Virginia, US

Dec 07 2018

Weekly Immigration Update: November 30 - December 6, 2018

Argentina, Belgium, Canada, Chile, European Union, India, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Serbia, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States, Venezuela

In United States immigration news this week, USCIS published a proposal that would revise the H-1B cap selection process. Among the proposed changes, employers would be required to submit online registrations for all intended cap beneficiaries during a designated period, after which a lottery would select the winning registrations. Employers would file H-1B cap petitions and supporting evidence for winning registrations only.

The U.S. Congress has passed a short-term spending bill that will fund the federal government - including immigration operations - through December 21.

The United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement has been signed; it will replace NAFTA once ratified by the legislatures of the three member countries.  NAFTA labor mobility provisions are expected to remain in place until then.

Companies in Malaysia are reminded to submit their 2019 projections for Professional Visit Passes and Employment Passes as soon as possible so that they can submit initial or renewal work pass applications.

In the United Kingdom, the government suspended the Tier 1 (Investor) Visa category for new applications on December 6, 2018. Also in the United Kingdom, a recent Home Office policy paper outlines the arrangements for EU nationals residing in the United Kingdom in case of a no-deal Brexit.

Due to new limitations on the issuance of police clearances in Mexico, foreign nationals may see significant delays in their visa application processes.

Starting January 1, 2019, Belgium's Single Permit scheme will become available for foreign nationals seeking to work over 90 days.

Following the introduction of martial law in Ukraine scheduled to run from November 28 to December 26, 2018, Russian men aged 16-60 will likely not be allowed to access Ukraine during this period.

These items and other news from Argentina, Canada, Chile , the European Union, India, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Serbia, Venezuela and the United States follow in this edition of the Fragomen Immigration Update.

Important Updates in Immigration This Week

United States, December 6, 2018

Federal Shutdown Averted for Now

Congress has passed a short-term spending bill that will fund the federal government - including immigration operations - through December 21.

To view entire article, click here.

United States, November 30, 2018

USCIS Proposes H-1B Cap Registration System

  • A proposal to require employers to register online prior to submission of an H-1B cap filing is set to be published on December 3, the next step toward a potential change in the H-1B cap petition process. The proposal would also switch the order of the regular and master's cap lotteries to maximize the number of U.S. advanced-degree holders selected.
  • USCIS will accept public feedback on the proposal for 30 days from publication.
  • USCIS is aiming to have the new system finalized and in place for the FY 2020 cap filing season, but could defer the online registration requirement to a future year if it cannot be implemented in time.

To view entire article, click here.

United States, November 30, 2018

Canada, Mexico and the United States Sign Revised Trade Pact

  • The United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement will replace NAFTA once the Agreement is ratified by the legislatures of the three member countries.
  • The labor mobility provisions of the Agreement are expected to be implemented consistent with existing practices under NAFTA, though each country continues to have the authority to interpret the agreement with respect to the cross-border movement of businesspersons, professionals, intracompany transferees, traders and investors.

To view entire article, click here.

Chile , December 6, 2018

Online Appointment System Continues to Cause Processing Delays

The new online appointment system implemented at the Central Immigration Office in Santiago, Chile and the significant reduction of available appointments continue to cause significant delays to all immigration processes filed in Santiago. Foreign nationals should begin their in-country application processes much sooner and should consider submitting their applications at a consulate, if appropriate, as a faster alternative.

To view entire article, click here.

United Kingdom, December 6, 2018

Policy Paper Details EU Nationals' Position in the United Kingdom in No-Deal Brexit

A recent UK Home Office policy paper outlines the arrangements for EU nationals residing in the United Kingdom in case of a no-deal Brexit. The Home Office calls on EU countries to guarantee similar protections for UK nationals residing in the European Union.

To view entire article, click here.

United Kingdom, December 6, 2018

Tier 1 (Investor) Visa Category Temporarily Suspended

The UK government will suspend the Tier 1 (Investor) Visa category for new applications as of midnight December 6, 2018 until a replacement category with an amended process and revised eligibility criteria is launched early 2019. The suspension should not affect current permit holders or pending applications. Affected applicants are advised to contact their immigration professional to discuss alternatives.

