October’s global immigration news

Welcome to the October 2015 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.

 

Australia
Caps reached for General Skilled Migration

On September 22, 2015, the Assistant Minister set a cap for offshore General Skilled Migration (GSM). It was later announced that the cap had been reached for the 2015-16 financial year for the following visa applications:

  • Skilled Independent (subclass 175)
  • Skilled Sponsored (subclass 176)
  • Skilled Regional Sponsored (subclass 475)

Applicants who are affected by the cap will receive a notification letter from the authorities.

Applicants can also apply for a refund of application fees. It is estimated that it will take approximately 15 weeks to process the repayment from the date the Department of Immigration and Border Protection receives the completed repayment application request.

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 the Regional Immigration Manager, Asia, Kit Tang.

 

 

India
Application deadline extended for Overseas Citizen of India cards

On January 9, 2015, the Indian government discontinued the Person of India Origin (PIO) card holders scheme. As a result, all PIO card holders were advised to submit an Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) application before September 30, 2015.

Please be advised that the deadline has now been extended to March 31, 2016. 

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 the Regional Immigration Manager, Asia, Kit Tang.

 

 

Thailand
Visa transfers from old passports to new passports

Individuals seeking to transfer an existing Thai visa from an old passport to a new one are likely to face closer examination from immigration authorities over passport requirements.

In addition to their old and new passports, the applicant must procure written confirmation from their embassy that the old passport is being replaced. If the new passport was secured outside of Thailand, the passport holder should contact their embassy to request confirmation in writing.

Please note that tourist visas are exempt from this requirement. 

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 the Regional Immigration Manager, Asia, Kit Tang.

 

 

The Philippines
Stricter Employment Permit rules introduced

The Philippines Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) has revised its Alien Employment Permit (AEP) rules. Main changes include:

  1. Publication of employment position

    Details of the applicant’s job title will now be published in a general circulation newspaper and on the DOLE website for a period of 30 days. The published notification must now include more details, including the applicant’s position, employer, address, qualifications, job description, salary and any other benefits.
     

  2. Understudy training program

    For technical positions, the employer is now required to train two Filipino employees for each foreign worker in a non-executive/managerial position. The foreign national will be required to transfer their skills to the local labor force.
     

  3. Exempt categories
  • Company presidents, secretaries, treasurers and non-executive board members
  • Consultants who are not employed in the Philippines
  • Intra-company transferees and contractual service providers who are executives, managers or specialists, and who have been employed by the foreign service supplier for at least one year

For more information, please visit the Philippine’s Department of Labor and Employment’s website.

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 the Regional Immigration Manager, Asia, Kit Tang.

 

 

Canada
Express Entry: CRS points requirement remains at lowest ever level in latest draw

The number of Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) points needed to receive an Invitation to Apply (ITA) for Canadian immigration has remained at its lowest ever level.

Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) issued 1,530 ITAs in the eighteenth draw from the Express Entry pool, which took place on October 2. Candidates in the pool with 450 or more CRS points were invited to apply for Canadian permanent residence. CIC aims to process complete applications within six months, with applicants and their families then able to complete the Canadian immigration process by landing in Canada as permanent residents.

The previous Express Entry draw, which took place on September 18, marked a milestone in the short history of the Express Entry selection system. It was the first occasion where the CRS requirement had dipped to 450, a cut-off point that was repeated for the eighteenth draw. Consequently, each candidate who received an ITA in the eighteenth draw had either entered the Express Entry pool at some stage over the previous two weeks, or increased his or her CRS score in that time.

While a number of candidates who received an ITA did so without obtaining a qualifying job offer or enhanced provincial nomination certificate, many other candidates have taken advantage of one of the Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs) that have offered an Express Entry stream so far this year.

Many candidates for Canadian immigration through Express Entry have spent time networking and making contact with Canadian employers in their field, leading to qualifying job offers. If a candidate in the pool obtains a qualifying job offer or an enhanced provincial nomination certificate, he or she is awarded 600 CRS points and will receive an ITA at a subsequent draw from the pool.

CIC News has recently featured PNPs in the provinces of Ontario and Saskatchewan, as well as the Maritime provinces of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. It was announced recently that Nova Scotia has been given an increased allocation for its Express Entry streams. PNPs are a dynamic and constantly evolving set of immigration programs, and candidates are encouraged to remain updated on them regularly.

