Virginia, US

Mar 30 2018

Weekly Immigration Update: March 23 - 29, 2018

Canada, Chile, European Union, Greece, Hong Kong, Ireland, Oman, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Slovak Republic, South Africa, Switzerland, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States

In United States immigration news, President Trump signed an appropriations bill that funds the federal government through Fiscal Year 2018. The bill reauthorizes E-Verify, the EB-5 Regional Center Program and other expiring immigration programs without change through September 30, 2018. 

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is scheduled to roll out an L-1 pilot program where Canadian citizens seeking L-1 admission at Blaine, Washington ports of entry must first file their petitions with USCIS's California Service Center. Also in the United States, ICE Student and Exchange Visitor Program has launched a voluntary tool that allows F-1 students on post-completion Optional Practical Training (OPT) and STEM OPT to meet certain legal reporting obligations.

In Canada, the Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program has issued Notifications of Interest under the Human Capital Priorities stream to targeted foreign nationals in the Express Entry pool.

A new Tech Visa in Chile allows foreign workers in technology companies to obtain approval within 15 business days of application filing.

In the European Union, the European Council has published guidelines advising EU and UK negotiators on what the future EU-UK relationship following Brexit should include. In the United Kingdom, the Migration Advisory Committee published an interim report summarizing concerns expressed by stakeholders on the decrease of European Economic Area (EEA) workers in the United Kingdom after Brexit. Also in the United Kingdom, the monthly quota for non-EEA nationals sponsored under the Tier 2 (General) Visa category was exceeded for the fourth time.

Ireland is inviting submissions from representative bodies and interested parties regarding the content of the guiding principles for Ireland's Economic Migration policy.

These items and other news from Greece, Hong Kong, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Slovak Republic, South Africa, Switzerland, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates and the United States follow in this edition of the Fragomen Immigration Update.

 

Important Updates in Immigration This Week

United States, March 28, 2018

USCIS Announces Pilot Program for Canadian L-1 Applicants at Blaine, Washington Ports of Entry

  • Beginning April 30, Canadian citizens seeking L-1 admission at Blaine, Washington ports of entry must first file their petitions with USCIS's California Service Center.
  • The pilot program may later be expanded to other points of entry as well as other immigration categories. 



To view entire article, click here.

 

United States, March 26, 2018

ICE Launches Reporting System for F-1 Students on OPT

The ICE Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) has launched the SEVP Portal, a tool that allows F-1 students on post-completion Optional Practical Training (OPT) and STEM OPT to meet certain legal reporting obligations. Use of the tool is voluntary.



To view entire article, click here.

 

United States, March 23, 2018

FY 2018 Spending Bill Reauthorizes Key Immigration Programs, Limited H-2B Cap Relief

  • President Trump has signed an appropriations bill that funds the federal government through Fiscal Year 2018.
  • The bill reauthorizes E-Verify, the EB-5 Regional Center Program and other expiring immigration programs without change through September 30, 2018. 
  • The bill also authorizes DHS to provide additional H-2B cap numbers in this fiscal year if it determines that there are not enough U.S. workers to meet the needs of businesses. 

 

To view entire article, click here.

 

Canada, March 29, 2018

Notifications of Interest Issued for an Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program Stream

The Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program has issued Notifications of Interest under the Human Capital Priorities stream to targeted individuals in the Express Entry pool. Foreign nationals who receive a Notification of Interest have a greater chance of receiving an invitation to apply for permanent residence.

To view entire article, click here.

 

Slovak Republic, March 28, 2018

National Intracompany Transferee Permit to be Retired

Effective May 1, 2018, the national Intracompany Transfer (ICT) permit will be retired in the Slovak Republic, according to new Slovakian legislation. Foreign nationals who wish to apply for an ICT permit will be able to apply for a local hire permit (Single Permit) and may be able to apply for the new EU ICT permit that was implemented in July 2017.

To view entire article, click here.

 

United Kingdom, March 28, 2018

Interim Report on European Economic Area Workers

The Migration Advisory Committee published an interim report that summarises concerns expressed by stakeholders on the decrease of European Economic Area (EEA) workers in the United Kingdom after Brexit. Key concerns included the following: 

  • Necessary skills are scarce in the UK workforce;
  • Supply of UK staff is insufficient; 
  • EEA workers are more reliable and flexible than non-EEA workers; and
  • EEA workers are more willing to take up unappealing work.



To view entire article, click here.

 

Ireland, March 28, 2018

Public Consultation for Economic Migration Policies

Irish authorities are conducting a review of the economic migration policies that underpin the employment permit system. As part of the review, the authorities are inviting submissions from representative bodies and interested parties regarding the content of the guiding principles for Ireland's Economic Migration policy.

To view entire article, click here.

 

Oman, March 28, 2018

Labor Market Test to be Required for Oil and Gas Sector Employees

Employers in Oman will soon require pre-approval from the Ministry of Oil and Gas before filing labour clearance requests at the Ministry of Manpower to hire foreign workers in the oil and gas sector. 

To view entire article, click here.

 

Hong Kong, March 28, 2018

Smart Identity Cards to be Replaced

The Hong Kong Immigration Department has announced that by the end of 2018, all smart identity cards for temporary and permanent residents will be replaced by new versions with enhanced security features and a design that protects against forgery and counterfeiting.

To view entire article, click here.

 

European Union/United Kingdom, March 27, 2018

European Council Advises Framework for Future Relationship Following Brexit

The European Council has published guidelines advising EU and UK negotiators that the future relationship between the European Union and United Kingdom following Brexit should include: 

  • Ambitious EU-UK immigration provisions;
  • Coordinated social security rules; and
  • Coordinated rules on educational and professional qualifications.

