Sep 28 2018

Weekly Immigration Update: September 21 - 27, 2018

Belgium, Brazil, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Egypt, France, Greece, India, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Russia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, United States

In United States immigration news, starting October 1, USCIS could initiate removal proceedings against certain applicants without underlying nonimmigrant status if their applications are denied and they do not depart the United States promptly. For now, USCIS does not plan to apply the new policy to employment-based petitions or humanitarian petitions or applications.

On Wednesday, the United States Congress passed a temporary spending measure to fund the federal government through December 7, 2018. E-Verify and the EB-5 Regional Center program, among other expiring programs, will be reauthorized without change through December 7. President Trump is expected to sign the bill into law, averting a government shutdown on October 1.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has proposed a regulation that, if implemented, would impose stricter standards for determining whether an applicant for a visa or permanent residence is likely to become a "public charge" – that is, dependent on the government to meet their needs. The U.S. State Department will begin accepting online registrations for the Fiscal Year 2020 Diversity Visa Lottery on October 3. Foreign nationals who wish to enter the lottery have until noon EST on Tuesday, November 6, 2018 to file online.

Luxembourg has implemented the EU Students and Researchers Directive. Belgium has clarified details of the Single Permit scheme. In France, a new law will increase fines for immigration rule violations related to posted workers. Spain now requires salary checks for foreign workers applying for EU Intracompany (ICT) Permits. 

These items and other news from Brazil, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Egypt, France, Greece, India, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Russia, South Africa, Sweden and Turkey follow in this edition of the Fragomen Immigration Update.


Important Updates in Immigration This Week

United States, September 26, 2018

Starting October 1, USCIS to Implement Notice to Appear Policy in Phases

  • Beginning October 1, USCIS could initiate removal proceedings against adjustment of status applicants without underlying nonimmigrant status if their applications are denied and they do not depart the United States promptly. Applicants for certain changes or extensions of status are also subject to the policy.
  • For now, USCIS does not plan to apply the new policy to employment-based petitions or humanitarian petitions or applications.

To view entire article, click here.


United States, September 26, 2018

Congress Passes Spending Measure to Fund Federal Operations Through December 7

  • Immigration functions will be funded through December 7, 2018 while Congress continues to work on the FY 2019 federal budget.
  • E-Verify and the EB-5 Regional Center program, among other expiring programs, will be reauthorized without change through December 7.
  • President Trump is expected to sign the bill into law, averting a government shutdown on October 1.

To view entire article, click here.


United States, September 25, 2018

DHS Proposes Stricter Test of “Public Charge” for Applicants for Permanent Residence, Visas or Changes/Extensions of Status

  • If the proposal is implemented, immigration officials could deny an application for a visa, permanent residence or a change or extension of status if the foreign applicant has accepted certain public benefits or is determined to be likely to need such benefits in the future.
  • The rule is a proposal only and will soon be published for public feedback. It will not take effect until approved in final form, a process that typically takes several months or more. 

To view entire article, click here.


United States, September 26, 2018

FY 2020 Diversity Visa Lottery Registration Opens October 3

  • Entrants have from Wednesday, October 3, 2018 at noon EDT until Tuesday, November 6, 2018 at noon EST to register online at the State Department's official Diversity Visa lottery website.
  • Lottery applications must conform to the State Department's strict requirements.

To view entire article, click here.


Poland, September 27, 2018

New Appointment Scheduling System in Warsaw

The Warsaw Immigration Office has created a new work permit application appointment system which eliminates the option for work permit applicants to choose their own appointment slot. The Immigration Office will instead set an appointment date. Separately, the Immigration Office has announced that work permits will be issued within one month of the appointment date, rather than the former practice of issuing them on the day of the appointment. Employers and foreign nationals should plan for continued delays for work start dates in Warsaw. 

To view entire article, click here.


South Africa, September 27, 2018

Visa Overhaul Plans Outlined in Press Conference

The Minister of Home Affairs recently announced several upcoming visa reforms that will take place in South Africa. The reforms will affect business and tourist visas, biometric systems, visa waivers, documentary requirements when travelling with minors and critical skills assessments for graduates.

To view entire article, click here.


Spain, September 27, 2018

New Salary Check for EU Intracompany Transferee Permit Applications

The Spanish Large Companies Unit now checks whether foreign workers applying for EU Intracompany (ICT) Permits receive employment conditions and salary packages in line with collective bargaining agreements, local labor laws and local workers in similar job positions. Therefore, employers may need to include more information with ICT Permit applications.

To view entire article, click here.


