Connecticut, US

Nov 16 2018

Weekly Immigration Update: November 9 - 15, 2018

Albania, Argentina, Canada, Costa Rica, European Union, France, Indonesia, Norway, Peru, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Slovak Republic, Sweden, United Kingdom, United States

In United States immigration news this week, a new Labor Condition Application (LCA) form, which becomes mandatory on November 19, will require employers to name third-party organizations where H-1B, H-1B1 and E-3 workers will be placed.

According to the U.S. State Department's December Visa Bulletin, there will be modest advancements for EB-1, EB-2 and EB-3 cutoff dates. USCIS indicated it will accept employment-based adjustment applications from foreign nationals with a priority date that is current for filing under the State Department's December Visa Bulletin.

The EU and the UK governments have agreed to the terms of the United Kingdom's withdrawal from the European Union, pending UK parliament ratification. The deal increases the likelihood of an orderly exit with a transition period. The United Kingdom Migration Advisory Committee is inviting stakeholders to provide their feedback on current shortage occupations.

Costa Rica has published new entry guidelines for non-resident foreign nationals concerning entry requirements and visa exemptions, document translation requirements and duration of stay under entry visas for Colombian and Nicaraguan nationals.

In Saudi Arabia, instead of a labor market test, employers must now submit a block visa request directly through the Ministry of Labor and Social Development online portal.

These items and other news from Albania, Argentina, Canada, France, Indonesia, Norway, Peru, Romania, Slovakia, Sweden, and the United Kingdom follow in this edition of the Fragomen Immigration Update.

 

Important Updates in Immigration This Week

United States, November 14, 2018

December Visa Bulletin Update: USCIS to Honor Employment-Based Filing Dates 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.
  • The USCIS decision to honor the Dates for Filing chart means that some foreign nationals with priority dates that are backlogged may still submit green card applications in December.



To view entire article, click here.

 

United States, November 13, 2018

December 2018 Visa Bulletin: Modest Advancement for EB-1, EB-2 and EB-3 Cutoff Dates

  • EB-1 will advance by three months for all countries to July 1, 2017 except China and India, which will move to September 1, 2016.
  • EB-2 will remain current for all countries, except for China which will advance by six weeks, to July 1, 2015, and India, which will advance by one week, to April 1, 2009.
  • The EB-3 Professional and Skilled Worker Subcategory will continue to be current for most countries, while China, India and the Philippines will modestly advance.



To view entire article, click here.

 

United States, November 12, 2018

Holiday Travel Planning for Foreign Nationals

  • If you are a foreign national planning to travel internationally during the upcoming holiday season, make sure that you have all the necessary documents, including a passport with sufficient remaining validity, a valid U.S. visa in the appropriate classification, and advance permission to travel if necessary.
  • If you will need to apply for a visa while you are abroad, be prepared for possible delays in visa issuance.
  • On reentry to the United States, expect thorough screening at the port of entry.



To view entire article, click here.

 

United States, November 9, 2018

DOL to Debut New LCA Form on November 19

  • The new form will require employers to name third-party organizations where H-1B, H-1B1 and E-3 workers will be placed.
  • H-1B dependent employers claiming certain exemptions from their recruitment and non-displacement obligations will need to identify the basis for the exemption.
  • Between now and November 18, employers can continue to file on the current version of the LCA form. As of November 19, the new edition of the LCA form will be mandatory.



To view entire article, click here.

 

United States, November 9, 2018

USCIS Implements Second Phase of Broadened Notice to Appear Policy

  • Starting November 19, USCIS may initiate removal proceedings against beneficiaries of certain humanitarian petitions and applications whose cases are denied, including asylee/refugee relatives, Special Immigrant Juveniles, battered spouses, and U and T nonimmigrants. 
  • Application of the Notice To Appear policy to denied employment-based filings remains on hold for now.



To view entire article, click here.

 

United States, November 9, 2018

DHS and DOL Seek to Replace the H-2B Print Newspaper Ads with Online Ads

  • If the proposed regulation is implemented, H-2B employers will be required to post electronic advertisements on the internet; DOL seeks to eliminate the two print newspaper advertisements that the regulations currently require.
  • The rule is a proposal only and will be published for public feedback. It will not take effect until approved in final form, a process that typically takes several months.



