Global Immigration News Bulletin - May 2014

Welcome to the first in a new series of Crown World Mobility's Global Immigration News Bulletins. We are happy to introduce a new monthly digest providing 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 (APAC)

Philippines

New requirements for 47(a)(2) visa application

The Philippines Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) has introduced new requirements for 47(a)(2) visa applications (initial and renewals).  Changes include a required notarized Affidavit of Undertaking in support of certain applications, additional information requirements for knowledge-based and language-based positions, and a personal appearance to validate the visa application.

For visa renewal applications, the current visa must be valid for at least 30 days at the time of the renewal application. Otherwise, the employer must now complete and sign a notarized Affidavit of Undertaking to support the application.  The Affidavit of Undertaking is also required for change of status applications, when the existing visa is valid for less than 15 days.

A certification confirming the following additional information must now be submitted to Philippine Export Zone Authority (PEZA) for knowledge-based or language-based positions:

  • Details of the specific client/account being serviced
  • Detailed job description
  • Technical requirements of the position
  • Technical skills possessed by the foreign national
  • Summary of currently employed and additional foreign nationals
     

In addition, foreign nationals working in certain knowledge/language-based positions must now make a personal appearance at the Philippine Export Zone Authority Enterprise Operations Department (PEZA-EOD) to validate their applications.   The applicant will be required to bring a copy of the supporting documents listed above, as well as his/her passport.

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

Additional countries added to visa exempt list

Seven countries have been added to the Philippines visa exempt list, and one country has been removed.  Nationals from countries listed below who are traveling to the Philippines for purposes of business and tourism are now allowed to enter the Philippines without visas for a stay not exceeding thirty (30) days.

The countries added to the visa exempt list include: Belize, Croatia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.  Nationals of these countries are now visa exempt for purposes of business and tourism, for stays of 30 days or fewer, provided the traveler holds a ticket for the return journey or onward destination and his/her passport is valid for a period of at least six (6) months beyond the period of stay.

Somalia has been removed from the visa exempt list.  Nationals from Somalia will now be required to apply for an entry visa before traveling to the Philippines.

Singapore

Employment Pass: New/Improved Services at Ministry of Manpower (MOM) 

The Singapore Ministry of Manpower (MOM) has announced extended services for Employment Pass (EP) Holders.  As of April 28, 2014, EP Holders will benefit from new card registration services, modified operating hours and a new appointment system.

New card registration services will be extended to include One-Stop Registration (fingerprint/photo) at the Employment Pass Services Center (EPSC), online submission of documents for EP renewals and card service delivery.   The MOM will now deliver EP cards to the card holder, eliminating the need to pick up the card at EPSC.

With the newly-implemented changes, the MOM anticipates a lower volume of visitors at the EPSC.  Operating hours have subsequently been modified, reducing overall hours, yet remaining open every business day with extended hours on Tuesday and Thursday.

A new centralized appointment system has been introduced which will enable applicants to make appointments for all services offered by MOM.  The old system is no longer in operation as of April 26, 2014.  Future appointments can be made at http://appointment.mom.gov.sg.

Changes to Personalized Employment Pass (PEP)

The Singapore Ministry of Manpower (MOM) has implemented changes with the Personalized Employment Pass (PEP), including increased salary requirement and reduced validity period. The minimum annual salary requirement for a PEP has been increased to SGD 144,000, and the period of validity period has been decreased from five years to three years.

The Singapore Ministry of Manpower (MOM) advises there is no immediate impact on existing PEP holders.  For those applicants who applied for their PEPs prior to December 1, 2012, MOM will give PEP holders until December 31, 2014, to meet the revised minimum annual fixed salary requirement of SGD 144,000.  

Malaysia

Change with Employment Pass cancellation: Removal of multiple-entry privileges  

In the absence of an official announcement and effective immediately, when an Employment Pass is filed with the Malaysia Immigration Department (MID), the multiple-entry privileges previously granted under the Employment Pass will be removed.

Expatriates who plan to travel outside of Malaysia while their Employment Pass cancellation is in process will now be required to obtain an entry visa (if a visa national), or be admitted under a Social Visit Pass upon re-entry to Malaysia.

