Connecticut, US

Nov 09 2018

Weekly Immigration Update: November 2 - 8, 2018

Australia, Canada, China, Colombia, Denmark, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Israel, Malaysia, Malta, Netherlands, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, South Africa, Sweden, Tanzania, Thailand, United States

In United States immigration news this week, the Ninth Circuit left in place a nationwide injunction requiring the Department of Homeland Security to accept Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) renewal applications while litigation on the legality of the Trump Administration’s termination of the program continues. 

Canada released its 2019-2021 immigration plan, which sets higher immigration target levels.

Employers in Colombia must now register their foreign national employees in the new Ministry of Labor system or be subject to fines.

In Tanzania, foreign national residents must update their residential information at a local immigration office by November 30. Ethiopia announced the launch of a visa-on-arrival program for African tourists and business travelers. Equatorial Guinea is requiring employers to re-submit work permit applications for all foreign nationals by December 14.

In Germany, the national statutory minimum wage paid to local and foreign workers will increase effective January 1, 2019. In Malta, the minimum monthly salary for foreign workers will increase effective January 1, 2019. In Greece, foreign nationals can now apply for an Intracompany Transferee (ICT) Permit.

Malaysia has introduced several work pass restrictions. Hong Kong announced that it will start replacing smart identity cards on December 27. China launched a new online application system for transit-visa-exempt travelers in Shanghai.

Israel has limited the validity of its short-term work authorization.

These items and other news from Australia, Denmark, France, Netherlands, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, South Africa, Sweden, Thailand, and the United States follow in this edition of the Fragomen Immigration Update.


Important Updates in Immigration This Week

United States, November 8, 2018

Ninth Circuit Upholds Injunction Requiring DHS to Accept DACA Renewals

  • The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld a district court injunction requiring DHS to accept DACA renewal applications while a lawsuit concerning the legality of the Trump Administration’s termination of program continues.
  • The court found that the creation of DACA under the Obama Administration was lawful, stating that “DACA was a permissible exercise of executive discretion.”
  • DACA beneficiaries may continue to renew their status until further notice, pursuant to this and other federal court orders in New York and Washington, DC.

To view entire article, click here.


Canada, November 8, 2018

Immigration Levels Plan for 2019-2021 Announced

The Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship in Canada announced the immigration levels plan for 2019 to 2021, which will increase the number of permanent residents Canada welcomes each year. Higher immigration target levels for permanent residents and a focus on economic immigrants will encourage the continued hiring of foreign nationals by Canadian employers.

To view entire article, click here.


Serbia, November 8, 2018

New Background Check for Visas and Residence Permits

Foreign nationals applying for Serbian visas or residence permits are now subject to an additional background check by the Serbian Security Information Agency. Foreign nationals applying for Serbian visas and residence permits should therefore account for delays in visa and residence permit processing. 

To view entire article, click here.


Greece, November 8, 2018

Intracompany Transferee Law Effective

Foreign nationals can now apply for an Intracompany Transferee (ICT) Permit in Greece, following the publication of the related Ministerial Decree. The Ministry of Internal Affairs now accepts EU ICT Permit applications from non-EU nationals under home payroll.

To view entire article, click here.


Ethiopia, November 7, 2018

New Visa-on-Arrival Program Launched

Ethiopian immigration authorities have announced the launch of a visa-on-arrival program for African tourists and business travelers, who previously had to apply for an e-Visa that took three days to process. 

To view entire article, click here.


Germany, November 7, 2018

National Minimum Wage to Increase

The national statutory minimum wage paid to local and foreign workers in Germany will increase from EUR 8.84 per hour to EUR 9.19 per hour on January 1, 2019, and to EUR 9.35 per hour on January 1, 2020.

To view entire article, click here.


Tanzania, November 7, 2018

Foreign National Residents Must Update Residential Details by November 30

The Immigration Department in Tanzania has issued a directive requiring all foreign nationals residing in Tanzania under a residence permit, dependent pass or exemption certificate to update their residential information at a local Tanzanian Immigration Office on or before November 30, 2018. To complete this process, foreign nationals must complete a form and send it to their Fragomen representative, who will complete the registration on their behalf. Those who fail to update their details before the deadline may face legal penalties.

To view entire article, click here.


