Nov 19 2020

Weekly Immigration Update: November 13–19, 2020

Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Cambodia, Chile, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Czech Republic, Denmark, Ecuador, Egypt, Ethiopia, European Union, Georgia, Ghana, Hungary, India, Iraq, Ireland, Jamaica, Jordan, Kenya, Kuwait, Lesotho, Lithuania, Morocco, Nepal , Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Paraguay, Poland, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Spain, Taiwan, Tunisia , United Arab Emirates, 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: A recent federal district court order paved the way for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program to be restored fully in the near future by invalidating a July 2020 Department of Homeland Security (DHS) memorandum that limited the program in a number of ways. DHS is expected to appeal the court’s decision. In connection with the COVID-19 emergency, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is extending its remote I-9 document inspection policy through December 31.
  • Singapore: Effective January 1, 2021, qualified foreign nationals in the technology sector will be eligible for a new work authorization program called Tech.Pass.
  • United Arab Emirates: Additional categories of foreign nationals will become eligible for a long-term residence permit effective December 1.
  • Brexit: Authorities in Denmark, Germany, Norway and Poland have published details on post-Brexit residence permits or residence registration options (‘Article 50 residence permits’) for current UK national residents and their non-EU national family members. Further information was added for Austria, the Czech Republic, Finland and Latvia. Check this consolidated information page for more information.


These items and other news from Canada, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Kenya, Norway, the Schengen Area, Singapore, United Arab Emirates, and the United States follow in this edition of the Fragomen Immigration Update.


Important Updates in Immigration This Week

United States, November 18, 2020

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

  • Due to the ongoing COVID-19 emergency, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is extending its remote I-9 document inspection policy through December 31, 2020.
  • Eligible employers will not be required to review I-9 identity and employment authorization documents in the employee’s physical presence until the interim policy expires or until three days after the COVID-19 emergency is over, whichever comes first. 
  • The relaxed policy only applies where company employees are working remotely due to the COVID-19 emergency. 


To view entire article, click here.


United Arab Emirates, November 18, 2020

Expanded Eligibility for Long-Term Residence Permit

  • The Cabinet of the United Arab Emirates announced that additional categories of foreign nationals will become eligible for a long-term residence permit, effective December 1, 2020.
  • The categories include UAE residents with a PhD, doctors and specialists in virology and epidemiology, and engineers, among others.
  • The expansion of categories for the long-term residence permit will allow the United Arab Emirates to retain highly-qualified individuals in a competitive global market.


To view entire article, click here.


Singapore, November 17, 2020

New Work Pass Available for Professionals in the Technology Industry in 2021

  • Effective January 1, 2021, qualified foreign nationals in technology roles will be eligible for a new work authorization program called Tech.Pass.
  • The Tech.Pass will be valid for an initial period of two years with the possibility of an extension for another two years, subject to the applicant’s eligibility.
  • Pass holders will be eligible to perform activities such as investing in companies, starting or operating businesses and lecturing in institutes of higher learning in Singapore.


To view entire article, click here.


United States, November 16, 2020

District Court Invalidates DHS Memo Limiting DACA Program

  • This weekend, a federal district court paved the way for reinstatement of the original 2012 DACA program by invalidating a July 2020 Department of Homeland Security (DHS) memorandum that limited the program in a number of ways.
  • Under the court order, DHS must accept initial DACA applications as well as renewals, grant advance parole travel documents, and issue two-year renewals (instead of one-year) to DACA beneficiaries. DHS is expected to appeal the district court decision.
  • The court also certified a class of foreign nationals who can benefit from the ruling, including those who were issued limited DACA benefits and those who may have been eligible to apply for DACA protection but were prevented from doing so under the Trump Administration’s policies.
  • Current DACA beneficiaries may continue to work pursuant to their valid employment authorization documents and should apply to renew their benefits as soon as they are eligible to do so. Others should await agency instruction before filing for new benefits.


To view entire article, click here.


Other Weekly News Briefs

Canada: New Immigration Pathways for Hong Kong SAR Residents – Canada announced an initiative which will allow eligible Hong Kong SAR residents in Canada or abroad who have  completed post-secondary studies in the past five years to apply for an open work permit, valid for up to three years. Additionally, in 2021, the Canadian government will introduce two pathways to permanent residence for Hong Kong SAR residents living in Canada -- one pathway will be for Hong Kong SAR residents who have gained a minimum of one year of work experience in Canada, among other language and education requirements; and the second pathway will be for Hong Kong SAR residents who have graduated from a post-secondary institution in Canada.