Expatriates departing Malaysia should carefully plan their international travel before they file their Employment Pass cancellation application.  It is advised not to plan international travel while the cancellation application is pending in order to avoid complications.

India

New contractor to process India visa applications in the United States  

The Embassy of India in the United States has announced that a new contractor will be replacing the existing contractor in the United States for Visas/OCI/PIO/Renunciation of Indian Citizenship Certificate application support services, effective May 21, 2014.

Cox & King Global Services Ltd. will replace BLS International Ltd. as the service provider for the Embassy of India in the U.S. for support services for Visas, Overseas Citizens of India (OCI), People of Indian Origin (PIO), and Renunciation of Indian Citizenship Certificate applications.  BLS will no longer provide support services for these applications at all locations in the U.S. after May 20, 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

Canada

New recruitment model for economic immigration and new caps for permanent residence programs 

Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) anticipates to launch a new on-line permanent residence application system for qualified economic immigrants in January 2015, called “Express Entry”.   As of May 1, 2014, in preparation for Express Entry, the CIC will begin accepting applications under new caps for the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP), Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP) and Canadian Experience Class (CEC). 

The CIC will reopen the FSW program with a new cap of 25,000 applications, and will increase the number of eligible occupations from 24 to 50.  The cap for the FST program will be increased to 5,000 applications, and the CEC program will have a cap of 8,000 applications.

By implementing Express Entry, the Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) hopes to improve processing times and better respond to each region’s labor needs.  The program seeks to attract skilled workers and create a path to permanent residency for applicants most likely to succeed in Canada.  The system will detail applicants’ language proficiency, work experience and educational credentials.  The applications will be assessed and scored based on a pre-defined points test.  The program will create a pool of applicants from which employers will be able to select candidates who best match their skills needs.  

Foreign students: Work authorization 

Effective June 1, 2014, foreign students holding study permits in Canada who are enrolled in academic, vocational or professional training programs will be automatically authorized to work.  Work authorization will be granted up to 20 hours per week during academic sessions and full-time during scheduled breaks.  In order to qualify, the training programs must be at least six months in duration.   

Under current regulations, study permit holders must obtain an Off-Campus Work Permit to accept employment.  Foreign graduates of Canadian academic, vocational or professional training programs who apply for a Post-Graduation Work Permit will be allowed to work while their application is pending. 

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, Americas, Laura Taggart: ltaggart@crownww.com

Latin America (LATAM)

Brazil

Brazil 2014 FIFA World Cup may delay visa processing

In anticipation of the 2014 FIFA World Cup taking place in Brazil during June and July 2014, it's recommended to submit visa applications well in advance of any trips to Brazil this summer.  Visa applications at Brazilian consulates worldwide may be delayed due to a significant increase in applications leading up to the World Cup.  Visa applicants should submit Consular applications as soon as possible to avoid processing and travel delays.

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, Americas, Laura Taggart: ltaggart@crownww.com

Europe, Middle East, Africa (EMEA)

Poland

Changes in Immigration Procedures

As of May 2014, significant changes to the Polish immigration system have gone into effect. The changes are due to the implementation of the EU Single Permit directive, passed into EU law in December 2011.  The Polish authorities have introduced a number of amendments relevant to corporate immigration, including the introduction of the single work residence permit, a longer validity for a temporary residence permit, a clearer route for business owners in Poland to regularize their immigration status, increased possibilities of applying for permanent residence and renewal timing extensions.

As of the beginning of May 2014 and in accordance with the Act of Parliament on Foreigners of 12 December 2013, the Polish authorities have introduced a number of amendments relevant to corporate immigration, including:

Single permit applications: A single permit application authorizing both work and residence may now be filed in-country with the provincial governor’s office in Poland with jurisdictional authority over the address where the applicant will be residing.  It is no longer necessary to file separate work permit and residence permit applicants. This is intended to streamline and expedite applications.  Please note the current practice of foreign nationals holding Schengen D visas for Poland not needing to apply for a residence permit will not change.

