Virginia, US

Oct 12 2017

Weekly Immigration Update: October 6 - 12, 2017

Azerbaijan, Belgium, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ireland, Ivory Coast, Oman, Qatar, Republic of the Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Thailand, Turkey, United Kingdom, United States

In United States immigration news this week, employment-based adjustment of status applicants are now required to attend a personal interview before their green card case can be processed to completion. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will interview applicants whose I-140 immigrant worker petition was filed on or after March 6, 2017, as well as any family members applying with the principal. 

According to the U.S. State Department's November Visa Bulletin, cutoff dates for EB-2 will remain current for most countries, except China and India, which will each advance by three weeks. EB-3 cutoff dates for professionals and skilled workers will advance by one month for China, six weeks for the Philippines, and will remain unchanged for India.

The United States has suspended nonimmigrant visa services at the U.S. embassy in Ankara, Turkey until further notice. In response, Turkey has imposed travel restrictions on U.S. citizens traveling to Turkey.

Hong Kong has introduced a Smart Departure clearance facility that allows eligible visitors to use automated lanes for self-service clearance when leaving the country. The facility is available to qualified nationals of 74 countries.

Foreign nationals who entered Qatar under a visit visa-on-arrival who seek to change their status must now exit and re-enter the country after obtaining the appropriate entry permit. In Azerbaijan, foreign nationals must obtain either a business or work visa prior to travel, and can no longer enter under a tourist visa and apply for the proper status in country. Effective January 2018 in Saudi Arabia, employers will be subject to a new monthly fee for each foreign employee under their sponsorship.

Immigration authorities in the Ivory Coast have resumed the issuance of biometric residence cards.

These items and other news from Belgium, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ireland, Oman, Philippines, Thailand and the United States follow in this edition of the Fragomen Immigration Update.

 

Important Updates in Immigration This Week

United States, October 12, 2017
November 2017 Visa Bulletin: Modest Advancements for EB-2 China and India and EB-3 China

EB-1 will remain current for all countries. EB-2 will remain current for most countries, except China and India, which will each advance by three weeks. EB-3 cutoff dates for professionals and skilled workers will advance by one month for China, six weeks for the Philippines, and will remain unchanged for India.

To view entire article, click here.

 

United States, October 11, 2017
Employment-Based Adjustment Interviews - What Foreign Nationals Need to Know

Employment-based adjustment of status applicants are now required to attend a personal interview before their green card case can be processed to completion. USCIS will interview applicants whose I-140 immigrant worker petition was filed on or after March 6, 2017, as well as any family members applying with the principal. 

To view entire article, click here.

 

United States-Turkey, October 10, 2017
Update on U.S.-Turkey Mutual Visa Suspension

The following are key updates to the travel restrictions for U.S. citizens traveling to Turkey. U.S. citizens with valid work and/or residence cards can still travel in and out of Turkey at this time. U.S. citizens with a valid Turkish visa or e-visa should be allowed entry regardless of whether their visa has been activated prior to October 8. U.S. citizens with an alternate nationality and passport will be able to apply for a Turkish visa based on the alternate passport. It is still unclear whether the Ministry of Labor or Interior Ministry will in any way restrict U.S. citizens from applying for work or residence permits. These restrictions are in place until further notice.

To view entire article, click here.

 

United States, October 10, 2017
Trump Administration Sets Forth Its Immigration Principles and Policies

In a policy paper to Congress, the Trump Administration indicated that legislative relief for DACA recipients must include measures to increase enforcement, reduce family-based immigration and establish a merit-based immigration system. The President’s employment-based immigration priorities include the mandatory use of E-Verify by all employers and the adoption of a points-based permanent residence system. 

To view entire article, click here.

 

Ireland, October 12, 2017
Call for Submissions on Highly Skilled Occupations List and Ineligible Categories of Employment List

The Irish authorities are again inviting submissions on the Highly Skilled Eligible Occupations List and the Ineligible Categories of Employment List.  Employers interested in making submissions can do so via an online form by October 27, 2017.

To view entire article, click here.

 

Hong Kong, October 12, 2017
Smart Departure Clearance Facility Available to 74 Countries

The Immigration Department has introduced Smart Departure, a departure clearance facility that allows eligible visitors to use automated lanes called e-Channels for self-service clearance when leaving the country. This facility is now available to qualified nationals of 74 countries without prior enrollment.

To view entire article, click here.

 

Colombia, October 11, 2017
New Requirements for Degree Validation Process

Effective October 24, 2017, foreign nationals with a bachelor's degree who seek to work in Colombia will see a more complicated degree validation process but a shorter overall processing time. Foreign nationals cannot use the online system to validate their degree until October 24, 2017, while the government prepares for the new process requirements.

To view entire article, click here.

 

Qatar, October 11, 2017
Visa-on-Arrival Holders Must Exit to Change Status

Due to a policy change, foreign nationals who entered Qatar under a visit visa-on-arrival who seek to change their status must exit and re-enter the country after obtaining the appropriate entry permit.

To view entire article, click here.

 

Saudi Arabia, October 10, 2017
New Monthly Fee Forthcoming for Employment of Foreign Nationals

Effective January 2018, employers in Saudi Arabia will be subject to a new monthly fee for each foreign employee under their sponsorship. The levy must be paid in addition to the standard recruitment fees and will increase annually.

To view entire article, click here.

 

Belgium, October 10, 2017
Employers of Posted Workers Must Designate a Contact Person

As of October 1, 2017, employers posting workers to Belgium must designate a contact person that authorities can contact to obtain information and supporting documents on the activities and employment conditions of posted workers in Belgium. The identity and contact details of the contact person need to be provided in the LIMOSA declaration, in addition to the other information related to posting.

