Nov 21 2019

Weekly Immigration Update: November 15-21, 2019

Argentina, Colombia, Cyprus, Estonia, European Union, Jordan, Netherlands, Poland, Russia, Singapore, United States

In immigration news this week:

  • United States: Congress has passed a temporary measure to fund the federal government, including immigration functions, through December 20. E-Verify and the EB-5 Regional Center Program will be extended through the same date. Federal immigration agencies released their Fall 2019 regulatory agendas disclosing their immigration rulemaking priorities for the coming six months, including plans to toughen L-1 intracompany transferee eligibility criteria and to impose significant penalties on nonimmigrants who deviate from the terms of their status. According to the State Department’s December Visa Bulletin, cutoff dates in the EB-1 category will advance modestly next month for all countries except India; retrogression in the EB-2 and EB-3 categories is possible in January 2020. 
  • Colombia: Effective December 1, 2019, Migración Colombia will replace its existing entry permit classification system and establish formal entry criteria for nationals and residents of Comunidad Andina de Naciones, Mercosur, and the Pacific Alliance member countries.
  • Jordan: The Ministry of Labour has published its list of professions for highly-skilled foreign nationals, who as of September 2019, must apply under a new work authorization route that is subject to a higher government fee and more restrictive criteria.
  • Singapore: As a reminder, the minimum salary threshold for S Pass applicants will increase on January 1, 2020. The new threshold largely applies to young graduates, while more experienced applicants will need to show higher salaries commensurate with their work experience.

These items and other news from Argentina, Cyprus, Estonia, the European Union, Netherlands, Poland, Russia, Singapore, Tajikistan, and the United States follow in this edition of the Fragomen Immigration Update.


Important Updates in Immigration This Week

United States, November 21, 2019

Congress Passes Another Short-Term Spending Measure Through Dec. 20, Temporarily Extending Key Immigration Programs

  • Once signed into law by the President, the continuing resolution will fund the federal government through December 20, 2019.
  • The E-Verify and EB-5 Regional Center programs, among others, would be extended through the same date.

To view entire article, click here.


United States, November 20, 2019

Federal Immigration Agencies Release Fall 2019 Regulatory Agendas

  • In its regulatory plan for the coming months, the Department of Homeland Security announced new plans to toughen L-1 intracompany transferee eligibility criteria and impose wage obligations on the L-1 program.
  • A new regulatory agenda item would impose significant penalties on nonimmigrants who deviate from the terms of their status.
  • DHS continues to move forward with plans to heighten H-1B eligibility and wage standards, rescind the H-4 employment authorization program, further restrict the EB-5 program, restrict F-1 practical training programs, and eliminate the concurrent filing of adjustment of status applications with Form I-140 employment-based immigrant visa petitions.

To view entire article, click here.


Colombia, November 20, 2019

New Entry Permit Categories and Other Technical Changes for Visa-Exempt Nationals

  • Effective December 1, 2019, Migración Colombia will replace existing entry permit classifications for visa-exempt nationals with three new types of entry permits.
  • Migración Colombia will also implement technical changes for nationals or residents of Comunidad Andina de Naciones, Mercosur, and Pacific Alliance member countries, largely to formalize its current practices.
  • There will be no changes for visa nationals.


To view entire article, click here.


Jordan, November 19, 2019

List of Professions for Skilled Work Permit Published

  • The Ministry of Labour in Jordan has published the list of professions for highly-skilled foreign nationals, who as of September 2019, must apply for a new work authorization route that is subject to a higher government fee and other more restrictive criteria.
  • Key professions on the list include engineers, medical professionals, telecommunication and information-technology professionals and technical and specialized jobs in the banking and financial sector, among others.

To view entire article, click here.


United States, November 18, 2019

December 2019 Visa Bulletin: EB-1 Advances, Except India; More Retrogression Possible in January

  • All EB-1 countries except for China and India will advance by six weeks to July 15, 2018. China will advance by three and a half months to May 15, 2017, while India will remain at January 1, 2015.
  • EB-2 China will advance by more than three months to June 22, 2015.
  • EB-3 China and India will remain the same in December.
  • Current categories in EB-2 and EB-3 could retrogress as early as January 2020.


To view entire article, click here.


United States, November 18, 2019

Holiday Travel Planning for Foreign Nationals

  • If you are a foreign national planning to travel internationally this holiday season, make sure that you have all the necessary documents, including a passport with sufficient remaining validity, a valid U.S. visa in the appropriate classification, and advance permission to travel if necessary.
  • If you will need to apply for a visa while you are abroad, be prepared for possible delays in visa issuance.
  • On reentry to the United States, expect thorough screening at the port of entry.

