Dec 03 2020

Weekly Immigration Update: November 26–December 3, 2020

Albania, Argentina, Australia, Botswana, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Ethiopia, Finland, Greece, Hong Kong, Iceland, India, Ireland, Israel, Japan, Kazakhstan, Lesotho, Lithuania, Macau, Mauritania, Namibia, Nigeria, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Korea (South Korea), Republic of the Philippines, Romania, Russia, Singapore, Taiwan, United Kingdom, United States, Vietnam

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.
  • Brexit: Authorities in Estonia, Italy, and Slovenia published guidance 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. Authorities in France, and Slovakia published further guidance. Check this consolidated information page for more information.
  • United States: Three major federal court decisions were issued this week. A district court in California invalidated the fast-tracked Departments of Labor and Homeland Security rules that significantly increased prevailing wage levels and tightened H-1B eligibility criteria. The government is expected to appeal the decision in an expedited manner. In the District of Columbia, a district court upheld the Department of Homeland Security’s post-graduate Optional Practical Training (OPT) programs, ensuring the OPT and STEM OPT programs remain in place for now. Finally, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals barred the Department of Homeland Security from enforcing the public charge rule in almost 20 states, though the government is expected to quickly request a stay or appeal of the decision. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has extended through February 1, 2021 its accommodation permitting certain foreign nationals to use an Employment Authorization Document approval notice as a List C document when establishing employment verification in the I-9 process. 
  • Poland: Effective December 1, 2020, eligible Belarussian nationals can benefit from a new streamlined work visa category under the Poland Business Harbor program.
  • Minimum salary requirements: The Netherlands published 2021 minimum salary levels. Check this consolidated information page for more information.



These items and other news from Andorra, Finland, Ireland, Malta, Mauritania, Poland, Russia, and the United States follow in this edition of the Fragomen Immigration Update.

 

Important Updates in Immigration This Week

United States, December 3, 2020

Ninth Circuit Reinstates Bar on Public Charge for Several States; Government Response Awaited

  • The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has reinstated two lower court preliminary injunctions, barring the Department of Homeland Security from enforcing the public charge rule in almost 20 states.
  • The government could quickly request a stay of the decision or appeal of the decision.
  • U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has not yet issued guidance on its implementation of the court order.
  • If implemented, the preliminary injunction would apply to the U.S. States of California and Washington as well as to their co-plaintiffs in the lawsuits: the District of Columbia, Colorado, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Virginia. 



To view entire article, click here.

 

Ireland, December 2, 2020

Streamlined Residence Card Renewal Process for Dublin Residents

  • In a change of policy, Dublin residents applying for residence card renewal no longer need to submit their original passport by mail, which was previously required.
  • Under the new policy, applicants can retain their passports for the duration of the renewal processing, which frequently takes up to eight weeks.
  • The new policy significantly reduces travel and right to work uncertainty for residence card renewal applicants.

 

To view entire article, click here.

 

United States, December 1, 2020

Federal District Court Sets Aside New DHS and DOL Rules

  • A federal district court in California has set aside the fast-tracked Departments of Labor and Homeland Security rules that significantly increased prevailing wage levels and tightened H-1B eligibility criteria.
  • The court found that the agencies did not have good cause to bypass notice and comment rulemaking procedures in violation of the Administrative Procedures Act.
  • The summary judgement ruling is immediately effective, though a speedy government appeal could affect the decision’s implementation.



To view entire article, click here.

 

United States, December 1, 2020

Federal Court Rules Against Tech Union in Effort to End OPT

  • A federal district court judge has issued an order upholding the Department of Homeland Security’s post-graduate Optional Practical Training (OPT) programs.
  • The order rejects the latest effort by the Washington Alliance of Technology Workers to strike down OPT and STEM OPT.
  • Plaintiffs are expected to appeal the decision.



To view entire article, click here.

 

United States, December 1, 2020

USCIS Further Extends Temporary I-9 Verification Accommodations Due to EAD Production Delays

  • Through February 1, 2021, employers may accept an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) approval notice as a List C document when establishing employment verification in the I-9 process. This accommodation had originally been scheduled to expire on December 1, 2020.
  • Only approval notices issued on or after December 1, 2019 and through and including August 20, 2020 will qualify under this accommodation.
  • For employment authorization to continue after February 1, 2021, employers must reverify employees with new evidence of employment authorization. EAD approval notices will not be accepted after this date. 



To view entire article, click here.

