Virginia, US

Mar 23 2018

Weekly Immigration Update: March 16 – 22, 2018

Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, European Union, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Nigeria, Peru, Poland, Republic of the Philippines, Russia, Slovak Republic, Sweden, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States, Venezuela

In United States immigration news this week, USCIS will temporarily suspend premium processing of all fiscal year 2019 H-1B cap filings starting April 2, 2018.  The suspension is expected to last until September 10, 2018. 

The United Kingdom and European Union have agreed that free movement rights and related citizens' rights will continue to apply during the Brexit transition period, March 29, 2019 through December 31, 2020. Sweden has created a new permit type to implement the EU Intracompany Transferee (ICT) Directive. Ireland will soon introduce a number of changes to its Employment Permit rules.

Australia has released details on its new Temporary Visa and Permanent Residence programs.

The Philippines will impose additional requirements for Alien Employment Permit applications.

The Slovak Parliament has passed an amendment that will reform numerous immigration rules effective May 1.

Nigeria will be implementing restrictions aimed at preventing marriages to Nigerian nationals strictly for the purposes of obtaining a Nigerian residence permit.

These items and other news from Belgium, Costa Rica, European Union, Israel, Italy, Latin America, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Poland, Russia, Ukraine, United Kingdom and the United States follow in this edition of the Fragomen Immigration Update.

 

Important Updates in Immigration This Week

United States, March 20, 2018
USCIS to Temporarily Suspend Premium Processing of FY 2019 H-1B Cap Petitions

USCIS will temporarily suspend premium processing of all FY 2019 H-1B cap filings starting April 2, 2018.  The suspension is expected to last until September 10, 2018.  The agency has indicated that it will continue to accept premium processing requests for non-cap H-1B cases, such as extensions and most changes of employer.

To view entire article, click here.

 

Ireland, March 22, 2018
Employment Contract Required; Other Changes to Employment Permit System

Effective March 26, 2018, Ireland will introduce a number of changes to Employment Permit rules:

  • Signed employment contracts will be required for all initial and renewal Employment Permit applications; 
  • The list of ineligible occupations will no longer apply to applications for Intra-Company Transfer Employment Permits; and
  • More highly-skilled occupations will be introduced.


To view entire article, click here.

 

European Union, March 22, 2018
European Labour Authority Proposed

The European Commission has proposed to establish a European Labour Authority to provide better access to information, promote cooperation, and facilitate joint inspections for compliance in the fields of labour mobility (including posted workers) and social security in the European Union. 

To view entire article, click here.

 

Philippines, March 22, 2018
Additional Requirements for Alien Employment Permit Applications

  • Starting April 2, 2018, the Department of Labor and Employment will require employers to submit new application forms and additional corporate documents for Alien Employment Permit applications.
  • To avoid delays, employers should submit the additional corporate documents to Fragomen as soon as possible and should contact their Fragomen immigration professional if they need assistance in obtaining documents. 


To view entire article, click here.

 

Costa Rica, March 21, 2018
Immigration Authorities to Enforce Penalties and Bans on Overstayers

According to a published announcement on the immigration authority's website, effective April 20, 2018, immigration authorities will enforce the rule for many categories of foreign nationals who leave Costa Rica after their authorized period of stay to face either a fine or a travel ban.

To view entire article, click here.

 

Sweden, March 21, 2018
ICT Directive Implemented

Sweden has created a new permit type to implement the EU Intracompany Transferee (ICT) Directive. 

To view entire article, click here.

 

Guatemala, March 20, 2018
Most Venezuelan Nationals Now Require Consulted Visa

  • Effective immediately, Venezuelan nationals traveling to Guatemala for all purposes who do not hold a Guatemalan residence permit must obtain a consulted visa prior to traveling. Previously, Venezuelan nationals were visa exempt. 
  • The process for obtaining a consulted visa is burdensome and can take from six to eight months. 


To view entire article, click here.

 

Poland/Russia, March 20, 2018
Polish Visa Application Centers in Russia Suspend Services

Visa Application Centers in Russia servicing visa applications to Poland have suspended their services effective March 20, 2018 for an unknown duration. Pending applications as of this date will be processed normally. Going forward, applicants in Russia must file their Polish visa applications at a Polish consulate until the suspension is lifted. 

To view entire article, click here.

