Virginia, US

Nov 30 2018

Weekly Immigration Update: November 21 - 29, 2018

Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Egypt, European Union, Ghana, Guatemala, India, Oman, Poland, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United States, Zambia

In United States immigration news this week, U.S. Immigration and Citizenship Services (USCIS) issued policy guidance providing guidance on how it will calculate qualifying employment abroad when adjudicating a foreign national’s eligibility for L-1 intracompany transferee temporary worker status. Also in the U.S., a proposal to require employers to register online prior to submission of an H-1B cap filing has cleared Office of Management and Budget (OMB) review and is expected to be published for public feedback in the near future. 

The European Union formally approved the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement. The Agreement is now subject to the political process of Parliamentary ratification in the United Kingdom and Parliamentary consent in the European Union.

Brazil introduced a real estate investment visa, which is granted for an initial period of two years and is renewable indefinitely.

India has further relaxed its immigration policies to increase investment and attract foreign nationals to the country. Additionally the government withdrew its recently implemented rule requiring non-Emigration Check Required passport holders traveling from India for work to 18 countries to register on the e-Migrate portal prior to their departure from India. India has also extended the deadline until March 31, 2019 for non-machine readable Person of Indian Origin (PIO) cards to be accepted at Indian immigration checkpoints.

The Cabinet of the United Arab Emirates announced new conditions necessary for the issuance of certain long-term residence permits. The Cabinet is expected to announce additional details of the new law, including the implementation date, in the coming weeks.

In Poland, a new draft law, if passed, would allow companies to be prosecuted directly for breaches of immigration and other rules, which is currently not possible.

These items and other news from Argentina, Belgium, Canada, Egypt, Ghana, Guatemala, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Turkey, Zambia, and the United States follow in this edition of the Fragomen Immigration Update.

 

Important Updates in Immigration This Week

United States, November 29, 2018
USCIS Issues Guidance on L-1 One-Year Foreign Employment Requirement

  • USCIS has not previously provided comprehensive guidance on how the three-year period is defined for purposes of determining whether a foreign national has met the "one-year within three-year" abroad employment requirement for L-1 nonimmigrant status.
  • Periods of time in the U.S. not working, working for an unrelated employer, attending school or working in dependent status could delay a foreign national’s eligibility for L-1 status.   


To view entire article, click here.

 

United States, November 23, 2018
H-1B Cap Registration Proposal Clears Federal Review

  • A proposal to require employers to register online prior to submission of an H-1B cap filing has cleared Office of Management and Budget (OMB) review, the next step toward a potential change in the H-1B cap petition process.
  • The proposed regulation is expected to be published for public feedback in the near future. 
  • USCIS is aiming to have the new system in place for the FY 2020 cap filing season, which begins April 1, 2019.  The regulation can be implemented only after USCIS has considered public feedback, finalized the regulation and received final OMB approval.


To view entire article, click here.

 

Poland, November 29, 2018
Update on New Company Liability for Immigration Law Violations

A new draft law would allow companies in Poland to be prosecuted directly for breaches of immigration and other rules, which is currently not possible. The law includes a range of new potential penalties, including partial and full dissolution of the company and a significant increase in fines, among others. The law would also oblige companies to implement an ethical code and rules of conduct, and designate staff responsible for ensuring compliance. Companies would also be held liable for violations by third-party contractors under certain circumstances. The Parliament is expected to pass the draft law largely unchanged and it is expected to take effect during the first quarter of 2019. Companies will then have three months to implement the rules delineated in the law.

To view entire article, click here.

 

Singapore, November 29, 2018
Proof of Vaccination to be Required for Children’s Long-Term Pass Applications

Starting February 1, 2019, foreign nationals applying for a Dependant's Pass, Long-Term Visit Pass or Student's Pass for their foreign-born children 12 years old and younger will be required to submit proof of vaccination or evidence of immunity for diphtheria and measles for their child to the Health Promotion Board. Existing pass holders are exempt from the requirement when renewing or applying for a new pass.

To view entire article, click here.

 

India, November 29, 2018
Government Retracts Online Registration Rule for Indian Nationals Traveling to 18 Countries

The Ministry of External Affairs issued a Public Notice temporarily withdrawing the rule requiring non-ECR passport holders traveling from India for work to 18 countries to mandatorily register after January 1, 2019 on the e-Migrate portal prior to their departure from India. Those who would like to voluntarily register on the system can still do so.

To view entire article, click here.

 

Argentina, November 28, 2018
Government Office Closures Due to G-20 Summit in Buenos Aires

All government offices in the city of Buenos Aires, including the immigration department, Dirección Nacional de Migraciones, will be closed starting 11am (local time) on November 29 through the end of November 30, 2018, due to the G-20 summit in Buenos Aires. Foreign nationals with appointments scheduled for those days will need to reschedule them on or after December 3, when government offices re-open. Delays are possible next week due to backlogs resulting from the closures.

