Oct 29 2020

Weekly Immigration Update: October 23-29, 2020

Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Costa Rica, Denmark, Egypt, Estonia, European Union, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, India, Iraq, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Jordan, Latvia, Lithuania, Malaysia, Mauritius, Netherlands, Peru, Republic of the Philippines, Russia, Singapore, Slovak Republic, Spain, Thailand, Turkey, 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 COVID-19 webpage for the latest immigration updates.
  • United States: The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is proposing a regulation that seeks to discontinue its computerized H-1B selection process and replace it with a system that allocates H-1B visa numbers according to the Department of Labor’s four-level wage system.  U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced that it will continue to honor the State Department’s Dates for Filing chart for adjustment of status filings in the month of November.  
  • United Kingdom: The UK government announced wide-ranging changes to its immigration rules which set out the legal framework for the new immigration system once free movement ends from the European Economic Area. Key changes include a new Skilled Worker route to replace Tier 2 (General); changes for visitors, students, intra-company transferees, and Global Talent applications; and a new route for Hong Kong British Nationals (Overseas); among others.
  • Ireland and Belgium: The minimum wage will be raised effective January 1, 2021, as indicated in our consolidated minimum salary alert page.

These items and other news from Denmark, Estonia, the European Union, Israel, Jamaica, Malaysia, Mauritius, Russia, Spain, and Sudan follow in this edition of the Fragomen Immigration Update.


Important Updates in Immigration This Week


United States, October 29, 2020

DHS Proposal Seeks H-1B Cap Selection Process Based on Wage Level

  • The Department of Homeland Security is proposing a regulation that would supplant the random, computerized H-1B lottery with a selection process based on the Department of Labor’s wage level system.
  • If the rule is finalized as proposed, USCIS would allocate H-1B visa numbers according to salary levels, giving priority to those earning the highest salaries in their respective occupations and geographic areas of employment. 
  • Though it takes several months to finalize a final rule, DHS aims to have the new selection in place by the Fiscal Year 2022 cap filing season.


To view entire article, click here.


United States, October 29, 2020

November 2020 Visa Bulletin: Final Action Dates Advance in Most Categories; Dates for Filing Remain Largely Unchanged and Will Be Honored by USCIS

  • EB-1 China and EB-1 India final action dates will advance by six months to December 1, 2018.
  • EB-2 China will advance by over seven weeks to April 22, 2016, and EB-2 India will advance three weeks to September 22, 2009.
  • EB-3 China will advance four months to October 1, 2017, and EB-3 India will advance one and a half months to March 1, 2010.
  • EB-5 China will remain at August 15, 2015 and EB-5 Vietnam will advance by two weeks to August 15, 2017.
  • Employment-based dates for filing remain largely unchanged from October.
  • USCIS announced that it will continue to honor dates for filing in November.


To view entire article, click here.


United Kingdom, October 28, 2020

Statement of Changes Explains Detailed Rules for New Immigration System

The UK government announced wide-ranging changes to UK immigration rules, which will form the basis of the new system coming into force upon the ending of free movement from the European Economic Area. Among the key changes include: 

  • A new Skilled Worker route to replace Tier 2 (General);
  • Changes for Visitors, Students, Intra-Company Transferees, Global Talent applications, English language testing, and refusal of permission on conduct grounds; and
  • A new route for Hong Kong British Nationals (Overseas).

This alert discusses the changes not covered in our alert on the Skilled Worker and Intra-company Transfer routes.

To view entire article, click here.


United Kingdom, October 23, 2020

Immigration Rule Changes Announced

  • The UK government has announced changes to the Immigration Rules to create the new Skilled Worker route, which will open on December 1, 2020 for non-European Economic Area (EEA) nationals and on January 1, 2021 for EEA nationals.
  • The Statement of Changes builds on the Policy Statement that was published in February and July 2020 by setting out the detailed rules for the new immigration system.


To view entire article, click here.


Other Weekly News Briefs

Denmark: Implementation of Revised Posted Worker Directive Forthcoming – Danish authorities have submitted a legislative proposal that would implement the Revised Posted Worker Directive with retroactive effect from July 30, 2020. If the proposal is passed without significant changes, which is anticipated, posted workers will be entitled to a broader compensation package; maximum posting durations (including consecutive postings) will be limited; and posted workers will be entitled to full host employment conditions after a shorter period of time than under current rules - the standard changes under the Revised Directive. Since Denmark does not have a national minimum wage, posted workers will be entitled to equal remuneration under applicable collective bargaining agreements only.

