Virginia, US

Dec 05 2019

Weekly Immigration Update: November 28-December 5, 2019

Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Hungary, Iceland, India, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, United States

In immigration news this week:

  • United States: Recent reporting confirms that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) continues to maintain a dramatically increased pace of worksite enforcement that began last year. 
  • Ireland: Employers can now submit their comments on proposed changes to the Employment Permit scheme. The proposed bill consolidates existing Employment Permit legislation and proposes additional changes including the introduction of a seasonal employment permit.
  • Malaysia:  Companies in Malaysia must submit their 2020 Employment Pass and Professional Visit Pass projections before submitting initial or renewal work pass applications.
  • Netherlands: Application fees are significantly increasing at the International Newcomers Center.
  • Belgium: The minimum annual salary, beginning January 1, 2020, will increase in both the Flanders and Walloon regions.

These items and other news from Canada, Guatemala, Finland, India, Romania, Russia, Schengen Area, Spain, and Turkey follow in this edition of the Fragomen Immigration Update.

Important Updates in Immigration This Week

United States,
December 4, 2019

Worksite Enforcement Investigations Remain High

  • U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) continues to maintain a dramatically increased pace of worksite enforcement that began last year. 
  • Similar to FY 2018, the agency opened almost 7,000 new workplace investigations in fiscal year (FY) 2019, up from 1,691 in 2017 and 1,701 in FY 2016.  
  • Employers should have a comprehensive immigration compliance plan in place to prepare for the possibility of an ICE investigation.

To view entire article, click here.

Ireland, December 3, 2019

Public Consultation Open for Proposed Employment Permit Scheme Changes

  • A six-week public consultation period for interested parties to submit their comments on the proposed changes to the Employment Permit scheme has now opened.
  • Employers interested in making submissions can do so by emailing or mailing their comments by January 17, 2020.
  • The proposed Bill does not represent a change in overall government policy. It consolidates the existing Employment Permit legislation and among other changes, proposes introducing a seasonal employment permit, an exceptional circumstances employment permit and revising the labour market needs test to make it more relevant and efficient.
  • The government is expected to publish the final legislation in mid-2020.​

To view entire article, click here.

Malaysia, December 2, 2019

Companies Must Submit 2020 Employment Pass and Professional Visit Pass Projections

  • Due to holiday closures and the expected high volume of projection applications, companies in Malaysia registered with the Expatriate Services Division should submit their 2020 projections for Professional Visit Passes (PVP) and Employment Passes (EP) as soon as possible to avoid delays.
  • Companies in Malaysia registered with the Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation Sdn. Bhd. should submit their EP projections as soon as the submission period opens, which is expected to happen soon.
  • Although there is no deadline for submission, affected employers who do not have approved projections for 2020 cannot submit initial or renewal work pass applications until they obtain the required approval.
  • Foreign nationals already in Malaysia may need to exit if their new work passes cannot be obtained prior to the expiry of the current one.​

To view entire article, click here.

Belgium, December 2, 2019

Flanders and Walloon Regions Announce 2020 Minimum Salary Level Increases

  • Effective January 1, 2020, the minimum annual salary for foreign workers in the Flanders region in Belgium will increase to EUR 42,696 for highly-skilled work permits, EUR 34,156.80 for those under 30/nurses, EUR 68,314 for executives, and EUR 51,235 for EU Blue Card applicants.
  • In the Walloon region, the minimum annual salary for foreign workers will increase to EUR 42,869 for highly-skilled workers, EUR 71,521 for senior positions, EUR 55,431 and for EU Blue Card applicants.
  • Employers must increase salaries for current and new staff and notify authorities of increases for pending applications.​

To view entire article, click here.

Colombia, December 2, 2019

Online Application System for Degree Validation Experiencing Technical Issues

  • Foreign nationals working in Colombia in a government-regulated profession currently cannot apply for the requisite degree validation due to system issues with the Ministry of Education's online platform.
  • Degree validation applicants should expect delays until the system is fully restored, which is expected to happen within the next few days.

To view entire article, click here.


Switzerland, December 2, 2019

Work Permit Quotas for 2020 Unchanged from 2019

  • Swiss authorities have published the work permit quota numbers for foreign workers for 2020, with identical quota allocations as for 2019.
  • As before, quotas do not apply to applications for L permits for stays under four months, status changes and renewals.
  • Annual quotas are typically exhausted by the end of each year. Quarterly quotas are typically exhausted six to seven weeks after release. Employers are therefore advised to submit applications early to avoid rejections due to the quotas being filled.

To view entire article, click here.

Netherlands, November 27, 2019

International Newcomers Amsterdam Application Fees to Increase

  • Beginning January 1, 2020, the International Newcomers (IN) Amsterdam will increase its application fees significantly by 20%.
  • Foreign nationals use the IN Amsterdam as a central location where they can complete both their town hall registration and in-country immigration processes such as submitting biometric data and collecting their residence endorsement sticker and/or permit.
  • Employers should review their budgets in order to account for the additional costs for employing foreign nationals due to the fee increases.

