Global Immigration News Bulletin - July 2014 - Part 2

Welcome to the July 2014 - Part 2 edition of Crown World Mobility’s global immigration news bulletins. These bulletins provide readers with the latest global immigration news and developments. Questions and comments are always welcome and can be directed to Angie Volz, Global Immigration Program Manager, avolz@crownww.com.

Asia Pacific

Philippines

New order regarding submission of Letters of Undertaking on visa applications

Effective immediately, the Republic of Philippines Bureau of Immigration has issued an operations order allowing the submission of Letters of Undertaking on Visa Applications for up to sixty (60) days from the filing of the visa application.

The Bureau of Immigration will allow documents which need authentication abroad to be submitted within a maximum period of 60 days from the visa application filing, including but not limited to: police clearance, birth certificate, marriage certificate and family register.  The new change will allow more time for applicants to secure documents that may require a lengthy authentication process

Singapore

Reminder to Employers: Fair consideration framework implementation effective  August 1, 2014

The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) has updated its website as of July 2, 2014 to remind employers in Singapore who wish to submit a Work Pass (WP) application that the job opening must be advertised on the government’s Jobs Bank for 14 days or more.

This change comes into effect on August 1, 2014.

Employers will need to register an account on the government’s website in order to advertise jobs on the job bank.  The registration process is expected to take approximately three to four weeks.  Employers should begin the registration process now for anticipated Work Pass applications filed after August 1, 2014.

Disclaimer: The above information is provided for general information purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. If you have any further enquiries regarding the applicability of this information, please contact the Regional Immigration Manager, Asia, Kit Tang: kittang@crownww.com

North America

United States

USCIS issuing increased number of Requests for Evidence (RFEs)

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Ombudsman 2014 Annual Report indicates an increased number of RFEs issued in the first half of fiscal year 2014.  An increased number of RFEs have been reported for highly-skilled worker petitions, including H-1B, L-1A and L-1B petitions.

The RFE rate for L-1B petitions was nearly 50 per cent in the first half of FY 2014, while the rate for L-1A petitions was nearly 43 per cent.  RFEs has also increased for H-1B petitions.  In addition, the USCIS Ombudsman also reported that L-1B denial rates have risen recently, up to 40 per cent at the California service Center and up to 32 per cent at the Vermont Service Center.

Aviation security update

The Secretary of U.S. Homeland Security has directed Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to implement enhanced security measures at certain overseas airports with direct flights to the United States. During the security examination, officers may ask travelers to power up electronic devices, including cell phones.  Powerless devices will not be permitted onboard the aircraft. 

Travelers may also be asked to undergo additional screening. TSA will continue to adjust security measures to ensure that travelers are guaranteed the highest levels of aviation security.

Disclaimer: The above information is provided for general information purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice.  If you have any further enquiries regarding the applicability of this information, please contact Crown’s Regional Immigration Manager, Americas, Laura Taggart: ltaggart@crownww.com

Canada

Overhaul of Temporary Foreign Worker Program

On June 20, 2014, Ministers of the Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC), and Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) announced a comprehensive overhaul of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP).

The reforms will cover three key areas: restructuring the TFWP to offer greater clarity and transparency, restricting access to the TFWP to ensure Canadians are first in line for available jobs, and stronger enforcement with tougher penalties.

Restructuring of the TFWP

Effective immediately, the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) will now refer to only those streams under which foreign workers enter Canada at the request of employers following approval through a new Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA), formerly Labour Market Opinion (LMO). Employment and Social Development Canada will be the lead department for the TFWP.

The International Mobility Programs (IMP) will include those streams in which foreign nationals are not subject to an LMIA. These include work permit application processes under reciprocal free-trade agreements, as well as intra-company transfer applications. This program is mainly for high-wage, highly-skilled jobs. Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) is the lead department for the IMP.