Temporary residence: A temporary residence permit may be issued for the maximum period of three years, which is one year longer than before.  This is expected to cut down on renewal applications and costs for sponsoring employers.

Business owners: Those who wish to set up business entities in Poland now have clearer requirements to obtain a residence permit, as the Act sets out the specific economic conditions that a company must meet for its owners to qualify for a residence permit in Poland.  As before, the intended economic activity should be beneficial to the Polish economy.

Permanent residence: Section VI of the Act (Article 195-225) makes provision for persons of Polish origin, “Karta Polaka” holders (individuals who have previously held Polish citizenship), children of parents with a long-term EU residence/permanent residence permit, victims of human trafficking, individuals under international protection or those with refugee status and subsidiary protection to apply for a permanent residence permit in Poland.

Renewal timings: The period during which a renewal of a Polish immigration document can be submitted has been extended, allowing applications to be submitted up to the date of expiration as follows: 

  • A residence permit renewal request may be submitted up to the day of the existing permit validity (instead of no later than 45 days before the expiry of the validity of a residence card)
  • A visa may be renewed up to the last day of legal residence (instead of three days before the validity expiration)
     

Other changes

  • Any person who submits a request for the legalization of stay in Poland will be required to submit their fingerprints (with the exception of children younger than six years old).  As a result, the application should be submitted in person.
  • A foreign national is no longer required to submit a signed lease agreement as evidence of accommodation.  At the time of filing the application, it is enough to prove that the foreigner has a guaranteed place of residence.
  • On refusal of legalization of his/her stay, of granting protection or on withdrawal of a residence permit or protection, a foreigner has a grace period of 30 days to leave Poland legally (without any negative consequences normally associated with illegal residence).
     

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

Ukraine

Entry into Ukraine: Increased scrutiny of Russian males

Due to the recent political situation in Ukraine and change in relations with Russia, the Ukraine State Border Service is limiting the entry of Russian males aged 16 to 60 years.  Previously, all Russian nationals were permitted to enter Ukraine for up to 90 days in a 180 day period, provided they were carrying a valid passport.    

Although there has not been an official announcement made formalizing the change, in practice Russian males may be turned away from the port of entry, unless they fall into one of the categories below:  

  • Russian males traveling with accompanying family
  • Russian males holding the following documents:
  • Documentation confirming kinship or serious illness/death of close relative;
  • Notarized invitation from individuals, legal entity, or state organization/institution in Ukraine;
  • Work Permit;
  • Temporary residence permit or permanent residence permit in Ukraine;
  • Transit documentation (itineraries) showing departure from Ukraine;
  • Documentation showing employment as a driver of commercial vehicles engaged in international freight transportation, or as crew of aircraft or ships transiting through Ukraine.
     

There are currently no restrictions in practice for women, however entry requirements between Russia and Ukraine may change at short notice.

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

Norway

Norwegian Tax Administration introduces identity checks for foreign workers

The Norwegian Tax Administration has introduced identity checks for foreign workers who are conducting work in Norway.  The objective is to prevent foreign workers from operating under false identities.  Foreign workers required to participate include those who have previously been granted a tax deduction card and a D-number by the Central Office – Foreign Tax Affairs (SFU).  

As of April 2014, foreign workers must report to their local tax office (ID office) for an identity check.  Foreign workers exempt from participating include:

  • Foreign nationals who only work on the Norwegian continental shelf;
  • Seafarers on a NIS/NOR vessel who are resident abroad for tax purposes;
  • D-number holders who have reported for an ID check within the past two years;
  • Foreign nationals who are in a situation where it would be very difficult for them to report to the tax office and identify themselves.  These individuals must submit a written application for exemption.
     

Russia

Work permit and permanent residency applications will require Russian language and history knowledge

Effective January 2015, applicants for work permits or permanent residence permits for Russia will be required to pass exams in Russian language, history and law.  The Russian government has passed amendments to the Federal Law FL-115 which will require foreign nationals wishing to obtain or extend a work permit, or permanent residence permit, to demonstrate proof of knowledge of the Russian language, Russian history and the Russian legal system.  Highly-skilled professionals and their dependents will be exempt from this new requirement.  

