Sep 16 2021

Weekly Immigration Update: September 10–16, 2021

Angola, Australia, Bahrain, Belarus, Belgium, Brunei, Canada, China, Cyprus, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Denmark, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, European Union, France, Gabon, Greece, Hong Kong, India, Ireland, Jordan, Kenya, Lebanon, Lesotho, Mauritius, Montenegro, New Zealand, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Republic of the Philippines, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Seychelles, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Tanzania, Togo, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States, Vietnam

In immigration news this week:

  • Worldwide: Jurisdictions around the world continue to adapt their coronavirus-related travel restrictions and health requirements based on several factors, including fluctuating infection rates and growing vaccination initiatives. Visit Fragomen’s COVID-19 website for the latest immigration updates.
  • United States: A federal district court judge invalidated a Trump-era H-1B cap selection regulation – which was set to take effect on December 31, 2021 – that sought to replace the current H-1B cap lottery system with a wage level prioritization system. According to the State Department’s October Visa Bulletin, most employment-based cutoff dates will remain unchanged, while the agency projects retrogression in the EB-3 category as early as November. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will honor filing dates for employment-based categories next month.
  • United Kingdom: Significant changes to UK Immigration Rules are forthcoming following publication of a Statement of Changes. Of note, effective October 1, most individuals will only be able to enter the United Kingdom using their passports, instead of their national identification card; and in-country applicants who submit a visa extension application on or after October 6 will not be able to leave the Common Travel Area (the United Kingdom, Ireland, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands) or their application will be deemed withdrawn.
  • Canada: Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada has amended eligibility requirements for C-14 work permits to include foreign nationals who are essential to the production stage of a film or television project, including actors, directors and choreographers, among others.
  • Ireland: Foreign nationals whose immigration permissions (including Irish Residence Permit (IRP) cards, passport stamps and previously extended permissions) are due to expire between September 21, 2021 and January 15, 2022, will now have their permissions automatically extended until January 15, 2022.
  • Sweden postponed the Brexit registration deadline to December 31, 2021, from September 30. More information is available here.



These items and other news from India, Lesotho, Panama, and the United Arab Emirates follow in this edition of the Fragomen Immigration Update.

 

Important updates in immigration this week



United States, September 16, 2021

Federal District Court Vacates DHS Regulation to Replace H-1B Cap Lottery with Wage Level Selection Process

  • Judge Jeffrey S. White of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California vacated a Trump-era H-1B cap selection regulation on the grounds that then-Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf was not lawfully serving in his role at the time the regulation was promulgated.
  • The regulation – which was set to take effect on December 31, 2021 – sought to supplant the H-1B cap lottery with a selection process based on the Department of Labor’s wage level system.
  • It is not yet known whether the Biden Administration will appeal Judge White’s decision.  Another lawsuit against the regulation continues in a separate federal court.



To view entire article, click here.

 

India, September 16, 2021

Enforcement of Residence Departure Formalities in Chennai

  • The Foreigners’ Regional Registration Office has made it mandatory to report departure or checkout of foreign national guests and tenants each time they travel out of Chennai.
  • Previously, the departure or checkout formalities were expected to be completed whenever foreign nationals permanently moved out of their premises.
  • Although it is the responsibility of hotels, guest houses, serviced apartments, and landlords to report the arrival and departure or checkout details for foreign nationals, the authorities will also hold the Indian visa sponsoring entity liable for failing to complete these notifications.



To view entire article, click here.

 

Canada, September 15, 2021

Amended Eligibility for Work Permits for Essential Workers in Television and Film Production

  • Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada has amended eligibility requirements for C-14 work permits in Canada to include foreign nationals who are essential to the production stage of a film or television project, including actors, directors and choreographers, among others.
  • Due to this change, eligible foreign nationals will have an additional route to apply to work in the television and film industry in Canada; however, they should note that may need to obtain union approval to utilize this route, which may not always be possible, and cannot use this route for pre- or post- production work.
  • This amendment is aligned with Canada’s goal to attract film projects and support investment in the industry.

 

To view entire article, click here.

 

Ireland, September 15, 2021

Blanket Extension of Immigration Permissions Until January 15, 2022

  • Due to processing delays, to ensure that foreign nationals do not have a lapse in status, the Irish government is again automatically renewing immigration permissions (including Irish Residence Permit cards, passport stamps and previously extended permissions).
  • Foreign nationals whose permission is due to expire between September 21, 2021 and January 15, 2022, will now have their permission extended until January 15, 2022.

 

To view entire article, click here.

 

United Kingdom, September 15, 2021

Immigration Rules Changes Announced

The UK government has published a Statement of Changes to the UK Immigration Rules. Significant changes include:

  • a new requirement, effective October 1, 2021, that individuals entering the United Kingdom use their passport and not their national identification card (unless they are European Economic Area national with a pending application or existing status under the EU Settlement Scheme);
  • a new rule that applicants who submit their applications on or after October 6, 2021 do not leave the Common Travel Area (the United Kingdom, Ireland, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands);
  • the expansion of the Youth Mobility Scheme to include Indian nationals, effective January 1, 2022; and
  • the transfer of several COVID-19 concessions to the Immigration Rules.