To view entire article, click here.

 

United Arab Emirates, November 28, 2018
New Conditions Announced for Some Long-Term Residence Permits

The Cabinet of the United Arab Emirates announced new conditions for the issuance of long-term (five- or ten-year) residence permits for investors, entrepreneurs, scientists, specialists, owners of leading internationally-recognized companies, foreign nationals with exceptional talents and outstanding students. Currently, residence permits in the United Arab Emirates, including those for investors, are issued with a maximum validity of three years. The Cabinet is expected to announce additional details of the new law, including the implementation date, in the coming weeks.

To view entire article, click here.

 

India, November 27, 2018
Extended Deadline for ‘Overseas Citizen of India’ Card Applications

The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) had recently announced that only machine-readable documents will be accepted at all Indian immigration checkpoints after September 30, 2018. However, the Indian Bureau of Immigration has confirmed that this deadline has been extended to March 31, 2019 and all Person of Indian Origin (PIO) cards (machine-readable and non-machine readable) will be considered valid until March 31, 2019. Despite this announcement, non-machine-readable PIO cardholders should obtain an 'OCI in lieu of PIO card' as soon as possible (by March 31, 2019 at the latest) to avoid being denied entry/exit while traveling to and from India.

To view entire article, click here.

 

European Union/United Kingdom, November 26, 2018
EU Approves Withdrawal Agreement

At an extraordinary European Council session on November 24-25, 2018, the remaining 27 EU countries formally approved the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement. The Agreement is now subject to the political process of Parliamentary ratification in the United Kingdom and Parliamentary consent in the European Union. For an orderly withdrawal, the agreement must be ratified in time for it to enter into force before March 29, 2019.

To view entire article, click here.

 

India, November 23, 2018
Immigration Policies Further Relaxed

The Ministry of Home Affairs has further relaxed Indian immigration policies in order to increase investment and attract foreign nationals to the country. Existing regulations and processes have been streamlined to ease the mobility of foreign nationals to India as well as their movement within India. Key changes and clarifications are focused on the following topics, among others:

  • Electronic Visa sub-categories;
  • Employment and business visa extensions; and
  • Reduced minimum salary threshold for interns.


To view entire article, click here.

 

Brazil, November 21, 2018
Real Estate Investment Visa Introduced

The Ministry of Labor published a Normative Resolution introducing a real estate investment visa. Foreign nationals who meet minimum real estate investment requirements can apply for the visa, which is granted for an initial period of two years and is renewable indefinitely. The real estate investment visa is meant to increase monetary investments in the country and qualified foreign nationals can immediately start applying for it.

To view entire article, click here.

 

Weekly News Briefs

United States: USCIS Updates H-2B Cap Count – USCIS reports that as of November 26, 2018, it received filings on behalf of 29,118 H-2B beneficiaries for the first half of FY 2019. Of these, 27,449 had been approved and 1,669 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.

Belgium: Brussels Town Hall Registration Delays Likely to Cause Travel Restrictions – Due to volume issues and internal reorganization, town hall registration in the central part of Brussels (zip code 1000) is currently delayed for several weeks. The delays do not affect work start dates since town hall registration takes place after the start of work. However, this issue will likely restrict travel for affected applicants since town hall registration is the first step to obtaining a residence permit, which allows travel in the Schengen area and return to Belgium after global travel if the applicant’s D visa has expired. Fragomen is urging the government to take steps to address and remedy the situation.

Belgium: Long-Stay Visa Applicants to Submit FingerprintsStarting December 1, 2018, long-stay D visa applicants over the age of six will be required to submit fingerprints at a Belgian consular post when filing their D visa application. As a result, applicants will be required to visit the consular post in person. Once submitted, fingerprints are typically stored for 10 years. Applicants may be waived from re-submitting fingerprints for new D visa applications. Previously, only short-stay Schengen C visa applicants were required to submit fingerprints at the consular post.

Canada: Regional Pilot Program for Entrepreneurs Introduced in British Columbia – The British Columbia Provincial Nominee Program has announced that enrollment for a new program called the Entrepreneur Immigration (EI) Regional Pilot - which will focus on attracting entrepreneurs to regional communities in British Columbia - will open in early 2019. To be eligible for the EI Regional Pilot, applicants must visit the community in which they seek to invest; invest a minimum of CAD 100,000 in the community; have a minimum personal net worth of CAD 300,000; own a minimum of 51% of their company; and create a minimum of one new job. Eligible communities must have a population of fewer than 75,000; be located beyond 30 km of a municipality of more than 75,000; and demonstrate their capacity to support foreign entrepreneurs through an established network of settlement and business support agencies. The pilot program will run for two years and will be monitored to assess the community’s capacity and impact.

