Virginia, US

Sep 15 2017

Weekly Immigration Update: September 8 – 14, 2017

Canada, Chile, Colombia, Croatia, Ecuador, Ghana, Kenya, Poland, Romania, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Africa, United Arab Emirates, United States, Vietnam

In United States immigration news this week, the President signed into law an appropriations bill that will increase the debt ceiling and fund the federal government – including immigration operations – through December 8, 2017. The bill also temporarily reauthorizes E-Verify and the EB-5 Regional Center program.

Also in the United States, employers must use the July 17, 2017 edition of Form I-9 starting Monday, September 18, 2017. Cutoff dates for EB-1 will become current again for India and China, according to the U.S. State Department's October Visa Bulletin. The U.S. State Department will begin accepting online registrations for the Fiscal Year 2019 Diversity Visa Lottery on October 3. Foreign nationals who wish to enter the lottery have until noon EST on Tuesday, November 7, 2017 to file online.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada is holding a second lottery to invite additional sponsors to submit applications for the Parent and Grandparent Program.

Effective September 15, Singapore's Ministry of Manpower is changing the format of work pass cards and introducing a free mobile application called the SGWorkPass to enable employers and other stakeholders to check the status of work passes from their smartphones.

The Croatian parliament has made new occupations eligible for short-term work permits and the out-of-quota Stay and Work Permit. Croatia has also created stricter document-retention requirements for employers sponsoring posted workers and has regulated its existing intracompany transferee permit option.

The United Arab Emirates has approved a law extending the visa-on-arrival program to Indian passports holders with a valid residency visa issued by the United Kingdom or an EU Member State.

These items and other news from Canada, Chile, Colombia, Croatia, Ecuador, Ghana, Kenya, Poland, Romania, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, United Arab Emirates and the United States and Vietnam follow in this edition of the Fragomen Immigration Update.

Important Updates in Immigration This Week

United States, September 14, 2017
FY 2019 Diversity Visa Lottery Registration Opens October 3

Entrants have from Tuesday, October 3, 2017 at noon EDT 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, September 14, 2017
Reminder - New Edition of Form I-9 Becomes Mandatory on September 18

Employers must use the July 17, 2017 edition of Form I-9 starting Monday, September 18, 2017.

To view entire article, click here.

United States, September 12, 2017
October 2017 Visa Bulletin: EB-1 China and India, EB-2 Worldwide Become Current Again; Advancements for EB-2 and EB-3 China

Final action cutoff dates for EB-1 China and India will become current after several months of backlogs. EB-2 will become current for most countries, except China and India, which will advance by one and three weeks, respectively. EB-3 cutoff dates for professionals and skilled workers will advance by two years for China, by one month for the Philippines, and will remain unchanged for India.

To view entire article, click here.

United States, September 11, 2017
Government Shutdown Averted After President Signs Short-Term Spending Bill

The fiscal measure will fund the federal government through December 8, 2017. Immigration functions to continue in the near-term.  E-Verify, the EB-5 Regional Center program and other expiring immigration programs have been extended for three months.

To view entire article, click here.

United Arab Emirates, September 14, 2017
Visitor Visas-On-Arrival Conditions Further Relaxed for Indian Nationals

The UAE Cabinet has approved a law extending the visa-on-arrival program to Indian passports holders with a valid residency visa issued by the United Kingdom or an EU Member State.

To view entire article, click here.

Vietnam, September 14, 2017
Guidelines on Online Submission of Work Permit Applications Released

The Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs has released further guidelines for submitting Work Permit applications online. This follows the pilot of the online portal in Hanoi and a few other provinces last June. The guidelines are expected to be implemented nationwide on October 2, 2017. Although e-submission is currently optional, employers are advised to create their online account and set up an e-signature to prevent possible delays in case the Labor Department implements a mandatory e-submission policy nationwide without advance notice.

To view entire article, click here.
Canada, September 13, 2017
Parent and Grandparent Program to Hold Second Round of Application Intake

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada is holding a second lottery to invite additional potential sponsors to submit applications for the Parent and Grandparent Program.

To view entire article, click here.
Poland, September 13, 2017
New Work Permit for Seasonal Workers Forthcoming in 2018

Effective January 2018, seasonal workers in certain agricultural and hospitality services will be eligible to work in Poland for up to nine months under a new work permit that will offer a one-month processing time.

To view entire article, click here.

Croatia, September 11, 2017
New Occupations Eligible for Short-Term Permit and Out-of-Quota Stay and Work Permit

The Croatian Parliament has added new occupations to the list of those eligible for a short-term work permit and out-of-quota Stay and Work Permit. This should streamline the work permit process for eligible workers.

To view entire article, click here.