To view entire article, click here.

 

Romania, November 15, 2018

Streamlined Immigration Application Processing Forthcoming

The Romanian parliament has adopted the immigration proposal published by the Romanian government in October, but with significant amendments. Contrary to the proposal, quotas and labor market testing will continue to apply. However, the minimum salary requirement for foreign workers will decrease significantly and local diploma certification will no longer be required, among other changes. As a result, employers and foreign nationals should benefit from streamlined immigration processing, making Romania more attractive as a destination for foreign workers.

To view entire article, click here.

 

Saudi Arabia, November 15, 2018

Labor Market Testing Requirement Relaxed

Employers in Saudi Arabia are no longer required to conduct labor market testing before a block visa is adjudicated by the Ministry of Labor and Social Development. The elimination of this requirement will significantly reduce the time it takes to obtain a block visa approval, which is required before the work authorization process for foreign nationals can begin.

To view entire article, click here.

 

European Union/United Kingdom, November 15, 2018

Brexit Withdrawal Agreement Approved

The EU and the UK governments have agreed to the terms of the United Kingdom's withdrawal from the European Union. The deal is significant, as it increases the likelihood of an orderly exit with a transition period, rather than a no-deal Brexit where ties are cut immediately on March 29, 2019. The deal now needs to be ratified by the UK parliament.  Many commentators are questioning how realistic the prospect of ratification is, with a number of Cabinet Ministers resigning from their posts this morning and opposition from Members of Parliament in all parties.

To view entire article, click here.

 

United Kingdom, November 14, 2018

Request for Feedback on Shortage Occupations

The Migration Advisory Committee is inviting stakeholders to provide their feedback on current shortage occupations in the United Kingdom. Foreign nationals in recognized shortage occupations can enter the United Kingdom more quickly and with more certainty in Tier 2 (General). The Migration Advisory Committee will use the information to recommend changes to the list to the UK government.

To view entire article, click here.

 

Costa Rica, November 14, 2018

Entry Rules and Visa Exemptions Amended

The Immigration Directorate in Costa Rica published new entry guidelines for non-resident foreign nationals concerning entry requirements, entry visa exemptions, document translation requirements and duration of stay under entry visas for Colombian and Nicaraguan nationals. Most of these guidelines expand entry options for business visitors and tourists. Additionally, all foreign nationals must now possess a valid machine-readable passport or travel document when traveling to Costa Rica.

To view entire article, click here.

 

European Union, November 14, 2018

European Commission Makes Progress on Brexit Contingency Planning

On November 13, the European Commission published a contingency action plan and other documents in preparation of the United Kingdom's withdrawal from the European Union on March 30, 2019, to mitigate negative impact if there is a no-deal Brexit. The contingency action plan contains provisions on visa policy in the case of a no-deal Brexit, travel to the European Union, and addresses the status of UK nationals already residing in the European Union. The European Commission continues to advise that preparations should be made by stakeholders at the EU and Member State level, even while negotiations continue to secure a withdrawal deal.

To view entire article, click here.

 

Weekly News Briefs

Albania: Residence Permit Processing Delayed – The Border and Migration Police, the main immigration authority in Albania, is facing processing delays ranging from a few weeks to a few months for in-country residence permits. While the delays do not affect work start dates as this process takes place after the start of work, the delays could restrict travel if a foreign national’s visa expires while their residence permit is being processed. Fragomen will monitor the delays and will keep clients informed of developments.

Albania: New Document Requirement Forthcoming – The Albanian parliament recently amended the document requirements for residence permit renewal applications. Applicants should now submit an extract from the Albanian civil registry with their renewal application, a requirement that did not previously exist. Although the Border and Migration Police is not yet requiring this document, it is expected to start requesting it in the coming weeks. Moving forward,  foreign nationals should register with the civil registry of their Albanian town hall of residence upon initial arrival to ensure that they can produce this document in case of a renewal application.

