Virginia, US

Sep 22 2017

Weekly Immigration Update: September 15 – 21, 2017

Australia, Azerbaijan, Belgium, China, Ecuador, European Union, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Mexico, Nigeria, Republic of Korea (South Korea), Ukraine, United States, Vietnam

In United States immigration news this week, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has resumed premium processing for 2018 H-1B cap cases. Premium processing remains suspended for H-1B extensions and amendments until further notice. Following the release of the U.S. State Department’s October Visa Bulletin, USCIS has announced that it will only accept employment-based adjustment applications from foreign nationals with a priority date that is current for final action.

U.S. consulates have stopped issuing certain nonimmigrant visas to designated government officials of Cambodia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea. B-1/B-2 visa issuance will also be suspended for most Eritrean citizens and residents until further notice.

Government offices in Mexico have been closed since the September 19 earthquake. Immigration processing delays can be expected.

In Lithuania, a new EU intracompany transferee permit is now available to non-EU qualified managers, specialists and graduate trainees temporarily assigned from an entity outside the European Union to an entity in the same corporate group in Lithuania.

In Vietnam, intracompany transferees in Ho Chi Minh City can qualify for the Intracompany Transfer Work Permit Classification if they have been employed by any entity in the same corporate group as the sponsoring entity for at least 12 months prior to the transfer. In China, Category B foreign workers can enter Shanghai without first obtaining a Notification Letter of Work Permit and a Z visa, as was previously required.

Foreign nationals residing in Nigeria under a long-term work and residence permit must apply for a National Identity Number by January 1, 2018.

These items and other news from Australia, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Ecuador, the European Union, Luxembourg, Mexico, South Korea, Ukraine and the United States follow in this edition of the Fragomen Immigration Update.

Important Updates in Immigration This Week

United States, September 19, 2017
Reminder - Deadline for DACA Renewals is October 5

DACA beneficiaries with an EAD that expires on or before March 5, 2018 are eligible to renew.  All eligible renewal applications must be received at USCIS on or before October 5, 2017.

To view entire article, click here.

United States, September 18, 2017
USCIS Resumes Premium Processing for FY 2018 H-1B Cap Cases

Employers may upgrade pending H-1B cap cases by submitting USCIS Form I-907 and the $1,225 premium processing fee. Premium processing remains suspended for H-1B extensions and amendments until further notice.

To view entire article, click here.

United States, September 15, 2017
October Visa Bulletin Update: USCIS to Honor Employment-Based Final Action Dates Only Next Month

In October, USCIS will only accept employment-based adjustment applications from foreign nationals with a priority date that is current for final action under the State Department's October Visa Bulletin.

To view entire article, click here.

United States, September 15, 2017
Limited Visa Suspension for Cambodia, Sierra Leone, Guinea and Eritrea

U.S. consulates will suspend issuance of some nonimmigrant visas to designated government officials of Cambodia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea until further notice. B-1/B-2 visa issuance will be suspended for most Eritrean citizens and residents until further notice.

To view entire article, click here.

Ukraine, September 21, 2017
Stricter Entry Rules Likely

By January 1, 2018, the Ukrainian Government will start gradually implementing measures to increase controls over the entry and stay of foreign nationals in Ukraine. This could result in a requirement for foreign nationals to register their intent to travel to Ukraine and an entry ban on non-biometric passport holders.

To view entire article, click here.

Mexico, September 20, 2017
Update on Government and Fragomen Operations Following the Earthquake

Further to our communications following Tuesday's earthquake, we hope that you and your loved ones are safe. Employers and foreign nationals should continue to anticipate delays with immigration processes due to the closure of government offices. Fragomen's Mexico City office was closed today, September 20. It is currently unclear when the Fragomen office will open. We will keep you informed of updates to this situation.

To view entire article, click here.

South Korea, September 20, 2017
Upcoming Government Closures

All government offices in South Korea will be closed starting the afternoon of September 29 through October 9 due to a series of holidays that fall together this year. Applications filed close to this period are expected to experience delays.

To view entire article, click here.

China, September 19, 2017
Simplified Work Authorization Process Available for Category B Workers in Shanghai

Category B foreign workers can enter Shanghai without first obtaining a Notification Letter of Work Permit and a Z visa, as was previously required. This will result in an easier application process and shorter lead times for qualified foreign nationals.

