Sep 14 2018

Weekly Immigration Update: September 7 - 13, 2018

Canada, European Union, Greece, Israel, New Zealand, Republic of the Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Slovak Republic, Spain, Taiwan, Thailand, United States

In United States immigration news this week, worldwide EB-1 will advance but remain backlogged, and EB-2 and EB-3 cutoff dates will advance significantly for India and China and become current for all other countries, according to the State Department's October Visa Bulletin.

The European Union Council of Ministers has adopted the European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS), which will require visa-exempt nationals seeking to enter the Schengen Area to register online prior to travel. The system is expected to be operational by 2021.

Singapore announced that sponsoring companies are no longer required to endorse Ministry of Manpower forms with their company stamps.

These items and other news from Canada, Greece, Israel, New Zealand, Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Slovak Republic, Spain, Taiwan, Thailand, and the United States follow in this edition of the Fragomen Immigration Update.


Important Updates in Immigration This Week

United States, September 12, 2018

October Visa Bulletin: EB-1 Advances for All Countries But Remains Backlogged; Significant Advancement for EB-2 and EB-3

  • EB-1 for all countries except India and China will advance ten months, to April 1, 2017.
  • EB-1 India and China will advance almost four and a half years, to June 1, 2016.
  • EB-2 and EB-3 worldwide categories will return to currency. 
  • EB-2 China and India will advance more than two years, to April 1, 2015 for China and March 26, 2009 for India.

To view entire article, click here.


Slovak Republic, September 12, 2018

Delays at Bratislava Foreign Police Office

Due to a high volume of applications, foreign national applicants at the Foreign Police office in Bratislava are facing lengthy appointment waiting times and queues starting 16-22 hours before the office opens. 

To view entire article, click here.


Singapore, September 11, 2018

Company Stamps No Longer Required on Forms

The Ministry of Manpower in Singapore has announced that sponsoring companies are no longer required to endorse its forms using their company stamps. The change is intended to streamline regulatory requirements and reduce the costs associated with filing a work pass application.

To view entire article, click here.


European Union, September 7, 2018

EU Council of Ministers Adopts European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS)

Once ETIAS is fully operational, visa-exempt nationals seeking to enter the Schengen Area will need to register online prior to travel. The European Parliament and the Council must sign the relevant legislative text. The regulation will enter into force 20 days after publication and the system is expected to be operational by 2021.

To view entire article, click here.


Weekly News Briefs

United States: Latest PERM and PWD Processing Times – As of August 31, 2018, the Department of Labor (DOL) was conducting analyst review for PERM applications filed in July 2018 or earlier, and processing audited cases filed in February 2018 or earlier. DOL is working on standard reconsideration requests submitted in July 2018 or earlier. There is no update on the government error queue, though these appear to be current. 

DOL is issuing prevailing wage determinations for PERM and H-1B requests filed in June 2018. The agency has been processing PERM redeterminations and PERM center director reviews requested in July 2018. There are no pending H-1B redeterminations.

These reports are available on the iCERT home page.

Canada: Quebec Web Portal Created for Foreign Credential Recognition – The Canadian government created a new web portal to assist individuals in having their foreign credentials recognized in Quebec, regardless of where they were obtained. The portal is particularly helpful for foreign nationals applying for Canadian permanent residence, as well as for new permanent residents, but may be useful to anyone with foreign credentials. The portal will help these individuals determine if their profession is regulated in Quebec and assist in obtaining an assessment of their education, training and work experience. The new portal is currently only available in French and will eventually be available in English as well.

Canada: Prince Edward Island Entrepreneur Program to Shut Down – The provincial government of Prince Edward Island will be permanently ending the entrepreneur stream of the Provincial Nominee Program. In order to provide adequate notice to applicants and immigration agents, the government will hold one more selection of applicants on September 20, 2018, where no more than 10 applicants will be chosen. Foreign nationals who have already been selected for nomination in a previous drawing of the Prince Edward Island entrepreneur stream will continue to have their applications processed.

Greece: Delay in Issuing Residence Permits – The Greek Immigration Department now takes over a year to issue a residence permit from the time of filing. While foreign nationals remain compliant with immigration laws to stay and work in Greece based on the temporary permit (blue receipt) issued upon filing, they may face travel restrictions after their D Visa expires, which is typically issued for a validity of three to four months. Applicants who need to travel can apply to expedite the issuance of the residence permit. Alternatively, the blue receipt can be renewed if the residence permit is not yet available upon expiry.

Israel: Some Consulates Operating – Some Israeli consulates are fully operating following last week's strike, though others remain on a partial strike. Applicants are advised to schedule appointments with the relevant consulate in advance, and to make sure the consulate will provide the required service. Fragomen worked closely with Kan-Tor & Acco Law Firm (Israel) to prepare this alert.