Candidates can also increase their CRS score by improving language proficiency, gaining additional work experience, and/or completing an education credential.

This summary was prepared using information obtained from CIC News.

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 the Regional Immigration Manager, Americas, Laura Taggart.

 

 

Canada
Parent and Grandparent Program for Canadian immigration set to reopen in 2016

The popular Parent and Grandparent Program (PGP) is expected to reopen in January, 2016, with sponsors and candidates already preparing for what is expected to be a very short application intake period.

This family sponsorship program allows Canadian citizens and permanent residents to bring their foreign parents and grandparents to Canada as Canadian permanent residents.

Since the PGP reopened two years ago with new criteria after a pause that began in 2011, the program has proved to be one of the most competitive Canadian immigration programs. The 2014 program, which had an application cap of 5,000 complete applications, filled in just three weeks.

The rush to get a complete and accurate application submitted was even more competitive for the 2015 program, which opened in January of this year. That application cap was reached within a couple of days, and the program has since been closed. Most candidates and sponsors who did not manage to submit the application immediately after the program reopened had their applications returned.

The 2016 Parent and Grandparent Program

Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) has said that the PGP will reopen in January, 2016. The government has not indicated whether there will be any changes to the eligibility criteria of the 2016 program.

Given that last year’s allocation was snapped up within days and that many prospective sponsors and their families have been waiting with anticipation for the PGP to reopen, demand is likely to continue to outweigh supply if a similar cap on the program is in place for the next application cycle. Therefore, sponsors and sponsored parties may be able to maximize their chances of submitting an application before the 2016 program fills by preparing their documents in advance and having them ready to submit by January. Failure to prepare for the program in advance may result in applicants missing their opportunity to apply.

PGP criteria

Parents and grandparents of Canadian citizens and permanent residents applying under this program will receive Canadian permanent resident status, and may eventually apply for Canadian citizenship after fulfilling residency obligations. The sponsor in Canada must meet the following requirements:

  • Be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident
  • Be 18 years of age or older
  • Exceed the minimum necessary income level for this program by submitting notices of assessment issued by the Canadian Revenue Agency (CRA) in support of their sponsorship. Sponsors must also demonstrate they have met the minimum necessary income level for three consecutive years. If married or in a common-law relationship, the income of both persons can be included
  • Promise to provide financial support for the sponsored relative for a period of three to ten years, depending on his or her age and relationship to the sponsor. This time period begins on the date the sponsored relative becomes a permanent resident

The sponsor and the sponsored relative must sign a sponsorship agreement that commits the sponsor to provide financial support to the sponsored relative, if necessary. This agreement also states that the person becoming a permanent resident will make every effort to support himself or herself. Quebec residents must sign an “undertaking” with the province of Quebec – a contract binding the sponsorship.

This summary was prepared using information obtained from CIC News.

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 the Regional Immigration Manager, Americas, Laura Taggart.

 

 

The United States
Recent changes to the STEM OPT program

On October 2, 2015, The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) submitted a proposed regulation on the STEM Optional Practical Training (OPT) program to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review. 

The proposed regulation to OMB is a positive indication that DHS proposes to ensure the STEM OPT program continues uninterrupted and that eligible F-1 students can continue to seek an extension of OPT.

Once the rule is published, individuals and organizations will have an opportunity to provide feedback during a comment period. Comment periods typically last between 30-60 days. The federal court’s deadline for publication by DHS is February 12, 2016. DHS has the option to extend the deadline.

The STEM OPT program allows recent university graduates who majored in a STEM field (Science, Technology, Engineering or Mathematics) to receive an additional 17 months of work authorization beyond the initial 12 months of OPT that they receive upon completion of their academic program. Due to the recent demand for H-1B visas, the STEM OPT program is a benefit to employers wishing to hire and retain talented interns and employees, but are unable to secure an H-1B for their employees through the H-1B cap lottery. 

This summary was prepared using information obtained from the U.S. Government Publishing Office.

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 the Regional Immigration Manager, Americas, Laura Taggart.