Reforms to the International Mobility Programs

Effective immediately, new guidelines have been put in place to define the “specialized knowledge” that intra-company transferees are required to demonstrate to qualify for exemption from the LMIA. The International Mobility Programs (IMP) will, by summer 2015, include a new fee of CAD$230 for employer-specific work permits and CAD$100 for “open” work permits. These fees will fund a new employer compliance system to monitor employers, leading to possible penalties.

Restricting access to the TFWP

Several changes are aimed at ensuring Canadian workers are considered first for low-wage jobs under the TFWP:

Using wage instead of National Occupational Codes

The TFWP will now be administered based on wage instead of the National Occupational Classification (NOC). Temporary foreign workers being paid under the provincial/territorial median wage will be considered low-wage, while those being paid at or above will be considered high-wage.

New Labour Market Impact Assessment

The former Labour Market Opinion (LMO) is being replaced by the Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA). Employers must provide additional information, including the number of Canadians that applied for their available job, the number of Canadians the employer interviewed and why those Canadians were not hired. Employers must now also attest they are aware of the rule that Canadians cannot be laid-off or have their hours reduced at a worksite that employs temporary foreign workers.

New Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) fee

Effective immediately, the LMIA costs CAD$1,000 for every temporary foreign worker position requested by an employer (up from CAD$275 for the LMO previously).

Cap on low-wage temporary foreign workers

Effective immediately, the Government of Canada has introduced a cap to limit the proportion of low-wage temporary foreign workers that a business can employ. It is expected that this measure alone will nearly cut in half the number of low-wage temporary foreign workers, once fully implemented. Employers with 10 or more employees will be subject to a cap of 10 per cent on the proportion of their workforce that can consist of low-wage temporary foreign workers. This cap will be applied per worksite of an employer and is based on total hours worked at that worksite. To provide employers time to transition and adjust to this new cap, it will be phased in over the next couple of years.

Effective immediately, employers applying for a new LMIA will be limited to 30 per cent or frozen at their current level, whichever is lower. This transition measure will be further reduced to 20 per cent beginning July 1, 2015, and reduced again to 10 per cent on July 1, 2016. The Government may consider lowering the cap further in the future. Temporary foreign workers currently working at sites over the cap will be allowed to continue working at those sites until their existing work permits expire.

High-wage transition plans

Effective immediately, employers who want to hire temporary foreign workers in high-wage occupations will be required (with limited exceptions) to submit transition plans with their Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) application to ensure that they are taking steps to reduce their reliance on temporary foreign workers over time.

Refusing applications in areas of high unemployment

Effective immediately, Employment and Social Development Canada will refuse to process certain Labour Market Impact Assessment applications in the Accommodation, Food Services and Retail Trade sectors. Specifically, any applications for positions that require little or no education or training will not be processed in economic regions with an unemployment rate at or above six per cent.

Reducing the duration of work permits requiring LMIA

Effective immediately, the duration of work permits set out in Labour Market Impact Assessments (LMIAs) will be limited to a maximum of one year for all low-wage positions, rather than the two-year duration that existed previously. Employers of low-wage temporary foreign workers must reapply every year for an LMIA.

Ten-day processing for certain occupations

Effective immediately, LMIAs for highest-demand occupations (skilled trades), highest-paid (top 10 per cent) occupations or short-duration work periods (120 days or less) will now be provided within a 10-business-day service standard.

Reduced maximum work duration

By summer 2015, the maximum length of time that a low-wage temporary foreign worker can work in Canada will be reduced.

Stronger enforcement and tougher penalties

Effective immediately, the Canadian government is massively increasing the number of inspections, meaning that one in four employers using temporary foreign workers will be inspected each year. The scope of what inspections should cover was increased last year (from December 31, 2013). If an employer breaks the rules of the TFWP, Employment and Social Development Canada has the authority to suspend or revoke the employer’s Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA). Beginning in autumn 2014, the Government will impose fines of up to CAD$100,000 (depending on the severity of the offence) on employers who break the rules of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP).