To view entire article, click here.

Netherlands, December 6, 2018

Minimum Salary Level to Increase

Effective January 1, 2019, the minimum monthly salary for foreign workers in the Netherlands will increase to EUR 4,500 for highly-skilled migrants over 30 years old and EU Intracompany Transferee (ICT) Permit applicants, up approximately two percent from last year.

To view entire article, click here.

Belgium, December 5, 2018

Update on Single Permit Implementation

As of January 1, 2019, foreign workers entering Belgium for work activities over 90 days must apply for a Single Permit in Belgium, which combines work and residence authorization in a single document. The new single application process will require applicants to simultaneously submit documents related to employment and residence authorization. The single application process will also apply to work and residence permit renewals. Employers and foreign nationals are advised to plan for longer processing times due to the transition to the new system.

To view entire article, click here.

Serbia, December 4, 2018

Stricter Enforcement of Lease Agreement Requirements


The Serbian Foreigners Department is increasing its enforcement of the documentary requirements for residence permit holders staying in leased apartments or hotels. Due to the stricter enforcement, applicants will need to secure their leased accommodation before they submit their residence permit application, whereas before they could secure it after they obtained a residence permit. Employers should plan for delays in start dates due to longer document gathering times.

To view entire article, click here.

Malaysia, December 4, 2018

Companies Must Submit 2019 Employment Pass and Professional Visit Pass Projections

Due to holiday closures and the expected high volume of projection applications in Malaysia, companies should submit their 2019 projections for Professional Visit Passes and Employment Passes as soon as possible to avoid complications. Although there is no deadline for submission, affected employers who do not have approved projections for 2019 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.

Mexico, December 4, 2018

Issues Arising from New Police Clearance Policy

As of September 2018, the Mexican Federal Police has limited the issuance of police clearances, which are required documents for the submission of visa applications to various countries. Under the new policy, the Federal Police only issues police clearances to applicants who can obtain a letter from the consulate of their destination country stating that the applicant needs this document for their immigration process. The new policy also requires the applicant to request the police clearance in person at the Federal Police offices. Since the new policy has not been directly communicated to consular posts in Mexico, some consular posts are refusing to issue these letters, causing delays to many applicants' visa application processes.

To view entire article, click here.

Ukraine, November 30, 2018

Entry of Russian Men Aged 16-60 Temporarily Restricted

Following the introduction of martial law in Ukraine scheduled to run from November 28 to December 26, 2018, Russian men aged 16-60 (both inclusive) will likely not be allowed to access Ukraine during this period. The State Border Authority has confirmed that male Russian nationals with valid Ukrainian temporary or permanent residence permits should not be affected by the restrictions. Nevertheless, Fragomen cautions that Russian permit holders may still not be admitted to Ukraine. Affected Russian nationals are advised to contact their immigration professional to discuss their eligibility to apply for a permit and to contact the relevant Russian consular post for guidance and advice prior to any travel into Ukraine. Employers are advised to postpone business trips and plan for delays in work start dates of affected applicants. Fragomen will monitor developments and will keep clients informed.

To view entire article, click here.

India, November 30, 2018

Significant Processing Delays in Mumbai May Affect International Travel

Foreign nationals residing in the Indian states of Maharashtra, Goa, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh - the areas to which the new electronic processing system was most recently expanded - have been facing significant processing delays for Residential Permits, Stay Visas (extended Residential Permits) and other Indian permits due the centralized structure the Indian Bureau of Immigration set up for approvals. Since foreign nationals must remain in India while their immigration application is processed, those with pending immigration applications are advised to not travel internationally until their permit is issued. If they leave India during the approval process, the relevant case processing office may cancel or put the application on hold, causing the applicant to need to re-file the application once they return to India, which is time-consuming.

To view entire article, click here.

Weekly News Briefs

United States: USCIS Updates H-2B Cap Count - USCIS reports that as of December 6, 2018, it received filings on behalf of 32,405 H-2B beneficiaries for the first half of FY 2019. Of these, 28,986 had been approved and 3,419 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.