 

 

The United States
USCIS improves workload transfers and implements new direct filing address

To improve efficiency, USCIS recently rebalanced the workload distribution of certain Form I-140 petitions and employment-based Form I-485 applications between the Texas Service Center and the Nebraska Service Center. Unless you are submitting a Form I-907, together with a Form I-140 petition for a worksite in one of the states listed below, please continue to file your forms as indicated on the form instructions and at:

New direct filing address for certain Form I-140 petitions

Changes have been made to the direct filing address for Form I-140 petitions, submitted together with Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing, with a worksite location in any of the following states:

  • Maryland
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • Pennsylvania

With immediate effect, you must file these forms with the Nebraska Service Center at the appropriate address listed below:

Regular mail:
Premium Processing
USCIS Nebraska Service Center   
P.O. Box 87103     
Lincoln, NE 68501-7103   
 

Express delivery:
Premium Processing
USCIS Nebraska Service Center
850 S. Street
Lincoln, NE 68508

This summary was prepared using information obtained from the official website of the Department of Homeland 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 inquiries regarding the applicability of this information, please contact the Regional Immigration Manager, Americas, Laura Taggart.

 

 

Mexico
Streamlined procedure for visitors entering by land from the United States

The National Immigration Institute (INM) in Mexico has announced a fast-track procedure, effective immediately, for non-visa required nationals entering Mexico by land from the United States for non-remunerated activities including business or leisure.

The new system is intended to speed up the entry procedure by allowing applicants to complete the visitor’s permit form (Forma Migratoria Multiple, or FMM) and to pay the corresponding government filing fees, online in advance of travel.

Who benefits?

Foreign nationals who live in the United States and who need to travel regularly to Mexico on business or leisure could benefit from these expedited entry procedures.

The online service is available for non-visa required nationals entering at the Mexico/U.S. land border with Visitor status (without permission to perform remunerated activities).

How does it work?

Applicants for the electronic FMM form can complete the form online in advance, pay the government fees of 332 MXN (approximately US$ 22) and then print both the proof of payment and the FMM duly filled. This electronic FMM will be valid for 30 days before entering Mexico.

The immigration officer at the port of entrance will determine the total length of stay (up to 180 days) and issue a paper FMM. Both forms have to be returned to the immigration authorities upon departure.

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

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 the Regional Immigration Manager, Americas, Laura Taggart.

 

 

Ireland
Queue management measures at Dublin Immigration Office

On 30 September, the Garda National Immigration Bureau (GNIB) in Burgh Quay, Dublin, implemented organisational changes to reduce the queuing time for applicants seeking to register their immigration status.

  • New registrations at the GNIB will now be dealt with on a Monday and Tuesday only
  • Registration renewals (for those who have an existing GNIB card) will be dealt with on Wednesday through Friday only
  • Additional staff resources are being deployed to deal with registrations
  • An online booking system for re-entry visas is currently being finalized. Re-entry visa applications are submitted to the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) at the GNIB office in Dublin

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

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, EMEA, Vladimir Dziak.

 

 

Israel
Applications for extraordinary work permits beyond 63 months are no longer accepted

Israel’s Interior Ministry has stopped accepting applications for working permits beyond 63 months, under instructions from the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Economy.

This is expected to delay current pending applications for new and extension work permits beyond 63 months, and halt further applications for these extraordinary work permits from being submitted.

According to Israeli law, an employer can apply for a work permit and B-1 visa for a foreign expert, for the maximum period of 63 months from the date of initial employment in Israel.

Until recently, in exceptional cases, a special application to extend the visa beyond 63 months could be submitted. Following legal advice received by the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Economy, the legality of the current process is to be examined, re-verified and then regulated accordingly.

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

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 the Regional Immigration Manager, EMEA, Vladimir Dziak.

 

 

South Africa
Employers now required to produce a Skills Transfer Plan for all foreign employees

With the recent changes to the Labour Law in South Africa, employers are now required to ensure that a Skills Transfer Plan is produced – and kept on the employee’s file – for all foreign employees who hold a work visa in South Africa. This was previously only required for foreign employees on an Intra-Company Transfer Permit.

Background

New immigration regulations were circulated in May 2014. As a result, all Intra-Company Transfer Permit applications had to be submitted with a Skills Transfer Plan.

The Skills Transfer Plan

This plan must be produced by the employer outlining how the foreign national will transfer their skills to local South African employees or permanent residents during the course of their employment or assignment in South Africa.

Moving forward

Employers are now required to produce a Skills Transfer Plan for any position that is held by a foreign national in South Africa on any work visa.