​To view entire article, click here.

Weekly News Briefs

Canada: Biometrics Requirement Expanded to In-Country Applications – Two key changes regarding biometrics submission for foreign nationals in Canada have taken effect. First, the following groups of foreign nationals submitting immigration applications in Canada can now submit their biometrics in Canada (whereas they previously had to submit biometrics from abroad): foreign workers; international students; visa-required visitors and permanent residents. Second, foreign nationals from the above-listed groups who have not submitted biometrics to the Canadian government in the past 10 years and who are seeking an extension of their immigration status must submit their biometrics and can also do so in country. This may delay the extension application process. Foreign nationals from all countries (excepting U.S. nationals in certain instances) have been required to submit biometrics to enter Canada since this policy was introduced in 2018.

Finland: Processing Delays Update – Application processing times for Residence Permit for a Specialist (the main Finnish work authorization type for experts and managers) have normalized and are now back to under a month on average. The delays experienced until October caused applications to take three to four months to be processed. Card delivery delays may still occur due to effects of the recent postal strike but are likely to subside soon. In addition, there is currently a lack of open appointment times at immigration offices in Finland: for example in Helsinki, appointments should be scheduled at least two months in advance. Applying for an appointment from abroad (where appointments are granted between one and two weeks ahead, depending on the country) may be a possible solution.

Guatemala: Travel Permit Reminder Ahead of Holiday Season – As a reminder, foreign nationals with pending applications 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, foreign nationals must submit their original passport and travel itinerary to the Guatemalan Immigration Institute. It takes approximately three days to prepare the application and three to five business days for permit approval. Foreign nationals planning to travel during the holiday season should contact their immigration professional as soon as possible and submit their travel permit applications no later than December 12, 2019 to avoid re-entry issues.

India: Visa-on-Arrival Available for UAE Nationals - Nationals of the United Arab Emirates who were previously issued an electronic or regular Indian visa are now eligible for a non-extendable 60-day (double-entry) visa-on-arrival for business, tourism, conference and medical purposes. This allows such travelers to avoid administrative burdens when traveling to India for short trips. The visa-on-arrival can be obtained at any of the six designated ports of arrival, namely, Bangalore, Chennai, Delhi, Hyderabad, Kolkata and Mumbai international airports. UAE nationals visiting India for the first time must still obtain an electronic or regular visa at an Indian consular post prior to their travel. All other eligibility requirements remain the same.

Romania: Authorities Allow Posted Worker Notification Emails – Foreign employers seconding foreign workers on EU contract for short assignments (posted workers) in Romania can now notify key assignment data to local labor authorities by email, where previously a hardcopy application by visit to the authority office was required. As authorities typically do not issue confirmation of receipt, employers should keep proof of sending the email on file. Employers seeking more formal filing confirmation should submit a hardcopy application as before, which is still possible. 

Russia: Legislative Proposal Would Remedy Address Registration Issues - A legislative proposal currently pending with Russian parliament would allow foreign national landlords to host foreign workers for address registration, which is currently not possible. Additionally, the proposal would allow landlords residing outside Russia to designate an authorized representative to register their foreign national residents with the authorities, which also is currently not possible. The law is expected to pass in a few months' time without significant changes and will enter into force three months after it is passed.

Schengen Area: Schengen Visa Fee to Increase in 2020; Applications Can be Made Earlier - Schengen visa fees for all 26 Schengen countries will increase from EUR 60 to EUR 80 in the first half of 2020, starting as soon as February 2, 2020 in the Netherlands and Switzerland, the first countries to announce the date of increase.  In addition, visa applicants will be able to submit their applications six months prior to their trip instead of the current three months.  Foreign nationals entering the Schengen Area must obtain a Schengen visa for stay of up to 90 days in a 180-day period, unless they are from one of the Schengen visa-exempt countries, in which case they can enter for the same time period without a visa.

Spain: Appointment Delays Continue for Residence Cards and Re-entry Permits - Appointments for foreign nationals applying for residence cards and re-entry permits at Spanish police stations are currently difficult to obtain due to limited availability, continuing the delays experienced for the last few months. The delays most significantly affect foreign nationals applying for residence cards whose current residence card or multiple-entry visa has expired and who seek to leave Spain during the processing of their residence card. These foreign nationals require a re-entry permit to allow them re-enter Spain, which can only be obtained after completing a fingerprinting process that occurs at the residence card appointment. Since foreign nationals must apply for the residence card at the police station in their place of residence, affected foreign nationals should not exit Spain until they receive their re-entry permit upon completing their residence card appointment.

Turkey: Tourist Residence Permit Renewal Restriction - Touristic Short-Term Residence Permit holders will not be able to renew their permits as of January 1, 2020. Such Residence Permit holders must therefore apply for a change of status to another permit category such as one based on real estate ownership in Turkey; reaching 18 years of age (who were previously dependents in Turkey); attending a full-time Turkish language course; receiving medical treatment in Turkey; or other applicable categories. The Migration Directorate is expected to release more information about this restriction by the end of December 2019.


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