Oct 04 2019

Weekly Immigration Update: September 26-October 3, 2019

Brazil, Costa Rica, France, Germany, Guyana, India, Ireland, Israel, Jordan, Qatar, Republic of the Philippines, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Spain, Turkey, United States

In immigration news this week:

  • United States: Fiscal Year 2021 Diversity Visa lottery entrants have until Tuesday, November 5, 2019 at noon EST to register online at the State Department's official lottery website.
  • Israel: Hi-Tech (HIT) visa applicants sponsoring their spouse’s dependent work visa must now submit their applications concurrently with their spouses and include an affidavit confirming the spousal relationship.
  • Russia: Foreign nationals from 53 countries are now eligible for a free single-entry e-visa, which will allow them to enter Russia through specific immigration posts located in the St. Petersburg and Leningrad regions for business, tourism or humanitarian purposes.
  • Costa Rica: The Costa Rican General Immigration Directorate (DGME) has significantly increased the security deposit amounts it requires foreign nationals or employers to pay for certain immigration processes. Deposit amounts vary depending on the applicant's nationality,
  • Germany: Random border checks are expected to increase at all German borders. Controls at the Austria-Germany border will be extended until May 11, 2020 to address concerns surrounding illegal migration into Germany and across the border-free Schengen Area.
  • Serbia: A number of changes aimed at simplifying work and residence permit applications and reducing the length of time foreign nationals are unable to work after entering Serbia are expected in 2020.

These items and other news from Brazil, France, Guyana, India, Ireland, Jordan, Philippines, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Spain, and Turkey follow in this edition of the Fragomen Immigration Update.


Important Updates in Immigration This Week

Guyana, October 3, 2019

Oil and Gas Industry Applicants Now Require Police and Medical Certificate for All Immigration Applications

  • Effective immediately in Guyana, all applicants for initial and renewal visas-on-arrival, Permits to Land and Work Permits, including those in the oil and gas industry, are required to submit a police clearance certificate and a medical certificate with their application.
  • Previously, applications from foreign nationals or host entities in the oil and gas industry did not require these certificates.
  • This will add an administrative hurdle and possibly additional costs for applicants and employers, and may delay the document-gathering time, since it may take a significant amount of time to obtain the police clearance certificate in some countries.

To view entire article, click here.


Israel, October 2, 2019

Stricter Application Process for Hi-Tech Visa Holders Sponsoring a Spouse’s Work

  • The Israeli Ministry of Interior has clarified certain conditions regarding Hi-Tech (HIT) visa applicants seeking to sponsor their spouse’s dependent B-1 general work visa.
  • Effective immediately, such applicants must submit their spouse’s work permit application simultaneously with their own and must include an affidavit with a declaration confirming the spousal relationship.

To view entire article, click here.


United States, October 2, 2019

FY 2021 Diversity Visa Lottery Registration Opens Today

  • Entrants have until Tuesday, November 5, 2019 at noon EST to register online at the State Department’s official lottery website.
  • Lottery applications must conform to the State Department’s strict requirements.

To view entire article, click here.


Germany, October 2, 2019

Increased Border Checks Forthcoming

  • Effective immediately, random border checks are expected to increase at all German borders and near border areas.
  • Border controls along Germany’s border with Austria will be extended for six months beyond November 11, 2019.
  • Travelers should carry identity documents and permits with them and can expect longer waiting times at land border crossings and additional random police checks.

To view entire article, click here.


Russia, October 2, 2019

Electronic Visa Process for St. Petersburg and Leningrad Region Implemented

  • Effective immediately, eligible foreign nationals from 53 countries can apply for an e-visa to enter Russia through specific immigration posts located in the St. Petersburg and Leningrad regions for business, tourism or humanitarian purposes.
  • Further details have now been released confirming the application procedure, processing time, documentation and restrictions for the e-visa. Applications will be free, submitted online and should be processed within a maximum of four calendar days.
  • Applicants can enter Russia through specific ports of entry and remain for up to eight days within the visa validity. They can move freely within the region in which they entered but must exit Russia within the same port from which they entered.

To view entire article, click here.


