EU nationals working for a Strategic Service Center in the Slovak Republic are now eligible for a shorter Residence Permit processing time of 30 calendar days, compared to the standard processing time of 90 calendar days.

To view entire article, click here.

Middle East, June 7, 2017
Jordan, Libya, Maldives and Mauritania Sever Diplomatic Ties with Qatar; Update on Diplomatic Crisis

Governments of Jordan, Libya, Maldives and Mauritania have joined a number of Middle Eastern countries in severing their diplomatic ties with Qatar. The closure of borders with neighboring countries and the withdrawal of the diplomatic staff from various embassies in the region have resulted in restrictions on travel to and from Qatar.

To view entire article, click here.

Colombia, June 7, 2017
Scheduled Audits Continue Throughout 2017

The audit processes started by the Colombian immigration authorities in 2015 will continue throughout this year. The goal is to ensure that all employers sponsoring foreign nationals are in full compliance with immigration laws.

To view entire article, click here.

Ireland, June 6, 2017
Stamp 1G Validity Periods Changed for Foreign National Graduates

Effective immediately, the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service has increased Stamp 1G validity periods for certain students and discontinued Stamp 1G status for others.  Eligible students must apply for the Stamp 1G within six months of being notified by their institution that they have achieved an award and must not exceed the maximum time period allowed to remain in Ireland as students.

To view entire article, click here.

Middle East, June 6, 2017
Entry, Residency and Transit Ban of Qatari Nationals Takes Effect

The entry, residency and transit ban of Qatari nationals and the withdrawal of diplomatic staff from Qatar by Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen  has taken effect. Qatari nationals must leave Bahrain and the UAE within 14 days of June 5, 2017. Multiple UAE and Bahraini airlines have also discontinued air operations with Qatar.

To view entire article, click here.

Singapore, June 6, 2017
Salary Thresholds for Calculating Foreign National Worker Quota Set to Increase

Effective July 1, 2017, the Ministry of Manpower will implement planned increases in the salary thresholds used to categorize local workers as either full-time or part-time employees for purposes of calculating the available foreign national worker quota for employers sponsoring S Pass and Work Permit applications. A further increase is set to take effect next year on the same date.

To view entire article, click here.

Malaysia, June 2, 2017
Employment Pass Applications to Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation Reclassified

Effective September 1, 2017, the Ministry of Home Affairs will reclassify Category I, II and III Employment Pass applications submitted through the Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation.  The new classification system will be based on the foreign national's duration of employment and monthly base salary, to be increased on or after September 1.

To view entire article, click here.

Tanzania, June 2, 2017
Employers To Submit Biannual Returns by June 30

Employers must submit their biannual returns to the Tanzanian Labor Commission by June 30, 2017.  Failure to meet this deadline may directly impact the employers' ability to sponsor foreign nationals.

To view entire article, click here.

Panama, June 2, 2017
Nationals of Colombia, Nicaragua and Venezuela Limited to 90 Days in Business or Tourist Visitor Status

Effective immediately, nationals of Colombia, Nicaragua and Venezuela will be limited to a stay of up to 90 days under the business or tourist visitor status.  This is a reduction from the previous allowable stay of up to 180 days.

To view entire article, click here.

Weekly News Briefs

United States: Downward Trend in H-1B Usage by IT Firms Expected to Continue – New H-1B visas for the top Indian-based companies dropped by 37 percent between fiscal year (FY) 2015 and FY 2016, according to a report by the National Foundation for American Policy, which analyzed data provided by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. The report ascribes the decline in H-1B visa usage to technological changes trending toward digital services requiring fewer workers, and a choice by companies to build up their domestic workforce in the U.S. The decline in new H-1B visas for these companies is expected to continue.

The report also disputes the Trump Administration's claims that high-skilled foreign nationals are preventing U.S. workers from pursuing careers in tech fields. The April 2017 unemployment rate in the U.S. for “computer and mathematical science” occupations was at a very low rate of 2.5 percent, and for “architecture and engineering” occupations was even lower at 2.1 percent, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data.

