Immigration weekly update: December 24, 2018

1. China
2. Germany
3. India
4. Malaysia
5. Mexico
6. Netherlands
7. Switzerland

China: New cities offer 144 hours visa-free transit

As of January 1, 2019, five more cities will grant the 144 hours (six days) visa-free entry to travelers from 53 nations:

  • Chengdu, Sichuan ProvinceShanghai
  • Kunming, Yunnan Province
  • Qingdao, Shandong Province
  • Wuhan, Hubei Province
  • Xiamen, Fujian Province

Previously these cities only offered 72 hours visa-free entry.

Citizens from the following countries are eligible for this policy: Albania, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Brunei, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Malta, Mexico, Monaco, Montenegro, Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, South Korea, Sweden, Switzerland, UAE, U.K., Ukraine and the U.S.

Conditions for visa-free entry

  • Entry via an international flight into one of the five cities.
  • Passports valid for at least three months from the date of intended arrival and visas for the destination countries (if required)
  • Flight tickets departing in 144 hours, that show that their first destination (including stopovers of any kind) is located in a third country. Hong Kong and Macau as Special Administrative Regions (SARs) are considered as third territories for transit purposes.
  • The traveler’s inbound/outbound flights must arrive at and depart from one of the acceptable ports of entry – from or to a third country (including one of the two SARs). Both flights must not stopover within mainland China prior to arrival or after departing the port of entry.
  • Outbound flight’s first stop or destination must be in a different country to the origin of the inbound flight.
  • Travel between U.S. territories and the contiguous U.S. are also ineligible for visa-free entry unless one of the flights has a third-country stopover or SAR.

This summary was prepared using information obtained from the National Immigration Administration (in Chinese).

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.


China: Visa application changes for specific citizens

The latest visa guidelines requires citizens and applicants in the countries listed below to have their fingerprints taken at the China Visa Application Center.

Citizen Start date
BulgarianAug. 16, 2018
FinnishSept. 25, 2018
U.K.Nov. 1, 2018
CanadianJan. 1, 2019

This summary was prepared using information obtained from the following Chinese embassies: Bulgaria, Finland, U.K., Estonia and Canadian.

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.


Germany: Minimum salary for Blue Card EU increases

The income threshold for contributions to the German public pension scheme will be raised on January 1, 2019. This is based on general wage developments. As such, the Blue Card EU minimum salary threshold will be adjusted.

At the beginning of 2019, it is expected that an applicant will be required to receive a minimum annual salary of 53, 600 Euros in order to obtain a Blue Card EU. It is also expected that a reduced salary threshold for certain shortage occupations will be set at 41,808 Euros.

Additional prerequisites for the Blue Card EU remain – a local employment offer from a German company needs to meet the requirements in line with German standards and fitting the job description.

Key considerations

The new thresholds are not relevant for Blue Cards that have already been issued, but will have to be complied with for any new or renewal applications.

This summary was prepared using information obtained from Offer & Mastmann.

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.


Germany: Immigration in 2019

Requests for appointments at German diplomatic missions are rapidly increasing, bringing the authorities to the brink of their resources. With a new draft bill, politicians are looking for solutions to the shortage of skilled workers and the lack of infrastructure.

There are high hopes for the planned separation of humanitarian and labor migration. This will be through the centralization of the immigration authorities and the introduction of an accelerated process. This should give employers more planning security.

The upcoming BREXIT in March, 2019 will, however, raise concerns. There are around 3,000 British people living in Frankfurt alone and will be directly affected by the decisions of the British government and the EU.

Until March 29, their residence status and the question of whether they can continue working in their respective jobs without interruption is uncertain. The only certainty is that the German authorities do not want to let anyone fall into a “BREXIT hole” – according to the ministries responsible, there is a plan B in case of a hard BREXIT.

This summary was prepared using information obtained from Germany 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.


India: Visa related application fines

On December 11, 2018, the Bureau of Immigration (BOI) made changes to its penalty fee structure for the following delays:

  • Registration of foreign nationals
  • Residence permit submissions
  • Visa extensions after visa expiry

The penalty fee for late registration has now been increased to an equivalent of US$ 300 for the first 90 days. If there is a continuation of violations, the penalty fee will increase for each 90 day-period in multiples of US$ 300.

