US

Oct 08 2020

Weekly Immigration Update: October 2-8, 2020

Australia, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Brazil, Bulgaria, Cambodia, Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica, Egypt, Estonia, European Union, Finland, France, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iraq, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Latvia, Lesotho, Lithuania, Malaysia, Malta, Mauritius, Morocco, Mozambique, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Peru, Poland, Qatar, Republic of the Philippines, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Slovenia, South Africa, St. Kitts and Nevis , Thailand, The Bahamas, Tunisia , Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States

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 coronavirus-related news page for the latest immigration updates.
  • United States: A new Department of Labor regulation, which took effect October 8, significantly lifts prevailing wages for the H-1B, E-3, H-1B1 and PERM programs. A companion regulation issued by the Department of Homeland Security will tighten the criteria for the H-1B program by revising key H-1B definitions like “specialty occupation,” limiting third-party placement H-1B validity to one year increments, and reimplementing  contract and itinerary requirements that had been rescinded earlier this year, among other changes. This rule is to take effect December 7. A federal district court issued a limited injunction blocking the U.S. government from enforcing President Trump’s proclamation suspending the entry of certain H-1B, L-1, H-2B and J-1 nonimmigrants, and their dependents, against the plaintiffs in the case. The injunction is not nationwide in scope and protects the plaintiffs and plaintiff organization members only.
  • United Kingdom: The Home Office introduced the Student and Child Student route of the points-based system, which has replaced the Tier 4 (General) and Tier 4 (Child) routes. Effective October 27, the Immigration Health Surcharge–a mandatory fee that applies to all foreign nationals staying in the United Kingdom for at least six months–will increase to GBP 624 per year, up 56 percent from the previous amount.
  • Canada: The 2020 Parents and Grandparents Program—which allows Canadian nationals and permanent residents to sponsor their parents and grandparents for permanent residence in Canada—will open for a three-week period, starting October 13 at 12:00 EDT.



These items and other news from Australia, Bahrain, Canada, the European Union, Finland, the Netherlands, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and the United States follow in this edition of the Fragomen Immigration Update.

 

Important Updates in Immigration This Week

United States, October 7, 2020

FY 2022 Diversity Visa Lottery Registration Opens October 7

  • Entrants have until Tuesday, November 10, 2020 at noon EST to register online at the State Department’s official lottery website.
  • Lottery applications must conform to the State Department’s strict requirements.



To view entire article, click here.

 

United Kingdom, October 7, 2020

Immigration Health Surcharge Increase Forthcoming

  • Effective October 27, 2020, the Immigration Health Surcharge – a mandatory fee that applies to all foreign nationals staying in the United Kingdom for at least six months – will increase to GBP 624 per year, up 56 percent from the previous amount.
  • The discounted rate for students, student dependants, Youth Mobility Scheme and children (under 18) applicants will increase to GBP 470, up 56.7 percent from the previous amount.
  • An exemption will apply to applicants using the Health and Care visa route.

 

To view entire article, click here.

 

United States, October 6, 2020

New DHS Rule Tightens H-1B Program Criteria

  • A long-planned DHS regulation to tighten the criteria for the H-1B program was published on October 8 and takes effect December 7, 2020. It applies only to petitions filed on or after the effective date.
  • The rule revises key H-1B definitions like “specialty occupation,” limits third-party placement H-1B validity to one year increments, and reimposes contract and itinerary requirements that had been rescinded earlier this year, among other changes.
  • Though stakeholders can comment on the rule for 60 days prior to implementation, comments will not be considered before the rule takes effect.
  • The rule is expected to be challenged in court.



To view entire article, click here.

 

United States, October 6, 2020

New DOL Rule Makes Significant Increases to PERM and H-1B Wage Minimums

  • The regulation will restructure the prevailing wage system for the H-1B, E-3, H-1B1 and PERM programs.
  • Entry-level wages for H-1B and PERM cases, for example, will increase to the 45th percentile of wages for the occupation and geographic location, from the 17th percentile – just under the current wage minimum for Level III. 
  • The regulation will be published on Thursday and will take effect immediately upon publication, though it is expected to be challenged in court.



To view entire article, click here.

 

United Kingdom, October 6, 2020

New Student Visa Routes Introduced

  • The Home Office introduced the Student and Child Student route of the points-based system, which has replaced the previous Tier 4 (General) and Tier 4 (Child) routes.
  • This route will apply to all visa applicants, including European Economic Area/Swiss nationals who wish to study in the United Kingdom from January 1, 2021 and have not started living in the United Kingdom by December 31, 2020.
  • The new Student and Child Student route improves on the previous Tier 4 route by streamlining and simplifying the applicable requirements.
  • The Home Office also released further details on the requirements of the Student and Child Student route, as well as Student Sponsor Guidance, detailing how to apply for a sponsor licence and how to sponsor a student.



To view entire article, click here.

 

Canada, October 6, 2020

2020 Parents and Grandparents Program to Open

  • After a long delay, the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada will open the 2020 Parents and Grandparents Program for a three-week period, starting October 13, 2020 at 12:00 EDT. The program allows Canadian nationals and permanent residents to apply to sponsor their parents and grandparents for permanent residence in Canada.
  • Potential sponsors should confirm that they meet the required minimum income requirements and submit an interest to sponsor form as soon as possible after the form becomes available on October 13, 2020, in order to increase their chances of obtaining an invitation to apply under the application cap.

 

To view entire article, click here.

