Oct 01 2020

Weekly Immigration Update: September 25-October 1, 2020

Angola, Austria, Azerbaijan, Barbados, Belgium, Brazil, Brunei, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Egypt, Estonia, Ethiopia, Finland, Gabon, Germany, Greece, Honduras, Hungary, India, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Luxembourg, Malta, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Peru, Qatar, Republic of the Philippines, Russia, Singapore, South Africa, Thailand, The Bahamas, Tunisia , Turkey, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States

In immigration news this week:

  • Worldwide: Jurisdictions around the world continue to adapt their coronavirus-related travel restrictions and quarantine measures, and many have implemented extension policies and other concessions. Visit Fragomen’s coronavirus-related news page for the latest immigration updates.
  • United States: A federal district court has enjoined the Department of Homeland Security from enforcing a regulation that would have significantly increased USCIS filing fees and subjected applicants and employers to new forms. A stopgap spending measure has been signed into law that funds the U.S. government—including immigration operations—through December 11, while also broadly expanding the USCIS premium processing program to include many additional employment-based case types. The measure also extends E-Verify, the EB-5 Regional Center program and other expiring programs through December 11. The State Department will begin accepting online registrations for the FY 2022 Diversity Visa lottery starting October 7, at noon EDT, until November 10 at noon EST.
  • Georgia: A recently launched remote work visa allows certain eligible foreign nationals to work for a company outside Georgia for at least 180 days.
  • United Kingdom: The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) published its Shortage Occupation List (SOL) review, in which it recommended adding a number of occupations to the UK-wide SOL and creating separate additional shortage lists for Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales, among others.
  • France: Fragomen received additional information on the scope of implementation of the EU Posted Worker Directive, which includes making it applicable to all types of secondments (intra-company transfer and international provision of services), regardless of the posted worker’s home country, with one exception for the transportation sector.

These items and other news from Antigua and Barbuda, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Canada, Qatar, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States follow in this edition of the Fragomen Immigration Update.


Important Updates in Immigration This Week

United States, October 1, 2020

FY 2022 Diversity Visa Lottery Registration Opens October 7

  • Entrants have from Wednesday, October 7, 2020 at noon EDT until Tuesday, November 10, 2020 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.


United States, October 1, 2020

Stopgap Spending Measure Broadens USCIS Premium Processing, Temporarily Extends Expiring Immigration Programs

  • A stopgap spending measure signed into law by President Trump funds the U.S. government through December 11, 2020, while also broadly expanding the USCIS premium processing program to include many employment-based case types and increase the base fee to $2,500, from $1,440.
  • Though the law took effect immediately, it could take several weeks or more for USCIS to implement the expanded premium program.
  • The measure also extends E-Verify, the EB-5 Regional Center program and other expiring programs through December 11, 2020, while Congress continues to debate the FY 2021 federal budget.

To view entire article, click here.


France, September 30, 2020

French Implementation Widens Posted Worker Directive Scope

  • Following French implementation of the Revised Posted Worker Directive on July 30, 2020, which reduced the period during which a posted worker in France can remain under certain home country labor laws to 12 months (or 18 months following an extension declaration), Fragomen received additional information on the scope of implementation.
  • The clarification expands the scope of the directive by making it applicable to all types of secondments (intra-company transfer and international provision of services), regardless of the posted worker’s home country, with one exception for the transportation sector. This is more expansive than the scope of the general EU Posted Workers Directive.
  • As a result, affected employers should review the length of employment terms of workers posted to France so they can apply to extend the application of certain home country labor laws, if required.


To view entire article, click here.


United Kingdom, September 30, 2020

Migration Advisory Committee Publishes Shortage Occupation List Review

  • In its review, the Migration Advisory Committee recommends approximately 20 occupations on the UK-wide Shortage Occupation List, including roles related to senior health and social care, electricians and graphic designers, among others.
  • It also recommended creating separate additional shortage lists for Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales.


To view entire article, click here.


United States, September 29, 2020

Federal District Court Blocks Enforcement of DHS Fee Rule

  • A federal district court has issued a nationwide preliminary injunction that prohibits the Department of Homeland Security from enforcing a regulation that was set to increase USCIS filing fees as of October 2, 2020. 
  • If implemented, the rule would have subjected employment-based petitioners and applicants to significantly higher fees and new forms for H-1B, L-1 and other nonimmigrant petition types as well as for forms associated with adjustment of status applications.
  • The rule would have also lengthened the premium processing timeline to nearly three weeks and subjected asylum applicants and other humanitarian applicants to new and increased fees.
  • DHS is expected to appeal the ruling.

To view entire article, click here.


United States, September 29, 2020

DOL Permanently Adopts COVID-19 Accommodation to Electronically Issue PERM Labor Certifications

PERM labor certifications will permanently be issued electronically and sent to employers and representatives via e-mail, according to a DOL announcement. 

To view entire article, click here.


Georgia, September 29, 2020

Remote Work Visa Available

  • Georgia has launched a remote work visa allowing eligible foreign nationals with a minimum monthly salary of at least USD 2,000 to apply to work for a company outside Georgia for at least 180 days.
  • Upon entry, foreign nationals must quarantine at a hotel in Georgia for eight days at their own expense, and must undergo a COVID-19 PCR test. Those with a negative test result will be able to remain in Georgia.


To view entire article, click here.