Croatia, September 11, 2017
Implementation of EU Posted Workers Directive Brings Stricter Record-Keeping Requirements

Following the implementation of the 2014 EU Directive on the posting of workers in July, Croatian authorities have reviewed the existing notification requirements for employers sponsoring posted workers and created stricter document-retention requirements. Notably, sending employers must now designate a document-keeping agent and a contact person in Croatia.

To view entire article, click here.

Croatia, September 11, 2017
EU Intracompany Transferee Permit Implemented

Following the implementation of the EU ICT Directive on introduction of an EU intracompany transferee (ICT) Permit, Croatian authorities have regulated the existing ICT permit option in more detail. The new permit will apply to non-EU qualified managers, specialists and trainees temporarily assigned from an entity outside the European Union to an entity in the same corporate group in Croatia for over 90 days.

To view entire article, click here.

Singapore, September 8, 2017
New Work Pass Card Format and Mobile App Introduced

On or after September 15, the Ministry of Manpower will be changing the format of work pass cards by removing variable information, such as expiry dates, and incorporating a Quick Response Code for use with a free mobile application called the SGWorkPass to enable employers and other stakeholders to check the status of work passes with their smartphones.

To view entire article, click here.

Weekly News Briefs

United States: Latest PERM and PWD Processing Times – As of August 31, 2017, the Department of Labor (DOL) was conducting analyst review for PERM applications filed in June 2017 or earlier, and processing audited cases filed in February 2017 or earlier. DOL is working on standard reconsideration requests submitted in August 2017 or earlier.  There is no update on the government error queue, though these appear to be current.

DOL is issuing prevailing wage determinations (PWD) for PERM and H-1B requests filed in June 2017. The agency has been processing PERM and H-1B redeterminations requested in August 2017, and PERM and H-1B center director reviews requested in July 2017.   

These reports are available on the iCERT home page.

United States: Entry Ban Applicable to Certain Refugees – The U.S. Supreme Court has granted the Trump administration's request to block the Ninth Circuit’s ruling that barred the federal government from enforcing the travel ban executive order against refugees whose only connection to a U.S. entity is a formal assurance from a refugee resettlement agency.

The administration remains barred from enforcing the travel ban against individuals with a bona fide relationship to a U.S. entity or person. This means the ban cannot be enforced against people with a sponsoring U.S. employer. The Supreme Court hearing on the merits of this case is scheduled for October 10, 2017.

United States: New E-Verify Participation Poster – USCIS has issued a new participation poster for employers who use the E-Verify program.  The poster is used to notify current and prospective employees of their legal rights and protections in the employment eligibility verification process.  Employers are required to display the English and Spanish-language versions of the poster.

Canada: Global Talent Stream Introduced in Quebec – The government expanded the Global Talent Stream to Quebec on September 11, 2017. Employers who qualify for the program will benefit from faster Labour Market Impact Assessment application processing and flexible recruitment rules that will facilitate the entry of skilled foreign workers.

Chile: Proposed New Immigration Law Currently in Review by Congress – The Chilean President submitted a proposal to Congress for a new immigration law that is expected to overhaul the current visa system.  Once the House of Representatives (Cámara de Diputados) approves, the Senate will have to approve it. It is estimated that the total approval process will take at least five months. Fragomen will report on further details once they are available.

Colombia: New Immigration Law Implementation Date Delayed – The Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed that the immigration law that was published in early August will go into effect on December 15, 2017, and not November 1, as was originally announced. 

Croatia: Same-Sex Partners Now Qualify as Dependents – Following amendments to the Croatian Foreigners Act, same-sex partners are now recognized as family members and qualify for dependent status in Croatia. The law stipulates that same-sex partners without children must have cohabitated for at least three years in order to qualify as dependents. The Zagreb Police Administration has the discretion to develop further requirements to prove cohabitation and marital status.

Ecuador: Requirements for Special Temporary Work Visa for Projects of National Interest Confirmed – The requirements for the new Special Temporary Work Visa for Projects of National Interest, a visa program that was implemented in August per a new immigration law, are the same as those for the Temporary Work Visa. The following documents are required:

  • a labor contract signed with the Ecuadorian company or sponsorship letter signed by the sponsoring employer abroad; and

  • a contract between the sponsoring company and government entity explaining the nature of the project or service provided to the government entity.

Other documents required for the Work Visa also apply. This visa is valid for up to two years and does not have any travel restrictions.  Fragomen can assist with applications for this visa.

Ghana: Identification Card Now Required for Renewals – Effective immediately, foreign nationals seeking to renew their business visa or residence permit must present an original non-citizenship identification card with their application at the time of in-person application submission. The immigration officer will return the identification card following examination. The requirement is meant to prevent identity theft.

