Connecticut, US

Nov 02 2018

Weekly Immigration Update: October 26 - November 1, 2018

Australia, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, European Union, France, Germany, Mexico, Netherlands, Spain, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States, Vietnam

In United States immigration news this week, USCIS and CBP announced they are extending the pilot program for adjudicating L-1 border applications at the Blaine, Washington port of entry through April 30, 2019.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security will preserve the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) designation and work authorization for nationals of Sudan, Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Haiti, while a legal challenge to TPS termination for these countries continues. Also in the United States, FY 2020 Diversity Visa lottery entrants have until November 6 at noon EST to register online at the State Department's official lottery website.

Canada has updated and created new prevailing wages for many occupations. Also, some Canadian visa applicants may have to refile their visa applications due to the relocation and changing of service providers at some Canadian Visa Application Centers.

France is proposing to enact restrictions on the rights of UK nationals in France if the United Kingdom and European Union do not reach a Withdrawal Agreement by November 2018. Spain has confirmed that non-specialist roles are now barred from the Intracompany Transferee Permit.

Employers in Colombia will soon be required to register their foreign national employees in a new Ministry of Labor system. 

A new labor decree in Vietnam relaxes work authorization rules.

In the United Arab Emirates, new employment residence permit applicants in select professions must now attend a training session on labor regulations before they can obtain an employment residence permit.

These items and other news from Australia, Brazil, the European Union, France, Germany, Mexico, Moldova, the Netherlands, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom and the United States follow in this edition of the Fragomen Immigration Update.


Important Updates in Immigration This Week

United States, November 1, 2018

CBP and USCIS Extend Pilot Program for Canadian L-1 Applicants at Blaine, WA

  • The Blaine, WA, pilot program – under which USCIS adjudicates Canadian L-1 border applications instead of CBP – will be extended through April 30, 2019.
  • The program is optional; Canadian citizens can continue to make border L-1 applications under standard procedures at other northern ports of entry.

To view entire article, click here.


United States, October 31, 2018

DHS Preserves, Extends TPS Status for Certain Countries in Compliance with Court Order

  • Complying with a federal court order, DHS will preserve the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) designation and work authorization for nationals of Sudan, Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Haiti, while a legal challenge to termination of TPS for these countries continues.
  • Initially, TPS and related documentation for Sudan and Nicaragua will be extended through April 2, 2019. TPS for Sudan had been set to expire on November 2, 2018.
  • Current TPS expirations for El Salvador and Haiti remain in place for now - September 9, 2019 for El Salvador and July 22, 2019 for Haiti.

To view entire article, click here.


United States, October 31, 2018

Reminder: FY 2020 Diversity Visa Lottery Registration Ends November 6

  • Entrants have until Tuesday, November 6, 2018 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.


Canada, November 1, 2018

Some Visa Application Centers Relocating; Refiling of Applications May be Required

Due to the relocation of Canadian Visa Application Centers in the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Guyana, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago and the United States, foreign nationals with pending Canadian visa applications at these locations may have to pick up their documents and refile them at the new Visa Application Center locations. Foreign nationals who have not yet filed their applications or are waiting to submit biometrics should do so at the new location on or after November 2.

To view entire article, click here.


Canada, November 1, 2018

Prevailing Wages Updated

The Canadian government updated wage information, creating new prevailing wages for many occupations across the country. Employers should review their foreign employee population in Canada for compliance with the updated wage requirements. Failure to meet the prevailing wage can result in compliance issues for employers of foreign nationals in Canada.

To view entire article, click here.


Turkey, November 1, 2018

Visa-on-Arrival System in Process of Cancellation

Since the visa-on-arrival system is in the process of being cancelled across Turkish airports, foreign nationals eligible for visas-on-arrival in Turkey should now instead obtain an e-visa online prior to entry, which takes only a few minutes. Eventually, all Turkish airports will require foreign nationals to present an e-visa at immigration clearance counters, and will not offer visas-on-arrival.

To view entire article, click here.


France, November 1, 2018

Visa Validation Appointments Facing Cancelation or Rescheduling

The French immigration authorities in Paris and Montrouge are currently unable to print a stamp required to validate foreign nationals' visas due to a technical issue, causing foreign nationals assigned to these offices to have their visa appointment canceled or rescheduled. This issue is expected to last at least six weeks, during which time the validation process will be delayed at these locations. Foreign nationals who do not complete the visa validation within three months of entry may be denied re-entry into France.

To view entire article, click here.


France, October 31, 2018

UK Nationals’ Rights Could Be Limited in No-Deal Brexit

The French government is proposing to enact restrictions on the rights of UK nationals in France if the United Kingdom and the European Union do not reach a Withdrawal Agreement by November 2018. If no deal is reached by then, starting March 30, 2019, the French government could enact decrees requiring UK nationals to obtain visas, residence permits and work permits, among other restrictions. The proposed law would have to be approved by Parliament and implemented through ministerial decrees before it takes effect.

