Virginia, US

Sep 28 2017

Weekly Immigration Update: September 22 - 28, 2017

Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Canada, European Union, Ghana, Hong Kong, India, Italy, Kenya, Luxembourg, Mexico, Norway, Panama, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Thailand, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States

In United States immigration news this week, the Trump Administration is imposing new travel restrictions on certain nationals of Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Venezuela and Yemen, unless exempt or granted a waiver. U.S. lawful permanent residents, dual nationals, and holders of valid U.S. visas are exempt, among others. The restrictions took effect immediately for certain nationals of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen.  All others will be subject to restrictions on October 18, 2017 at 12:01am EDT. 

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has asked a federal appeals court for three more months to review and reconsider the H-4 employment authorization rule. Eligible H-4 spouses of H-1B workers can still apply for new or renewed employment authorization, but DHS could restrict or terminate the EAD program in the future.

A comprehensive trade agreement between Canada and the European Union is expected to streamline mobility for several categories of employees, investors and business visitors.

A regulation in Panama increased fines for companies employing foreign nationals without approved work permits. In Mexico, many government offices will remain closed until October 2, following the earthquake.

India has expanded its residence reporting form requirement for foreign nationals leasing apartments or houses in Mumbai. Thailand is launching an online system that will permit Board of Investment-registered companies to file employees' Work Permit and Long-Term Visa applications online.

Companies in Saudi Arabia not meeting their Saudization targets may now subscribe to a program that allows the company to pay a monthly fee instead of hiring more Saudi employees.

In Ukraine, many changes took effect September 27, including an increased minimum salary threshold and amendments to the temporary residence permit and work permit regulations.

These items and other news from Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Canada, Ghana, Hong Kong, Italy, Kenya, Luxembourg, Mexico, Norway and Qatar follow in this edition of the Fragomen Immigration Update.

 

Important Updates in Immigration This Week

United States, September 28, 2017
DHS Seeks More Time to Reconsider H-4 Employment Rule

In a federal lawsuit, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has asked a court for three more months to review and reconsider the H-4 employment authorization rule. Eligible H-4 spouses of H-1B workers can still apply for new or renewed employment authorization, but DHS could restrict or terminate the program in the future.

To view entire article, click here.

 

United States, September 25, 2017
The New Travel Ban - What Employers and Foreign Nationals Need to Know

The restrictions affect nationals of Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Venezuela and Yemen, unless exempt or granted a waiver. U.S. lawful permanent residents, dual nationals, and holders of valid U.S. visas are exempt, among others. Restrictions vary by country. The restrictions took effect immediately for certain nationals of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen.  All others will be subject to restrictions on October 18, 2017 at 12:01am EDT.  They will remain in place indefinitely.

To view entire article, click here.

 

Thailand, September 28, 2017
Online System for Work Permit and Visa Applications Launched

The Board of Investment (BOI) is launching a new online system that will allow BOI-registered companies to apply for their employees' Work Permits and Long-Term Visas online. Although the new system is intended to replace paper documents with electronic versions for convenience, it is still uncertain if it will eventually reduce the processing time of immigration applications. The online system will be implemented in several phases starting October 2017, and it will be mandatory nationwide by October 2018.

To view entire article, click here.

 

Saudi Arabia, September 28, 2017
New Program for Companies Not Able to Meet Saudization Requirement

Companies in Saudi Arabia not meeting their Saudization targets may now subscribe to the Parallel Saudization Program, which allows the company to pay a monthly fee instead of hiring more Saudi employees.

To view entire article, click here.

 

India, September 27, 2017
Residence Reporting Form Requirement Expanded in Mumbai and Enforcement Increased

Effective immediately, foreign nationals leasing apartments or houses in Mumbai must submit a copy of the Form C with their in-country immigration applications. Landlords must complete this form with 24 hours of the foreign national's arrival on their premises; otherwise, the employer/foreign national may be fined or subject to questioning by the Foreigners' Regional Registration Office. This requirement was already applicable to foreign nationals residing in hotels, serviced apartments and guesthouses.

To view entire article, click here.

 

Ghana, September 27, 2017
New Requirements Introduced for Oil and Gas Sector Employees

Key aspects of a new directive implemented for oil and gas sector employees include: the foreign employee's Police Clearance Certificate cannot be more than one year old; the foreign employee's Medical Certificate cannot be more than two years old; and Work Permit applications must be submitted to the Ghana Petroleum Commission instead of the Ghana Immigration Service.

To view entire article, click here.