Background

The Temporary Foreign Worker Program has been the subject of debate and controversy in Canada over the last few years. Detractors are concerned that the TFWP takes jobs away from Canadians, and there have been recent scandals related to employers abusing the system, especially in the food services sector. In 2013 the Canadian government increased application fees, introduced stricter advertising and language requirements and expanded enforcement and penalties.

This summary was prepared using information obtained from Peregrine Immigration Management. www.peregrine.im

Revised definition of term ‘Dependent’

As of August 1, 2014, applications filed with Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) will be subject to a revised definition of term for principal applicant ‘dependent’. 
The new law will define a dependent of principal application as:

  • Unmarried child under the age of 19 as of the date of first step of application
  • Unmarried child of any age unable to support him/herself due to mental or physical condition

The government has announced that any application in process as of August 1 will be processed under the old rules.  Any application filed on or after August 1 will be subject to the new rules.

Disclaimer: The above information is provided for general information purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice.  If you have any further enquiries regarding the applicability of this information, please contact Crown’s Regional Immigration Manager, Americas, Laura Taggart: ltaggart@crownww.com

Latin America

Chile

Significant increase in immigration to Chile last year

According to Bloomberg, immigration to Chile increased significantly by over 24 per cent last year, as workers from countries including Colombia, Peru, and Spain immigrated to what is considered the wealthiest country in Latin America.

In 2013, 158,128 people received either temporary or permanent residency in Chile, up from 127,362 in 2012 and nearly triple the 60,280 people in 2006, according to a report from Chile's immigration department.
Chile has been named Latin America's wealthiest nation, based on purchasing power, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Chile's per capita income is USD 19,887, compared to USD 11,735 in Peru, and USD 11,730 in Colombia.

Disclaimer: The above information is provided for general information purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice.  If you have any further enquiries regarding the applicability of this information, please contact Crown’s Regional Immigration Manager, Americas, Laura Taggart: ltaggart@crownww.com

Europe, Middle East, Africa

Russia

Russian nationals with foreign citizenship or permanent residence will have to notify Federal Migration Service in Russia

Effective August 4, 2014, Russian nationals holding or obtaining permanent residence or citizenship in another country will have to notify the Federal Migration Service (FMS) in Russia.

This change is decreed in the federal law #142-FZ of June 4, 2014 "On amendment of article 6 and 30 of the Federal law “On citizenship of the Russian Federation” and other laws of the Russian Federation”.

Who does this apply to?

This new regulation applies to Russian nationals, whether they live in Russia or abroad, who either hold or obtain non-Russian citizenship or permanent residence on or after August 4, 2014.
Russian citizens who can demonstrate that they officially and permanently reside outside of Russia are exempt from filing this notification. Evidence required for this exemption is either a deregistration stamp in the Russian passport or a document (листок убытия / listok ubitia) which confirms their permanent address abroad.

Registration requirements and procedure

Russian nationals in this situation will be required to submit a notification form along with copies of their Russian passport and of the document giving them the right to permanently reside in another country.

The notification must be submitted to the FMS office which has jurisdiction over the applicant’s place of permanent residence in Russia, or, failing this, temporary stay or actual location in Russia.
Notifications can be submitted in person or by post, but note that if submitted by post, they must be submitted via Russian post (i.e. cannot be posted directly to the FMS from outside Russia and will need to be submitted via a third party representative). Russian consulates cannot accept notifications.

There is currently no specific notification form, although requirements for information required for the notification have been stipulated in the law (please contact us or our partner, VFBS directly, for more information).

Penalties for non-compliance

Russian nationals who fail to correctly file a notification within 60 days of obtaining permanent residence or citizenship abroad (or within 60 days of August 4, 2014 if they already hold permanent residence abroad on this date) will be punishable by a fine of RUB200,000 or one year’s salary or other income, or by compulsory community service of up to 400 hours.   Fines of between RUB500 and RUB1,000 may also be imposed for minor administrative violations.

This summary was prepared using information obtained from Peregrine Immigration Management.