Argentina: Delays Due to Online System Continue - Delays in processing all in-country visa applications continue due to the recent implementation of an online appointment system and limited available appointments. Foreign nationals seeking to obtain Mercosur or non-Mercosur residence visas may apply at consulates to work around the delays. The biggest impact is seen by foreign nationals seeking to obtain Transitory Residence 24h visas in country, especially for non-Mercosur nationals, as these individuals are usually visiting Argentina for short periods, in some cases for a few days, and appointments may not be available for several days. As a possible solution, Transitory Residence 24h visa applicants can file applications at Argentine consulates instead of in Argentina.

Canada: Reminder on Biometrics Requirement - Beginning December 31, 2018, all foreign nationals from Asia, Asia Pacific and the Americas (except U.S. nationals and those covered by a specific exclusion) will be required to submit biometrics as part of most immigration processes prior to traveling, or on entry to, Canada. Foreign nationals from Europe, Africa and the Middle East were already required to submit biometrics for immigration processes since July 31, 2018 as part of the first stage of the program's implementation.

European Union: Requirement to Legalize EU Documents to be Abolished - As a reminder, as of February 16, 2019, documents such as birth and marriage certificates and police clearance certificates, among others, issued in the European Union for use in the European Union will no longer required to be apostilled or legalized based on EU rules. Additionally, if a translation is required, this can be obtained through a multilingual standard form, to be attached to the relevant document. Separately, 17 EU countries are currently party to the Convention on the Issue of Multilingual Extracts from Civil Status Records , which allows for birth and marriage certificates, among others, to be issued in a standardized multilingual format. This convention will continue to apply in the contracting EU countries, in addition to the new rules waiving apostille or legalization requirements.

Mexico: Visa Waiver for Ecuadorian Nationals - Effective November 29, 2018, Ecuadorian nationals can enter Mexico without a consular visa to perform non-remunerated activities, including tourism and business activities, for a maximum of 180 days per entry. This allows a more expedited travel process for Ecuadorian nationals as they no longer need to obtain consular visas to travel to Mexico.

New Zealand: Higher Remuneration Band Thresholds for Essential Skills Work Visa Category - Immigration New Zealand has announced a slight increase in remuneration band thresholds to the Essential Skills Work Visa category. Remuneration bands are used to assess the skill level of each work visa applicant which affects the duration of the visa granted. The following outlines the remuneration thresholds and ANZSCO (Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations) levels associated with each skill band:

  • High-skilled: earning at least NZD 37.50 per hour for any ANZSCO level
  • Mid-skilled: earning at least NZD 21.25 per hour for ANZSCO skill levels 1-3
  • Low-skilled: earning less than NZD 37.49 per hour for ANZSCO skill levels 1-3, or earning less than NZD 21.24 per hour for ANZSCO skill levels 4-5

The higher rates will apply to all applications filed on or after November 26, 2018.

Venezuela: Processing Delays Continue - Foreign and Venezuelan nationals continue to experience processing delays and administratively burdensome processes.  This includes processing delays for filings at the Venezuelan Immigration Office SAIME including visa renewals, local identification card (cédula) renewals and transfers of Venezuelan visas to a new passport must be filed in person and can take several months to process. Also, applicants still have to apply in person to request apostille or legalization of documents and show proof of travel within 15 calendar days. Applications are accepted only on Mondays and Tuesdays and are issued by Friday. However, obtaining documents, including birth or marriage certificates typically issued by a Registry office, or diplomas and transcripts typically issued by universities, can take up to three months in Caracas, or even longer if issued outside of Caracas. Applicants should check with their immigration provider to review their specific situation and should be prepared for delays.


Global Immigration News Links

  • A European Parliament committee endorsed two separate proposals to improve the security of identification cards issued in the European Union, and to streamline short-stay visa applications. Once the full Parliament confirms the plans, it can start negotiations with the Council.
  • The European Commission is preparing for four potential scenarios in case the UK Parliament does not approve the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement.
  • Citing the First Amendment, a U.S. appeals court struck down a federal immigration law that opponents warned could be used to criminalize a wide range of statements involving illegal immigration.
  • The Romanian government lost its majority in the lower house of Romanian parliament, while due to take over the rotating presidency of the European Union as of January 1, 2019.
  • A recent survey found that EU citizens are positive about the Schengen area and its benefits to the European Union.

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