The Russian government has yet to announce details of the exams and where they will be administered.

Another amendment to the same law simplifies the process for acquiring Russian citizenship for native speakers of Russian language.  Applicants will be able to obtain Russian citizenship by passing an exam before a special committee.  Details of the implementation of this change, due to come into effect in July 2014, are yet to be announced.

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

Medical tests now required in advance for standard work permit applications

Effective immediately, applicants for standard work permits for Russia are required to submit the results of a medical test from a specially-designated clinic in Russia with their applications.  Highly-skilled workers are exempt from this new requirement.  

Since the medical test must be carried out at an approved clinic in Russia, applicants for standard work permits will now have to make an extra trip to Russia, on a business visa, to undergo the medical examination before the work permit application can be made.  Applicants must then return to their home country to apply for the entry visa for work.

Previously, the medical test could be carried out, and the results submitted, after the personal work permit and entry visa applications and entry into Russia.  The medical test results previously had to be submitted when the applicant collected the work permit.  This process is no longer valid.

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

Turkey

Changes in immigration procedures and requirements

As the result of a new immigration law which took effect April 11, 2014, Turkey is expected to implement several changes in immigration procedures and requirements including changes relating to business visitors, residence permits, and entry requirements.  The changes are anticipated to be implemented in phases.

Expected changes to include:

Business visitors: The duration of stay for business visitors is expected to be limited to 90 days within a 180 day period.  This limitation previously only applied to tourists.  

Residence permits: A foreign national will be required to obtain a residence permit for a duration of stay exceeding 90 days (a change from 30 day duration of stay).  New residence permit categories will also be introduced, including for purposes of opening a business, buying real estate, long-term tourists and adult dependents.  The application procedure will change for most permits from filing with local authorities within Turkey, to a requirement of filing applications at a Turkish Consulate abroad.  Residence permits for foreign nationals authorized to work in Turkey will also change; work permits will combine both residence and employment authorization, eliminating the need to apply for a separate residence permit.  The Ministry of Labor will collect fees for both work permits and residence permits, and will also issue both work permit letters and residence permits cards for the assignee.  The residence permit card will be sent directly to the assignee’s home address.  The assignee’s permanent address in Turkey should be registered within 20 days of arrival.

Passport validity date requirements: The validity date of a foreign national’s passport will be required to exceed at least 60 days beyond his/her intended stay in Turkey, a change from the previous requirement of passport validity only through the duration of stay.  

Health/Insurance requirements: Foreign nationals applying for any non-employment visas may be required to evidence sufficient funds and health insurance for the duration of stay of their visit.  Details with regards to minimum amounts are not yet known.

South Africa

New immigration laws to come into effect May 26, 2014

It has been announced that the new South African Immigration Act has been finalized and will come into effect on May 26, 2014.  The reforms are expected to make changes to immigration requirements, application processes and terminology.  There may be delays in case processing while the South Africa Department of Home Affairs (DHA) implements the changes. 

Primary changes include:

  • Applications for new visas and change of status will need to be applied for in person in the applicant’s country of residence
  • Increase in validity period for intra-company transfer visas from two to four years
  • Visas will be processed by VFS (Visa Facilitation Services) within South Africa 
  • Study permits granted for up to eight years
  • Critical Skills Visa has not been finalized, and critical skills list not yet published
  • Penalty for overstaying a visa to include undesirable status for up to two and 10 years
  • Applications for Section 11(2) visas required to be submitted in applicant’s country of residence no longer available at South African points of entry

It is anticipated that the Act will be followed by legislation and guidelines related to the immigration changes.

United Kingdom

Employment eligibility verification simplified - tougher penalties for employers

As of May 16, 2014, the U.K. Home Office has simplified the process for verifying the employment eligibility of foreign nationals and has increased the penalty for non-compliance.

The change simplifies the process for employers by reducing the number of acceptable documents employers need to check, as well as the frequency of the checks.  The Home Office now establishes biometric residence permits as the primary form of evidence, with similar immigration documents also accepted.  Employers are no longer required to re-verify employees’ work rights every year.  They are now required to conduct re-verification checks coinciding with the foreign national’s visa expiration date.  The maximum penalty for employers for non-compliance has doubled to 20,000 GB per employee. 