 

To view entire article, click here.

 

Chile, March 26, 2018

Streamlined Visa Program for Technology Company Workers Now Available

A new Tech Visa allows foreign workers in technology companies in Chile to obtain approval within 15 business days of application filing, cutting months off the processing time of other existing visa processes for similar foreign workers.

To view entire article, click here.

 

United Kingdom, March 26, 2018

Tier 2 General Cap Reached for the Fourth Time

As predicted, the monthly quota for non-European Economic Area nationals sponsored under the Tier 2 (General) Visa category has been exceeded again. Only prioritised applications for this category have been granted. 

To view entire article, click here.

 

Weekly News Briefs

United States: Termination of Deferred Enforced Departure for Liberians – President Trump has issued a memo directing DHS to terminate Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) for Liberians, effective March 31, 2019. A 12-month wind-down period will begin on March 31, 2018, during which time current Liberian beneficiaries of DED who have continuously resided in the United States since October 1, 2002 may remain in the United States and will continue to hold employment authorization. USCIS will automatically extend until September 30, 2018 employment authorization documents (EADs) for current Liberian DED beneficiaries with EADs bearing a March 31, 2018 expiration date, but beneficiaries will need to apply for employment authorization for the final six months. DHS is scheduled to publish a notice in today’s Federal Register providing instructions for eligible Liberians on how to apply for the full extension of employment authorization. 

The wind-down period and continued work authorization will not apply to certain Liberians who are ineligible for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) due to findings of guilt for certain crime convictions; or whose presence or activities in the U.S. have been found to be adverse to U.S. interests; or who have voluntarily returned to Liberia or their last country of habitual residence outside of the United States; or who were deported, excluded, or removed before March 27, 2018; or who are subject to extradition.

Certain nationals of Liberia have been eligible for TPS or DED since March 1991. President Clinton first authorized a one-year period of DED for Liberians in 1999, and it has since been extended multiple times. Most recently, President Obama extended Liberian DED and employment authorization from October 1, 2016 through March 31, 2018. 

Greece: Work Authorization Waiver for EU Permit Holders – Effective immediately, foreign workers with a valid work and residence permit issued in another EU country only require a posted worker notification to work and stay in Greece for up to 90 days. The notification must be filed before the start of work in Greece. Previously, foreign workers were required to obtain a Greek long-term work visa, since these could not be issued for a period less than 90 days. As this was a potential restraint on free movement of workers (a founding principle of EU law), Greece has decided to implement this broad work authorization waiver to prevent a conflict with EU law. 

Saudi Arabia: Government-Contract-Based Employers May Benefit From Compensation –  Employers involved in government projects approved before December 2016 may benefit from compensation from the Ministry of Finance for the increased fees they are subject to for hiring foreign workers. Further details of the program are yet to be announced. As background, since January 2018, employers in Saudi Arabia must pay a monthly fee for each foreign employee under their sponsorship. The amount is higher for companies with a foreign headcount larger than the number of Saudis, and reduced for those where the total number of Saudis is greater than the foreign national headcount. More details about the compensation are expected to be available shortly. Interested employers should contact their immigration professional for more information. 

South Africa: Electronic Visa Process Pilot Forthcoming – The Department of Home Affairs (DHA) confirmed that the first phase of the e-visa system will be piloted by March 31, 2019. The system is expected to streamline the permit and visa application system. The DHA indicated that the first phase will include applications for temporary residence visas, adjudication of temporary residence visas, applications for waivers, and for notifying applicants of progress of their case and capturing biometrics. The e-visa process will be piloted at one mission or local office (location yet to be announced) to test stability before rolling the system out further.

Switzerland: Increased Scrutiny of Temporary Employee Arrangements – The State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) in Switzerland has increased its scrutiny on staff lending arrangements, i.e. staff arrangements involving employers sending their employees to another company in Switzerland, where the receiving entity can provide instructions to those employees similar to a normal employment relationship. The receiving entity requires a special permit for this arrangement and must pay a one-off deposit of CHF 50,000 to guarantee social security contributions. The receiving entity must also comply with employment conditions per any applicable collective employment agreements – including minimum wage rules. 

As background, companies are increasingly using this staff lending arrangement in an attempt to avoid paying minimum wage and social security contributions. SECO aims to ensure minimum wage and social security compliance. SECO has instructed cantonal authorities to enforce these regulations. 

Ukraine/Russia: Travel Registration Proposal to be Introduced – Ukraine will introduce legislation that would require prior travel registration for nationals from ‘migration risk countries’ – including Russia, a newly-added country.  It is not yet clear what form the registration system would take or when the system would be operational. This registration system would be part of a number of stricter entry rules for some nationalities announced last September, including the changeover to a biometric entry process

United Arab Emirates: Nigerian Employment Residence Permit Applicants Subject to Consular Process – Effective immediately, Nigerian nationals applying for a new employment residence permit sponsored by a company in the Jebel Ali Free Zone (JAFZA) must process their immigration application through a designated UAE visa service centre in Abuja in order to obtain an entry visa. This will take longer and will likely increase the cost of the recruitment process. Nigerian nationals should ensure that they have additional blank pages in their passport for endorsement of the entry visa, residence visa and entry stamps. Those residing in a third country (including another GCC member state) will be required to travel to Nigeria to complete their medical examination and apply for the entry visa. Applications for Nigerian nationals who are in the United Arab Emirates (e.g. on a visit visa) are currently not impacted by this change. It is expected that similar process will soon be implemented in other jurisdictions within the United Arab Emirates. 

 

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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.