May 27 2021

Weekly Immigration Update: May 21–27, 2021

Argentina, Austria, Bahrain, Cambodia, Canada, Chad, China, Colombia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Denmark, European Union, Finland, Germany, Ghana, Hong Kong, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jordan, Kuwait, Macau, Mauritius, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Oman, Panama, Poland, Republic of Guinea, Republic of the Philippines, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Seychelles, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Trinidad & Tobago, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States, Uruguay, Zambia

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. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is extending until August 31, 2021 its remote I-9 document inspection policy due to the ongoing COVID-19 emergency. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has designated Burma (Myanmar) for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for 18 months, from May 25, 2021 through November 25, 2022. Eligible individuals may submit TPS applications and apply for TPS-related employment authorization documents (EADs) and travel permission through November 22. Eligible Haitian nationals currently residing in the United States as of May 21, 2021, will also be able to file for TPS and related work authorization under a new 18-month designation for Haiti. DHS is expected to soon publish application filing details.
  • Panama: A new remote work visa now allows foreign nationals who are employed with a company outside Panama or who own a company operating outside of Panama to reside in and work remotely from Panama for up to nine months without requiring an additional work permit.
  • United Kingdom: The UK government has published a Strategy Statement that sets out its priorities for 2021/2022 and its vision for developing the country’s new immigration system.
  • European Union: The EU Council and European Parliament have reached a provisional agreement on changes to the EU Blue Card Directive that aim to make the permit – which caters to highly skilled local hires – more accessible and attractive.



These items and other news from Panama, Russia, and Saudi Arabia follow in this edition of the Fragomen Immigration Update.

 

Important updates in immigration this week  



United States, May 27, 2021

ICE Extends Interim COVID-19 Protections for Form I-9 Compliance Through August 31

  • Due to the ongoing COVID-19 emergency, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is extending its remote I-9 document inspection policy through August 31, 2021.
  • Eligible employers will continue to be permitted to review I-9 identity and employment authorization documents remotely until the interim policy expires or until three days after the COVID-19 emergency is over, whichever comes first.
  • Employees onboarded remotely on or after June 1, 2021, must have their documents inspected in person once they begin working non-remotely on a “regular, consistent, or predictable basis.”



To view entire article, click here.

 

United Kingdom, May 25, 2021

Government Publishes Strategy Statement for Reforming Immigration System

The UK government has confirmed its plans for the immigration system over the next few years. Aside from creating a simplified end-to-end visa application process, other goals include creating new and reformed immigration routes such as:

  • A single, sponsored Global Business Mobility route;
  • A Graduate route;
  • A new International Sportsperson route; and
  • An unsponsored points-based route.



Longer-term goals include a requirement for all individuals (except British and Irish nationals) to apply for an electronic travel authorization before travelling to the United Kingdom (to be introduced in phases and fully implemented by the end of 2024), as well as expanded eligibility to enter using e-gates.

To view entire article, click here.

 

United States, May 24, 2021

DHS Designates Burma (Myanmar) for TPS; Expands Employment Options for Burmese F-1 students

  • Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas has designated Burma (Myanmar) for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for 18 months, from May 25, 2021 through November 25, 2022.
  • The 180-day registration period for eligible individuals to submit TPS applications will run from May 25, 2021 through November 22, 2021. Eligible individuals will also be able to apply for TPS-related employment authorization documents (EADs) and travel permission during this time.
  • DHS has also announced that it will suspend certain employment authorization rules for Burmese students in F-1 status who are experiencing severe economic hardship as a direct result of the Burmese crisis.

 

To view entire article, click here.

 

United States, May 24, 2021

DHS Announces New Temporary Protected Status Designation for Haiti

  • Eligible Haitian nationals currently residing in the United States as of May 21, 2021, will be able to file for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and related work authorization under a new 18-month designation for Haiti.
  • Those who may be eligible to file include Haitian nationals who received TPS under the previous 2010 designation, which was slated for termination by the Trump Administration and which is the subject of ongoing litigation.
  • DHS is expected to publish a Federal Register notice announcing the registration period and procedures in the near future.

 

To view entire article, click here.

 

European Union, May 24, 2021

EU Blue Card Improvements Forthcoming

The EU Council and European Parliament have reached a provisional agreement on changes to the EU Blue Card Directive that aim to make the permit, which caters to highly skilled local hires, more accessible and more attractive. Key proposed changes include:

  • Possibility for lower salary threshold;
  • Shorter eligible employment contract duration; and
  • More flexible intra-EU mobility rules.