Serbia, October 1, 2019

Simplification of Work, Residence and Long-Term Stay Permits Forthcoming

  • Beginning January 1, 2020, foreign nationals seeking to enter Serbia will be able to apply for a long-term stay visa while abroad and file a work permit application upon arrival in Serbia, whereas currently both applications must be made in Serbia. Foreign nationals will therefore be able to start work approximately 30 days after arrival in Serbia rather than 60.
  • Beginning January 1, 2020, foreign nationals will be able to apply for a temporary residence permit online from overseas whereas currently this is not possible.
  • Starting December 20, 2020, foreign nationals will be able to apply for their Work and Residence permits jointly as one online application from overseas, thereby eliminating the need to spend time in Serbia without work permission to file and reducing the need to submit duplicate documentation to two different authorities.
  • Due to the above forthcoming changes, the length of time foreign nationals will need to spend in Serbia without work authorization is expected to decrease or be eliminated altogether once the changes go into effect.

To view entire article, click here.


Jordan, October 1, 2019

New Mandatory Work Permit Category for Skilled Workers Requires High Government Fee

  • The Ministry of Labour in Jordan created a mandatory new work authorization route for highly-skilled foreign workers that requires a higher government fee than regular work permits.
  • Employers can hire foreign nationals in skilled professions when there is no qualified Jordanian job seeker available on the labour market. The government has not yet clarified how it will determine this and has not released a list of skilled professions that will be subject to the new process.
  • Until there is a list of affected professions, the Ministry of Labour will continue to exercise a high degree of discretion when adjudicating such applications. 

To view entire article, click here.


Costa Rica, September 26, 2019

Security Deposit Amounts Significantly Increased

  • The Costa Rican General Immigration Directorate has announced a significant increase of the security deposit amounts that foreign nationals (or employers) must pay upon approval of their Temporary or Permanent Residence, Change of Status from Temporary to Permanent Residence or Restricted Entry Visa applications. 
  • The amount of the deposit still varies depending on the applicant’s nationality, but the cap of USD 300 has been eliminated. Security deposit amounts now range from approximately USD 280 to approximately USD 4,800.  
  • Employers and foreign nationals should be prepared to cover the additional cost of a significantly higher security deposit amount where applicable.   

To view entire article, click here.


Weekly News Briefs

Brazil: Digital Work Booklets Now Available – Foreign nationals can now obtain their Work Booklet (CTPS) online without having to apply in person at the Ministry of Economy as was previously required. Under the new process, applicants will be able to obtain a digital Work Booklet immediately instead of waiting up to seven days. To apply,, foreign nationals must download a digital application (Carteira de Trabalho Digital) and provide their CPF number (taxpayer registry), along with other personal information. It is still uncertain whether first time applicants will need to register with social security prior to being able to apply for the Work Booklet online. At this time, foreign nationals can also continue to obtain physical Work Booklets by applying in person at the Ministry of Economy. Fragomen will continue to monitor the digital application and process and will report on relevant updates.

France: Processing Delays Expected at Paris Police Prefecture – Due to a knife attack at the Paris Police Prefecture on October 3, 2019, foreign nationals and employees should expect potential delays over the coming weeks as employees of the Prefecture may require time off work due to the attack. It is not yet clear for how long any delays would last or if a closure of the Prefecture is planned. Fragomen will check all planned accompaniments to appointments scheduled for next week and contact affected clients and assignees individually to confirm if these need to be rescheduled. The Paris Police Prefecture is the body of the French Ministry of the Interior that is responsible for policing, security and administrative functions including immigration appointments and processing. Fragomen will continue to monitor the situation and update clients as further details become available.

IndiaDeadline to Extend OCI Card Extended – The deadline for all Person of India (PIO) cardholders (machine and non-machine-readable) to obtain Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) cards has been extended to March 31, 2020, from September 30, 2019. It is likely that those who fail to convert their PIO cards by March 31, 2020 will be denied entry/exit while traveling to and from India. It is also possible that the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) advances the deadline set by the Indian Bureau of Immigration for non-machine-readable PIO cards. This is in continuation of the deadline set by the ICAO for mandatory machine-readable documents for entry into India. All PIO cardholders (machine and non-machine-readable) are advised to convert their PIO cards to OCI cards by the deadline.

Ireland: Government Publishes Annual Report on Immigration – The Irish Immigration and Naturalisation Service (INIS) has published its annual review of immigration statistics and conclusions from 2018, as well as its annex of statistics. Highlights of the report include: a 12% increase in visa applications from 2017 to 2018;  an 11% annual increase in the number of non-European Economic Area nationals living in Ireland from 2017 to 2018; and 8,225 new Irish citizens in 2018. As for future plans, the report states that the INIS intends to review the general immigration legislation (considering that the current Immigration Act is from 2004), and that there is a proposed harmonization of in-country registration office procedures, though it is unclear when these reviews will occur.

