Worldwide: Weekly Immigration Update: July 26-August 1, 2019

Last Updated: August 27 2019
Article by Fragomen  

In immigration news this week:

  • United States: The Department of Homeland Security announced it will extend Temporary Protected Status for Syria by 18 months, through March 31, 2021.
  • Ecuador: The President of Ecuador signed an executive decree concerning Venezuelan nationals who are seeking to enter or are already in the country.
  • India: The Ministry of Home Affairs in India has streamlined and consolidated visa categories.
  • Ireland: Significant changes to the Employment Permit regulations have taken effect. Further changes to Critical Skills Employment Permits and General Employment Permits are forthcoming in 2020.
  • Japan: A new work visa has been introduced for foreign graduates of universities in Japan who seek to stay and work in the country after graduation.
  • United Arab Emirates. The Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratization has expanded the labor market testing requirement to companies of all sizes and has introduced an alternate testing method.
  • United Kingdom: The UK government will accept in full the Migration Advisory Committee's recommendations on the Shortage Occupation List (SOL). The amended shortage list will take effect between September and December 2019.

These items and other news from the Asia Pacific region, Bahrain, China, Ireland, the Middle East, Mozambique, Nigeria, Oman, Spain, and the United Arab Emirates follow in this edition of the Fragomen Immigration Update.

IMPORTANT UPDATES IN IMMIGRATION THIS WEEK

United States, August 1, 2019

DHS to Extend TPS for Syria

  • Temporary Protected Status for Syria will be extended by 18 months, through March 31, 2021. 
  • Syrian TPS beneficiaries will be required to re-register to extend their benefits.

To view entire article, click here.

United Arab Emirates, July 31, 2019

Labor Market Testing Required for All Mainland Companies and New Testing Option Introduced

  • The Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratization (MOHRE) has expanded the labor market testing requirement to companies of all sizes, causing additional employers in mainland United Arab Emirates to experience delays in obtaining labor approvals for their foreign workers.
  • The MOHRE has also introduced an alternate labor market testing method where employers attend an Open Day at the Emiratization Department of the MOHRE, which is expected to streamline the process and provide transparency; however, it may also cause delays depending on the availability of appointments at the MOHRE.
  • Employers should incorporate additional time into their hiring process for candidates whose applications will need to undergo labor market testing.

To view entire article, click here.

Ecuador, July 30, 2019

Stay Rules to be Relaxed for Venezuelan Nationals Already In Country, but Entry Requirements to Become More Stringent

The president of Ecuador has signed an executive decree concerning Venezuelan nationals seeking to enter or already in the country. Key changes include:

  • Beginning August 25, 2019, Venezuelan nationals seeking to enter Ecuador will need to obtain a Humanitarian Visa (or any other visa established by law) prior to entry and will no longer be able to enter Ecuador under a visa-exempt status;
  • Venezuelan nationals who entered the country legally on or before July 26, 2019 and have not violated Ecuadorian laws, will be able to obtain a two-year Humanitarian Temporary Residence Visa to regularize their status; and
  • Venezuelan nationals will be able to use their Venezuelan passport or identification card up to five years after its expiration to regularize their status. Currently, Venezuelan nationals must have a valid passport to apply for a Humanitarian Visa.

The effective date, process details and requirements for the humanitarian consular visa and temporary residence remain uncertain until the Ministry of Foreign Affairs releases further regulations within the next 90 days.

To view entire article, click here.

Japan, July 29, 2019

New Work Visa Category Introduced for Foreign Graduates of Universities in Japan

  • A new employer-sponsored subcategory of the Designated Activities work visa has been introduced for foreign graduates of universities in Japan who seek to stay and work in the country after graduation.
  • Prior to the introduction of this visa, the only option available to this category of workers was sponsorship by an employer under the Engineer/Specialist in Humanities/International Services visa.
  • This new work visa category expands the work options available to these graduates and also addresses labor shortages in Japan.

To view entire article, click here.

India, July 26, 2019

New Streamlined Visa Categories Implemented

  • Confirming earlier reports, the Ministry of Home Affairs in India has streamlined and consolidated visa categories.
  • Foreign nationals can now apply under these new visa categories on the Indian visa application portal.
  • The Ministry of Home Affairs is expected to release guidelines in the near future providing more information on the streamlined visa categories.

To view entire article, click here.

United Kingdom, July 26, 2019

Amendments to Shortage Occupation List Forthcoming

  • The UK government will accept the Migration Advisory Committee's recommendations on the Shortage Occupation List (SOL) in full, and they will become effective between September and December 2019.
  • If the SOL is amended as projected, foreign nationals in recognized shortage occupations will be able to enter the United Kingdom more quickly and with more certainty if in a role on the SOL.
  • The amended SOL is expected to be released between September and December 2019 and will cover a range of highly-skilled occupations including in health and social care, engineering and digital technology occupations.

To view entire article, click here.

Ireland, July 26, 2019

Changes to Employment Permit System Implemented; Further Immigration Law Changes Forthcoming

  • Most importantly, starting January 1, 2020, the minimum annual salary for Critical Skills Employment Permits will rise to EUR 32,000 for roles requiring a degree on the Critical Skills Occupation List, and EUR 64,000 in any other case where the applicant has relevant experience and the role is not in the ineligible list of occupations.
  • Also starting January 1, 2020, longer labour market test advertising periods will be introduced for some General Employment Permits. Affected employers will need to advertise roles for 28 days which will increase lead times.
  • The Irish government has also reduced passport validity requirements for Employment Permit applications and increased quotas for Employment Permits in the meat and dairy farm industries.

To view entire article, click here.