 

Nigeria, March 20, 2018
Restrictions on Marriage to Nigerian Nationals Forthcoming

Nigerian Immigration authorities have announced that they will be implementing restrictions aimed at preventing marriages to Nigerian nationals strictly for the purposes of obtaining a Nigerian residence permit.

To view entire article, click here.

 

Australia, March 20, 2018
Details Released on New Temporary Visa and Permanent Residence Programs

The Australian government has released the following key guidelines, legislation and formal written policy regarding the new Temporary Skill Shortage Visa, the Permanent Employer Sponsored Scheme and the Global Talent Scheme Visa:

  • Labor market test rules and exemptions; 
  • Transitional measures for subclass 457 visa holders and applicants who held or had applied for their subclass 457 visas prior to April 18, 2017; and
  • Details on the Global Talent Scheme, planned as a pilot starting July 1, 2018.


To view entire article, click here.

 

United Kingdom/European Union, March 19, 2018
Free Movement to Continue During Transition Period

The United Kingdom and European Union have agreed that free movement rights and related citizens' rights will continue to apply during the Brexit transition period, March 29, 2019 through December 31, 2020. 

To view entire article, click here.

 

Slovak Republic, March 19, 2018
Amendment to Reform Numerous Immigration Rules

The Slovak Parliament has passed an amendment effective May 1, 2018 that will create:

  • A labor market test waiver for some Single Permit seekers;
  • A foreign worker hiring ban for employers who have violated immigration laws;
  • A requirement for Slovak companies to obtain accommodation for their sponsored posted workers and visa-exempt non-EU workers; and
  • New documentary requirements for non-EU nationals moving from another EU country to provide services in Slovakia.


To view entire article, click here.

 

Italy, March 19, 2018
In-Country EU Intracompany Transferee Process Inconsistently Followed

  • Authorities in Italy are applying different processes for the in-country steps of the recently implemented EU Intracompany Transferee (ICT) Directive, with some regions not following the process established in the legislation.  
  • As a result, Fragomen will provide specific assessments on a case-by-case basis during the in-country process depending on the region of filing. 


To view entire article, click here.

 

Italy, March 19, 2018
Italian Tax Code Number Now Required for Dependents Prior to Fingerprinting in Some Regions

  • In certain regions in Italy, authorities have recently started requesting non-EU dependents of work permit holders to obtain an Italian Tax Code number prior to filing their Permit of Stay application. 
  • If the Tax Code number is not obtained, rescheduling the fingerprinting appointment can put the dependent at risk of application rejections or further travel restrictions.


To view entire article, click here.

 

Australia, March 17, 2018
Temporary Skill Shortage Visa and Related Reforms to Take Effect March 18

  • The regulations to implement the new Temporary Skill Shortage visa and restrict the permanent employer sponsored programs have now been registered and will take effect March 18, 2018. 
  • After March 18, subclass 457 visa applications will no longer be accepted.  


To view entire article, click here.

 

Weekly News Briefs

United States: USCIS Unveils Pilot Program to Improve Processing Time Information – A new USCIS pilot webpage uses updated technologies to advise applicants whether an application is outside of normal processing times for Form N-400, Application for Naturalization; Form I-90, Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card; Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status; and Form I-751, Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence. This update comes in the wake of a DHS Office of Inspector General (OIG) report, which recommended that USCIS clarify green card application processing information on its website. USCIS previously provided processing times information online, but the information did not reflect actual adjudication times.

The pilot page provides an estimated processing time range for each of the four forms, from a low end—the time it takes to process 50% of cases, to a high end—the time it takes to process 93% of cases. If an applicant’s receipt date is before the “case inquiry date” indicated on the page, applicants may either submit an online service request for a case that is “outside normal processing time” or call USCIS’s contact center at 1-800-375-5283. USCIS is seeking user feedback during this test phase and is expected to expand the improved processing time methodology to additional forms in the future.

Belgium: Update on Single Permit Implementation – Belgian federal and regional parliaments have approved the cooperation agreement, the preliminary step required to allow Single Permits to be issued. The Flemish government has now drafted further implementing legislation, and will gather legislative advice before submitting this to parliament. The Brussels and Walloon governments are still working on draft legislation. An EU Directive required all EU countries to create a Single Permit by December 2013 to reduce the administrative burden of immigration applications that required a separate residence permit and work permit.

