Connecticut, US

Nov 27 2019

Weekly Immigration Update: November 22-27, 2019

Belgium, Brazil, Chile, European Union, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Lithuania, Netherlands, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, United States, Venezuela

In immigration news this week:

  • United States: A federal district court has issued a preliminary injunction temporarily blocking the Trump Administration from requiring immigrant visa applicants to show that they will have unsubsidized health insurance within 30 days after entry to the United States or the financial means to cover reasonably foreseeable medical expenses. In December, U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services will accept employment-based adjustment applications from foreign nationals with a priority date that is earlier than the Dates for Filing listed in the State Department's December Visa Bulletin.
  • Ireland: The Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service is soon expected to revert to applying a policy that allows a six-week long absence from Ireland to still qualify for citizenship, after the Court of Appeal recently overturned a controversial High Court ruling that held that foreign nationals cannot be granted naturalization if they have left Ireland for one day in the previous 12 months.
  • Lithuania: Effective immediately, the salary level for EU Blue Card applications increased by approximately three percent from the April 2019 increase.
  • Belgium: Effective January 1, 2020, the minimum annual salary for foreign workers in Brussels will increase for executives, EU Blue Card applicants and highly skilled staff, up 2.7 percent from last year.
  • Brazil: The Ministry of Justice is expanding eligibility for Temporary Visas for Retirees to beneficiaries of deceased pensioners. Previously, only retirees were eligible for this visa.
  • Saudi Arabia: The Ministry of Labour and Social Development (MLSD) is expected to introduce a new temporary work visa category and to provide clarification on what types of activities can be performed under different visa categories​. 



These items and other news from Belgium, Chile, Czech Republic, the European Union, Germany, Greece, Netherlands, Qatar, South Africa, and Venezuela follow in this edition of the Fragomen Immigration Update.

 

Important Updates in Immigration This Week

Brazil, November 27, 2019

Rules for Temporary Visa for Retirees Relaxed

  • The Ministry of Justice has published a Normative Resolution expanding the eligibility for Temporary Visas for Retirees to beneficiaries of deceased pensioners. Previously, only retirees were eligible for this visa.
  • Additionally, the Normative Resolution allows foreign nationals to use other sources of income (such as financial investments, property rentals and social security benefits, among others) to reach the required minimum monthly income of USD 2,000 (or the equivalent in other currencies) which they can transfer into Brazil. Previously, foreign nationals were only able to use monetary income from a retirement fund to reach the minimum BRL 6000 (approximately USD 1,400).
  • The relaxed rule will increase the number of foreign nationals eligible to apply for a Temporary Visa for Retirees.



To view entire article, click here.

 

Czech Republic, November 27, 2019

Posted Worker Start of Work Notification Process Transferred to Sending Company

  • Effective immediately, the ​Czech Republic has transferred the requirement of registering posted workers from the receiving entity to the sending entity. As a result, the sending entity must now submit the posted worker notification no later than the day the foreign national starts work in the receiving country.
  • By changing this rule, the government has aligned the Czech process with standard EU rules relating to posted worker notifications and created a more streamlined process which allows posted workers to begin work more quickly.



To view entire article, click here.

 

United States, November 27, 2019

Federal Court Continues to Temporarily Block Health Insurance Requirement for Immigrant Visa Applicants

  • A federal district court has issued a preliminary injunction that prohibits the enforcement of a presidential proclamation that would require immigrant visa applicants to demonstrate that they would have unsubsidized health insurance within 30 days after entry to the United States or sufficient funds to cover reasonably foreseeable medical expenses.
  • Earlier this month, the court issued a temporary restraining order against the proclamation while it considered whether to issue the injunction.
  • The Trump Administration is expected to appeal the injunction while a lawsuit challenging the proclamation continues.



To view entire article, click here.

 

Belgium, November 27, 2019

Brussels Minimum Salary Level to Increase

Effective January 1, 2020, the minimum annual salary for foreign workers in Brussels, Belgium will increase to EUR 71,521 for executives, EUR 55,431 for EU Blue Card applicants and EUR 42,869 for highly skilled staff, up 2.7 percent from last year. Employers must increase salaries for current and new staff and notify authorities of increases for pending applications.

To view entire article, click here.