Denmark, July 26, 2019

Short-Term Stay Policy Requires Multiple Applications

  • Foreign nationals seeking to travel to Denmark under the Fast Track scheme (for multiple-entry short-term assignments of up to 90 days per 12-month period) must submit a separate application for each trip, due to a clarification in practice of the new policy for multiple entries.
  • As part of their applications, travelers under this policy must provide evidence of the number of days spent during the previous trip to Denmark so authorities can count these against the 90-day total limit. Travelers should therefore maintain their passport stamps, flight tickets, time registration sheets and other travel records.

To view entire article, click here.

WEEKLY NEWS BRIEFS

Bahrain: Wages Protection System Forthcoming – The Labor Market Regulatory Authority (LMRA) approved a law introducing a Wages Protection System (WPS) for all private sector employers in Bahrain. Under the law, employers will pay salaries to their employees through financial institutions licensed by the Central Bank of Bahrain, which will monitor the finances and ensure the timely disbursement of wages. The WPS requirement will be implemented gradually, in stages approved by the LMRA, and it is expected to apply to all employers by the end of 2020. Further details, including a detailed implementation schedule, are expected to be announced by the LMRA in the coming weeks.

China: Ministry of Tourism and Culture Suspends Issuing Individual Travel Permits to Taiwan –The Chinese Ministry of Tourism and Culture announced that they will suspend the issuance of individual tourist travel permits that allow Chinese nationals from 47 mainland cities, including Beijing, Shenzhen and Shanghai, to travel to Taiwan, beginning August 1, 2019. After this date, Chinese tourists from these locations can only travel in tourist groups to Taiwan. The restriction is a result of the current political situation between mainland China and Taiwan and may still change in the future. Currently, business travelers and intracompany transferees are not affected by the ruling. Additionally, mainland Chinese nationals will still be able to apply for business and tourist Exit-Entry Permits to Hong Kong and Macau.

Ireland: Citizenship Legislation Forthcoming – Following the recent ruling by the High Court of Ireland that foreign nationals cannot be granted naturalization if they have left Ireland for one day in the previous 12 months, the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) has confirmed that urgent legislation to rectify the ruling is expected in September. The INIS further confirmed that the High Court ruling does not impact anyone who has already obtained citizenship and that all citizenship ceremonies scheduled to take place at the end of September will go ahead as planned. Additionally, it is likely that any currently pending citizenship applications will be put on hold pending the legislative amendment. The INIS intends to work on finding a solution as quickly as possible, keeping the best interests of applicants and future applicants foremost in their consideration. Fragomen will continue to report on developments.

Middle East and Asia: Immigration Delays Expected During Eid Al Adha Holiday – Government offices across the Middle East, North Africa and parts of Asia will close during the upcoming Eid Al Adha holiday, which may delay the processing of all immigration applications. This year, Eid Al Adha is expected to start on August 10 or 11 and end on August 13 or 14, 2019; however, the exact dates depend on a lunar sighting and are expected to be announced for each country separately. Fragomen will provide an update on the exact dates of government closures as they become available.

Mozambique: Visa and Resident Permit Fees Significantly Increased – Immigration authorities in Mozambique have announced fee increases for several immigration-related processes, including visas, work permits and the Identification and Residency Documents for Foreigners (DIRE). The increases are up to triple the amount of the previous fee and come as a result of an influx of expatriates into Mozambique. Employers and foreign nationals should review their current budgets due to the significant fee increases.

Nigeria: Revalidation of Permanent Until Reviewed Status for Expatriate Quotas The Federal Ministry of Interior issued a directive instructing all companies that were granted an Expatriate Quota approval on a "Permanent Until Reviewed" (PUR) status before 1999 to revalidate their Expatriate Quota certificate with the Ministry. Companies must complete this process by October 31, 2019. If a company fails to revalidate their certificate, the current document will be deemed to have lapsed. Failure to comply may result in fines for the company. The Ministry of Interior has implemented this directive to assess the eligibility of the companies holding this status and to better manage the PUR service in the future.

Oman: Suspension Extended on Recruitment of Foreign Nationals Across Various Industries – The Ministry of Manpower has again extended the suspension on recruiting foreign workers in 87 professions across various industries for another six months, beginning August 5, 2019. The suspension applies to 16 professions in the information and technology sector, seven professions in the engineering sector and four professions in the human resources sector, among others. Employers will need to continue to hire local workers in all affected positions until the suspension is over. Fragomen expects the suspension to continue as the government in Oman has seen a significant rise in the recruitment of Omani nationals in the private sector since the implementation of the new suspension.

Spain: Processing Delays Due to Backlog – Spanish immigration authorities are experiencing a substantial backlog resulting in lengthy delays to resident permit applications. Processing times are currently around 30 – 35 business days, whereas previously the statutory processing time (which has been suspended to help meet demand) was 20 business days. The suspension of statutory processing times cannot exceed three months. Employers should initiate work permit application processes several months in advance to meet target start days.

United Arab Emirates: Relative-sponsored Work Permits Now Available to Male Applicants – The Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratization announced that male applicants holding residence permits sponsored by their relatives, including spouses and parents, can obtain a relative-sponsored work permits to work for an employer in the mainland. Previously, only female applicants sponsored by their husband or father qualified for this work authorization category. The relative-sponsored work permit is valid for up to two years in the mainland and is issued independently from the residence permit that remains under the sponsorship of the relative. Companies in the mainland that employ workers with residence permits under the sponsorship of a relative can benefit from lower recruitment costs as the employers are only required to cover fees associated with obtaining the work authorization and not the costs of the residence visa. Additionally, the relative-sponsored work permit does not utilize the employer's pre-approved quota, which can be used to hire other foreign nationals.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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