Virginia, US

Oct 05 2017

Weekly Immigration Update: September 29 – October 5, 2017

Canada, Costa Rica, Hong Kong, Ireland, Ivory Coast, Oman, Panama, Russia, Singapore, Spain, Switzerland, United Kingdom, United States, Venezuela

In United States immigration news this week, employers can once again request premium service for all H-1B filings, including extensions, amendments and changes of employer.   

In other United States news, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has issued a new edition of Form I-765, which allows some foreign nationals to apply concurrently for employment authorization and a Social Security Number. Diversity Visa lottery entrants have until Tuesday, November 7, 2017 at noon EST to register online at the State Department's official lottery website.

In Canada, updated wage information was released and went into effect, creating new prevailing wages for many industries.

The United Kingdom expanded its Registered Traveller Scheme, designed for business travelers and frequent visitors, to cover 15 additional countries.

In Singapore, the minimum monthly salary for work pass holders to sponsor family members will increase effective January 1, 2018.

Ivory Coast has suspended the issuance of new biometric residence cards until further notice.

These items and other news from Costa Rica, Hong Kong, Ireland, Oman, Panama, Russia, Spain, the United Kingdom, Venezuela and the United States follow in this edition of the Fragomen Immigration Update.


Important Updates in Immigration This Week

United States, October 4, 2017

New Form Allows Some Foreign Nationals to Apply Concurrently for Employment Authorization and a Social Security Number

A new edition of Form I-765, dated 07/17/17, allows qualifying applicants to request a Social Security Number or a replacement Social Security card when they apply for their employment authorization document.  The streamlined process is open only to foreign nationals who use an EAD to work. It is not available to H-1Bs, L-1s, O-1s, TNs or other nonimmigrants authorized to work incident to status.

To view entire article, click here.


United States, October 3, 2017

USCIS Resumes Premium Processing for All H-1B Filings

Employers can request premium service for H-1B extensions, amendments and changes of employer, among other H-1B filings.

To view entire article, click here.


United States, October 3, 2017

FY 2019 Diversity Visa Lottery Registration Opens Today

Entrants have until Tuesday, November 7, 2017 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.


United States, October 2, 2017

Reminder - Deadline for DACA Renewals is October 5

DACA recipients whose benefits expire between September 5, 2017 and March 5, 2018 are eligible to renew. All eligible renewal applications must be physically received at USCIS by October 5, 2017. With the deadline fast approaching, applicants should use express mail or an overnight courier service to minimize the risk of untimely receipt of their renewal filing.

To view entire article, click here.


United Kingdom, October 5, 2017

Registered Traveller Program Expanded

The Registered Traveller Scheme, designed for business travelers and frequent visitors, has been expanded to cover 15 additional countries.

To view entire article, click here.


Canada, October 5, 2017

Prevailing Wages Updated

On September 25, 2017, updated wage information was released and went into effect, creating new prevailing wages for many industries in Canada.

To view entire article, click here.


Costa Rica, October 5, 2017

Government Offices Closed Today and Tomorrow Due to Severe Weather

All government offices in Costa Rica are closed today and tomorrow due to severe weather from Tropical Storm Nate.

To view entire article, click here.


Switzerland, October 5, 2017

Increased Quotas for 2018

The work permit quotas numbers for 2018 have been released. A number of quota categories have increased numbers as compared to 2017.

To view entire article, click here.


Canada, October 4, 2017

Further Changes to Citizenship Act to Take Effect

On October 11, 2017, additional changes to the Citizenship Act will go into effect. The residency requirement for citizenship eligibility will be reduced to three out of five years. Credit will be given for time spent in Canada as a temporary resident (up to 365 days) prior to becoming a permanent resident. Only applicants between 18 and 54 years of age will be required to meet the language and knowledge requirements for citizenship.

To view entire article, click here.


Singapore, October 3, 2017

Minimum Salary to Sponsor Dependents to Increase January 2018

Effective January 1, 2018, the minimum monthly salary for work pass holders to sponsor family members will increase as follows: SGD 6,000 to sponsor spouses and children; SGD 12,000 to sponsor parents.

To view entire article, click here.


Ivory Coast, September 29, 2017                            

Biometric Residence Permit Issuance Suspended

Due to technical issues with the new biometric card printing machines, the authorities have suspended the issuance of the new biometric residence cards until further notice. Residence permit holders with expired permits must obtain an entry visa to ensure that they can re-enter the Ivory Coast.

To view entire article, click here.


Weekly News Briefs

United States: Senate Votes to Confirm L. Francis Cissna as USCIS Director – The Senate on Thursday voted 54-43 to confirm Lee Francis Cissna as Director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Cissna was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee in May, but the full Senate vote on his nomination was put on hold by Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC) in an effort to urge the Department of Homeland Security to approve additional H-2B visa numbers.