 

Poland, November 30, 2020

Streamlined Work Visa for Belarussian Nationals Forthcoming

  • Effective December 1, 2020, eligible Belarussian nationals will benefit from a new streamlined work visa category under the Poland Business Harbor program.
  • Applicants require a technology-related secondary professional degree (or higher) or at least one year of professional experience in the information technology (IT) field. Alternatively, applicants can be invited to apply by a Polish IT company participating in the program.
  • Eligible applicants under the Poland Business Harbor program can apply for a work visa without having to obtain a separate work permit and will benefit from work visa processing two to seven months faster than under other options in Poland.

 

To view entire article, click here.

 

Other Weekly News Briefs

Finland: Revised Posted Worker Directive Implemented – Effective December 1, 2020, Finland has implemented the Revised Posted Worker Directive. The new legislation offers more detailed pay regulation; extends collective bargaining agreements to foreign workers transferred to work in Finland within the same corporate or subcontractor group; sets forth local accommodation quality requirements for posted workers; expands employment condition requirements beyond 12 months of work; and requires employers to cover certain travel, accommodation and meal expenses for posted workers. Certain changes to the notification system only take effect October 1, 2021. Although Finland missed the implementation deadline of the Directive by five months, Fragomen does not expect the European Commission to take further infringement actions. Implementation remains pending in Austria, Bulgaria, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Greece, Ireland, Latvia, Luxembourg, Portugal, Slovenia (legislation pending), Spain and the United Kingdom.

Malta: New Citizenship by Investment Program Forthcoming – Effective immediately, Malta's Individual Investor Program (IIP) is closed. The IIP was initially scheduled to close in April 2020, but continued for several more months to exhaust available application quota spots. Pending applications continue to be processed. A new citizenship by investment program, Granting of Citizenship for Exceptional Services, will be made available in the coming months. This program will have a merit-based and an investment-based category. Applicants under the investment-based category must have resided in Malta for 12 months and make a government contribution of EUR 750,000; or have resided in Malta for 36 months and make a government contribution of EUR 600,000. Additionally, applicants must invest EUR 700,000 in real estate (or pay EUR 16,000 annual lease) and maintain the property for at least five years; pay a EUR 15,000 government filing fee; make an exceptional investment and EUR 10,000 charitable donation; and must have a clean criminal and financial record. Further details on the eligibility requirements and application process are expected in the coming months. Fragomen will report on related developments.

Mauritania: Longer Visa Validity Period for Moroccan Business Travelers – The Mauritania Embassy in Morocco now allows Moroccan business travelers to apply for a business visa valid for a two-year stay in Mauritania, instead of three months, as is the normal business visa validity period for other business visitors entering Mauritania. Such business visa applicants must include a supporting letter from the General Confederation of Moroccan Enterprises (CGEM) with their business visa application to substantiate the longer stay.

Poland: Work Authorization Exemption for Healthcare Professionals – Effective December 1, 2020, licensed doctors, dentists and nurses are work permit exempt in Poland. As a result, these individuals can apply for a work visa without a separate work permit application, expediting the application process by two to seven months. This measure further facilitates access for these sought-after professionals.

Poland: Reports of Phishing Activity – Polish authorities published a warning of attempts to obtain funds from foreign nationals (phishing) by individuals fraudulently claiming to be Ministry of Foreign Affairs officials. Foreign nationals are reminded that official government sources will never demand payments over the phone. Immigration authorities may contact the applicants directly, via official communication routes, i.e., letter posted via Polish post. Individuals may report fraud attempts to the local Police and Ministry of Foreign Affairs, at [email protected].

Russia/Andorra: Visa-Free Entry Agreement Signed – On November 25, 2020, Russia and Andorra signed a visa waiver agreement permitting visa-free entry for business or tourism trips up to 90 days, for nationals of each others’ countries. The agreement does not yet have practical effect since Russia currently does not permit Andorran nationals to enter under pandemic-related entry restrictions. Once the agreement takes effect, Andorran travelers can enter Russia without a visa for up to 90 days per year; Russian nationals can enter Andorra for 90 days in a 180-day period. Fragomen will publish an update when the agreement is effective.

United States: Latest PERM and PWD Processing Times – As of November 30, 2020, the Department of Labor (DOL) was conducting analyst review for PERM applications filed in June 2020 or earlier, and processing audited cases filed in January 2020 or earlier. DOL is working on standard reconsideration requests submitted in August 2020 or earlier. DOL is issuing prevailing wage determinations (PWDs) for PERM and H-1B requests filed in July 2020. The agency has been processing PERM redeterminations requested in October 2020. PERM center director reviews requested in September 2020 remain pending. These reports are available on the FLAG page.

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