 

Canada/European Union, September 26, 2017
Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement to Improve Mobility

A trade agreement between Canada and the European Union notably allows intracompany transferees to be eligible for a work permit without being subject to quotas, as were previously applicable in the European Union, or labor market tests; business visitors to be eligible for a short-term work permit exemption; and self-employed professionals (with some exceptions) to apply for entry to Canada for pre-arranged employment without a labor market test, and for entry into the European Union without a labor market test or quota.

To view entire article, click here.

 

Luxembourg, September 26, 2017
New Online Platform and Document Retention Requirements for Posted Workers

Authorities have launched an online platform for employers to submit posted worker notifications. Additionally, there are new document retention requirements for employers and stricter notification rules in general.

To view entire article, click here.

 

Norway, September 26, 2017
Increased Enforcement of Apostille/Legalization Requirement

Foreign nationals are likely to have issues with their immigration applications if their documents are not apostilled or legalized due to increased enforcement of this requirement by immigration authorities.

To view entire article, click here.

 

Ukraine, September 25, 2017
Changes to Work Permit Regulation

Effective September 27, 2017, the document requirements for work permit applications will be reduced, intracompany transferees will be able to obtain permits with longer initial validity periods and there will be other changes affecting filing fees and grounds for rejection of applications.

To view entire article, click here.

 

Ukraine, September 25, 2017
Change to Temporary Residence Permit Regulation

Effective September 27, 2017, Ukraine's temporary residence permit regulation will be amended to include the following highlighted changes, among others: Investor eligibility for a Temporary Residence Permit; Longer Temporary Residence Permit validity period; Temporary Residence Permit filing by an authorized representative.

To view entire article, click here.

 

Mexico, September 25, 2017
Many Government Offices Remain Closed Until October 2 Following Earthquake

As a result of last week's earthquake, Mexico City government offices are closed until announced otherwise, with the exception of the Mexico City International Airport immigration office. All Ministry of Interior offices, including immigration offices, will not process immigration-related work until Monday, October 2, 2017. All immigration-related legal terms, deadlines and expirations in Mexico City, Puebla and Morelos have been formally postponed until Monday, October 2.

To view entire article, click here.

 

Hong Kong, September 25, 2017
Same-Sex Partners or Spouses Could Become Eligible for Dependent Status

The Court of Appeal has ruled that same-sex partners and spouses should be eligible to obtain dependent visas, which confer employment rights in Hong Kong without restrictions. Same-sex partners and spouses currently remain ineligible for dependent status, however this could change depending on how the case progresses.

To view entire article, click here.

 

Mexico, September 25, 2017
Unannounced Workplace Inspections Causing Immigration Issues

There have been multiple reports of private security guards not allowing National Immigration Institute (INM) officials on company premises. This prevents INM officials from conducting their workplace visits, which could result in immigration application issues and delays.

To view entire article, click here.

 

Panama, September 22, 2017
Increased Fines and Enforcement for Companies Employing Foreign Nationals Without Work Permits

A regulation has increased fines for companies employing foreign nationals without approved work permits. Immigration authorities are also expected to increase enforcement of fines.

To view entire article, click here.

 

Mexico, September 22, 2017
Update on Government Operations Following Earthquake

Governmental agencies, including the National Immigration Institute, are scheduled to reopen on Monday, September 25. Employers and foreign nationals should continue to anticipate delays with immigration processes due to the closure of government offices.  Fragomen's Mexico City office re-opened yesterday, September 21.

To view entire article, click here.

 

Ukraine, September 22, 2017
High Minimum Salary Requirement Introduced for Foreign Workers

Effective September 27, 2017, the minimum salary threshold for work permit and temporary residence permit applications for foreign nationals will increase from UAH 3,200 gross per month to UAH 32,000 gross per month.

To view entire article, click here.

 

Weekly News Briefs

Azerbaijan: Final Call to Submit Quota – Following the introduction of the work permit quota system in Azerbaijan, the State Migration Service has issued a final call for employers to submit quota reports as soon as possible. The initial deadline was set for May 1, 2017. The State Migration Service has indicated that employers failing to submit their quota reports risk refusal of work permit applications.

Bahrain: New Rules for Hiring Domestic Workers – The Labour Market Regulatory Authority has announced a new process for hiring domestic workers according to a law that is expected to go into effect at the beginning or middle of October, depending on public consultations. Employers must follow the below steps according to the new rules:

  • Issue an official job offer to the foreign domestic worker before the worker arrives in Bahrain;
  • Declare the nature of the job, the worker’s responsibilities, working hours and holidays;
  • Provide the worker with a paid holiday of 30 days for every two-year contract; and
  • Sign an employment contract when the worker arrives in Bahrain.