Ireland

Expected changes in Employment Permit legislation 

The Department Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation (DJEI) has published the Employment Permits (Amendments) Bill which, when enacted, will introduce new Employment Permit categories and update several existing ones.  The new law will provide for nine different purposes for which an employment permit may be granted.  The new law is expected to be enacted by the summer of 2014, subject to parliamentary approval.

The main changes include nine different purposes for which an employment permit may be granted, including the following new or updated categories:

  • A new Critical Skills Employment Permit to replace the existing Green Card;
  • A new employment permit for spouses and dependents of Critical Skills Employment Permit holders;
  • A new General Employment Permit for highly skilled occupations for contracts of less than two years;
  • A new Reactivation Employment Contract;
  • A new Exchange Agreement Employment Permit;
  • A Sports and Cultural Employment Permit;
  • A new Internship Employment Permit.
     

Several existing categories of employment permit, such as the Contract for Services Permit and the Intra-Company Transfer Permit, may be reformed as well, however no details have yet been released.

At this time, no additional information is available on the criteria, duration, eligibility, process or required documents for any of the categories.

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

Garda National Immigration Bureau (GNIB) registration changes

Upcoming practical changes are expected with regards to Registration with the Irish Police (An Garda Siochana).   The changes will include longer processing for foreign nationals residing outside Dublin, and two personal appearances now required for those residing outside Dublin.  Same-day processing is still expected for foreign nationals residing in Dublin.  

As of May 10, 2014, a revised interim smart card certificate of registration printed in Dublin will be issued to foreign nationals upon their residence registration.  Previously, police offices outside of the Dublin Metropolitan Region printed certificate of registration cards locally to issue to foreign nationals registering with that office, often on the same day as their registration.  The new cards will be printed centrally at the Garda National Immigration Bureau (GNIB) office in Dublin.  They will take approximately two to three weeks to process.

Foreign nationals residing outside Dublin will continue to register in the district in which they reside but will now be required to return to the registration office two to three weeks later to collect their certificate of registration.  Same day issuance will no longer be possible.  Personal appearance will be required on both visits, and fingerprints will be taken.

It is expected that same day issuance will still be available in Dublin, however foreign nationals who register after 8:30pm in the evening may be required to return the following day to collect their certificates of registration.

All individuals who are not EU/EEA or Swiss nationals must register with the police and have a valid registration certificate in the form of a certificate of registration GNIB Card showing lawful residence in Ireland.

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

Procedural changes with Employment Permit renewals

The Department for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation (DJEI) has announced new documentation requirements for Employment Permit renewal applications in Ireland.  Effective immediately, the DJEI now requires submission of P60s covering the entire period from when the initial permit was issued.  Previously, only the most recent P60 had to be submitted with an employment permit renewal application.  By way of background, in Ireland and the U.K., the P60 certificate is a statement issued to employees at the end of the tax year, detailing taxable income and deductions made.  

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

Switzerland

No work permit quotas for EU national local hires

Effective May 1, 2014, long-term B permits for locally hired workers from the “EU8” will no longer be subject to quotas.  As of June 1, 2014, the quota requirement will no longer apply to the “EU17”.

What are the “EU8” and “EU17”?

The EU8 refers to the eight countries which joined the European Union (EU) in 2004: Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovenia, and Slovakia.  The EU17 refers to the seventeen EU member states which comprised the EU prior to its expansion in 2004 plus Malta and Cyprus: Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Portugal, Sweden, Spain, and the United Kingdom.

What are Switzerland’s Quotas?

Switzerland has operated a quota system for the issuance of work and residence permits for all non-Swiss nationals – both non-European Union nationals and EU nationals - up until May 31, 2014.  The quotas were imposed on B permits (long-term residence permits) valid for up to five years, and renewable.  Once the B permit quota is reached, applicants are then issued L permits, valid up to 12 months and convertible into a B permit after two years.  As of June 1, 2014, most EU nationals hired in Switzerland (on local contract and payroll) will be allowed to enter Switzerland, register for their permit, and begin working without restrictions.