It is however not required of employers to submit the Skills Transfer Plan along with the other work visa applications to the Department of Home Affairs, but only to draft the plan and keep it on the employee’s file for record purposes only.

Unscheduled visits/inspections – Department of Labour

Please note: The Department of Labour is authorized at any stage to conduct unscheduled site visits of an employer’s premises to ensure that the above requirement is adhered to.

It is recent practice for the department to ask for any documents and information that they feel is necessary to verify that the employer remains compliant with all statutory regulations.

Employers who currently employ foreign nationals should ensure that they have the necessary Skills Transfer Plan for each foreign employee on file to avoid any penalties that may result from non-compliance.

For further information or urgent assistance with updating your employee files with Skills Transfer Plans, please contact Sally Wardle (Mobility Co-ordinator) at swardle@crownww.com (telephone no.: [011] 3721 700).

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 the Regional Immigration Manager, EMEA, Vladimir Dziak.

 

 

The Netherlands
Entry visa (MVV) exemptions

Effective October 1, 2015, more categories of foreign nationals planning to reside and work in the Netherlands for over three months are exempt from requiring an entry visa (MVV).

The following categories no longer need to obtain a long-stay visa (MVV) for stays longer than 90 days in six months:

  • Individuals with a valid residence status in another Schengen country applying in the Netherlands via a Recognized Sponsor (Erkend Referent), including highly-skilled migrants, scientific researchers, labor migrants, students and foreign nationals participating in exchange programs
  • Individuals with a valid work and residence status in another EU Member State providing cross-border services in the Netherlands under the notion of “freedom to provide services” (as established under the Van der Elst ruling)
  • Individuals applying for a “start-up”/entrepreneurial residence permit in the Netherlands. Foreign nationals in one of these categories can now enter the Netherlands on their valid passports, foreign residence permits and/or Schengen visas, depending on their nationality

The MVV (Machtiging Voorlopig Verblijf or Provisional Residence Permit) is a Dutch entry visa for stays exceeding 90 days in six months. Nationals of EU countries, Australia, Canada, Japan, Monaco, New Zealand, Switzerland and the United States do not require an MVV.

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

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 the Regional Immigration Manager, EMEA, Vladimir Dziak.

 

 

United Arab Emirates
Online 90-day Visit Visa applications introduced

The United Arab Emirates Ministry of Interior (MOI) has requested the public to apply for the 90-day UAE entry permit, also known as a “Visit Visa,” through the Ministry’s e-services or via the UAE-MOI smartphone application. The Ministry of Interior aims to streamline the procedures and reduce the time and effort it takes to make an application.

Entry permits are secure and issued electronically through a streamlined and convenient process that requires an Emirates ID card to access the advanced framework. The framework and the smartphone applications have undergone performance improvements. They have also been upgraded to introduce more services and to continuously excel in streamlining and simplifying procedures to speed completion.

The entry permit, or “Visit Visa,” allows the applicant to enter the UAE for a limited period and is available for single or multiple entries.

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 the Regional Immigration Manager, EMEA, Vladimir Dziak.

 

 

Meet the team: Vladimir Dziak, Regional Immigration Manager, EMEA


Vladimir Dziak
Vladimir Dziak
 

We’re pleased to announce that Vladimir Dziak has been appointed as Regional Immigration Manager, EMEA, based in Crown World Mobility’s Prague office.

Prior to joining Crown, Vladimir worked for a large multi-national IT company in various global HR functions within Global Mobility. His experience began as a subject matter expert for immigration and mobility related issues in the Central and Eastern European region.

Then, as an Immigration Partner overseeing Europe, Russia, and the Central Asian States, Vladimir defined and re-wrote the policy and strategy within the vast global Immigration team. He was responsible for providing strategic advice and guidance to various business units, focusing on immigration landscape, risk mitigation and governmental affairs.

His experience encompasses transitional functions, as well as project management, in terms of mobility and immigration services, with a focus on compliance, quality and vendor management practices. Within his previous roles, Vladimir also worked on the overall streamlining of processes and procedures to create efficiency and client satisfaction.

In his new role at Crown, Vladimir will oversee the delivery of corporate immigration services throughout the EMEA region, primarily focusing on compliance and quality of service. With the support of our locally-based, in-house immigration specialists and network of Service Partners, Vladimir will also develop a centralized and streamlined approach to Crown's immigration services.