To view entire article, click here.


Singapore, November 15, 2019

Forthcoming Increase in Minimum Salary Threshold for S Pass Applicants

  • As a reminder, starting January 1, 2020, the minimum salary threshold for foreign nationals applying for initial and renewal S Passes in Singapore will increase from SGD 2,300 to SGD 2,400.
  • This minimum salary threshold essentially applies to young graduates. More experienced applicants will need to be paid higher salaries commensurate with their work experience to qualify for an S Pass.


To view entire article, click here.


Weekly News Briefs

Argentina: DNI Issuance Delays – Foreign nationals currently have to wait up to four months to obtain their National Identity Document (DNI) in Argentina. DNIs have typically been issued one to two months after the approval of the residence visa. The DNI is required for several activities in Argentina such as opening a bank account and obtaining a driver’s license. Delays are expected to subside in the next few weeks as the DNI application workload within the National Immigration Directorate normalizes following the presidential elections held in October 2019.

Cyprus: Increased Enforcement of Immigration Processing – Cyprus immigration authorities are more narrowly applying legal eligibility requirements and permit conditions for Intracompany Transferees, as demonstrated by the increased scrutiny of applicants’ qualifications. Employers and foreign nationals seeking to work in Cyprus should consult their immigration professional to ensure they are abiding by relevant legal and policy requirements.

Estonia: 2020 Quota Figure Published – Estonia has set the 2020 quota at 1,314 residence permit applications for non-exempt applicants, a comparable number to that of the last few years. As before, the quota does not apply to Japanese, U.S. and UK (after Brexit) citizens, science / research assignments, stays under 12 months, top specialists (as defined by Estonian law), information technology and communications professionals, students, family reunification applicants, extensions / renewals of any permits, start-ups and investors. The quota is typically exhausted around June every year.

European Union/Singapore: Free Trade Agreement to Take Effect – A free trade agreement between the European Union and Singapore will take effect November 21, 2019. Although the agreement contains clauses on business travel, cross-border services and company establishment, Fragomen does not expect significant travel or immigration benefits from the agreement as the clauses mostly confirm EU legislation already in place and the alinement of national legislations to such agreements is typically slow. Fragomen will report on any relevant developments.

Netherlands: Increased Recognized Sponsor Inspections – A new special supervision team within the Dutch Immigration Authority (IND) is increasingly conducting worksite visits of recognized sponsor companies. As before, appointments are scheduled ahead of time and locations are selected at random. The IND reports that inspections have resulted in fines and revocation of recognized sponsor status. Recognized sponsor companies are advised to familiarize themselves with the recognized sponsor obligations and the inspection fact sheet (only available in Dutch). The IND particularly emphasizes the need to communicate relevant changes (such as a new company contact, new authorized representative, merger / acquisition, change of company address, employment end or other change affecting a foreign worker's right of residence) promptly.

Poland: Immigration Processing Delayed Further – The average work authorization processing times of most Polish permits are currently delayed by 20 calendar days due to longer appointment wait times and longer government processing in all provinces. Current processing times are 51-256 calendar days for local hires and EU Blue Cards, and 51-235 calendar days for intracompany transfers (ICT) under a national permit. In-country residence permit processing is delayed by an average of 85 calendar days, with current processing times at 166-600 calendar days for the abovementioned permit types. EU ICT permits already have longer processing times than the abovementioned work authorization types. Employers and foreign nationals are advised to plan for these delays. Poland has been struggling with an overburdened immigration system and extremely lengthy processing times for years.

Russia/Tajikistan: Immigration Support for Tajik Nationals Forthcoming – Russia is planning to introduce migration support for Tajik nationals seeking to work in Russia, through a government agency in Tajikistan which would support with job search, recruitment, civic integration preparation and other eligibility requirements, and transport to and from Russia. The relevant cooperation agreement must be ratified by Russian parliament to take effect.

United States: H-2B Cap Reached for First Half of FY 2020 – U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) reports that as of November 15, 2019, the congressionally mandated H-2B cap for the first half of fiscal year (FY) 2020 has been reached. November 15, 2019 was the final receipt date for new cap-subject H-2B worker petitions requesting an employment start date before April 1, 2020. The final receipt date is when USCIS received enough cap-subject petitions to reach the limit of 33,000 H-2B workers for the first half of FY 2020. This means that no cap numbers from the first half of FY 2020 will carry over to the second half of FY 2020, which begins on April 1, 2020. 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.