Exceptions for new EU member states

Nationals of Bulgaria, Croatia, and Romania will still have to apply for permits and wait for approval before they can start to work in Switzerland.  Work authorization for these nationals will continue to be subject to annual quotas until May 31, 2016.  The Swiss government will then determine whether the quota duration will be prolonged or not.  The quotas still apply for all nationals on assignment to Switzerland (those remaining on home country contract and payroll).

Will Quotas be reintroduced?

The Swiss government is expected to respond during 2014 to the referendum in February, when a majority voted in favor of tightening EU immigration into Switzerland and reintroducing annual quotas for all EU/EFTA nationals.  By the end of the year, a legislative draft is to be submitted for consultation.  Until definite legislation has passed, the bilateral agreements regarding free movement between the EU and Switzerland remain valid.

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

European Union (EU)

Proposals to shorten and simplify procedures for travel to Schengen area

The European Commission (EC) announced proposals to shorten and simplify procedures for short-term travelers to the Schengen area.  The proposals were made to facilitate the entry of tourists and business visitors to Member States and to help stimulate economies and job creation in certain sectors.  The proposals, announced in April 2014, must be approved by the Council of the European Union and the European Parliament, a process not anticipated to be completed until 2015.  If/when proposals enter into force, the changes will apply to EU Member States applying the Schengen visa policy in full.

The proposals include:

  • Creation of a new Touring Visa, which would allow non-EU nationals to visit the Schengen territory for up to one year, with a stay in any individual Member State up to 90 days within a 180-day period.  The Touring Visa would allow for the possibility of an extension of stay for total period of up to two years.
  • Changes to the existing Visa Code.  Proposed modifications include:
  • Reducing visa application processing times from 15 days to 10 days;
  • Increasing timeframe from when an application can be filed prior to intended travel.  Will allow applications to be filed six months prior to anticipated travel to Schengen area (as opposed to current limit of three months);
  • Allowing applicants to apply for visas at Consular posts of other Schengen Member States, under certain conditions;
  • Multiple entry visas for travelers, valid for three or five years, and available for applicants who register in the Visa Information System (VIS).  The VIS system is anticipated to be rolled out in 2015;
  • Simplified application form, and allowing online visa applications;
  • Potentially allowing issuance of visas at the borders for up to 15 days in one Schengen State;
  • Potentially allowing Member States to facilitate visas for visitors attending major events.
     

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 the Regional Immigration Manager, EMEA, Stephanie Lewin: stephanielewin@crownww.com

Every month, we are going to introduce you to a member of our experienced and highly-skilled Immigration team. This month, it's the turn of Maria Bittencourt, Crown World Mobility Immigration Attorney - São Paulo, Brazil.

Dra. Maria do Carmo Bittencourt is a dedicated and experienced Immigration Attorney based at Crown World Mobility’s Sao Paolo, Brazil, office.  Dra. Maria do Carmo Bittencourt joined Crown in January 2012 as General Council Immigration Manager and Attorney, responsible for managing the company’s Immigration department and supervising visa processes for Brazil and Latin America.  She also provides consultancy on immigration law in Brazil, including visas, the establishment of companies, and investments.  Dra. Maria do Carmo Bittencourt has worked in the field of immigration since 1993.  Her previous experience includes approximately five years as an Immigration Consultant for Crown’s Sao Paolo Immigration team.

In addition to her professional work, Dra. Maria do Carmo Bittencourt has volunteered with a group of social entrepreneurs for over three decades, involved in charitable projects including establishing two orphanages, two elderly homes, and a cancer facility for children and adults facing financial challenges.

Dra. Maria do Carmo Bittencourt raised three children before going to law school.  Her husband and oldest son are also practicing attorneys.  Dra. Maria do Carmo Bittencourt’s family is a living example of the global universe in which she works – all of her children, and her husband, have lived abroad, in countries including France, Italy, United States and Liberia.  Her family is multi-lingual and multi-cultural.  She has a true global mindset and a cross-cultural understanding both in work and at home.