To view entire article, click here.


United Arab Emirates, October 31, 2018

Mandatory Training Requirement Implemented for Some Employees in the Mainland

Effective immediately, new employment residence permit applicants in select professions in the United Arab Emirates must attend a training session on labor regulations before they can obtain an employment residence permit. As a result, it will take foreign nationals longer for their employment residence permit applications to be processed. This new requirement does not apply to employees sponsored by companies in free zones.

To view entire article, click here.


Venezuela, October 29, 2018

Visa Section at Immigration Department Closed All Week

Closures at the visa section of the Venezuelan Immigration Office (SAIME) will prevent foreign nationals from filing work visa, visa transfer or visa renewal applications through the week of October 29, as a new visa section director was appointed. Further delays due to the week-long backlog are expected when the visa section reopens on November 5. Tourist and business visas are not impacted as these are issued at consulates.

To view entire article, click here.


Spain, October 29, 2018

Non-Specialist Roles Barred from Intracompany Transferee Permit

Spanish authorities have confirmed that the national Intracompany Transferee (ICT) Permit is now only available to specialist positions and that applicants are subject to the same criteria as specialists under the EU ICT Permit. Due to this change, employers now face restrictions from sponsoring foreign national non-specialists in Spain.

To view entire article, click here.


Vietnam, October 29, 2018

New Labor Decree Relaxes Work Authorization Rules

A new labor decree has relaxed work authorization rules in Vietnam with an aim to simplify, streamline and shorten the Work Permit and deregistration processes.  Notably, foreign nationals' passports will no longer need to be notarized or certified for submission with their Work Permit applications and employers no longer need to cancel their foreign employees' Work Permits upon termination of their assignment in Vietnam.

To view entire article, click here.


Colombia, October 26, 2018

Online System Introduced for Registration of Foreign National Employees

Employers will soon be required to register their foreign nationals in a new Ministry of Labor system called the Sistema Único de Registro de Trabajadores Extranjeros en Colombia  (RUTEC).  The system will not go into effect until the Ministry of Labor publishes an official resolution in the next few weeks. In anticipation of this, employers should make all necessary preparations so that they are able to register their foreign national employees at that time.

To view entire article, click here.


Weekly News Briefs

United States: USCIS Updates H-2B Cap Count – USCIS reports that as of October 29, 2018, it had received filings on behalf of 20,733 H-2B beneficiaries for the first half of FY 2019. Of these, 19,420 had been approved and 1,313 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.

Australia: Eligible Age Range Raised for Canadian and Irish Working Holiday Visa Applicants – The upper age limit for Subclass 417 (Working Holiday) visa applicants from Canada and Ireland has been raised from 30 to 35. The new upper age limit applies to applications lodged on or after November 1, 2018. This change is in response to the government’s announcement in September 2016 of a Working Holiday reform package, which included a measure to expand the eligible age range for Subclass 417 (Working Holiday) and Subclass 462 (Work and Holiday) visa applicants in order to attract more foreign nationals to Australia. Canada and Ireland have also agreed to implement the age increase to their reciprocal working holiday programs.

Brazil: Technical Training Visa Announced – The Ministry of Labor has released a new Normative Resolution which allows foreign nationals to travel to Brazil to receive training on the operation and maintenance of technical equipment or products that are manufactured solely in Brazil. Foreign nationals entering Brazil for training of up to 90 days can apply directly at a Brazilian Consulate but foreign nationals entering for training of up to one year must submit a residence authorization at the Ministry of Labor for approval prior to applying for a visa at a consulate. The one-year residence permit is not renewable. Additionally, foreign nationals already living in Brazil under other visa categories are eligible to convert their immigration status to a technical training visa in country. Interested applicants should contact their immigration professional for more information.

European Union: Parliament Approves Schengen Information System Amendments – The European Parliament has approved amendments to the Schengen Information System, the electronic database supporting external border control and law enforcement by registering persons refused entry or stay, persons wanted for arrest or to assist with a judicial procedure, and objects wanted for checks or seizure, among others. The amendments would include more types of alerts to authorities (on persons who must return to their home country, children at risk of abduction, and suspects of serious crimes and terrorism, among others) and would allow Europol and the European Border and Coast Guard Agency to access the database going forward. The Council must now approve the amendments before they can take effect. Fragomen will monitor and report on developments.

Germany/Austria: Migration Controls to Continue at Certain German and Austrian Borders – The German Ministry of Interior announced that it will extend migration controls at borders with Austria for six months, to May 11, 2019. These controls, which were set to expire on November 12, were re-introduced after the European migrant crisis in 2015, despite both countries belonging to the Schengen area, which usually allows travel without passport checks or other migration controls. The Ministry of Interior did not announce if border controls will be extended again after May 11, 2019, but stated that ultimately, the goal is to return to free travel within the Schengen area. Additionally, Austria's border controls will be extended until May 11, 2019, subject to the publication of a new directive. Denmark, France, Norway and Sweden also currently have internal border controls in place. The border controls in Denmark and France are expected to expire, while Norway and Sweden may extend their border controls (the government has not yet announced exact plans).