Estonia: New E-Residency Pick-up Locations Forthcoming - Estonia will soon add additional pick-up locations to its e-Residency program. Currently, pick-up locations are available in EU/European Economic Area countries and Australia, Belarus, Canada, Egypt, Georgia, India, Israel, Kazakhstan, Mainland China, Russia, Singapore, Turkey, Ukraine, the United Arab Emirates and the United States. Brazil, Japan, South Africa and Thailand will be added in the near future. E-Residency allows digital entrepreneurs to establish their business in Estonia, while managing their business online from any location via a digital identity card. Specifically, e-Residents can use Estonian public and private services such as online banking and payment services and can digitally sign documents such as employment contracts, all while based abroad. Applications are reviewed and a background check is conducted by the Estonian Police and Border Guard Board, the local immigration authority, in six to eight weeks. E-Residency does not include permission to stay and work in Estonia; e-Residents require a separate local permit such as the Digital Nomad visa. The e-Residency program and Digital Nomad visa showcase Estonia's willingness to support and regulate remote work. As a reminder, in countries where remote work is unregulated, workers and employers may be at risk of noncompliance with many aspects of the law, exposing them to possible fines or other penalties, depending on the country. Employers should analyze strategies and assess risks associated with following remote work policies with their immigration partner.

European Union: Coordinated COVID-19 Response Adopted – The European Council adopted a recommendation on a coordinated approach to the COVID-19-related travel restrictions to avoid fragmentation and disruption and to increase transparency and predictability for citizens and businesses. Under the approach, EU Member States should provide the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) with information including the number of newly notified cases per 100,000 persons in the last 14 days and the percentage of positive tests, among others. Based on this data, the ECDC will publish a weekly map marking countries in ‘green’, ‘orange’, ‘red’ or ‘grey’. Under this recommendation, Member States should not impose restrictions on travelers coming from ‘green’ regions (currently: regions of Finland, Greece and Norway), but can impose quarantine and testing measures for travelers coming from ‘orange' or ‘red' regions. The Council recommendation is not a legally binding instrument and each EU Member State retains responsibility for implementing the content of the recommendation.

Israel/Sudan: Normalized Relations Forthcoming – Israel and Sudan announced plans to normalize relations between the two countries. As a result, in the next few months, Israel and Sudan are expected to open economic and trade relations. Eventually, mobility laws will likely be affected. Recently, relations between Israel and Bahrain; and Israel and the United Arab Emirates were normalized. Fragomen will report on related developments.

Jamaica: Visa-on-Arrival Available for UAE Nationals – Nationals of the United Arab Emirates with a passport valid for at least six months are now eligible to receive a visa-on-arrival in Jamaica for tourist and permissible business stays of up to 30 days, extendable up to 90 days. Previously, they needed a consular Entry Visa to enter. As a reminder, all business visits to Jamaica are limited to an authorized stay of 30 consecutive days per entry, and a cumulative stay of six months per calendar year. This visa-on-arrival agreement is not reciprocal for Jamaican nationals’ entry to the United Arab Emirates - most Jamaican nationals still require a pre-arranged visa. 

Malaysia: New Job Advertisement Portal – Effective November 1, 2020 all employers seeking to sponsor Employment Pass applications on behalf of foreign nationals must post the required job advertisement for at least 30 days through the government’s new MYFutureJobs portal. This replaces the current job advertisement requirement through the JobsMalaysia portal. While it is still possible to access the government’s JobsMalaysia portal, those seeking to post job advertisements will be automatically redirected to the new MYFutureJobs portal.

Mauritius: New Remote Work and Retiree Visa Forthcoming – A new visa (Premium Visa) will become available on November 1, 2020 for foreign nationals conducting business or working remotely in Mauritius and tourists who had planned to retire or migrate to Mauritius pre-COVID-19, among limited others. The visa will be valid for one year and is renewable. Eligible applicants will be required to provide proof of sufficient travel and health insurance; cannot enter the Mauritius labor market; and must ensure that their main business and source of income and profits are outside of Mauritius; among other basic immigration requirements. More information is expected to be released in the next few weeks, including the application and issuance process and fees.

Russia: E-visa Duration Extension Forthcoming As anticipated, effective January 1, 2021, e-visa holders can enter for 16 days in a 60-day period, up from eight days; and can access all Russian regions, where previously access was restricted to four regions. The list of permitted entry points (including road, air, rail and sea locations) was also significantly expanded. Also, effective January 1, 2021, a USD 40 fee will be introduced (waived for children up to 6) where currently e-visas are free of charge. As a reminder, e-visas are available for single entries as a guest, business traveler, tourist, or for humanitarian purposes (sport and cultural connections, participation in international events). Processing times remain four calendar days. Note that e-visa services are currently suspended under pandemic-related entry restrictions.

Spain: Authorities Regulate Remote Work – Effective October 13, 2020, Spanish authorities have regulated remote work, formalizing prior best practices. The new rules include the following obligations for employers: employers must agree on remote work terms and conditions in writing with affected staff; must provide the means, equipment and tools required for remote work; and must assess health and safety risks, and provide protective measures, to ensure safe work from home. Employers may monitor employee work performance in a manner respecting the employee's privacy. Under the new rules, remote workers are entitled to the same rights (including equal treatment, non-discrimination and remuneration) as on-site workers. Remote work is voluntary, so cannot be demanded by the employee or enforced by the employer. It is expected that remote work arrangements will be developed further through collective bargaining.

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