 

To view entire article, click here.

 

United States, May 21, 2021

Beginning Next Week, 22,000 Additional H-2B Visas Become Available for FY 2021

  • Beginning next week, employers will be able to petition for an additional 22,000 H-2B quota numbers for temporary non-agricultural employment in FY 2021.
  • The supplemental H-2B allocation consists of 16,000 visas available to returning workers who have held H-2B status in fiscal years 2018, 2019 or 2020, and 6,000 visas for nationals of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, which are exempt from the returning worker requirement. 
  • Petitioners must attest that their business is likely to suffer irreparable harm if they are unable to hire additional H-2B workers.



To view entire article, click here.

 

Panama, May 21, 2021

Short-Term Remote Work Visa Introduced

  • The Panamanian government has introduced a new remote work visa, called the “Short-Term Visa as Remote Worker”. The visa allows foreign nationals who are employed with a company outside Panama or who own a company operating outside of Panama to reside in and work remotely from Panama for up to nine months without requiring an additional work permit.
  • Eligible applicants must have a minimum annual income of USD 36,000 from sources outside of Panama, but do not require company sponsorship.
  • However, foreign nationals should be aware that the visa does not allow them to work for a local employer in Panama.
  • Although the visa has been officially implemented, the government may take a few days to begin processing these applications.

 

To view entire article, click here.

 

United States, May 21, 2021

U.S.-Canada and U.S.-Mexico Land Border Restrictions Extended Through June 21

  • CBP border restrictions permitting only essential travel across the U.S.-Canada and U.S.-Mexico land borders will be extended through June 21, 2021. The restrictions do not affect air travel.
  • Essential travel includes travel by U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents, and foreign nationals traveling to work in the United States, among others.  
  • Visa Waiver and other business travelers may face additional scrutiny at the border. 
  • “Non-essential travel” at land borders is not permitted, which includes travel that is considered tourism or recreational in nature.



To view entire article, click here.

 

Other weekly news briefs



Panama: Stricter Rules for Specific Country Visas – The government of Panama published a decree that will modify the eligibility criteria for Specific Country Visa applications filed after August 20, 2021. Specifically, foreign nationals will either need to be in an employment contract with a company established in Panama or show that they have a real estate investment of at least USD 200,000 in Panama. Currently, applicants can be in an employment contract with a company established in Panama or be shareholders of a Panamanian company without having to make an investment in real estate. The new rules also reduce the validity of the visa to two years (with the possibility to apply for permanent residence), from the previous indefinite validity, and removes Taiwan from the list of eligible countries.

Panama: New Rules for Investors in Reforestation Visas – The government of Panama made changes to the temporary and permanent resident categories for foreign nationals who invest in reforestation activities. Key changes include an increase in the minimum investment amount in reforestation activities for the temporary residence category to USD 80,000 (up from USD 60,000) and the elimination of the requirement that the investment cover at least three hectares of land; an increase in the minimum investment amount for the permanent residence category to USD 100,000 (up from USD 80,000) which grants a two-year provisional residence and subsequent permanent residence card; and a direct pathway to permanent residence for foreign nationals making an investment of USD 350,000 in reforestation activities.

Russia: Some Regions May Require Interview for Company Accreditation – Due to a recent policy change, certain Russian regions (including Moscow, the Moscow region and St. Petersburg) require an interview with a company chief executive (general manager, head of branches or representative office) for some immigration process steps, where no such interview was previously required. Specifically, the Moscow migration office requires an interview for company accreditation as an inviting company in case the company's chief executive changes and if the accredited company has not applied for invitation letters for more than a year. The Moscow region office in Greenwood business centre requires an interview for initial Highly Qualified Specialist (HQS) work permit applications. Companies are advised to check local requirements and anticipate this step when planning applications, since it may add time to the overall immigration process.

Saudi Arabia: Changes to the Nitiqat Program Announced – The Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development announced changes to the Nitiqat Program to align it with the government’s current labor market strategy, which seeks to increase market efficiency and provide over 340,000 new jobs for Saudi nationals by 2024. The first change will establish a transparent Saudization process and new targets for restricting certain positions to Saudi workers over the next three years. Additionally, the calculation for Saudization targets will be based on a new formula that will not factor in the size of the employer as it currently does based on the fixed classification of companies as small, medium, large or giant. Lastly, the government will introduce a shorter list of business activities used to determine applicable Saudization ratios for employers in Saudi Arabia. More information is expected in the coming weeks to address further details and implementation mechanisms.

 

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