Cissna has served as Director of Immigration Policy in DHS’s Office of Policy and in the Office of the Chief Counsel of USCIS.  He was formerly an aide to Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA), a longtime critic of the H-1B and L-1 programs.

United States: New CBP Trusted Traveler System Requires Members to Register – On October 1, 2017, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) replaced the Global Online Enrollment System (GOES) – the system used to apply for and maintain trusted traveler memberships – with the Trusted Traveler Programs (TTP) System. Individuals who are members of Global Entry, SENTRI, NEXUS, and FAST or are applying for membership must register with the new system to access their accounts.

Current trusted traveler members and pending applicants must create an account on the new system. Their previous GOES accounts are no longer accessible, but membership and application information will be transferred to the new system once an account is created. 

New applicants should log into the new TTP system, click on "Get Started", and follow the instructions to apply for membership in a trusted traveler program.

Hong Kong: Business Visitors May Deliver Speeches or Presentations Subject to Certain Conditions – Effective immediately, the Hong Kong Immigration Department has informed that foreign nationals under business visa status are now allowed to deliver speeches or presentations at an event provided that the following conditions are met:

  • the business visitor will not receive remuneration for the performance of such activities (payments or reimbursements for accommodation, meals, transportation and other expenses incurred relating to the event are allowed);
  • the duration of the whole event should not exceed seven days;
  • the business visitor can only attend one event to deliver the speech or presentation during each stay.

Failure to meet these conditions may mean that the foreign national will require a work visa to perform these particular activities in Hong Kong. This does not affect the visa requirements for foreign nationals. Those who currently need a visa to enter the country are still required to obtain such visa prior to entry.

Ireland: Immigration Appointment Delays in Dublin - Foreign nationals seeking to schedule a Garda National Immigration Bureau appointment in Dublin should expect delays due to a high demand for appointments. The immigration authorities have added new appointment times to some weekday evenings and Saturdays to alleviate the delays. Applicants are advised to keep checking the online system daily starting 2:30 pm IST to see when new appointments are released.   

Oman: Visitor Visas-On-Arrival to be Extended to Chinese, Indian and Russian Nationals –  Omani authorities have announced that Chinese, Indian and Russian passports holders with a valid residency or entry visa issued by Australia, Canada, United Kingdom, United States or a Schengen Member Country will soon be eligible for a 30-day single-entry visa-on-arrival for tourism. Visa holders’ accompanying spouse and children will also be allowed entry even if they do not have a visa issued by one of the approved countries. The effective date of the new law has not been announced, but Fragomen will continue monitoring the situation and will report additional information as developments occur.

Panama: Prerequisites to Apply for Multinational Company (SEM) Licenses Revised – Panamanian authorities have reversed a recent change to the prerequisites for SEM Licenses. Effective September 12, companies can no longer qualify for an SEM License based on having at least 2,500 employees with at least a Bachelor’s degree, Master’s degree or PhD. Instead, they can qualify through the global presence of a corporate group in more than 40 countries or through the traditional route of having assets over USD 200 million in the corporate group.

Russia: Salary Reports Due for Highly Qualified Specialists – Employers sponsoring Highly Qualified Specialist Work Permits are required to submit salary reports each quarter. The minimum salary payment levels must be met by the end of each quarter. The reports for the third quarter (July through September) must be submitted by October 31, 2017.

Spain: Delays in Barcelona – Due to the events surrounding the Catalonia referendum,   although immigration processing delays have not been reported, immigration appointment scheduling in Barcelona is delayed. Foreign nationals seeking to schedule an appointment at the immigration office in Barcelona should therefore account for the extra time it may take to secure an appointment.

United Kingdom: Home Office White Paper on Brexit Postponed – The UK Immigration Minister has indicated that a Government White Paper on immigration policy following Brexit, which was leaked in August, will be officially published in late Autumn. The Minister emphasized that the leaked document was an early iteration of the policy and is subject to ongoing consultation. He also indicated that the Immigration Bill setting out the new legal framework will not be introduced until the New Year. Key details of policy for EU migration will be provided after the Migration Advisory Committee has issued its final report in Autumn 2018. This means the immigration position of EU nationals in the United Kingdom is unlikely to be clear until late 2018 at the earliest. 

Venezuela: Certain Immigration Fees to Be Paid in U.S. Dollars – Effective September 22, foreign nationals who receive their salary in a foreign currency must pay all government fees for their immigration applications in U.S. dollars.  These payments must be made electronically through public financial entities. Foreign nationals who earn their salary in the local currency can continue to pay government fees in the local currency. 


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.