Moldova: Streamlined Visa and Residence Permit Processing – Moldova recently introduced and proposed changes to streamline the visa and Temporary Residence Permit process. A bill is under government review that would allow citizens of 60 countries to obtain a visa for Moldova without proof of medical insurance, a return flight ticket, proof of sufficient funds and a hotel reservation with their visa application. The government has also proposed to process Temporary Residence Permit applications in 15 calendar days, down from 25 calendar days under the previous policy. The above changes build on changes implemented in October 2017 that streamlined employers’ immigration application processes. A rule for Temporary Residence Permit applicants to submit fewer documents with their applications and a visa exemption for 33 countries' nationals are already in effect.

Netherlands: Government Commits to Solution for UK Nationals – The Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs has committed to finding a solution for UK nationals currently residing in the Netherlands, even if the European Union and United Kingdom fail to reach an agreement for the orderly withdrawal of the United Kingdom. While the government is already working on these contingency measures, no draft legislation or detailed position has yet been made publicly available. This statement from the Minister indicates that UK nationals will have some form of protected status in the Netherlands even if there is no Brexit deal. Currently, approximately 45,000 UK nationals are registered in the Netherlands. Fragomen is in contact with the Dutch authorities and will inform clients immediately when more is known.

Sri Lanka: Potential Disruption of Immigration Processes Due to Change in Government –The Sri Lankan president’s dismissal of the Prime Minister and dissolution of the government last November 26 is expected to disrupt immigration processes in Sri Lanka. A new cabinet has been constituted under a new regime and the heads of several regulatory bodies are being replaced. Under these circumstances, the operation of the Department of Immigration and Emigration and other ministries relevant to the immigration process may be adversely affected and internal rules may change without prior notice causing delays to work visa applications. Employers and foreign nationals should be aware of the situation and should expect some complications until the situation stabilizes. Employers should work with their Fragomen professional to manage their applications and plan their employees’ deployment accordingly.

Thailand: Indian Nationals' Stricter Document Requirements Clarified – Further to the Thai government requiring more documents for Indian nationals' long-term visas to Thailand, the government confirmed that three-month tax documents are also required for all Indian nationals' long-term visa applications. Employers should plan to prepare these documents ahead of time when submitting visa renewal applications.

United Arab Emirates: Immigration Amnesty Extended – The Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship announced that amnesty for illegal residents in the United Arab Emirates will be extended until December 1, 2018. The amnesty initiative, entitled “Protect Yourself by Modifying Your Status” allows foreign nationals to regularize their status by either leaving the United Arab Emirates without paying fines or by changing their sponsorship inside the country. Initially, the amnesty period was set to end on October 31, 2018.

United Arab Emirates/Mexico: Reciprocal Visa Exemption Introduced – Effective immediately, Mexican nationals are eligible for visa-free entry into the United Arab Emirates for stays of up to 180 days. Travelers will receive an entry stamp upon arrival. Previously, nationals of Mexico had to apply for a UAE visa prior to travel. Although UAE immigration regulations do not define allowable activities under visit visa exemption, it is standard practice that certain business activities and tourism are allowed, while employment and study are prohibited. In Mexico, UAE nationals are allowed to participate in business and tourism activities for up to 180 days. UAE nationals can enter Mexico under the FMM waiver, and cannot receive local remuneration from a Mexican company, which would require a work permit.

United Kingdom: ePassport Gates Available for Certain Non-EU Nationals – Effective summer 2019 (with the start date to be confirmed by the UK government), eligible travellers from Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand and the United States will be able to use ePassport gates at UK airports and at Eurostar terminals at Brussels and Paris, allowing for faster entry. Travellers must hold a biometric passport and must be over 18 years old to use the ePassport gates (or be accompanied by an adult if aged 12 to 17). The facial recognition technology used by the ePassport gates quickly completes checks, allowing entry in a matter of minutes with very limited queues. In contrast, the visual checks by customs officials required for standard entry resulted in queues lasting several hours in the past months.


Global Immigration News Links

  • U.S. President Trump has said he wants to use executive order to end birthright citizenship, but it may not be doable via executive order, the New York Times reports.
  • Indian companies are reducing the number of H-1B visa petitions they are filing due to increased scrutiny and higher rejection rates.  
  • Bulgarian law enforcement reportedly ended a scam that allowed applicants to purchase Bulgarian ancestry and citizenship. The effort is in addition to ongoing concerns about golden visa and passport schemes in the European Union, which are to be addressed by a European Commission report before the end of the year.
  • The UK government has set November 12, 2018 as the deadline to start no-deal Brexit preparations, including accelerated plans for targeted legislation and urging businesses and individuals to prepare.
  • Poland has issued more first residence permits to non-EU citizens than any other EU country, with 18 applications per 1000 citizens compared to the average of 6 per 1,000.​

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