 

United States, November 26, 2019

December Visa Bulletin Update: USCIS to Honor Dates for Filing Again Next Month  

In December, USCIS will accept employment-based adjustment applications from foreign nationals with a priority date that is earlier than the Dates for Filing listed in the State Department's December Visa Bulletin.

To view entire article, click here.

 

Saudi Arabia, November 26, 2019

Update on Suspension of Work Visit Visas

  • Saudi Arabia is expected to introduce a new temporary work visa in the coming months, following the elimination of the country's only short-term work authorization option in October.
  • Details of the new visa have not been released. Until the new visa becomes available, there will not be an immigration option for foreign nationals seeking to work short-term in Saudi Arabia. At this time, foreign nationals seeking to work in Saudi Arabia are advised to obtain a standard Work Visa, which requires a formal long-term employment relationship with a sponsoring company in Saudi Arabia, or to consider traveling with a Business Visa, which does not allow “hands-on” work.
  • Fragomen is discussing the impact of the change and potential solutions for short-term work with Saudi consular authorities and relevant ministries and will issue an update if new information becomes available.



To view entire article, click here.

 

Lithuania, November 25, 2019

EU Blue Card Minimum Salary Increased

  • Lithuanian authorities have increased the salary level for EU Blue Card applications to EUR 1,933.50 gross per month, up approximately three percent from the April 2019 increase.
  • For salaries over EUR 3,867 gross per month, labor market testing and the Employment Agency Decision step are waived.



To view entire article, click here.

 

Ireland, November 22, 2019

One-Day Absence Rule for Citizenship Qualification Overturned

  • The Court of Appeal in Ireland has overturned the controversial High Court ruling that held that foreign nationals cannot be granted naturalization if they have left Ireland for one day in the previous 12 months​.
  • As a result of the ruling, the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service is expected to start again applying a policy that allows a six-week long absence from Ireland (in the year prior to the application) to still qualify for citizenship, as was the practice before this case was heard in the Irish courts.



To view entire article, click here.

 

Germany, November 22, 2019

Longer Application Processing Ahead; Interim Permit and Resubmission of Fingerprints May be Required

  • Internal system updates at several immigration offices in Germany have resulted in the need for immigration officials to contact affected applicants to schedule an appointment to re-collect fingerprinting data.
  • This will delay the already-slowed processing times during the holiday season, especially in Munich.
  • Foreign nationals seeking to travel to Germany over the upcoming holiday period and those with pending permit renewal applications should obtain an interim travel permit to avoid entry issues.



To view entire article, click here.

 

Other Weekly News Briefs

Belgium: Increased Worksite Inspections and Reporting Reminder – The labor inspectorate is conducting an increasing number of unannounced immigration, labor and social security compliance audits across all industries in Belgium, whereas previously they focused on high-risk industries such as construction, and high-risk groups such as posted workers. Fragomen expects such checks to continue in the next months. Employers are advised to ensure that personnel files are up to date and reporting obligations are fulfilled. Also, as a reminder, employers in the Brussels and Walloon regions must report foreign workers’ salary and social security information to the Regional Employment Ministry after 12 and 24 months of obtaining work authorization for work authorizations with a validity period longer than one year. No reporting obligations apply to employers in Flanders.

Belgium: EU Intracompany Transferee (ICT) Permit UpdateAs an update, Fragomen does not expect the EU ICT Permit to be implemented in 2019 as was previously anticipated. Additional federal legislation is required to implement both the EU ICT Permit and the EU Students and Researchers Directive, which cannot be issued because Belgium is forming a new federal government. Fragomen expects this legislation to be drafted once the new government is formed, which may still take several months.

Belgium/European Union: Belgium Reminded to Process EU Family Member Applications Faster – The Court of Justice of the European Union confirmed its prior ruling that EU immigration authorities have six months to adjudicate and send their decision to non-EU family members of EU nationals applying for residence. The ruling was the result of a Belgian court asking preliminary questions in a case involving the family reunification of an Afghan spouse of an Afghan refugee resident in Belgium, who would potentially be treated more favorably than the spouse of an EU citizen, which is not allowed under EU legal principles.