Malaysia, November 7, 2018

Work Pass Restrictions Introduced

Foreign nationals holding valid work passes in West Malaysia, Sabah and/ or the Federal Territory of Labuan, are no longer eligible for an Employment Pass (EP) or Professional Visit Pass (PVP) in Sarawak, unless the work pass issued by those jurisdictions is first cancelled by the respective authorities. All EP (Short- and Long-Term) and/or PVP applications submitted to the Immigration Department in the regions of Kuching, Miri or Bintulu on or after October 29, 2018 are subject to this new regulation. Cancellation of the work pass requires submission of the foreign national's passport to a Malaysian consular post, processing of which could take up to three days. During this time, the foreign national may not be able to leave Malaysia.

To view entire article, click here.


Israel, November 6, 2018

Short-Term Work Authorization Validity Restricted

For visa-exempt nationals applying for Short-Term Employment Authorization (SEA 45-day work visa), any prior travels to Israel, including personal visits, in the same calendar year are now deducted from the maximum work permit validity of 45 days. Additionally, for visa nationals applying for a Short-Term Employment Permit (STEP), consular entry visa processing (which typically takes approximately four weeks) is deducted from the permit validity of three months. Employers and foreign nationals are advised to account for more limited work authorization validity.

To view entire article, click here.


Equatorial Guinea, November 6, 2018

Employers Must Re-Submit Work Permit Applications for Foreign Workers by December 14

The Ministry of Labour in Equatorial Guinea is requiring companies to re-apply for work permits for all foreign nationals in their employ by December 14, 2018. Employers who fail to submit new work permit applications for all foreign employees by the deadline will be deemed to be employing illegal foreign nationals and may incur fines. Foreign nationals without new work permits by December 14 will be considered illegal workers and will be issued deportation notices or face fines. Foreign nationals may not work while the work permit is processed. This initiative is the result of the government identifying fraudulent work permits in Equatorial Guinea.

To view entire article, click here.


Colombia, November 6, 2018

Online System for Registration of Foreign Employees Now in Effect

The Ministry of Labor in Colombia confirmed that the online system called Sistema Único de Registro de Trabajadores Extranjeros en Colombia   (RUTEC), introduced last week, has gone into effect. Employers must register detailed information for foreign workers employed as of October 9, 2018 by February 6, 2019, must register new foreign employees within 120 calendar days of the date when the work contract is signed, and must report certain employment-related changes on the system within 30 days of the event. Failure to register a new hire may result in fines to the company.

To view entire article, click here.


Malta, November 6, 2018

Minimum Salary Level Increased

Effective January 1, 2019, the minimum monthly salary for foreign workers in Malta will increase to EUR 757.64, up 1.3 percent from last year.

To view entire article, click here.


Hong Kong, November 6, 2018

Dates Set for Replacement of Smart Identity Cards

The Hong Kong Immigration Department announced that the upcoming replacement of smart identity cards will start on December 27, 2018. Current identity card holders will be invited to attend one of the nine newly-established smart identity card replacement centres to have their cards replaced within the specified period, according to their year of birth. 

To view entire article, click here.


China, November 2, 2018

New Online Application System for Transit-Visa-Exempt Nationals in Shanghai

Immigration authorities recently launched a new online application system for transit-visa-exempt travelers in Shanghai, in anticipation of an influx of visitors for the upcoming China International Import Expo to be held on November 5-10, 2018. Eligible travelers can use the online application system to streamline the immigration clearance process via Pudong and Hongqiao International Airports in Shanghai.

To view entire article, click here.


Weekly News Briefs

United States: DHS Seeks Supreme Court Review of DACA Termination – On November 5, 2018, DHS asked the U.S. Supreme Court to decide whether its proposed termination of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program is lawful, even before three separate lower courts rule on the issue. If the Supreme Court takes the unusual step of consolidating and hearing these three ongoing lower court cases from California, New York and Washington DC, it would issue a ruling this term, before the end of June 2019. The case is Department of Homeland Security v. Regents of University of California et al., case number 18-587.

United States: USCIS Updates H-2B Cap Count – USCIS reports that as of November 5, 2018, it had received filings on behalf of 23,503 H-2B beneficiaries for the first half of FY 2019. Of these, 20,155 had been approved and 3,348 remained pending. 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.

Australia: Smart Gate Program Requirements Eased – Australia's 'SmartGate' technology, allowing Australian and other nationalities with an appropriate smart chip in their passports (including U.S. citizens) to self-manage the immigration clearance process through SmartGate kiosks, will no longer require entrants to present a physical passport at some international ports in certain cases. The physical passport will still be required in some circumstances, for example, if identity or visa status cannot be established using the new method or if there are integrity issues. The physical passport will also be required at ports that have not rolled out the new technology. Foreign nationals interested in the program should contact their immigration professional for more information.

