Connecticut, US

May 18 2018

Weekly Immigration Update: May 11 – 17, 2018

Angola, Australia, Canada, Costa Rica, Ecuador, European Union, France, Indonesia, Italy, Netherlands, Oman, Russia, Slovak Republic, South Africa, Thailand, Venezuela

In United States immigration news this week, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that it will impose stricter rules on how unlawful presence is calculated for students and exchange visitors who fail to maintain their F, J or M nonimmigrant status.

Also in the United States, the State Department has selected the winners of the FY 2019 Diversity Visa Lottery; lottery entrants must check the State Department's official Diversity Visa Lottery website to learn whether they have been chosen. In H-1B news, USCIS has completed data entry for FY 2019 H-1B cap cases.

Canada has published the final implementation date and process details of a previously-proposed biometrics program, following the end of the public consultation period.

Venezuelan nationals and foreign nationals seeking legalizations in Venezuela are advised not to travel to Venezuela until after May 20, 2018.

Russia has relaxed some address registration rules taking effect while the country hosts the 2018 FIFA World Cup from May 25-July 25.

Australia passed legislation to establish the Skilling Australians Fund and implement restricted labour market testing criteria, with a commencement date expected in June 2018. 

Important labor law changes are forthcoming in Thailand, including a Work Permit exemption for certain activities and a new rule allowing in-country extensions of Urgent Work Permits, among others.

These items and other news from Angola, Costa Rica, Ecuador, the European Union, France, Indonesia, Italy, the Netherlands, Oman, Slovakia and South Africa follow in this edition of the Fragomen Immigration Update.

 

Important Updates in Immigration This Week

United States, May 16, 2018

U.S. State Department Selects FY 2019 Diversity Visa Lottery Winners

  • Lottery entrants must check the State Department’s official Diversity Visa Lottery website to learn whether they have been chosen. 
  • The State Department does not send direct notification to lottery winners. 
  • Successful entrants can submit an application for permanent residence during FY 2019, which begins on October 1, 2018.



To view entire article, click here.

 

United States, May 15, 2018

USCIS Completes FY 2019 H-1B Cap Data Entry

  • USCIS has finished initial data entry of all FY 2019 H-1B cap cases selected in the lottery.
  • Receipting of H-1B cap cases is expected to continue for at least several more days.
  • USCIS will soon begin to return unselected cases and fee checks to petitioners, but has not identified a time frame for returns.



To view entire article, click here.

 

United States, May 11, 2018

USCIS Revises Unlawful Presence Rules for Students and Exchange Visitors

  • F, J and M nonimmigrants who fail to maintain nonimmigrant status before August 9, 2018 will generally start accruing unlawful presence on that day.
  • F, J and M nonimmigrants who fail to maintain nonimmigrant status on or after August 9, 2018, will generally start accruing unlawful presence the day after they stop pursuing their authorized course of study, engage in unauthorized activity, or complete their program and authorized grace period.
  • The new unlawful presence triggers will create complications for students and exchange visitors who wish to apply for a visa, admission or adjustment of status after falling out of status.



To view entire article, click here.

 

United States, May 11, 2018

June Visa Bulletin Update: USCIS to Honor Employment-Based Final Action Dates Only Next Month

In June, USCIS will only accept employment-based adjustment applications from foreign nationals with a priority date that is current for final action under the State Department's June Visa Bulletin.

To view entire article, click here.

 

Canada, May 17, 2018

Biometrics Program Details Released

The Canadian government published the anticipated implementation date and process details of the previously-proposed biometrics program, following the end of the public consultation period. The program will go into effect for all applicants from Europe, the Middle East and Africa by July 31, 2018, and for all applicants from Asia, Asia Pacific and the Americas by December 31, 2018.

To view entire article, click here.

 

Russia, May 16, 2018

Registration Rules During FIFA World Cup Relaxed

Russia has relaxed some address registration rules taking effect while the country hosts the 2018 FIFA World Cup from May 25, 2018 through July 25, 2018. The new rules are as follows:

  • Foreign nationals, with some exceptions, can now register their address within three days of arrival in the specified cities, instead of within 24 hours.
  • Foreign nationals can register their addresses at local divisions of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, as well as at Multifunctional Centers.



To view entire article, click here.

 

Venezuela, May 15, 2018

Travel for Legalization Purposes Not Advised Until After May 20

Venezuelan nationals and foreign nationals seeking legalizations in Venezuela are advised not to travel to Venezuela until at least May 20, 2018 due to the following circumstances:

  • The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is not accepting document legalization requests until May 20 due to website maintenance; and
  • The upcoming presidential elections may further delay the legalization process.



To view entire article, click here.

 

Thailand, May 15, 2018

Important Labor Law Changes Forthcoming

The Thai government has implemented a new labor law which brings important changes to rules affecting foreign workers. The key changes include:

  • A Work Permit exemption for certain activities;
  • A new rule allowing an in-country extension of Urgent Work Permits; 
  • New government notification requirements; and 
  • Reduced fines for violating immigration rules for employers and foreign workers.



Most of these changes are scheduled to take effect on July 1, 2018.

To view entire article, click here.