Chile: Expedited Airport Process for Special Work Permit for Tourists Restricted to Passengers in Transit – The Chilean Immigration Department has communicated to Fragomen that effective immediately, and until further notice, it will only accept Special Work Permit for Tourist applications at its Santiago airport branch from passengers in transit. Applicants must have a connecting flight for the same day or for the next morning to apply for the permit at the airport, and the application is generally adjudicated within three to four hours. All other applications for Special Work Permit for Tourists should be filed online through the Immigration Department's system once the foreign national is in Chile. The Immigration Department generally adjudicates online applications in two to five business days, after which the foreign national can retrieve the permit at the Santiago airport (in-person any day of the week or through an authorized third party on weekends). The Special Work Permit for Tourists allows foreign nationals to work in Chile for up to 30 days while visiting for business or tourism. Previously, all foreign nationals arriving in Santiago could apply for this permit at the airport upon arrival. Fragomen is currently exploring alternative filing options for urgent cases; foreign nationals and employers should work with their immigration specialist for case-specific advice.

Chile: Visa Requirement for Nationals of Australia – Effective December 17, 2019, nationals of Australia will be required to obtain a Consular Tourist Visa before entering Chile for tourism or business for up to 90 days, which can be extended for an additional 90 days, or for transit for up to 72 hours. Currently, they can enter Chile for tourism, business or transit under a visa-exempt status for up to 90 days. Passengers in transit who will only remain in the airport for up to eight hours are exempt from the consular visa requirement. According to the decree published by the Ministry of Interior, the new requirement was implemented based on reciprocity, since Australia currently requires Chilean nationals to obtain a Visitor Visa to enter the country for tourism, business and several other purposes.

Greece: EU Intracompany Transfer (ICT) Permit EffectiveAs an update, Greek immigration authorities are now issuing EU ICT Permits, which offer a long-term permit option to foreign workers on home contract where no such option was previously available in Greece. Fragomen does not expect the government to introduce a permit quota for specialists and trainees soon, as was anticipated when the EU ICT Permit was first implemented, although this quota option is not yet completely ruled out.

Netherlands: Work Duration Restriction Lifted for Working Holiday Travelers – Working holiday permit holders can once again work for more than 12 consecutive weeks with one employer in the Netherlands, following a Dutch ministerial decree which lifted this work duration restriction. As before, the work must be of an incidental nature, as this permit type seeks to facilitate cultural exchange and cannot be used for core work activities. The work duration restriction was introduced in October 2018 to clarify the concept of 'incidental work', but caused reciprocity issues particularly with Canada, which did not apply such a duration restriction. The Netherlands offers this streamlined permit aimed at cultural exchange to nationals of Argentina, Australia, Canada, Hong Kong SAR, New Zealand and South Korea who are between 18 and 30 years old.

Qatar: Exit Permit Requirement Relaxed for Employees of Companies in the Qatar Science and Technology Park – Foreign nationals sponsored by companies registered in the Qatar Science and Technology Park (QSTP) are no longer required to obtain exit permits to depart Qatar. This update comes as Qatari authorities have slowly been phasing out the exit permit requirement for different categories of foreign nationals. However, foreign nationals traveling on business visas sponsored by companies registered in the QSTP must still obtain an exit permit prior to departure if the total duration of stay is longer than 30 days.

South Africa: E-visa System Pilot Program Extended – The Department of Home Affairs announced that the e-visa program, previously piloted for New Zealand, will be extended to Kenyan nationals in 2019, at OR Tambo and Lanseria International Airports. Details of the pilot program are unknown, as are the official launch details for the e-visa system. Fragomen will provide an update with details of the system once the information is available.

Venezuela: Apostille Process Now Available at Some Consulates – The Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced that Venezuelan consular posts in Chile, Ecuador, Panama and Peru can now apostille Venezuelan documents, including birth certificates, marriage certificates, police clearance certificates and university diplomas, among others, for Venezuelan and foreign nationals residing in their jurisdiction. The document to be apostilled must have been previously authenticated/legalized by the issuing entity in Venezuela. Although processing times may vary by consulate, the process is expected to be faster than the current five to six month wait to apostille documents at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Venezuela. Foreign and Venezuelan nationals seeking consular apostille of their Venezuelan documents must still request an appointment through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website, as they would if they were having their documents apostilled by the Ministry. According to information gathered by Fragomen, the Venezuelan consulates are requiring a personal appearance by the applicant to submit the documents for apostille and may require proof that the applicant resides within the consulate's jurisdiction.

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