Jordan: New Amnesty Period Introduced – The Ministry of Labour announced that foreign nationals with irregular employment status in Jordan will be able to obtain work permits during an amnesty period lasting through November 21, 2019 without fees or penalties. Foreign nationals who leave Jordan during the amnesty period without regularizing their status will be exempt from MOL fines; however, those foreign nationals who remain risk being fined and deported.

Philippines/Qatar: Visa Service Center Now Open in Philippines – The Qatar Ministry of Interior opened a new visa service center in Manila, Philippines for Filipino nationals who need to complete mandatory immigration procedures prior to traveling to Qatar under a Work Visa. Under a 2018 rule, nationals from select countries, including the Philippines, are required to complete a medical examination, submit their biometric data and have their electronic employment contract signed in order to obtain an entry permit for travel to Qatar.

Russia: Changes to Language Certificate Under Review – A bill considering changes to the process and requirements necessary to obtain a certificate confirming proficiency in Russian language, history and basic legislation has been proposed. The bill’s final details have not yet been confirmed as it is currently in the early stages and has not yet been submitted to the Duma. The bill is expected to include a list of organizations certified to organize examinations on the Ministry of Education website (whereas currently there is no one definitive list); establish differing levels of language requirements, depending on the specific purpose of a foreign national’s stay;  introducea maximum cost; and establish differing validity periods for certificates, including an unlimited certificate for permanent residence permit applications. The bill is also expected to propose changes to the filing procedure by removing the requirement to file an original certificate when filing work permit applications and instead to store all information online in the Federal Information System. The exact details and impact will be confirmed once the legislation has been officially amended. Fragomen will continue to monitor the bill’s progress and provide updates.

Russia: Reminder: Third Quarter Salary Notifications for Highly Qualified Specialists Due October 31 – Employers have until October 31, 2019 to file third quarter notifications for salaries paid to highly-qualified specialists (HQS). The notification must be made on the new form introduced in September 2019, and must state the salary paid to HQS from July 1, 2018 through September 30, 2019. 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.

Saudi Arabia: Visit Visas for Tourism Introduced for First Time – Foreign nationals are now able to obtain a one-year multiple-entry visa for stays of up to 90 days to travel to Saudi Arabia for tourism. The maximum total duration of stay in one year is 180 days. The visa is non-extendable and allows entry only through airports and seaports. Previously, tourist visas were not available. Applicants must be at least 18 years old, must have a passport valid for a minimum of six months from their date of entry into Saudi Arabia and must not have any previous immigration bans from Saudi Arabia or any other Gulf Cooperative Council country. Nationals of 49 countries, including China, European Union member states, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States, can apply for electronic visas prior to arrival through an online portal or upon arrival through e-visa kiosks located near the passport control areas. If they apply for the e-visa prior to travel, foreign nationals must register on the online portal in order to submit their visa application and pay the visa and travel insurance fees of SAR 463 (USD 123). Upon approval, they will receive an e-visa confirmation to their registered e-mail address, which they must present upon arrival in Saudi Arabia. The e-visa does not guarantee entry to Saudi Arabia, which remains at the discretion of the immigration officer upon arrival. Nationals of countries not eligible for an e-visa can obtain approvals through Saudi consular posts. Foreign nationals holding tourist visas are strictly prohibited from conducting activities other than tourism, including paid or unpaid employment or medical treatments. Those expecting to conduct business activities should obtain either a commercial visit or work visit visa.

Spain: Madrid Office Adopts New EU Registration Process for UK Nationals – As an update, the immigration office in Madrid handling EU registrations has adopted a new process for UK nationals seeking to schedule a registration appointment. To book the appointment, applicants must use a new tab called 'policia-certificados UE exclusivos cuidadanos de reino unido.' UK nationals who fail to schedule their appointments through this special system will not be able to obtain an EU registration certificate, which is a mandatory registration process for all EU nationals. As a reminder, UK nationals must obtain their registration certificate within 90 days of their move to Spain, or before the date the United Kingdom leaves the European Union, whichever is sooner. Applicants should immediately initiate any cases requiring assistance with securing status for UK nationals in Spain, as appointments before October 31, 2019 cannot be guaranteed. For further details, please contact [email protected].

Turkey: Delays for Residence Permit Appointments in Istanbul – Immigration authorities in Istanbul are experiencing a growing backlog of residence permit appointments in all offices, leading to appointment delays of approximately eight weeks from the date of booking. This backlog may increase over the coming weeks due to high demand. Foreign nationals applying for residence permits who intend to depart Turkey for the Christmas and New Year holiday period and need exit documents should initiate their cases immediately and plan their residence permit application well in advance.

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