Canada: Visa Requirements Likely to be Lifted for Bulgarian and Romanian Nationals –Canadian authorities intend to lift the current visa requirements for Bulgarian and Romanian nationals travelling to Canada by December 1, 2017. This date is subject to change and more details will be provided in the future.

Ghana: Valid Tax Clearance Certificate Required for Emergency Entry Visa – On or after October 1, 2017, Ghana Immigration Services will require Emergency Entry Visa holders to present a valid tax clearance certificate when applying for a work and residence permit. The tax clearance must state clearly that it is for immigration or government and non-governmental purposes.  This is intended to enable the authorities to verify the sponsoring employer’s tax compliance.

Italy: Practical Guidelines on Investor Visa Published – Following the introduction of a new investor visa category in November 2016, the Italian government has published further information on how the visa process will operate in practice. Investor visas will be handled via a three-step process: online clearance application, visa application at the consular post abroad, and residence permit application in Italy. Applications will be considered by a committee with representatives from various government agencies (Ministry of Economic Development, Ministry of Interior, Ministry of External Affairs, Tax Authorities and Financial Police). Applicants must submit police clearance certificates for all countries of residence during the past 10 years and proof of investment within three months of arrival. The visa category will become active only once an online platform is created, however an estimated launch date has not yet been confirmed. 

Italy: New Online Form for Schengen Visa Applications – The Italian government has introduced a new web portal and online form for Schengen visa applications. The form is available in English and Italian, and can be used for trips not exceeding 90 days in a 180-day period. The online form is expected to simplify visa applications for short-term travel. Long-term applicants are still required to fill out paper forms.

Kenya: Police Clearance Certificate to be Required for Permit and Pass Applications – Starting October 2, 2017, permit and pass applications submitted by or on behalf of foreign nationals age 18 and over will need to include a police clearance certificate from the foreign national’s country of residence or origin. Applications without the police clearance will be refused. This is an additional step to the process, and therefore more time may be required in collecting documents for submission. Applications that are currently awaiting submission to the Immigration Department will be delayed as Fragomen reaches out to all applicants for the police clearance.

Qatar: New Electronic Travel Authorisation System Launched – Qatari Authorities have launched new Electronic Travel Authorisation System (ETA), allowing foreign nationals who are not eligible for a visa-on-arrival but who hold a valid visa from Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, the United States, a Gulf Cooperation Council member country or a Schengen Member State to obtain a 30-day single-entry visa online. Work or business activities are not permissible under this travel authorization. The ETA costs USD 14 and a one-time extension is permissible. Applicants must submit their application online at least four business days prior to travel. Valid proof of residency or a visit visa issued by one of the approved countries is required in addition to other documents, including a machine-readable passport with a minimum validity of six months, a passport-size photo, a return or onward ticket and proof of accommodation in Qatar.  Applicants from select countries may be required to submit additional documents. After leaving Qatar, qualified foreign nationals can apply for a new ETA as long as the duration between their exit and entry is at least five business days.

Qatar: Visitor Visas-On-Arrival Extended to Pakistani Nationals – Effective immediately, Pakistani passport holders are eligible for a 30-day visitor visa-on-arrival for tourism, as long as they have a confirmed return ticket and a financial guarantee amounting to QAR 5,000 in cash (or equivalent in another currency) or a valid credit card, among other requirements. The visa is free of charge. Pakistani nationals’ passports must be valid for at least six months from the date of entry to Qatar and a certificate of vaccination against polio is mandatory for individuals travelling directly from Pakistan. The visa is extendable for an additional 30 days, subject to providing a confirmed return ticket.

 

Global Immigration News Links

The United States, Canada and Mexico wrapped up the third round of the NAFTA trade talks in Ottawa, where negotiators said progress had been made but much work remained to conclude the negotiations by the end of the year, Reuters reports.

The American Immigration Council issued a fact sheet that describes the legal avenues in the United States available to promising entrepreneurs, as well as some of the barriers they face securing immigration status through these paths.

News outlets are reporting that President Trump intends to cap refugee admissions to the United States at 45,000 for fiscal year 2018. The Migration Policy Institute's data tool tracks refugee resettlement numbers and annual ceilings set since the resettlement program was enacted with the Refugee Act of 1980.

Luxembourg’s Minister of Finance argues that the European Banking Authority should move from London to Luxembourg after Brexit.

The European Parliament discussed the ongoing Brexit negotiations this week, and will vote on a resolution on the negotiations next week. The practical impact will be limited, as the resolution merely demonstrates the Parliament’s continued scrutiny. 

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