New Zealand: Upcoming Changes to Post Study Work Visa Program Announced – Immigration New Zealand (INZ) has announced upcoming changes to the Post Study Work Visa program that would have an impact on the work rights of foreign students studying in the country. Key changes that are planned to take effect on November 26, 2018 include the following:

  • removal of employer sponsored post study work visa;
  • availability of a one- to three-year work visa depending on the qualification level;
  • additional requirement that foreign students must be studying Level 8 qualifications in an area specified on the Long-Term Skills Shortage to enable their partner to be eligible for an open work visa and their dependent children to be eligible for fee-free domestic schooling.

The changes will not apply to current post-study work visa holders or students who are undertaking a qualification that meets current requirements.

Philippines: 9(a) Visa Stickers in Short Supply – The Bureau of Immigration (BI) has announced that there is currently a shortage of 9(a) Temporary Visitor (TV) visa stickers for use in visa extension applications. As such, the official receipt of payment of an extension application will now be considered evidence of an approved extension of stay. Instead of endorsing a TV sticker on the applicant’s passport, the officer will now indicate the new validity of the applicant’s extended 9(a) TV visa on the official receipt. Additionally, the BI will temporarily waive the PHP 100 TV sticker fee for renewal applications. In light of these changes, the BI is advising applicants to keep their official receipt of payment and be ready to present this whenever required, in particular when departing the country or when conducting transactions with the BI. A 9(a) Temporary Visitor visa allows the holder to conduct business activities or apply for a long-term work authorization in country.

Saudi Arabia: Restrictions for Foreign Workers in Retail Sector Forthcoming – Effective September 11, 2018, forty-three professions from below sub-sectors of the retail sector are restricted to Saudi nationals: automobile and motorbike showrooms; shops selling ready-to-wear apparel, children and men’s clothes; shops selling home and office furniture; and shops selling household goods and utensils. Effective November 9, 2018, the restriction will also apply to thirteen professions involved in selling electrical appliances and electronics; workers in shops selling watches; and shops selling optical instruments. Lastly, effective January 7, 2019, the restriction will also apply to forty-four designations in the retail of medical appliances and equipment; shops selling building and construction materials; shops selling vehicle spare parts; shops selling carpets; and confectionary shops. 

Spain: Entrepreneur’s Act Visa Processing Delayed – There is a slight delay in the processing of visa applications under the Entrepreneurs Act. Previously, visa applications in the expedited Entrepreneurs Act category were processed in 10 business days from filing at the Spanish consular post abroad. Currently, there is a delay of approximately a week to two weeks. Fragomen will work with affected applicants to alleviate delays.

Taiwan: Visa Exempt Status Granted to Russian Nationals – The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has granted visa exempt status to Russian nationals on a trial basis from September 6, 2018 until July 31, 2019. This excludes those holding diplomatic or official/service passports. During this period, qualified individuals can travel to Taiwan for business or tourism purposes and stay for up to 14 days per visit. Previously, Russian nationals were required to obtain visitor visas prior to entry. To be eligible for this program, travelers should:

  • hold a passport valid for at least six months at the time of entry;
  • have a confirmed return plane or boat ticket, or a confirmed plane or boat ticket along with a valid visa to an onward destination;
  • provide confirmation of hotel reservation, or an address and contact details for the stay in Taiwan, together with a financial statement; and
  • have no criminal record in Taiwan, as verified at immigration checkpoints upon arrival.​

Thailand: Unexpired Term of Pre-Approved Job Position in Single Window System May Now be Used for Replacement Hires – Companies registered with the Board of Investments (BOI) whose employee has left without utilizing the full two-year term of a pre-approved job position in the BOI's Single Window system may now bring in a replacement employee to use up the unexpired portion of the term. This is subject to the following conditions:

  • the unexpired term should be longer than 90 days;
  • the applicant must demonstrate that their degree is related to the position they are applying for;
  • the replacement hire will take up the same position as the previous employee; and
  • the new Work Permit will only be issued for the duration of the unexpired term.

Companies who fit within this situation will have the option of bringing in a new hire quickly to replace the employee who left, especially in urgent situations where the role is crucial to the company's operations. Under normal circumstances, an application for pre-approval of the job position would take up to three weeks to be approved.


Global Immigration News Links

  • The U.S. Congress plans to approve three spending bills this month, which include immigration provisions, in an effort to avoid a federal government shutdown, which will occur if a spending measure is not approved by September 30.
  • The UK government plans to release papers discussing the impact of a no-deal Brexit on various topics.
  • UK farmers claim at least 10,000 non-EU seasonal agricultural workers are needed, much more than the 2,500 quota allowed under a recently announced pilot program.
  • Advocate General Bot recently advised the European Court of Justice to bar touring operators from checking passports and residence permits when crossing internal Schengen borders.
  • The European Commission proposes to increase the powers of the yet to be created EU Agency for Asylum, and to reinforce the currently voluntary European Border and Coast Guard by increasing its scope, staff and funding. Both proposals still require approval from the European Parliament and Council of Ministers to become effective.​

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