Egypt, September 25, 2018

Residence Permit Applications Now Require Appointment

Foreign nationals seeking employment and residency in Egypt are now required to schedule an appointment with immigration authorities to submit residence permit applications. Foreign nationals should expect delays in obtaining their residence permits due to the additional step in the application process. If they are traveling abroad, they should consider the delays that may occur if they are unable to return to Egypt for their appointment.

To view entire article, click here.


France, September 24, 2018

New Posted Workers Policy to Increase Fines for Violations and to Simplify Employer Processes

A new law will increase the fines and penalties for violations of immigration rules related to foreign workers temporarily assigned to positions in France and will impose more flexible rules regarding posted workers and their projects. The law will take effect once implementing ministerial decrees are published. 

To view entire article, click here.


Czech Republic/India, September 24, 2018

Faster Consular Appointment Scheduling to Become Available for Skilled Indian Nationals

The Czech Consulate in New Delhi, India will schedule up to 500 priority appointments for Employee Card applications by highly-skilled Indian nationals to compensate for the delay created by the temporary suspension of appointments earlier this year. This should result in faster Employee Card appointment dates for eligible applicants. Appointment booking for this project will start October 1, 2018. 

To view entire article, click here.


Brazil, September 21, 2018

Upgraded IT System at Federal Police Affecting Immigration Procedures and Documents

The Federal Police in Brazil is currently upgrading their IT system and the updates are significantly impacting the procedures and documents required for foreign national's to complete the police registration process. Specifically:

  • Foreign nationals registering with the Federal Police after entering Brazil with a consular work visa or those who filed an in-country change of status should expect lengthier appointments and processing times; and
  • Foreign nationals should expect to receive their new identity cards approximately six months after registering with the police, up from three months. 

To view entire article, click here.


Luxembourg, September 21, 2018

EU Students and Researchers Directive Implemented

The EU Students and Researchers Directive aims to facilitate access to the labor market for students, trainees and researchers in the European Union. The Directive was implemented in Luxembourg on September 21, 2018.

To view entire article, click here.


Belgium, September 21, 2018

Further Guidance on Single Permits Issued

The Belgian government has published additional legislation on the Single Permit scheme, clarifying details on access to the labor market for foreign nationals who have a resident status in Belgium which is not primarily linked to employment. The legislation is further progress on the implementation of Single Permits, which is expected to occur in November 2018. 

To view entire article, click here.


Weekly News Briefs

Brazil: New Qualifications for Short-Term and Long-Term Technical Visas Expected - The Ministry of Labor is expected to soon announce new qualifications for Short-Term and Long-Term Technical Visas. Short-Term (six-month) Technical Visas are expected to be limited to:

  • Emergency applications. Processed in two days in cases when there is an imminent threat to life, the environment or cultural value (as determined by the Brazilian government); and
  • Urgent applications. Processed in five days in cases of an unexpected issue out of the company’s control impacts production or the rendering of a service. 

The above types of applications are granted at the discretion of the Ministry of Labor. Applicants whose situation falls outside of these two categories, regardless of the length of assignment, will need to file an application for a Long-Term Technical Visa, which is processed in 30-45 days, and can be issued for up to one year. Fragomen will issue an update as soon as the official announcement of the new resolution is made.

Cyprus: Decreased Processing Times for EU ICT Permit Applications - The Cypriot Ministry of Labor is processing the work consent required for EU Intracompany Transferee (ICT) Permits within one to two weeks, down from 30 to 45 calendar days. The decreased processing time is due to the greater alignment of the various government departments since the EU ICT Permit has been in use for over a year.

France: Constitutional Review of New Immigration Bill Completed - The French constitutional council completed its review of the new immigration bill, requiring only small changes to the asylum sections and no changes to the sections related to professional immigration. The changes announced in March will proceed as planned, but will require implementing ministerial decrees before they can become effective. While the government announced a June 2019 deadline for these decrees, Fragomen expects them to become available before the end of the year.

Germany/India: Indian Biometric Centers Opened in Germany - Visa application centers in Munich and Berlin have introduced biometric enrollment for foreign nationals applying for the following Indian visas: Student Visa, Research Visa, Employment Visa, Journalist Visa, Project Visa, Missionary Visa, Tourist Visa (for five years), Business Visa (for five years) and Tourist Visa for Pakistani Nationals. When the system is set up, applicants will need to make an online appointment. In the interim, applicants can walk in during submission hours to submit biometrics. Postal/third-party applications will no longer be accepted. Generally, applicants below 12 years or above 70 years of age are exempt from the biometrics requirement. 