Kenya: Immigration Delays Likely Following Upcoming Election – Employers and foreign nationals should expect immigration service delays next month leading up to and following the second presidential election, currently scheduled for October 17. The first election caused processing delays due to a backlog of applications. Applicants should file their applications as soon as possible to mitigate the expected delays.  Fragomen in Kenya is Fragomen Kenya Limited, operating exclusively as an immigration consultancy and not as a law firm in Kenya.

Poland: Additional Verification for Special Permission Document Beginning 2018 – On or after January 1, 2018, the employment office will have the right to conduct an additional verification for employers seeking to hire foreign nationals under the Special Permission process. The Special Permission process is a short-term work authorization exemption that has a shorter processing time than a regular work permit and allows nationals of Armenia, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, Russia and Ukraine to work in Poland for up to six months within a 12-month period. The additional verification process would occur at the time of submission of the application and can take up to 30 days. Note that it is possible that the government may add countries to the above list of those from which nationals can benefit from the Special Permission process.

Romania: Update on Short-Term Mobility Under EU ICT Permit – Following Romania's implementation of the EU ICT Directive, the immigration authorities have clarified the short-term mobility options for foreign nationals under a valid EU ICT Permit obtained in another EU Member State.  For short-term stays, the foreign national must file a notification with the government and obtain a short-term work permit. The notification requires a document proving the corporate affiliation between the host and sending companies, a copy of the assignee's foreign labor contract and a copy of the assignee's assignment letter from the sending EU Member State, among other documents. The foreign national can work immediately upon submission of the notification and the related documents. Foreign nationals carrying an EU ICT Permit issued in another EU Member State who wish to enter Romania in this status should contact their immigration professional regarding their eligibility and the rules for their stay.

Russia: Highly Qualified Specialists' Renewal Requires Additional Documentation – The Migration Department of Moscow recently added a documentary requirement for work permit extension/correction applications for Highly Qualified Specialists. For this application type, foreign nationals must now also submit copies of quarterly salary notifications covering the validity of the work permit.  The other documentary requirements remain the same. Foreign nationals seeking to extend their permit should contact their immigration professional.

Saudi Arabia: Three-Year Multiple-Entry Visit Visa Available for Japanese Nationals -  Effective immediately, Japanese passports holders are eligible for a multiple-entry visit visa valid for up to three years with a maximum duration of stay not exceeding 90 days. A government fee for the visa has been set at SAR 190.  Visitors to Saudi Arabia of other nationalities typically apply for a commercial or work visit visa, which are issued for a single or multiple entry for six, 12 or 24 months.

South Africa: Introduction of Zimbabwean Exemption Permit – Following the government’s announcement that the Zimbabwean Special Permit (ZSP) will close at the end of 2017, the Department of Home Affairs announced the introduction of a new permit called the Zimbabwean Exemption Permit (ZEP) for Zimbabwean nationals who intend to work, study or conduct business in South Africa. This permit will only be available from September 15 through November 30, 2017.

Applicants must submit an online application, pay the government fee of ZAR 1,090 and schedule an appointment on the VFS website.  The ZEP will be valid for four years. ZSP holders applying for the ZEP will be required to provide evidence for their proposed activities in the form of a contract, enrollment letter or evidence of business. Once issued, the ZEP holder may not change the conditions of the permit. ZSP holders who apply for a ZEP will receive a receipt when they apply for the permit and can use it with their expired ZSP to travel in and out of South Africa until their ZEP is issued. 

ZSP holders are encouraged to utilize other work visa categories where they qualify. 

United Arab Emirates: Chinese Visa Application Service Centre Opens in Dubai Effective September 13, 2017, visa applicants for mainland China are required to submit their documents at the Chinese Visa Application Service Centre in Dubai (CVASC), which is now responsible for processing applications on behalf of the Consulate General of the People’s Republic of China in Dubai. The new CVASC is run by VFS Global and is dedicated to UAE citizens and residents in the Emirates of Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman, Umm Al-Quwain, Ras Al-Khaimah and Fujairah. Holders of diplomatic and official passports, as well as those applying for visas to the special administrative regions of Hong Kong and Macao, can continue to do so directly at the Consulate General in Dubai or at the Embassy in Abu Dhabi. In addition to standard visa fees, the CVASC will collect a service fee of AED 200 for normal processing or AED 270 for expedited processing.

Global Immigration News Links

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi indicated that they are close to reaching a deal with President Trump to preserve protections for DREAMers under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, though the GOP leaders dismissed the possible deal as preliminary only.

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair is proposing tough new immigration rules as part of a plan to keep Britain from leaving the European Union.

Almost one quarter of Scottish engineering and manufacturing firms have lost or are at risk of losing staff because of Britain’s decision to leave the European Union, according to a recent survey, Reuters reports.

The British Chambers of Commerce published the second part of its annual workforce survey, indicating that only a minority of UK businesses actively recruit overseas, and that 38% of businesses fear a negative impact on their business from restricting EU migration.

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