Argentina: Local Police Clearance Required for Transitory Visa 24(h) – Foreign nationals are now required to obtain a police clearance issued by the Argentine Registry of Criminal Records in order to apply for Transitory Visa 24(h). The police clearance must be obtained in person at any of the Registry’s offices and costs USD 15. Foreign nationals who wish to obtain their Transitory Visa 24(h) visa and police clearance on the same day can utilize the Registry office inside the Immigration Department in Buenos Aires. This new requirement slightly increases the cost of the overall visa application but should not increase processing times.

Argentina: Transitory Visas 24(h) Appointment and Processing Delays – Foreign nationals are encountering numerous issues and delays in obtaining Transitory Visas 24(h) in Buenos Aires, both during the online scheduling of the required in-person appointment and at the appointment. Foreign nationals and employers should expect these visas to take up to a few days to process, despite normally being processed in one day. To avoid appointment scheduling and processing issues, foreign nationals should apply for a Transitory Visa 24(h) at an Argentine consulate prior to entering the Argentina. It is not clear when these issues will be resolved. Affected travelers should contact their immigration professional for case-by-case advice.

Canada: Passport Submission Process Released for Relocated U.S. Visa Application Centers – The relocated Visa Application Centers (VAC) in Los Angeles and New York City are now open and have announced the updated passport submission process for visa applications. Foreign nationals should now submit one package to the VAC in Los Angeles or New York with the following items: the applicant’s passport; the Immigration Refugees Citizenship Canada Passport Request Letter; two copies of a consent form per applicant; the required payments; and a printed page of the applicant’s contact details, including full return address and phone number. Foreign nationals will no longer use the old LockBox system where payments were made separately from the rest of the application. Foreign nationals seeking to submit documents to a relocated VAC, including in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic; Port-au-Prince, Haiti; Georgetown, Guyana; Montego Bay, Jamaica; and Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, should check the VAC website for information on local changes.

France/Norway/Sweden: Border Control Updates – Sweden has extended its border controls until February 11, 2019, France until April 30, 2019, and Norway until May 11, 2019, due to increased security concerns, per the European Commission website. These border controls require tourists and business travelers to show travel documents upon entry, which is an exception to the general rule allowing travel within the Schengen area without the need to show travel documents.

Indonesia: New Visa Stickers to Replace Visa Stamps – The Department of Immigration has announced plans to introduce new visa stickers that will replace the current visa stamps issued to foreign nationals entering Indonesia, which can be difficult to read and identify. The new visa stickers will be in English and will clearly indicate the date of entry, validity, duration of stay allowed, and the type of visa granted. No exact time frame is given, but it is expected that the new visa stickers will be implemented soon. The change will affect foreign nationals entering Indonesia on business or work-authorized status, and will clearly indicate the date of entry, validity, duration of stay allowed, and the type of visa granted. The visa stickers will be issued in the same way that the visa stamps were issued—after application at an Indonesian consular post, or upon entry at immigration counters—depending on the nationality of the applicant. This change, taken together with the other recent changes, reflect an intent to modernize and streamline the business immigration system. Fragomen will continue to monitor the situation and provide further updates as needed.

Peru: Further Guidance Regarding New Online Work Contract Registration System – When SIVICE, the new online system for work contract registration, is launched, the Ministry of Labor will approve foreign nationals’ work contract registrations in one day, instead of the previous 15 days. The registration system will require differing information depending on the type of contract the foreign national signs and the purpose of the employer's use of the system. Nationals of Bolivia, Colombia and Ecuador will now have the option to use the SIVICE system or the separate system already in place for these nationals based on an international treaty (SIVITMA). The Ministry of Labor has not yet announced the official date for when the system will be operational.

Slovakia: Labour Office Delays Persist – Single Permit applicants in Slovakia are now facing one- to three-month delays due to longer processing times at the Bratislava Labour Office, instead of the two-month delays reported in September. Delays have been ongoing since June and are expected to continue for several more months. The delays affect the overall Single Permit processing times because the Labour Office must issue a supporting statement as part of the Single Permit application process. Employers should continue to initiate cases earlier to compensate for the delays.

 

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