Costa Rica: New Special Permit for Cuban, Nicaraguan and Venezuelan Refugees – The General Immigration Directorate introduced a new special humanitarian permit for eligible Cuban, Nicaraguan and Venezuelan nationals to reside and work in Costa Rica for up to two years initially. It will be available on December 12, 2020 until December 15, 2021. Applicants must meet the following criteria:

  • Denied refugee status between January 1, 2016 and December 15, 2021;
  • Entered Costa Rica before March 18, 2020 and have remained in Costa Rica since; and 
  • Have a clean criminal record. 

Applicants must register with the General Immigration Directorate within 90 days of receiving the resolution approving their permit. The permit may be renewed if the holder has not entered or exited Costa Rica illegally after receiving it. Interested applicants should contact their immigration professional for more information and case-specific advice.  

Ecuador: System Updates at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to Cause Immigration Processing Delays – Processing delays for immigration applications should be expected between November 30 and December 15 due to a nation-wide internal system update at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. During this time, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will not accept new visa applications and will only offer limited services to the public in all of its offices. Fragomen will monitor the situation and report on relevant updates as they occur.

European Union/Schengen/Norway: Intra-Schengen Border Controls Ended – In an unexpected decision, Norway will not extend general intra-Schengen border controls, and will only retain COVID-19-related border controls. Under EU regulations, internal border checks are not allowed within the Schengen Area, except for temporary national security measures; however, many Schengen countries have implemented them since late 2015 in various forms due to national security concerns.

Kenya: Visa-on-Arrival Option Ending – Effective January 1, 2021, the visa-on-arrival option for non-visa exempt foreign nationals traveling to Kenya will no longer be available. These foreign nationals will be required to apply online for an eVisa prior to traveling. 

Singapore: New Features on the National Job Portal to Combat Discriminatory Hiring – The Singapore government has implemented three new features on the national job portal, MyCareersFuture, where employers are required to post mandatory job advertisements for Work Pass applications, in alignment with the Fair Consideration Framework’s goal of reducing hiring and workplace discrimination. First, employers will be reminded that they must adhere to the Tripartite Guidelines on Fair Employment Practices (TGFEP), which requires that employers recruit and select employees on the basis of merit regardless of age, race, gender, religion, marital status and family responsibilities, or disability. The government has also added a monitoring feature which will allow them to screen all job postings and encourage employers to improve these postings to attract suitable candidates. Lastly, the government added a new feature that allows the reporting of any discriminatory job posting found on the MyCareersFuture page.

United Arab Emirates: Freelancer’s License Now Available to Foreign Nationals in Mainland Abu Dhabi – Foreign nationals in Abu Dhabi can now obtain a freelancer’s license allowing them to conduct business from home or any other authorized location in one of 48 approved fields in mainland Abu Dhabi. Approved fields include fashion design, web design, translation services, computer software and hardware consulting, legal consulting, public relations, human resources consulting and marketing services, among others. Applicants must prove their experience in their field by providing a degree certificate, a certificate of experience or another approved document. Foreign national residents working in the private sector must obtain approval from their current employer if the business activity they seek to perform is similar to that of their employer. Approval is not required if the employer’s activity is different or if the applicant is currently employed in the United Arab Emirates on a part-time contract (although both the employer and foreign national must officially agree to terms related to work timing, leave and other obligations). Employers in the public sector must obtain their employer’s approval regardless of the activities that will be carried out. Previously, the mainland license for freelancers was issued only to Emirati nationals and only for a limited number of sectors.

United States: H-2B Cap Reached for First Half of FY 2021 – U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) reports that as of November 16, 2020, the congressionally mandated H-2B cap for the first half of fiscal year (FY) 2021 has been reached. November 16, 2020 was the final receipt date for new cap-subject H-2B worker petitions requesting an employment start date before April 1, 2021. On November 18, USCIS conducted a lottery to randomly select petitions from those received on November 16. As a result, USCIS assigned all petitions selected in the lottery the receipt date of November 18. Premium processing service for petitions selected in the lottery also began on that date. USCIS continues to accept H-2B petitions that are exempt from the congressionally mandated cap.  The cap for each half-year is 33,000, but USCIS accepts filings in excess of the cap because some cases will be denied or withdrawn and because employers may ultimately employ fewer H-2B beneficiaries than reflected in their petitions.

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