 

Costa Rica, May 14, 2018

Immigration Application Approvals Temporarily Delayed

Due to a change in government and a backlog of applications, foreign nationals will experience approval delays for residence permits, special category visas, change of employer applications, company accreditations, tourist visa extension and change in visa category applications until the government officials' roles are finalized, which is expected to occur within a few days.  Visa renewal applications are still being adjudicated on time.

To view entire article, click here.

 

Australia, May 14, 2018

Legislation on Skilling Australians Fund and Labour Market Testing Passes in Parliament

  • The Australian Parliament recently passed legislation to establish the Skilling Australians Fund and implement restricted labour market testing criteria, with a commencement date expected in June 2018. 
  • Additionally, the 2018-2019 Australian Budget delivered a number of updates including further refund and exemption provisions for the Skilling Australians Fund, implementation of the Peru-Australia Free Trade Agreement and special visa arrangements to address doctor shortages.



To view entire article, click here.

 

France, May 11, 2018

Consular Appointments Temporarily Unavailable

Appointments at French consular posts in some countries are temporarily unavailable during a transition to a new appointment system. Fragomen will contact affected applicants to discuss workarounds.

To view entire article, click here.

 

Weekly News Briefs

Angola: Visa-Free Travel for Cape Verde and Zambian Nationals – Cape Verdean nationals, who typically require an Ordinary Visa to enter Angola, are now visa exempt for tourist and business activities for up to 30 days. 

Zambian nationals holding ordinary passports, those subject to diplomatic agreements, and those traveling for business to perform public order and security, agriculture or customs matters are now visa exempt for tourist and business activities for up to 30 days.

Ecuador: Health Insurance to be Mandatory for Tourists July 22 – Though the Ministry of Tourism requested that the requirement for tourists to present proof of health insurance upon arrival in Ecuador to be postponed until June 22, the Supreme Decree announced this week that the official effective date will be July 22, 2018.  In spite of this additional postponement, Fragomen continues to recommend that all travelers to Ecuador obtain proof of health insurance for any upcoming travel, even if it is sooner than the new effective date of the rule, through one of the methods detailed here.

European Union: European Commission Proposes Visa Database Improvement – The European Commission has proposed to upgrade the Visa Information System (VIS), which is the database storing Schengen visa applicants’ information. The proposal includes the following:

  • Visa applications should automatically be checked against other EU information systems (Entry-Exit System yet to be created), Schengen Information System and European Criminal Records Information System through a Single Search Portal;
  • Data on long-stay visas and residence permits – currently not available at the EU level – should be included in the VIS;
  • Visa applicants’ passport copies should be stored in the VIS; and
  • Border guard, law enforcement and Europol should have structured access to VIS, each for limited purposes in line with their core tasks and the European Union’s privacy regulations.



The proposal will be debated and approved by both the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers before it becomes effective. 

Indonesia: Plans to Restore Indonesian Language Requirement for Foreign Workers – The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) recently announced that it may restore the Indonesian language requirement for foreign nationals intending to work in the country for six months or longer. If this plan passes, such foreign workers would be required to pass a proficiency test for Bahasa Indonesia to obtain work authorization. This intention follows the government’s recent efforts to streamline the Work Permit process. Although this language requirement has been in MOM's regulations since at least 2008, plans for its implementation were unpopular with the Indonesian business community. A similar plan announced in February 2015 through a draft regulation was met with protest and ultimately set aside. Fragomen will closely monitor the situation and provide updates once available.

Italy: Dependents Can Start Work Sooner – Dependent family members of permit holders in Italy can now start working immediately upon filing their dependent application, based on the receipt of application (Ricevuta Postale). Previously, dependents had to await residence permit issuance before starting work, which took several months.

Netherlands: Immigration Authority Launches Brexit Website – The Dutch Immigration Authority has launched a website to advise UK nationals and their dependents living in the Netherlands on how to prepare for Brexit.

Oman: Visa-on-Arrival Regulations Relaxed for Chinese, Indian and Russian Nationals – Chinese, Indian and Russian passport holders entering Oman for tourism will soon be eligible for a visa-on-arrival without any additional requirements. Currently, nationals of these three countries must present a valid residency or entry visa issued by Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, the United States, or a Schengen Member State to receive a visa-on-arrival. The Royal Oman Police has not announced when the new visa policy will go into effect.

Slovakia: Renewal Options for National ICT Permit Holders – Now that the national intracompany transferee (ICT) permit option has been retired in Slovakia, the authorities have clarified the renewal options for current national ICT permit holders. Eligible foreign nationals can change status to a Single Permit for Local Hire in country, provided that the application is filed before us to an EU ICT Permit, but applications must be filed at a consular post in the country of nationality or legal residence abroad. Permit holders can continue to work and stay in Slovakia while their national ICT permit remains valid.

South Africa: Department of Home Affairs and Police Conduct Inspections – In keeping with their commitment to inspect businesses employing foreign nationals, the Department of Home Affairs and the State Police in South Africa recently conducted raids seeking immigration documents from employers in Cape Town. Employers are reminded maintain all required documentation for foreign employees per immigration regulations.

 

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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.