Australia: Working Holiday Program and Seasonal Worker Visa Changes Announced – The Australian government will be implementing relaxed rules for the Working Holiday (Subclass 417) and Seasonal Worker (Subclass 462) programs aimed at decreasing the worker shortage in the agricultural sector.  Notably, holders of these types of visas will be able to apply for a third visa if they have completed six months of work under their second visa on July 1, 2019; the period that Subclass 417 and 462 visa holders will be permitted to work for the same agricultural employer will be extended from six months to twelve months; the government will lift the annual cap on Work and Holiday visas that apply to some participating countries' nationals; and the validity of labour market testing required under the Seasonal Worker visa will be increased to six months, up from three. The government is yet to confirm when the changes will take effect. MARN: 0004980

Denmark/France/Sweden: Border Controls Status Updates – As an update, the Danish government confirmed in a letter to the EU Commission that Denmark will be extending its border controls until May 12, 2019. France's border controls expired on October 30, 2018. Sweden has given notice to the European Commission to extend its border controls until after November 11, 2018. Fragomen will report on the official extension when more information is available, and on more status updates as they are confirmed.

Netherlands: Update on 30 Percent Tax Exemption – As an update to ongoing plans to limit the validity period of a tax cut for certain foreign workers, the Dutch government announced a proposal for eligible foreign nationals who have worked in the Netherlands for five years between January 1, 2019 and December 31, 2020 to continue to be exempt from Dutch income taxes for up to 30% of their salary until and including December 31, 2020. The initial proposal would have taken effect immediately as of January 1, 2019, with no transitional period. The Dutch parliament must approve the draft legislation before the proposal can take effect.

Qatar: Exit Permit Waiver Exceptions Added – Foreign nationals with work residence permits sponsored by employers in the Qatar Financial Center (QFC) and the Qatar Science and Technology Park (QSTP) will continue to require exit permits to depart Qatar, despite the waiver of the exit permit requirement for most categories of foreign nationals that went into effect on October 28. The QFC and QSTP are special economic zones and do not fall under Qatar’s labor laws and therefore cannot benefit from the exit permit exemption.

Qatar: New Requirements for Indian Nationals Utilizing Visas-on-Arrival – Effective November 11, 2018, Indian nationals utilizing visas-on-arrival in Qatar will be required to meet the following conditions: have a passport valid for at least six months from the date of entry; have a confirmed return ticket and hotel reservation; and present a valid credit card issued in the name of the traveler (or head of the family if traveling with dependents). Additionally, Indian nationals will no longer be able to extend their visas-on-arrival in-country for an additional 30 days where previously, they were allowed one extension.

Saudi Arabia: Visitor Visa Validity Options Expanded for U.S. Citizens – U.S. citizens traveling to Saudi Arabia are now able to obtain visit visas with validities ranging from six months to up to five years. Previously, U.S. citizens were typically only issued visitor visas with validities of five years and applicants were not able to opt for a shorter validity.

South Africa: Kenyan Nationals’ Visa Rules Relaxed – The South African government has eliminated short-term visa requirements for Kenyan nationals traveling to South Africa for study, business and/or government purposes. In this regard, from December 1, 2018, government officials travelling on official business will be granted a visa-on-arrival for three months at no cost, while Kenyan nationals travelling for business and academic purposes will be eligible for multiple-entry visas for up to 10 years. Effective immediately, frequent flyers to South Africa are also eligible for three-year multiple-entry visas.

Thailand: 15-Day Filing Rule for Work Permits Revoked – ​The Employment Department has revoked a rule implemented in February 2018 that required foreign nationals to file a Work Permit application within 15-days of entering Thailand under a Non-Immigrant “B” visa. Now, foreign nationals can file their Work Permit application any time after entry as long as the Non-Immigrant “B” visa remains valid. This rule change is in line with other recently-implemented relaxed rules in Thailand,  such as a new Work Permit exemption and the rule allowing an Urgent Work Permit extension. However, those applying for Work Permits under a Pre-Work Permit Approval (PWPA) process should note that they are still subject to the rule that requires the filing of the Work Permit application within 30 days of issuance of the PWPA letter.


Global Immigration News Links

  • USA Today delves into the impact of the Democratic takeover of the House of Representatives on President Trump's immigration agenda.
  • U.S. President Trump is soon expected to sign a directive that will reveal his plans to revamp the asylum system, part of his broader push to crack down on undocumented migrants entering the U.S., the Wall Street Journal reports.
  • Switzerland reports a decrease in immigration from EU/European Economic Area nationals compared to 2017.​

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