Egypt: Residence Permits for Real Estate Investors Forthcoming – The Cabinet of Egypt announced that foreign nationals who invest in real estate in Egypt will soon be eligible for a residence visa. A one-year residence permit will be offered for those purchasing a property worth USD 100,000; a three-year visa will be offered for those purchasing a property worth USD 200,000; and a five-year visa will be offered for those purchasing a property worth USD 400,000. Spouses and children of investors will be eligible for residence visas as long as they intend to live in Egypt. Foreign investors will need to show a preliminary contract between the property owner and the foreign investor attested by the respective authority in Egypt, in addition to a bank statement confirming payment for the property. The implementation date of the new law has not yet been confirmed.

Ghana: New Requirements for Non-Citizen Identity Card – Effective immediately, foreign nationals applying for their Non-Citizen Identity Card through the National Identification Authority (which is completed upon entry to Ghana), must download a digital app to process the registration of their residential address. When applying for the Card, along with the digital address registration code received on the app, foreign nationals must now also provide their original passport, rather than a copy, as was previously required. Additionally, applicants renewing their cards must provide the original, expired Card, which is a new requirement for renewals. The new requirements will not result in additional costs and will not lengthen the process.

Guatemala: Travel Permit Reminder Ahead of Holiday Season – As a reminder, foreign nationals who seek to leave and re-enter Guatemala must obtain a travel permit if they do not have an approved temporary or permanent residence visa. To obtain a travel permit, the foreign national must submit their original passport and travel itinerary to Dirección General de Migración. It takes approximately three days to prepare the application and three to five business days for permit approval. Fragomen advises foreign nationals who are planning to travel during the holiday season to submit their travel permit applications to Dirección General de Migración no later than December 10, 2018 to avoid re-entry issues.

Oman: Suspension Extended on Recruitment of Foreign Nationals in Certain Professions The Ministry of Manpower has extended the suspension on the issuance of work visas for several categories of foreign employees in certain professions for another six months. The suspension for sales representatives and procurement representatives will be extended from November 30, 2018 until May 30, 2019; the suspension for workers in construction and cleaning services industries will be extended from December 2, 2018 until June 2, 2019; the suspension for carpenters, workers in aluminum workshops, workers in metal workshops and workers in concrete block factories will be extended from January 2, 2019 until July 2, 2019. All of the workers listed above will be able to renew their existing visas.

Saudi Arabia: New Registration Requirements for Foreign Engineers and Technicians – The Saudi Council of Engineers (SCE) launched a new online service called Ejittiaz for the registration of foreign engineers and select technicians seeking employment in both the public and private sectors in Saudi Arabia. Affected foreign nationals must now complete this registration prior to signing an employment contract and obtaining a work visa; the completed registration will grant the foreign national temporary membership in the SCE, which allows them to start the immigration process. Previously, foreign nationals had to complete the registration prior to arriving in Saudi Arabia and before securing their work permit and Muqeem Card.

Saudi Arabia: Online Registration Process for Employment Contracts Forthcoming – The General Organization for Social Insurance and the Ministry of Labor and Social Development has announced that employers in the private sector in Saudi Arabia will be able to upload and update electronic versions of employment contracts for their Saudi and foreign employees. The purpose of this new rule is to ensure conformity of employment contracts with private sector regulations; to reduce labor disputes between parties; and to allow employees to review their contract online. This is expected to become a mandatory process for all employers in Saudi Arabia in the near future.

Turkey: Updated Employment Agreement Now Required for Work Permit Renewal Applications – In an apparent change of policy, the Turkish Ministry of Labor now consistently requests that a new or updated employment agreement be submitted with work permit renewal applications, where this was not required before. Employers should prepare updated employment contracts for any foreign workers whose work permits are due to expire shortly.

Turkey: Update on Visa-on-Arrival Cancellation – The Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs has almost completed the cancellation of the visa-on-arrival system in favor of the e-visa, which travelers must obtain prior to travel. The Turkish airport counters that previously offered the visa-on-arrival have now been removed. Turkish authorities have been encouraging foreign nationals to obtain e-visas in their home country for three years.

Turkey: Progress on Online Filing of Work Permit Petitions – The Turkish Work Permit Directorate has confirmed that work permit commencement and cancellation petitions, work permit loss petitions, change of job title petitions and similar notifications related to work permit changes can now only be filed online. These petitions will no longer be accepted through in-person filing of petitions at the Work Permit Directorate offices. Ratio exemption applications, however, are still accepted in person at the Work Permit Directorate in Ankara and are discouraged from being filed online due to the size of these applications. Work permit applications have been exclusively accepted via online filing since March 2018.

Zambia: Online System Forthcoming – Immigration authorities are preparing to implement an online system for processing work permit applications and related documents. The system is currently being tested and is scheduled to be rolled out in 2019. The system is expected to enable foreign workers to file and track their work permit applications online. The government intends to make the system available to increase efficiency and accuracy in the work permit application process. Fragomen will provide further information when it becomes available.

 

Global Immigration News Links


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