European Union: Progress Toward Revising Posted Worker Directive – Negotiators from the European Parliament and Council of Ministers agreed on revising the EU Posted Worker Directive, to ensure equal pay for equal work and better working conditions for employees temporarily working in another EU country. Key changes include:

  • Applying full host salary thresholds to posted workers, rather than minimum salary thresholds;
  • Limiting the maximum duration of the posting to 12 months, extendable once by six months, after which the host country's employment conditions would apply.


To become effective, the revisions must be formally approved by the full European Parliament and Council of Ministers. This is expected to happen by June 2018. EU countries would then have another two years to convert the rules into national legislation.

Israel: Holiday Closure to Delay Application Processing – Government authorities in Israel and some Israeli consulates will not process immigration applications from March 30 up to and including April 8, 2018 due to the Passover holiday. Foreign nationals and employers should check with their Israeli consulate for closure information and should account for potential start date delays due to the closures.

Latin America: Government Closures During Easter Week – Due to the observance of Easter Week, government offices in the following countries will be closed according to the below schedule:

  • Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Mexico and Peru: Closed Thursday, March 29 and Friday, March 30.
  • Chile: Open half day on Thursday, March 29 and closed on Friday, March 30.
  • Venezuela: Closed Monday, March 26 through Friday, March 30.


Foreign nationals and employers should expect that government offices in other Latin American countries may be closed on Thursday, March 29 and Friday, March 30.

Luxembourg: Birth Certificate Requirement Waived for Fragomen Clients – Based on its working relationship with the Luxembourg immigration authorities, Fragomen has negotiated that effective immediately, birth certificates are no longer required for immigration applications for Fragomen clients, for both principal applicants and dependent family members. The authorities have announced to Fragomen they will propose an amendment by Decree as well, in order to waive the requirement for the general population in the near future.

Russia: First Quarter Salary Notifications for Highly Qualified Specialists Due by April 30, 2018 – Employers must file first quarter notifications for salaries paid out to highly-qualified specialists (HQS) by April 30, 2018. The notification must state the salaries paid to HQS from January 1, 2018 through March 31, 2018. The reported salary amount should be no less than the minimum for HQS of RUB 167,000 per calendar month; or RUB 501,000 per quarter (if there was a break in work during the reported period). Violations of the established notification procedures, including failure to notify, will result in administrative fines for the employer.

Russia/United Kingdom: Visa Processing Times May Increase – Following the expulsion of Russian diplomats from the United Kingdom, which included consular staff, the Russian Embassy in London has announced that processing times for visa applications to Russia filed in the United Kingdom may increase. Processing times may increase to three business days under expedited processing (up from one) and 20 business days under regular processing (up from five).

Ukraine: Macedonian and UAE Nationals Eligible for Visa Exemptions – Ukraine has extended the visa-free arrangement for Macedonian nationals until March 15, 2019, allowing Macedonian nationals to continue to travel to Ukraine for business and tourism for multiple entries for up to 90 days in a 180-day period.

Additionally, UAE nationals can now travel to Ukraine for business and tourism for multiple entries for up to 90 days in a 180-day period. UAE nationals were already eligible for a visa-on-arrival for trips up to 15 days, as well as for e-visa for up to 30 days, but can now benefit from a more longer visa-free stay.

United Kingdom: Croatian Nationals to Become Work Permit Exempt in JulyAccording to a written statement to UK Parliament by the UK Immigration Minister, Croatian nationals will be exempt from the work permit requirement in the United Kingdom starting July 2018.  Currently, Croatian nationals require a Purple Registration Card to work in the United Kingdom for more than three months, with limited exceptions, which typically requires employer sponsorship. Current restrictions will end on June 30 2018 and, starting July 2018, Croatian nationals will enjoy the same rights as other EU nationals, and will be able to voluntarily register with the UK Home Office to prepare for Brexit.

United Kingdom: Visa and Immigration Fees to Increase – The UK Home Office has announced that government filing fees for visas and immigration are expected to increase effective April 6, 2018. Fees for work visas, family visas and immigration permits will increase by four percent. Optional priority visa services will increase by 15 percent. Sponsor license fees remain unchanged.

 

Global Immigration News Links

  • USCIS’s decision to suspend premium processing for H-1B cap-subject petitions until September 10 is contrary to the agency’s earlier indications that any delay in premium service would be brief, Bloomberg reports.
  • The Trump Administration's tough stance on immigration has made the census more difficult and expensive, Bloomberg reports.
  • Kosovo ratified a border deal with Montenegro, a key condition towards visa free access to the European Union, Reuters 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.