To view entire article, click here.

Vietnam, September 19, 2017
Eligibility Expanded for Intracompany Transferee Status in Ho Chi Minh City

Intracompany transferees in Ho Chi Minh City can now qualify for the Intracompany Transfer Work Permit Classification if they have been employed by any entity in the same corporate group as the sponsoring entity for at least 12 months prior to the transfer. They no longer have to be employed specifically by the Overseas Investor Entity of the sponsoring entity's corporate group.

To view entire article, click here.

Lithuania, September 18, 2017
EU Intracompany Transferee Permit Implemented

The new EU intracompany transferee (ICT) Permit became available in Lithuania on September 1, 2017. The EU ICT Permit offers quicker processing and shorter pre-employment requirements. The new permit will apply to non-EU qualified managers, specialists and graduate trainees temporarily assigned from an entity outside the European Union to an entity in the same corporate group in Lithuania.

To view entire article, click here.

Nigeria, September 15, 2017
New Deadline and Guidance for National Identity Number Registration

Foreign nationals residing in Nigeria under a long-term work and residence permit must apply for a National Identity Number by January 1, 2018. Those who fail to register by January 1, 2018 will not be eligible for a Residence Permit.

To view entire article, click here.

Weekly News Briefs

United States: H-1B RFEs Increase 45 Percent in 2017 – H-1B Requests for Evidence (RFEs) from January through August 2017 were up by more than 45 percent compared to the RFE rate during the same period in 2016. H-1B petition filings increased by less than three percent during the same time.

According to a Reuters news report, data provided by the agency shows that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issued 85,270 RFEs between January 1, 2017 and August 31, 2017. By June 30, 2017, USCIS had approved 59 percent of H-1B petitions filed in fiscal year (FY) 2017, but this figure does not account for the significant bulk of H-1B petitions processed from July through September of 2017.

Many RFEs focused on Level I wages, specifically whether a job was too complex to be considered entry-level, or whether an entry-level job could be a "specialty occupation".

United States: USCIS No Longer Accepting H-2B Cap Petitions for FY 2017 – U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is no longer accepting H-2B cap petitions for FY 2017, following a one-time increase in the annual cap in July 2017. Per the final rule which granted the increase, applicants had until September 15, 2017 to file for one of 15,000 additional H-2B visas. In accordance with that rule, USCIS is now rejecting all H-2B petitions received after the September 15 deadline. USCIS states that as of September 15, it received requests for 13,534 H-2B workers.

Filed petitions that are not approved by USCIS before October 1, 2017 will be denied and associated fees will not be refunded.

USCIS will continue to accept FY 2017 H-2B petitions for workers who are exempt from the congressionally mandated cap.

United States: DHS Extends South Sudan TPS; Will Terminate Sudan TPS Next Year – The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has extended the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) of South Sudan for an additional eighteen months, from November 3, 2017, through May 2, 2019. However, the agency has terminated TPS for Sudan, but will extend benefits until November 2, 2018 in order to allow for an orderly transition before the designation ends.

Current South Sudan TPS registrants will have from September 21, 2017 to November 20, 2017 to re-register. Re-registration is limited to persons who have previously registered for TPS under the designation of South Sudan and whose applications have been granted. USCIS will issue new EADs with a May 2, 2019 expiration date to eligible South Sudan TPS beneficiaries who timely re-register and apply for EADs under this extension. 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 South 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 copy of the September 21, 2017 Federal Register notice extending South Sudan TPS.

Australia: Senate Rejects Bill to Change Citizenship Requirements – A bill introduced last April which proposed more restrictive criteria for citizenship via amendments to the Australian Citizenship Act was recently removed from the Senate’s order of business. This means that the suspension of citizenship applications that has been in place since April should be lifted, and pending applications can proceed under the current application criteria. The government still has the option of bringing a motion to reintroduce the bill for consideration or to introduce a new bill within the remaining three parliamentary sessions this year. Both of these options, however, are unlikely to succeed. Fragomen will continue to monitor the situation and will provide updates as soon as available. Foreign nationals seeking to file a citizenship application should contact their immigration professional.