Kazakhstan

Visa requirements waived for ten nationalities

Effective July 15, 2014, nationals of ten countries will be able to enter, leave and transit through Kazakhstan without a visa, and stay for up to 15 days, when travelling for business or tourism.

Who does this apply to?

The new visa waiver applies to nationals of the United States, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, the United Arab Emirates, Japan, Malaysia and South Korea. Note that nationals of these 10 countries travelling to Kazakhstan for work purposes will still require work visas.

This summary was prepared using information obtained from Peregrine Immigration Management.

Greece

New law: Dependents cannot accompany Van der Elst visa holders

Under Greece’s new immigration law (No. 4251/2014), which came into force in June this year, family members of Van der Elst visa holders will no longer be issued with dependent visas.

This change has been confirmed with the Ministry of Interior.

What Is the Van der Elst?

The Van der Elst process is an immigration process whereby a non-EEA national who is employed and contracted by a home entity in the EEA country and sent on short-term assignment to another EEA country no longer requires a work permit. However, a Van Der Elst (D) visa should be applied for prior to entry.

What should families Do?

Family members wishing to accompany Van Der Elst visa holders to Greece will need to enter as tourists, in some cases needing to apply for short-term Schengen Type C visas, which are issued at the discretion of the consulate. Visits will, in all cases, be limited to stays of 90 days out of a 180 day period in the whole of the Schengen area (which encompasses most of the EU and EEA, excluding the UK, Ireland, Romania, Bulgaria and Croatia).

Other changes from June 2014

The new law introduced some changes to visa rules for non-EU nationals. Non-EU nationals holding a Van der Elst visa (employed by a company in another EU or EEA member state), or a short-term D visa (employed outside the EU and EEA) can no longer renew their visa. Previously, these visas were renewable once for a period of six months. Furthermore, holders of Van Der Elst or D visas are no longer required to obtain a medical certificate or a residence permit during their stay in Greece.  Finally, senior managerial level employees may be locally-hired by Greek entities. Previously, these employees could only be hired by Greek multinational companies where more than 50 per cent of the shares were foreign-owned.

This summary was prepared using information obtained from Peregrine Immigration Management.

United Kingdom

Aviation security update

The U.K. Department for Transport announced on July 2 that it was increasing aviation measures, in line with U.S. advice.

Passengers on some routes into and out of the U.K. may now be required to show that electronic devices in hand luggage are powered on, or face not being allowed to bring the device onto the aircraft.  

Passengers are advised to ensure all electronic devices carried in hand luggage are charged before travel.  The Department of Transport has not commented on the routes affected and will work with the aviation industry to minimize disruption as far as possible.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this immigration alert is provided for general information purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice.  If you have any further enquiries regarding the applicability of this information, please contact Crown’s Regional Immigration Manager, EMEA.

Meet the team: Introducing Janie Garza – Immigration Coordinator, The Americas

Janie GarzaJanie Garza joined Crown World Mobility as Immigration Coordinator for the Americas in February 2014. An experienced Immigration Specialist and subject matter expert, Janie’s career to date has focused mainly on U.S. immigration. She has extensive experience of all facets of immigration, including a wide range of petitions such as H-1s, L-1s (intra-company transfers), B-1s, J1s, F1s, TNs and Permanent Residency.

Janie began her immigration career in 1995, working in-house as an Immigration Specialist/I-9 Administrator for a major electronics company in Dallas, Texas. She was responsible for processing non-immigrant and immigrant visa applications for foreign nationals who sought training, employment or permanent residency in the U.S. She was also responsible for ensuring that her employer was in compliance with I-9 regulations. Janie provided I-9 training for all of the company’s Human Resources offices.

In 1999, Janie joined a large, high-tech company in Dallas, Texas, as the company’s Immigration Manager. She managed the Immigration Department and was responsible for all immigration issues of the 1,700 foreign nationals employed by the company. Janie provided guidance to the company’s U.S. foreign nationals and its U.S. and foreign managers. Additionally, she maintained the records required by the different government agencies to ensure that the company was in compliance with U.S. immigration laws.