Immigration weekly update, February 21, 2018

  1. India
  2. Russia
  3. Nigeria
  4. Ghana
  5. Poland
  6. U.K.
 
 

India

Bureau of Immigration introduces e-Services for all visa-related services 

City in India that is bright and sunny with water side
An online Foreigner Regional Registration Offices (FRRO) portal makes applying for visa-related services more convenient (post arrival and in-country). The implementation of “e-Services” means foreign nationals are no longer required to visit the FRRO office in person. All consular services are to be applied for through the portal. 
 
Historically, it was mandatory for foreign nationals to be physically present at the FRRO office to submit their applications with all supporting documents. Applicants must now register for the portal in order to use the services. After the registration process, applicants are required to upload relevant documents and submit their application for further online processing.

Key considerations

 
All communication with foreign nationals regarding visa-related services will be done through electronic means only (email/SMS).
 
It is at the discretion of the approving officer to accept the online application. There is a possibility that the applicant may be requested to visit the FRRO office to further process the application.
 
This summary was prepared using information obtained from the FRRO in India.
 
Disclaimer: The above information is provided for general information purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. If you have any further inquiries regarding the applicability of this information, please contact Debra Beynon, Regional Immigration Manager, APAC or Bopanna Nanjappa, Immigration Manager for India.
 
 

Russia

Changes to document requirements for work permit applications

City in Russia with snow on the ground and buildings in the background
Russian authorities have implemented new regulations relating to the issuance of work permits, resulting in the following changes to document requirements:
 
  • Minimum passport validity increased for foreign nationals applying for work permits, including Highly Qualified Specialists (HGS). Passports must now be valid for at least 18 months at the time of application, instead of 12 months.
     
  • New photograph specifications for HQS work permits.
     
  • Signatory on application forms must mention job title and either be a chief executive or persons with authority to sign without a power of attorney. This applies to applications submitted on behalf of a company for all types of work permits.
     
  • The use of pencil on submitted documents will result in rejected applications.
     
  • Work permit processing time (except for HQS) has increased to 15 business days.
 
Future changes will include the addition of fees for work permit renewals and correction applications.
 

Key considerations

 
Changes will affect all companies and foreign nationals applying for work permits for Russia. Employers and individuals should review the new requirements in detail to ensure they meet all criteria before submitting any applications. Additional processing time should be factored in for changes and standard work permit applications.
 
This summary was prepared using information obtained from Peregrine Immigration Management and the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs, in Russian and English.
 
Disclaimer: The above information is provided for general information purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. If you have any further inquiries regarding the applicability of this information, please contact Michele Giordani, Regional Immigration Manager, EMEA.
 
 

Nigeria

Stricter labor market rules implemented through Executive Order

 
The President of Nigeria has signed an Executive Order (EO5) to promote local Nigerian skills in the science, engineering and technology sectors.
 

What is the change/update?

 
The authorities are prohibited from granting work visas to foreign nationals with skills available in Nigeria. When demonstrated and approved by authorities, consideration will be given to foreign nationals whose skills are not available in Nigeria. Preference will be given to organizations who can demonstrate a plan for local development.
 
Further changes expected to be implemented as part of the Executive Order are as follows:
 
  • Stricter requirements for expatriate quota applications.
     
  • Professional bodies registration will be more strictly enforced.
     
  • Closer monitoring of monthly expatriate quota returns.
     
  • Increased audits and on-site visits by the authorities.
 
Further information and guidelines are expected over the coming weeks. 
 
This summary was prepared using information obtained from the Nigerian Immigration Services.
 
Disclaimer: The above information is provided for general information purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. If you have any further inquiries regarding the applicability of this information, please contact Michele Giordani, Regional Immigration Manager, EMEA.
 
 

Ghana

Changes to medical certificate for work permit applications

 
Medical certificates for work and residence permit applications must now be obtained from the Ghana Immigration Service medical facility in Ghana. This is part of a new policy which took effect February 15, 2018.
 
Previously, applicants were able to obtain medical certificates from a local doctor in their country of residence prior to traveling to Ghana.
 
The new policy will have a significant impact on work and residence permit applications for Ghana. Further information and guidelines are expected over the coming weeks. 
 
This summary was prepared using information obtained from Peregrine Immigration Management.
 
Disclaimer: The above information is provided for general information purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. If you have any further inquiries regarding the applicability of this information, please contact Michele Giordani, Regional Immigration Manager, EMEA.
 
 

Poland

New work permit regulations now in effect

night shot of Poland city
Poland has implemented the following changes to work permits for non-EEA nationals:
 
  • New Type S seasonal work permit introduced. It is valid for up to nine months in a calendar year.
     