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Azerbaijan: E-Visa Now Available Within Three Hours – Azerbaijan implemented an expedited e-visa service on August 30, 2017. By paying an additional fee of USD 30 on top of the standard USD 20 visa fee, foreign nationals can obtain an urgent e-visa in three hours instead of the standard three days. This further enhances the e-visa service introduced in January for tourists and expanded to business travelers in July.

Belgium: Integration Requirement for Renewals Clarified – The Belgian Immigration Office has clarified the practical effects of the integration requirement for renewals, which was implemented in January 2017. The Immigration Office has confirmed that failure to submit evidence of integration cannot in itself be grounds to cancel a foreign national’s residency rights. A case-by-case assessment of integration efforts is required, including giving the applicant the opportunity to express their point of view in a hearing and present proof of their family ties, social and cultural ties with their country of origin and duration of their residency in Belgium. Fragomen recommends that foreign nationals provide proof of integration efforts to the extent possible for all renewal applications.

Ecuador: Current Delays on Appointments to Submit Temporary Visa Applications in Quito – Due to a high volume of Temporary Visa applications in Quito, and considering that the first available appointments are currently for approximately one month from now, we recommend foreign nationals schedule these appointments at least one month in advance of the intended date of filing. Alternatively, since Guayaquil is not experiencing delays, we encourage foreign nationals to submit applications in Guayaquil.

European Union: President of European Commission Advocates to Expand Schengen Area and Euro Zone – In his September 13, 2017 State of the Union address, the President of the European Commission advocated for inclusion of Bulgaria and Romania in the Schengen area, as well as inclusion of Croatia once it meets the Schengen criteria. The President also proposed creating support mechanisms to facilitate interested states in joining the Member States that use the Euro. Fragomen will provide updates if and when practical measures are developed and implemented.

European Union: European Commission to Propose New Schengen Security Measures – The EU Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Commissioner announced that for at least the next two years, the European Commission likely will not end the temporary internal border control checks that were reintroduced in 2016 in the Schengen Area due to recent terror attacks. Furthermore, the Commission plans to propose new security measures for the Schengen Area as early as October 2017. Foreign nationals traveling throughout the Schengen Area should continue to carry their passports and should contact their immigration professional for advice on travelling inside the Schengen Area.

Luxembourg: Immigration Authorities Confirm EU ICT Permit Scope – Since the initial implementation of the EU ICT Directive, authorities have confirmed that an EU ICT permit obtained in Luxembourg allows for work activities at all the corporate group’s entities in Luxembourg. The authorities have also clarified that three months of pre-employment with the home employer is sufficient for both managers, specialists and trainees. Finally, foreign nationals holding a valid EU ICT permit issued by another EU Member State can start work in Luxembourg immediately after filing a notification (for mobility under 90 days) or Mobile ICT Permit application (for mobility over 90 days). Fragomen can support clients to plan an immigration strategy across Europe.

Mexico: Stricter Scrutiny for Venezuelan and Peruvian Nationals Arriving as Tourists and Visitors – As visa-exempt nationals, Venezuelan and Peruvian nationals can enter Mexico without a visa.  However, in the past few weeks, immigration officials have been strictly scrutinizing Venezuelan and Peruvian nationals upon arrival. Therefore, Fragomen recommends that Peruvian and Venezuelan nationals carry their invitation letter and valid return ticket, among other documents, with them in case they are asked to present these documents. Affected nationals should contact their immigration professional for the full list of documents.

Global Immigration News Links

The largest organization of venture capitalists in the United States and other interested parties filed a lawsuit challenging the Trump administration’s decision to postpone the international entrepreneur rule. The rule was formerly set to take effect on July 17, 2017 and would have permitted foreign entrepreneurs to travel or remain in the United States temporarily to grow companies in the United States.

The U.S. State Department is giving immigration and consular officials new grounds to deny entry to visitors or to kick them out if they are already here, the New York Times reports.

The NAACP has filed a lawsuit against President Trump challenging the rescission of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

Ahead of its Bundestag election in Germany, Deutsche Welle provides information on what each of the parties expected to make it into the national parliament stands for, especially in relation to migration policy.

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair claimed a near one-in-three chance that Brexit will be reversed.

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