United States: Latest PERM and PWD Processing Times – As of May 31, 2017, the Department of Labor (DOL) was conducting analyst review for PERM applications filed in March 2017 or earlier, and processing audited cases filed in November 2016 or earlier. There is no update on the government error queue. DOL is working on standard reconsideration requests submitted in May 2017 or earlier.

DOL is issuing prevailing wage determinations (PWD) for PERM and H-1B requests filed in March 2017. The agency has been processing PERM redeterminations requested in March 2017 and H-1B redeterminations requested in May 2017, and PERM and H-1B center director reviews requested in April 2017. 

These reports are available on the iCERT home page.

Denmark:  Stricter Permanent Residency Requirements Introduced – The Danish authorities have introduced stricter requirements for permanent residency. Applicants must now show eight years of legal stay with certain supplementary eligibility criteria, or four years of legal stay with all supplementary eligibility criteria.  Among the stricter supplementary eligibility criteria are requirements for Danish language knowledge and time periods for consecutive full-time employment.

France: New Social Security Requirement for Seconded Employees Forthcoming – The French Labor Code will be modified on July 1, 2017 to include a requirement for employers to declare the country for which social security will be maintained during a foreign national’s secondment to France. Employers will need to confirm that they have completed the forms required to maintain the applicable social security requirements for that country.

Italy: Senate Considers Citizenship Law Reforms – On June 15, 2017, the Italian Senate will consider certain reforms to Italian citizenship regulations. If reforms are approved, EU and non-EU children may acquire citizenship by being born on the Italian territory if at least one of their parents has acquired permanent residence status (Permanent Residence Permit for non-EU nationals or Permanent Right of Residence for EU nationals).  Such children will have two years to apply for citizenship after having compliantly resided in Italy without interruption until reaching 18 years of age.  In addition, EU and non-EU children born in Italy or arriving to Italy before the age of 12 may apply for the citizenship after at least five years of education in Italy.  EU and non-EU children arriving to Italy before the age of 18 may apply for citizenship after compliantly residing in Italy for at least six years and having successfully completed a cycle of education.

Norway: Longer Wait Times for Application Submission, Police Registration Expected This Summer – The summer holiday season will lead to longer wait times for appointments at the Police and Service Center for Foreign Workers. The longer wait times apply to appointments to submit applications, currently operating on a two week delay, as well as appointments for police registrations, currently operating on a two to four week delay, depending on police district.  Foreign nationals should allow for an additional lead time of at least four weeks for end-to-end processing of documents prior to their planned travel dates.

United Arab Emirates: Holders of Qatari Residency Permits Not Eligible for UAE Visit Visas for GCC Residents – Foreign nationals holding a Residence Permit from Qatar are no longer eligible for a UAE Visit E-Visa for Gulf Cooperation Council residents. Visas-on-arrival continue to be issued to eligible foreign nationals, regardless of whether they have a Qatari residence permit or not.  Foreign nationals holding a Residency Permit from Qatar who are not eligible for visa-on-arrival based on their nationality are advised to prearrange their visas in advance or seek out other sponsorship categories.

Venezuela: Personal Appearance Required for Visa Renewal and Passport Recount – A biometric system has been implemented to capture the foreign national's fingerprints and photograph at the time of visa renewal and passport recount (visa transfer from expired passport into a new passport). With this change, foreign nationals with visa renewal and passport recount requests must now appear in person.

Global Immigration News Links

According to a new U.S. Government Accountability Office report, immigration courts over the last decade have taken longer to rule on deportations, asylum claims and other matters despite hiring more judges and more than doubling its annual budget.

In the United Kingdom, the Conservatives have given a general election pledge to get "net migration" - the difference between those coming to the UK and those leaving - down to "tens of thousands a year", BBC reports.

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