  • New work permit exemption available to companies hiring certain nationals, allowing work for up to six months in a calendar year. This includes nationals from Armenia, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, Russia and the Ukraine. 
     
  • Documentation for new work permit applications must be provided by employer. This is to show that the foreign national meets labor market requirements.
     
  • A declaration of no criminal record of the employer or for a person acting on their behalf must now be submitted for new work permit applications.
     
  • Processing times for work permit applications have increased.
     
  • Authorities have the right to refuse work permits if​
    • Relevant information/documentation is outstanding. 
       
    • Employer is not meeting the relevant tax, social security, health insurance or labor and benefits fund requirements.
       
    • Employer has been liquidated, removed from any register or has anyone working for them that has been convicted of certain acts.
       
  • Work permits will be valid until the foreigner is granted a residence permit linked to work with the same employer and position.
     
  • Type B work permits extended to a company’s corporate proxy or general partner are required for stays of more than six months per year.
 

Key considerations

 
Employers and non-EEA nationals seeking to work in Poland are advised to review the new requirements to ensure they meet all the relevant criteria. Additional time to process the work permit should be allowed.
 
This summary was prepared using information obtained from Peregrine Immigration Management.
 
Disclaimer: The above information is provided for general information purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. If you have any further inquiries regarding the applicability of this information, please contact Michele Giordani, Regional Immigration Manager, EMEA.
 
 

United Kingdom

February sees quota for non-EEA nationals reached for the third month in a row

night scape of London in the united kingdom with big ben in the background
The monthly quota non-EEA nationals sponsored under the Tier 2 (General) Visa category has never been reached three times in a row before. As a result, Employers wishing to sponsor non-EEA nationals under Tier 2 (General) should note that there is no guarantee that an application for a Restricted Certificate of Sponsorship (RCoS) will be successful. There is a risk that the cap will be reached again in March, 2018.
  

Tier 2 (General) quota

 
Only RCoS are subject to the monthly quota system and may be used by the following applicants:
 
  • New hires earning under GBP 159,600 per year arriving in the U.K. from overseas to take up employment.
     
  • Dependents of migrants who were last granted leave under Tier 4, applying from within the U.K. to switch to Tier 2 (General) status, earning less than GBP 159,600 per year.
 
Under the Tier 2 General Sponsorship route, the Home Office set an annual quota of 20,700 on RCoS to be granted. 
 
The annual cap runs from April to April, split into unequal monthly allocations. Allocations start at 2,200 per month in April and fall to 1,500 per month in September; while in February and March only 1,000 RCoS are available per month. Any unused Certificates for any month are carried forward to the following month.
 
RCoS are allocated by scoring a number of points that are awarded based on a variety of factors. This includes salary and type of job, shortage application role or job which passes the Resident Labour Market Test (RLMT), the role’s nature and hierarchy. It was usually possible to obtain a RCoS even for roles that offered the minimum annual salary of GDP 20,800 under Tier 2 (General).
 

Process of requesting an RCoS

 
Employers must first apply to the Home Office for a RCoS as part of the monthly allocation cycle before assigning one to a skilled non-EEA. The application must be submitted by the 5th of the month and the panel meets on the 11th of the month.
 
The Home Office uses a points-based test to assess applications with shortage occupation list and PhD occupations given priority. The rest of the applications are then assessed on the basis of the salary that will be paid for the role.
 
If the application for a RCoS is approved by the Home Office, the employer can then proceed to assign the RCoS. The individual they wish to sponsor is then able to submit a Tier 2 entry clearance application from their home country to work in the U.K.
 

Immigration quota reached

 
Only roles with salaries of GBP 55,000 or above were granted the RCoS in December 2017 if it was not a shortage occupation of PhD level. In the January 2018 allocation only roles with salaries of GBP 50,000 or above were granted the RCoS. We are awaiting Home Office update on the figures for February 2018. 
 

Key considerations

 
  • Employers should note that if any RCoS applications were rejected this month, it is possible to re-apply as part of the next panel consideration. This is provided that the RLMT was conducted in the last six months (if applicable).
     
  • Employers may consider increasing the salary for the role to maximize chances of a successful application. Salary bands for awarding of points should be checked as in some cases a slight salary increase may take the application into the next points.
     
  • Employers should carefully reconsider the timing of the visa applications and the impact on potential start dates.
     
  • In terms of future planning, where possible, it may be worth applying for RCoS in the April to September allocation cycles when the monthly limit is higher. Try to avoid the January and February allocation cycle when the monthly limit is at the lowest.
 
This summary was prepared using information obtained from the U.K. Visas and Immigration.
 
Disclaimer: The above information is provided for general information purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. If you have any further inquiries regarding the applicability of this information, please contact Michele Giordani, Regional Immigration Manager, EMEA.