Mar 25 2021

Weekly Immigration Update: March 19–25, 2021

Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bermuda, Cameroon, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Czech Republic, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, India, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Kuwait, Latvia, Lesotho, Macau, Mexico, Montenegro, Morocco, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Portugal, Republic of the Philippines, Romania, Slovak Republic, Switzerland, Taiwan, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States

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 COVID-19 website for the latest immigration updates.
  • United States: U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has closed the FY 2022 H-1B cap registration period and will soon conduct two lotteries to select enough registrations to meet the annual H-1B quota of 85,000. The agency will notify employers of lottery results by March 31 and begin accepting H-1B cap petitions on behalf of selected beneficiaries on April 1. In connection with the COVID-19 emergency, USCIS is extending its deadline extension policy for responses to agency actions through June 30. 
  • Ireland: Effective March 26 at 04:00 (local time in Ireland), Ireland will require some travelers to quarantine in a government facility upon arrival.
  • United Kingdom: The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) has launched a public consultation for employers to share information about their usage of the Intra Company Transfer (ICT) route versus the new Skilled Worker route, as well as minimum skill and salary levels for the route. The consultation closes June 15. Employers interested in including their feedback in a submission should contact their Fragomen immigration provider.
  • Saudi Arabia: The Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development published additional details related to the implementation of the Labor Reform Initiative Program, which went into effect on March 14. The new details address process requirements for employment sponsorship transfers, Exit Re-Entry Visas and Final Exit Permits.
  • France: Starting April 1, the Labour offices (DIRECCTE) will no longer process work permit applications for foreign nationals and instead, employers will need to submit work permit applications on a new online system.
  • United Arab Emirates: A forthcoming Remote Working Visa is expected to allow foreign nationals to live and work from anywhere in the United Arab Emirates for one year while remaining employed by their home country employer.



These items and other news from Australia, Azerbaijan, Costa Rica, Dominica, India, Iraq, Israel, Mexico, Pakistan, and the United Arab Emirates follow in this edition of the Fragomen Immigration Update.

 

Important updates in immigration this week



United States, March 25, 2021

FY 2022 H-1B Registration Period Closes; USCIS Expected to Conduct Selection Lotteries and Notify Employers By March 31

  • The H-1B cap registration period for FY 2022 closed today at noon EDT. No further registrations are being accepted.
  • In the coming days, USCIS is expected to conduct lotteries to select enough registrations to meet the FY 2022 quota of 85,000.
  • USCIS has said that it expects to notify employers of lottery results by March 31. Selection notices this year should indicate whether the registration was selected under the regular or the advanced degree quota.
  • The agency will accept H-1B cap petitions on behalf of selected beneficiaries for at least 90 days, beginning April 1.



To view entire article, click here.

 

United States, March 24, 2021

USCIS Extends Existing COVID-19 Accommodations on RFEs, NOIDs, Appeals and Other Responses Through June 30, 2021

  • Due to the ongoing COVID-19 emergency, USCIS is extending its 60-day deadline extension policy through June 30, 2021.
  • Petitioners and applicants will have an additional 60 days to respond to requests for evidence, notices of intent to deny or revoke, notices of intent to terminate EB-5 regional investment centers and certain other notices dated between March 1, 2020 and June 30, 2021.
  • Employers and foreign nationals will also have 60, rather than 30, days to file any appeal or motion to reopen a USCIS decision that was issued between March 1, 2020 and June 30, 2021. 



To view entire article, click here.

 

United Kingdom, March 24, 2021

Call for Evidence Launched on Intra-Company Transfer Route

  • The Migration Advisory Committee has launched a call for evidence from employers and representative organisations on the Intra-Company Transfer route.
  • The consultation closes June 15, 2021. Employers interested in including their feedback in a submission should contact their Fragomen immigration provider.

 

To view entire article, click here.

 

France, March 23, 2021

New Work Permit Application Online Platforms Forthcoming

  • The French government has created seven online platforms to process work permit applications. The website is not yet active but updates are expected in the coming weeks.
  • Starting April 1, 2021, employers will need to submit work permit applications online on the relevant platform, which will have new documentation requirements which the government has not yet announced.
  • Employers should anticipate a transition period during which affected work permit processing times will increase due to implementation of the platforms.

 

To view entire article, click here.

 

Ireland, March 23, 2021

COVID-19 Update - Hotel Quarantine Requirement Forthcoming

  • Effective March 26, 2021, 04:00 (local time in Ireland), travelers from high-risk countries and quarantine-required travelers from other locations without a negative COVID-19 PCR test result will need to quarantine in a government facility.
  • Affected travelers who seek to enter Ireland without a pre-booked hotel reservation using the designated government website are subject to penalties.

 

To view entire article, click here.