To view entire article, click here.

 

Ivory Coast, October 9, 2017
Biometric Residence Card Issuance Resumes

Immigration authorities have resumed the issuance of biometric residence cards.

To view entire article, click here.

 

Costa Rica, October 6, 2017
Temporary Residence Process Simplified

Temporary residents and their dependents no longer need to submit their fingerprints and complete consular registration prior to filing for a Temporary Residence application. The immigration authorities have reverted their recent change on this issue and have also relaxed the rule for foreign nationals under all immigration categories and their dependents.

To view entire article, click here.

 

Azerbaijan, October 6, 2017
Entry Visa Now Required for Business and Work Trips

Foreign nationals must now obtain a business or work visa prior to travel, depending on their intended activities, and can no longer enter under a tourist visa and apply for the proper status in country.

To view entire article, click here.

 

Weekly News Briefs

United States: Kirstjen Nielsen Tapped for DHS Secretary – President Trump has nominated Kirstjen Nielsen for Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary. Nielsen served as chief of staff to former DHS Secretary Gen. John Kelly. The nomination must be confirmed by the Senate.

United States: DHS Terminates Sudan TPS – The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is terminating the designation of Sudan for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) on November 2 2017. However, the agency will extend benefits until November 2, 2018 in order to allow for an orderly transition before the designation ends.

Current Sudan TPS registrants will have from October 11, 2017 to December 11, 2017 to re-register. USCIS will issue new Employment Authorization Documents (EADs) with a November 2, 2018 expiration date to eligible Sudan TPS beneficiaries who timely re-register and apply for EADs. DHS recognizes that not all re-registrants will receive new EADs before their current EADs expire on November 2, 2017. Accordingly, DHS will automatically extend the validity of EADs issued under the TPS designation of Sudan for six months, through May 1, 2018.

For Form I-9 employment eligibility verification purposes, through May 1, 2018, employers may accept a TPS-related EAD with a November 2, 2017 expiration date along with a Form I-797C receipt notice evidencing the pending EAD renewal application. Beneficiaries may also wish to present a copy of the most recent Federal Register notice extending Sudan TPS to explain how their TPS was extended through May 1, 2018. 

United States: Latest PERM and PWD Processing Times – As of September 30, 2017, the Department of Labor (DOL) was conducting analyst review for PERM applications filed in June 2017 or earlier, and processing audited cases filed in February 2017 or earlier. DOL is working on standard reconsideration requests submitted in September 2017 or earlier. There is no update on the government error queue, though these appear to be current.

DOL is issuing prevailing wage determinations (PWD) for PERM and H-1B requests filed in July 2017. The agency has been processing PERM and H-1B redeterminations requested in August 2017, and PERM and H-1B center director reviews requested in August 2017.   

These reports are available on the iCERT home page.

Ireland: Deadline for Re-entry Visa Applications for the Holidays –The Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) has advised that foreign nationals should apply for a re-entry visa by appointment or registered mail by November 17, 2017 at the latest to ensure they receive their re-entry visa before Christmas. This visa is required to re-enter Ireland for visa required nationals with permission to remain in Ireland for more than 90 days.

It can normally take up to 15 business days to process a re-entry visa application, although longer processing times are expected around Christmas. Alternatively, foreign nationals can apply for a re-entry visa in person by appointment, but appointments are expected to be in short supply.

Oman: Reduced Minimum Salary Requirement for Dependent Sponsorship – The Royal Oman Police have reduced the minimum salary requirement for foreign residents sponsoring dependents from OMR 600 monthly to OMR 300 monthly. Foreign nationals seeking to sponsor their dependents must provide bank statements from the last three months indicating the mandatory income and a tenancy agreement in their name or in the name of the employer.

Oman: Visitor Visa-On-Arrival Program in Effect for Chinese, Indian and Russian Nationals – As an update to the previous announcement, the visa-on-arrival program for Chinese, Indian and Russian passport holders with a valid residency or entry visa issued by Australia, Canada, United Kingdom, United States or a Schengen Member Country is now in effect. The visa costs OMR 20. The accompanying spouse and children of the visa holder are also allowed entry even if they do not have a visa issued by one of the approved countries.

Philippines: Facilitated Entry for Qualifying Business Travelers from the People’s Republic of China – Qualifying business visitors from the People’s Republic of China (PRC) are now eligible for a pre-cleared entry visa called Temporary Visa Upon Arrival (TV-VUA). This visa was launched in line with the government’s goal to increase tourism and foreign investment in the Philippines. To qualify, a business traveler should either be:

  • a foreign investor or businessman duly endorsed by any of the following government agencies: Board of Investments, Philippine Retirement Authority, Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, local business councils, or local or foreign chambers of commerce and industry; or
  • a delegate or participant to an international convention or conference duly endorsed by a Philippine government agency.

The TV-VUA must be secured at least 10 days prior to travel through a tour agency or government entity accredited by the Bureau of Immigration or Department of Tourism. PRC nationals who enter the country using a TV-VUA must limit their activities in the Philippines to those in line with the purpose of their travel. They are also not allowed to convert to a work authorized status while in country.

Although Fragomen does not assist with this type of visa, contact your immigration professional for advice about eligibility for other types of business visas.

Thailand: Mobile Application for Single Window Online System – As a follow-up to the recent launch of the Single Window online system, the Board of Investment (BOI), Labour Ministry and the Immigration Bureau have introduced a new mobile device application called Thailand Digital Work Permit. This application allows foreign employees of BOI-registered companies to submit their Work Permit and visa applications online. It is free to download and set up on a mobile device. Although it is currently available only to certain categories of foreign nationals, it may be extended to all Work Permit applicants in the future.

 

Global Immigration News Links

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