Greece: Changes to Government Fees and Penalties Take Effect - The changes in government filing fees and penalties announced in June took effect on September 12, 2018. Most notable are a decrease in government filing fees for senior managers and their family to EUR 150, from EUR 300; an increase in penalties for late renewal applications and failure to complete departure formalities to EUR 100, from EUR 50; and an increase in the investor residence permit fee to EUR 2,000, from EUR 1,000. Foreign applicants and sponsoring companies should account for the new fees and penalties in their budgets. 

India/United States: Technical Problems at Consulate General of India in New York - The Consulate General of India in New York has temporarily ceased all consular services, including visas, until further notice due to server issues. At this time, foreign nationals in New York may be unable to obtain new visas at this office. The work start dates of foreign nationals seeking to apply for employment visas at the Consulate General of India in New York will be significantly delayed. It is not clear when the suspension will end. Affected applicants should contact their immigration provider to inquire about the status of their application on a case-by-case basis.

India: Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) Card Deadline Now September 30 - Following the merger of the Person of India Origin (PIO) card and the Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) card in 2015, PIO card holders were advised to apply for OCI in lieu of PIO cards on or before October 31, 2018. The government websites have changed this deadline to September 30, 2018.

India: E-Visa Service Expanded - Foreign nationals can now utilize the e-Visa system three times per calendar year per traveler, as compared to the previous restriction of two times per calendar year. Additionally, citizens of Qatar are now eligible for the e-Visa program, bringing the total number of eligible countries to 166.

India: E-Services Expanded to Additional Cities for In-Country Applications - Effective September 24, 2018, electronic services for in-country immigration applications in India have been further expanded to Foreigners’ Registration Offices (FRO) in Faridabad, Ghaziabad, Gurugram and Gautam Buddha Nagar. Manual applications are no longer accepted at these locations. Foreign nationals who have already obtained appointments to submit manual applications will be required to submit their applications electronically on the Bureau of Immigration’s portal. Residential permits will now be sent to the applicant via email or mail once granted; if the permit is not sent due to implementation issues, applicants may need to still collect the permit in person. Implementation challenges are expected such as technical outages, prolonged processing timelines, and inconsistent reviews of applications, among other issues. Fragomen India will continue to partner with clients and extend additional support with managing this change. e-Services were previously available in Ahmedabad, Amritsar, Bengaluru, Chennai, Delhi, Hyderabad, Kochi, Kolkata, Kozhikode, Lucknow, Mumbai, Puducherry and Thiruvananthapuram.

Netherlands: EU ICT Permit Expanded to Allow Self-Employment - Beginning October 1, 2018, EU Intracompany Transferee (ICT) permit holders in the Netherlands will be allowed to perform self-employment activities, as long as these remain secondary to the activities for which their EU ICT permit was granted and they continue to fulfill all of the requirements of their EU ICT permit. No additional steps need to be taken to be eligible to perform these self-employed activities.

Norway: Internship Permit Renewal No Longer Possible - Effective September 1, 2018, the internship permit can no longer be renewed. Instead, if the intern cannot complete the internship during the validity of the first permit, they must file a new internship permit application from abroad. Due to the two- to three-month government processing delays for initial applications, interns may see significant gaps in their work and stay authorization if they need to apply for another permit.

Russia: Third Quarter Salary Notifications for Highly Qualified Specialists Due October 31 - Employers have until October 31, 2018 to file third quarter notifications for salaries paid to highly-qualified specialists (HQS). The notification must state the salary paid to HQS from July 1, 2018 through September 30, 2018. The reported HQS salary should be no less than RUB 167,000 per calendar month or RUB 501,000 per quarter (if there was a break in work during the reported period). Violations of the established notification procedures, including failure to notify, will result in administrative fines for the employer.

Russia: Work Permit Delay Due to Technical Issues - The Moscow migration office in Sakharovo currently cannot check or register work permit applications on the filing date (as is customary) due to technical issues. Officials now issue confirmation of acceptance or notification of incorrect documents in two to five business days from the time of filing. Work permit applications are consequently delayed by two to five business days. It is not clear when the delays will be resolved.

Sweden: Biometrics Appointment Delay Persists - The delays in scheduling biometrics appointments with the Swedish Migration Agency and Tax Office persist, ranging from a few days to a few weeks, depending on the location. Fragomen will work with affected applicants to explore solutions.

Sweden: Immigration Reform Plans on Hold While New Government is Formed - Immigration plans in Sweden, including implementation of the EU Students and Researchers Directive, are on hold while a new government is being formed, which is expected to take several months.  

Turkey: Investment Amount for Citizenship to Decrease Significantly - The Turkish government has decreased the investment required for the investment pathway to citizenship by an average of 73 percent across all sub-types, effective immediately. Foreign investors should be able to qualify for citizenship more easily due to the lowered requirements.


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.