 

United States, October 2, 2020

Federal District Court Blocks Enforcement of Nonimmigrant Entry Ban Against Parties to Court Challenge

  • A federal district court has issued a limited injunction, blocking the U.S. government from enforcing President Trump’s proclamation suspending the entry of certain H-1B, L-1, H-2B and J-1 nonimmigrants, and their dependents, against the plaintiffs in the case. 
  • The ruling protects the plaintiffs and plaintiff organization members only, which include Intrax, Inc. and the following trade organizations – National Association of Manufacturers, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Retail Federation and Technet. 
  • The Departments of State and Homeland Security are expected to appeal the ruling.



To view entire article, click here.

 

Other Weekly News Briefs

Australia: Federal Budget and Economic Recovery Plan Announced – The Australian government’s Federal Budget includes measures to boost the Global Talent and Business Innovation and Investment programs to assist in Australia’s economic recovery in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Among key improvements will be the tripling of the 2019-2020 places for the Global Talent Program to 15,000 places in 2021, and a significant increase in places for the Business Innovation and Investment visa program and other reforms to the program, refocusing investments on Australian venture capitals and emerging small and medium size businesses. The Budget also includes an allocation of over AUD 13.5M for Government Global Business and Talent Attraction Taskforce, established to attract international businesses and exceptional talent to Australia to support the post-COVID recovery and boost local jobs. There will also be a substantial boost allocated to the Partner visa program, which has been significantly delayed in recent years. This larger allocation may assist to alleviate some of the processing backlogs. Other announced measures include Visa Application Charge refunds, waivers or visa extensions to visa holders who have been unable to travel to Australia due to COVID-19. The changes will be implemented through regulatory and policy updates. Fragomen will continue to monitor this and will provide updates as available. MARN: 0004980

Bahrain: Extended Validity of Tourism Visa for U.S. Nationals – Effective immediately, U.S. nationals are eligible for a multiple-entry visa for tourism to Bahrain with a 10-year validity (the previous validity was five years, which is still available) and a maximum allowable stay of 90 days per visit. U.S. nationals traveling to Bahrain on this visa are prohibited from conducting employment activities. U.S. nationals can apply and obtain the visa online for a cost of BHD 64 (approximately USD 169.87). Applicants must provide copies of a return ticket, a hotel booking and a bank statement for the past three months with a closing balance of not less than BHD 300. The implementation of the extended visa comes after the governments of Bahrain and the United States signed an agreement in August 2020.

European Union/Canada: Update on Treaty Ratification – Although the EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) has been provisionally in force since its conclusion in 2017, only 14 EU countries (Austria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain and Sweden) have thus far ratified the agreement; ratification remains pending for the other 13 EU countries. Short-term mobility benefits of this treaty cover business visitors, intra-company transferees, investors, independent professionals and contractual service suppliers. Despite the harmonizing effect that the Agreement could have had, national rules remain very diverse, except those for intra-company transferees which are governed by the EU Intra-Company Transferee Directive. Canada has fully ratified and implemented CETA.

Finland: Post-Brexit Registration Forthcoming – Finnish authorities will open a specific post-Brexit residence registration for UK national residents and their family members on October 1, 2020. The registration will be mandatory for those residing in Finland under five years and recommended for those residing over five years holding a permanent residence certificate. Eligible residents have until September 30, 2021 to register via personal appointment. Successful applicants receive a residence permit card. Although further details on the registration process are not yet published, it is expected that applicants with under five years of residence pay a EUR 48 fee. As a reminder, new entrants arriving January 1, 2021 and after will fall under general immigration rules.

Netherlands: Rotterdam Expat Centre Temporarily Closed – The Rotterdam Expat Centre, a joint immigration and municipal service point, will be closed November 2-20, 2020 for renovations. No appointments are available during this period. Affected applicants should email the Expat Centre to schedule appointments around the closures.

Russia: Highly Qualified Specialist Salary Notifications Due October 30 – Employers have until October 30, 2020 to file third quarter notifications for salaries paid to highly-qualified specialists (HQS). The notification must state the salary paid to HQS from July 1, 2020 through September 30, 2020. The reported HQS salary should be no less than RUB 167,000 per calendar month or RUB 501,000 per quarter (if there was a break in work during the reported period). Violations of the established notification procedures, including failure to notify, will result in administrative fines for the employer.

Saudi Arabia: New Saudization Rules Announced for Communication and Information and Technology Sectors – The Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development (MHRSD) announced a new policy to nationalize select positions in the communication and information and technology sectors. Effective June 27, 2021, companies with five or more workers operating in the affected sectors will have to ensure that 25% of their workforce employed in specific positions are Saudi nationals, including network engineer and telecom engineer; computer programmer and software development specialist; technical support specialist and telephone technician, among others. Additionally, the MHRSD has established the following minimum monthly wages that will have to be paid to each Saudi worker, depending on their professional level: SAR 7,000 for employees in engineering positions and positions related to analysts and programmers; and SAR 5,000 for employees in technical positions. Affected employers must correct their Saudization rates and comply with the new requirements by the above-mentioned deadline. Noncompliant employers will be subject to penalties, including the suspension of select immigration and employment services such as the issuance of new work permits.

United States: Latest PERM and PWD Processing Times – As of September 30, 2020, the Department of Labor (DOL) was conducting analyst review for PERM applications filed in April 2020 or earlier, and processing audited cases filed in December 2019 or earlier. DOL is working on standard reconsideration requests submitted in June 2020 or earlier. DOL is issuing prevailing wage determinations (PWDs) for PERM and H-1B requests filed in June 2020. The agency has been processing PERM and H-1B redeterminations requested in August 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.