Other Weekly News Briefs

Antigua and Barbuda: Nomad Digital Residence Visa Introduced – Antigua and Barbuda has introduced a Nomad Digital Residence (NDR) Visa, which allows foreign nationals who are employed with a company or self-employed outside of Antigua to reside in Antigua for up to two years and work remotely from there. Visa holders or their dependents cannot perform work for any company conducting business in Antigua. According to the NDR program’s website, applicants must certify that they expect to earn an income of at least USD 50,000 (or the equivalent in another currency) for each year of residence in Antigua and have the means to support themselves and their family during their stay, have medical insurance coverage for the period of their intended stay, and all applicants over the age of 16 must submit police clearance certificates, among other requirements.

Azerbaijan: Operating Hours Restricted for Key Industries – Due to the imposition of martial law in Azerbaijan, the government now requires private companies to obtain special permission online to perform activities between 21:00-06:00 hours (local time). The restriction applies to companies in the following key industries: communication, construction, logistics, oil and gas and transportation, among others. Penalties may apply in case of noncompliance.

Belgium/United States: U.S. Preclearance Process Forthcoming at Brussels Airport – According to a Belgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs press release, Belgium and the United States have agreed to establish a U.S. customs and immigration pre-clearance process for passengers boarding flights from Brussels Airport to the United States. When the process is implemented, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers in Brussels will conduct the same immigration, customs, and agriculture inspections performed upon arrival in the United States and successful travelers will bypass CBP and Transportation Security Administration inspections in the United States. The Belgian Parliament must ratify this agreement and the Brussels Airport Company must still conclude technical arrangements before this policy starts to apply. Once the program is operational, it will be the first location for U.S. preclearance operations in mainland Europe.

Belgium: EU Intra-Company Transferee Permit Not Yet Fully EffectiveAs anticipated, EU Intra-Company Transferee (ICT) Permits cannot yet be issued in Belgium pending the publication of an Executive Royal Decree. Nevertheless, the Brussels and Flanders regions are accepting EU ICT Permit applications in anticipation of the Decree (the Walloon region is not accepting EU ICT Permit applications yet). Applicants are expected to receive regular Single Permits (electronic residence card type A), which would presumably need to be converted into the EU ICT Permit residence card upon publication of the Decree. Until that point, the benefits of EU mobility rights incorporated in the EU ICT permit will not apply.

Canada: New Online Application Portal and Other Changes for Permanent Residence under the Alberta Immigrant Nominee Program (AINP) – Effective October 1, 2020, anyone seeking to apply for permanent residence under the Alberta Immigrant Nominee Program (AINP) can do so online using the new AINP online portal, except for those applying through the Self-Employed Farmer Stream. The AINP portal features: user tips on how to enter data, supporting document checklists, and the ability to save draft applications that can then be completed at a later time. The new portal also provides users with the ability to do an initial eligibility assessment before they start to complete the full application process. In addition, AINP applications submitted using the new portal are subject to a non-refundable CAN$500 processing fee. Previously, no application fee was required for AINP applications. Other changes for the AINP include: post-decision services, such as withdrawing applications or correcting or updating information in a completed application, which must be submitted via email; additional process changes related to temporary COVID-19 measures; and 204(c) Letters of Support will no longer be issued automatically.

Qatar: Elimination of No-Object Certificate – As part of a set of laws amending provisions of immigration and labor regulations in Qatar, the requirement for a foreign national to obtain a no-objection certificate from their existing employer to be able to transfer to a new employer has been eliminated. Instead, prior to transferring employment, the employee must give their current employer a minimum one-month notice if they have worked for the employer for less than two years and a minimum of two months’ notice if they have worked for longer than two years. It is expected that this provision will take effect 30 days from publication of the law in the Official Gazette, which corresponds to October 9, 2020.

Qatar: New Minimum Salary – A new law introduces a minimum wage of QAR 1,000 (approximately USD 270) per month for all workers in Qatar. In addition, unless included within the employment arrangement, employees are also entitled to a minimum of at least QAR 300 per month for food and 500 QAR per month for accommodation. Currently, foreign nationals on work permits are only required to earn QAR 750 per month; therefore, employers will need to increase foreign nationals’ minimum salaries in order to comply with the new rule. Furthermore, after implementation of this new law, employers will not be able to register employment contracts that do not meet the minimum salary, which can result in the inability to obtain a Residence Permit as well as fines. The new minimum salary is expected to apply within six months of the date of publication of the new law.

Russia: Increased Obligations of Inviting Parties – New Russian legislation establishes additional measures inviting parties must take to ensure compliance for sponsored foreign nationals. Inviting parties must provide their contact details; provide material assistance, a minimum salary, medical insurance and accommodation for the foreign national in line with regional norms; and assist with arranging business meetings or negotiations, providing a workplace, arranging studies or making other arrangements suitable to the purpose of the trip, among other requirements. If the inviting party loses contact with the sponsored foreign national, they must inform the Ministry of Internal Affairs online or in person within two business days. In case of noncompliance, inviting parties risk RUB 2,000-4,000 in penalties, officials risk RUB 45,000-50,000 and legal entities risk RUB 400,000-500,000.

United Kingdom: Immigration Health Surcharge Increase DelayedAs an update, the immigration health surcharge (IHS) increase that was scheduled to take effect October 1 is on hold, to account for the Health and Care visa which came into effect in July 2020. The IHS increase will take effect 21 calendar days from signature of a ministerial order, which has not yet occurred.

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