 

To view entire article, click here.

 

United States, September 13, 2021

October 2021 Visa Bulletin: Most Employment-Based Cutoff Dates Unchanged; USCIS Will Accept Adjustment Applications Based on Dates for Filing; State Dept. Projects EB-3 Retrogression as Early as November

  • USCIS has announced that it will accept employment-based adjustment of status applications with a priority date that is earlier than the Dates for Filing listed in the October Visa Bulletin.
  • EB-1 China and EB-1 India will remain current next month. 
  • EB-2 China Final Action Dates will remain at July 1, 2018, and EB-2 India will remain at September 1, 2011. However, USCIS’s choice of the Dates for Filing chart in October will open up eligibility to file adjustment of status applications under these categories to September 1, 2018 for China and July 8, 2012 for India.
  • EB-3 China Final Action dates will remain at January 8, 2019, while EB-3 India will remain at January 1, 2014. However, the October switch to the Dates for Filing chart expands adjustment application eligibility by one week, with Dates for Filing of January 15, 2019 for China, and January 8, 2014 for India.
  • The State Department predicts that as early as November 2021, EB-3 India and China final action dates could retrogress and EB-3 Worldwide final action cutoff dates could be imposed. This is a change from recent predictions.



To view entire article, click here.

 

Other weekly news briefs



Lesotho: Applications Suspended for Indefinite Permits and Citizenship – The Ministry of Home Affairs has temporarily suspended applications for and issuance of indefinite permits and Lesotho citizenship to identify loopholes in these processes, due to alleged cases of irregularly-issued permits and citizenship status. During the investigation process, the Ministry will be checking the location of new citizens to identify whether they still reside in Lesotho and whether the purpose of stay, as indicated in indefinite permit holders’ applications, still apply. The suspensions will last three months and a report of the investigation findings is expected to be released. This follows a similar investigation that was undertaken by South Africa in 2021.

Lesotho: Visa Requirements Tightened for Business and Tourist Travelers – The Ministry of Home Affairs has introduced new visa requirements aimed at promoting compliance with the country’s immigration laws. Effective immediately, change of conditions (as reported on original immigration applications) will no longer be permitted in country. Instead, foreign nationals will be required to leave Lesotho and apply for the relevant visa from abroad. Authorities will also increase unannounced employer inspections to ensure visa conditions remain aligned with those stated in the original application. Travelers will be required to have a return ticket to be admitted to the country and business travelers will be required to have a bank-guaranteed statement proving that they have sufficient funds to pay for their own return tickets should they be ordered to return to their countries. These measures are aimed at reducing the government’s deportation costs. Lesotho is the first country to restrict visa requirements in the Southern African Development Community region at a time when measures are afoot to attract more tourists.

Panama: Effective October 1, Reduced Period of Stay for Tourists and Business Visitors – The National Immigration Service has published a resolution that reduces the maximum period of stay in Panama for visa-exempt tourists and business visitors to 90 days for each visit, effective October 1, 2021. Currently, the maximum allowable consecutive stay for most visa-exempt visitors is generally 180 days for each visit; nationals of Colombia, Nicaragua, and Peru can only stay up to 90 days. Visa-exempt nationals will be able to apply to the National Immigration Service to extend their stay for up to 90 days if a shorter period was granted at entry. The rule for non-visa exempt nationals will remain unchanged; they require either a consular or an authorized visa to enter (depending on their nationality), which allows a stay of up to 30 days and can be extended in country for up to a total of 90 days. According to the resolution, immigration officials at ports of entry will be strictly scrutinizing foreign nationals upon arrival to ensure they meet all entry requirements (valid documentation, proof of sufficient funds, return/onward ticket) and to ensure their intended period of stay is consistent with the purpose of the trip. The measure is a part of the government’s efforts to improve the control of foreign nationals overstaying their allowed stay period and to ensure that foreign nationals intending to remain in Panama follow through with their immigration applications.  

United Arab Emirates: New Visa Categories Forthcoming – As part of the ‘Projects of the 50’ initiative celebrating the UAE’s 50th year, the government of the United Arab Emirates has announced new visa categories. The Green Visa will be a self-sponsorship visa granted to entrepreneurs, investors, highly-skilled individuals, top students and graduates that will allow the holder to sponsor their parents and male children up to the age of 25 (up from 18 years old). The duration of the visa is expected to be five years. Additionally, the Freelance Visa will be the first federal visa for self-employed foreign nationals and foreign nationals who own businesses in the United Arab Emirates and overseas who are in specialized fields such as artificial intelligence, blockchain and digital currency. It is expected that eligibility requirements and further conditions will be announced closer to the implementation of the new visa categories, which is yet to be confirmed.

 

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