 

United Arab Emirates, March 23, 2021

Remote Working Visa to be Introduced

  • A new Remote Working Visa will allow foreign nationals to live and work from anywhere in the United Arab Emirates for one year while remaining employed by their home country employer. The government has not announced when the visa will be implemented.
  • The visa will not require local sponsorship, as most work visas in the United Arab Emirates.
  • The new visa category will supplement the existing remote work scheme for Dubai, which was launched in October 2020.

 

To view entire article, click here.

 

Saudi Arabia, March 23, 2021

Additional Details Released on Labor Reform Initiative for the Private Sector

  • The Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development published additional details related to the implementation of the Labor Reform Initiative Program, which went into effect on March 14, 2021.
  • The new details address process requirements for employment sponsorship transfers, Exit Re-Entry Visas and Final Exit Permits.
  • The implementation of the Labor Reform initiative is expected to increase transparency in Saudi Arabia’s employment and immigration environments and allow for greater mobility of workers.

 

To view entire article, click here.

 

Australia, March 22, 2021

Reminders for Short-Term Stream Renewals and Cessation of Transitional Provisions

This alert is a reminder about key provisions that apply to commonly-held immigration statuses in Australia:

  • Certain ‘short-term’ stream applicants who held more than one short-term stream Temporary Skills Shortage visa must be physically outside of Australia to submit a Temporary Skill Shortage visa application. Fragomen is currently liaising with the government to consider a concession for affected applicants, who may have difficulty leaving and re-entering Australia due to COVID-19 travel restrictions.
  • Certain permanent residence applicants through the Employer Nomination Scheme will no longer be able to benefit from transitional arrangements for current or former Subclass 457 visas starting March 18, 2022.

 

To view entire article, click here.

 

United States, March 22, 2021

April 2021 Visa Bulletin Update: USCIS to Honor Final Action Dates for Employment-Based Categories

Next month, USCIS will accept employment-based adjustment of status applications from foreign nationals with a priority date that is earlier than the Final Action Dates listed in the State Department’s April 2021 Visa Bulletin.

To view entire article, click here.

 

Other weekly news briefs



Australia: Interim Report on Skilled Migration Published – The Joint Standing Committee on Migration presented its interim report for its inquiry into Australia’s Skilled Migration Program, which makes recommendations focused on the recovery from the economic effects of COVID-19 in Australia. Fragomen provided a submission and was referenced in the interim report recommendations, which included the expansion of the Priority Migration Skilled Occupation List and the streamlining of Labour Market Testing requirements, among others. Fragomen will make further submissions to address the remaining terms of reference of the Inquiry into Skilled Migration, which includes consideration of the skills lists and the extent to which they are meeting the needs of business and the administrative requirements for Australian businesses seeking to sponsor skilled migrants. Fragomen invites companies to contribute to the inquiry, which is open until March 31, 2021. If you would like to contribute, please contact [email protected]. MARN: 0004980

AzerbaijanQuota Reports for Future Foreign Workforce Due May 1 – As a reminder, companies intending to hire foreign workers in Azerbaijan in 2022 must submit quota reports to the State Migration Service by May 1, 2021. The quota report must be in Azerbaijani and should estimate the number of foreign workers required through 2022. A special commission will review the reports and will submit a quota proposal to the government by September 1, 2021. Companies are advised to seek immigration support for quota submissions.

Costa Rica: Electronic Platform Expanded to Include Accredited Company Immigration Applications – The General Immigration Directorate (DGME) has expanded its Tramite¡YA! electronic platform to include accredited company applications. Accredited companies can now submit initial immigration applications (such as Temporary Residence Permit, short-stay visa and change of employer applications) for employees and their dependents online, instead of having to schedule an appointment at the DGME where the wait time is currently up to five months. Though foreign nationals who file their immigration applications online generally do not need to appear before immigration officials (to submit biometrics or register with their home consulate, as is required when submitting applications in person), it is not yet clear whether accredited-company temporary residence applicants who apply online will be exempt from the in-person biometrics requirement. Affected applicants should work with their immigration professional to determine the required steps until the DGME provides further details. As a reminder, residents and special category or short-stay visa holders should continue to file their identity card renewal requests at a Banco de Costa Rica or Correos de Costa Rica branch.

Dominica: Remote Work Visa Introduced – Dominica has introduced the Work in Nature (WIN) Extended Stay Visa, which allows foreign nationals to reside in Dominica for up to 18 months while working remotely from there for companies or individuals outside Dominica. The visa does not allow gainful employment in Dominica. According to the WIN program website, principal applicants must be at least 18 years old and provide evidence of an expected annual income of at least USD 50,000 or that they have the means to support themselves and their family during their stay. Applicants and their family members must have health insurance coverage valid in Dominica, and those over the age of 18 must submit police records from their countries of residence in the past five years, among other requirements.   

India: Integration of Passport Services in DigiLocker Platform – Indian citizens may now submit documents required for passport services online through the DigiLocker Platform, where they had to previously submit physical documents with their passport services and applications. Under the new platform, the government can now issue and verify documents and certificates digitally without the use of physical documents. Further, the Indian government is developing e-passports, which is expected to benefit citizens by increasing security and accessibility under the Passport Seva Programme V2.0, through which the government has already integrated 150 Indian consular posts in foreign countries since 2020. A microchip embedded in the passport will hold all information related to the holder’s biometric data, as well as security features that will disallow unauthorized data transfer.

Iraq: New Visitor Visa-on-Arrival Available for Citizens of Select Countries – Effective immediately, citizens of the following countries can obtain a visa-on-arrival for stays of up to 60 days in Iraq: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, China, Cyprus, Czechia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, New Zealand, Russia, South Korea, Switzerland, United Kingdom and the United States. It is expected that foreign nationals under visa-on-arrival status will be able to conduct certain business activities, such as attending meetings and exploring investment opportunities, although a list of permissible or prohibited activities has not been issued yet. Individuals must pay a fee of USD 75 at a visa counter prior to approaching passport control officers upon arrival. The visa is for a single-entry and cannot be converted into a residence permit. It is not clear if visa-on-arrival holders can obtain a security pass to access oil and gas fields and similar restricted sites. Previously, visitors had to obtain a pre-arranged visa through the Iraqi consular post, based on an invitation letter from an entity in Iraq.

Israel: Upcoming Government Closures – The Israeli government offices will be closed from March 28-April 4, 2021 due to the Passover holiday. During this time, immigration officers will not adjudicate work permits or visa applications. Israeli consular posts abroad will either suspend their operations or limit processing. Foreign nationals may experience processing and issuance delays following the closures.

Mexico: Corporate Registration Update Reminder – As a reminder, employers registered with the National Immigration Institute (INM) must submit updated annual tax returns to the INM every year to renew their Corporate Registration Certificate. Employers that fail to renew their Corporate Registration Certificate by April 30, 2021 may be unable to continue sponsoring foreign nationals for initial or renewed temporary residence visas. Along with filing mandatory annual tax returns (which companies must submit to the tax administration service – SAT – by March 31, 2021), employers should also notify the INM of any changes in their legal representatives, registered address, branches, legal name, tax identification number or corporate purpose, if applicable, to keep their corporate file up-to-date. It currently takes the INM from one to eight weeks to process a corporate registration update application, during which time the INM may conduct an unannounced site visit to confirm a company's existence and operation.

Pakistan: Elimination of Consular Process for Work Visa Applicants – Effective immediately, foreign nationals seeking employment in Pakistan are no longer required to obtain their visa through a Pakistani consular post abroad, due to a change by the Ministry of Interior. The new process requires employers filing a work visa application through the online visa system and to submit supporting documents at the Board of Investment in Pakistan. Once approved, the foreign national will be issued an electronic single-entry visa valid to enter Pakistan, which must be used within 30 days of issuance. Once in Pakistan, foreign nationals seeking long-term employment and residence must extend and convert their entry visa into a multiple-entry visa for work, valid for one or two years. The foreign national must stay in Pakistan throughout the process, which should be completed no later than 30 days prior to the expiry date of the entry visa. Foreign nationals seeking to exit Pakistan prior to the expiry of their single-entry visa must apply for a new entry visa outside Pakistan to re-enter the country. The new process is expected to expedite the immigration process and allow foreign nationals faster entry into Pakistan for short or long-term work.

United Arab Emirates: Five-Year Multiple-Entry Visa for Tourism Forthcoming – Foreign nationals traveling to the United Arab Emirates for tourism will soon be able to obtain a multiple-entry visit visa valid for five years. The visa will not require local sponsorship and will be available to all nationalities, allowing foreign nationals an additional longer stay option. Visa holders will be able to stay in the United Arab Emirates for up to 90 days with the possibility of a one-time in-country extension for an additional 90 days. There is currently a multiple-entry visa option available for stays of 30 or 90 days. It is not yet clear if activities other than tourism will be allowed under this new visa category. Additional details are expected in the next few weeks.

Worldwide: Government Closures During Easter Week – Due to the observance of Easter week, government offices in the following countries will be closed as follows:

  • Argentina, Colombia, Mexico and Peru: closed April 1-2.
  • Brazil: government offices (including the Federal Police) in Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro closed March 26–April 4.
  • Canada, Chile and Ecuador: closed April 2.
  • Panama: expected to close early or entirely on April 1; closed April 2.
  • Costa Rica: immigration office only open for previously-scheduled appointments March 29–31; closed April 1–2.
  • Dominican Republic: open half day on April 1; closed April 2.
  • Trinidad and Tobago: closed March 30; April 2; and April 5.
  • Guatemala: closed March 30–April 2.

 

Foreign nationals and employers should expect that government offices in other countries may be closed on these dates.

 

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