Key considerations

Employers and employees should ensure applications are submitted within the due date to avoid penalties. It is at the discretion of the approving officer to amend the penalty fee without prior notice on a case-by-case basis.

This summary was prepared using information obtained from a 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 Debra Beynon, Regional Immigration Manager, APAC or Bopanna Nanjappa, Immigration Manager for India.


Malaysia: MYXpats Centre’s new services endorsing the Professional Visit Pass

It has been announced that Professional Visit Pass (PVP) endorsements will be available at MYXpats Centre. The specifications for endorsement must be in accordance with the Immigration Department of Malaysia’s checklist. Failure to provide complete documents may result in the application being denied. More information can be obtained emailing helpdesk@myxpats.com.my.

This summary was prepared using information obtained from Expatriate Services Division.

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.


Malaysia: New immigration application procedure

All new and renewal Employment Pass (EP) and Dependent Pass (DP) applications for companies with pre-approved positions under the Malaysian Investment Development Authority (MIDA) must be submitted via the Expatriate Services Division (EDS) portal.

Key changes

  • The ESD registration procedure includes several steps and a period of at least two months should be allowed for completion.
  • All pending applications submitted before December 5, 2018, as well as the subsequent endorsements will continue to be processed manually at MIDA as opposed to the online portal.
  • The position approval for Representative Office and Regional Office can still be submitted manually at MIDA.
  • Dependent Pass applications for employees who have obtained position approval from MIDA before December 5, 2018, can proceed to manual submission at MIDA.
  • Transfer of Endorsement applications and cancellations can be submitted at the MIDA office for manual processing.

This summary was prepared using information obtained from MIDA.

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.


Mexico: Challenges with police clearance policy

Police clearance certificates are only issued to applicants holding a letter from the consulate of their destination country. Issues have been reported due to consulates not providing the required letter. 

The police clearance certificate is required as part of the immigration process and must be received in person at the Federal Police office.

Background

Since its implementation in 2016, this lawful requirement has been in place since September 2018. The National Law of criminal execution, article 27, fraction IV, states:

Proof of criminal record can only be extended in the following cases:

  • If competent administrative and judicial authorities request it for the purposes of criminal investigation and procedure.
  • When exercising a right or performing a legally planned duty.
  • In specific cases where regulations dictate it as a requirement such as:
    • For performing a job or duty in the public service
    • For admission to institutions of public or private security
    • When the nature of the employment or the reasons of public interest are considered applicable
  • If any foreign/Mexican embassy or consulate requests it.

Key considerations

The police clearance certificate is provided by the Federal Police, however it is anticipated that the new government will replace this authority with a National Guard. It is therefore expected that the police clearance certificate procedure will change in the near future.

We will provide updates once received. Should you require assistance with a police clearance certificate, please contact us.

This summary was prepared using information obtained from the National Security Commission verbally.

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 our Global Operations Director of Immigration Roberta Carnaccini.


Netherlands: Minimum salary level increases

The Dutch immigration authorities (IND) has announced new minimum salary levels for Highly Skilled Migrants, Intra-corporate Transferees (EU ICT Directive 2014/66/EU) and Blue Card applicants. Effective January 1, these levels are applicable for local hires, assignees (including extension applications) and changes of employer. The new minimum gross monthly salary levels are as follows:

  • Highly Skilled Migrants and Intra-corporate transferees over 30 years of age: 4,500 Euros.
  • Highly Skilled Migrants and Intra-corporate transferees under 30 years of age: 3,299 Euros.
  • Foreign nationals who have graduated from a Dutch higher education institution, or from an international institution ranked in the top 200, taking up employment within three years of graduation: 2,364 Euros.
  • Blue Card holders: 5,272 EurosNote that the amounts listed above do not include the mandatory holiday allowance.

Key considerations

Payments must be made monthly, directly into the bank account of the foreign national, and the responsibility lies with the employer to prove that such payments have been made. Failure to comply with these rules may result in fines.

Benefits and allowances may only be included if they are specified in the employment contract, fixed/guaranteed and paid monthly in money (not in kind) and in gross (not net).

This summary was prepared using information obtained from the  Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment.

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 Justine Fransen, Immigration Specialist, the Netherlands, or Michele Giordani, Immigration Manager, EMEA.


Switzerland: Swiss government to phase out paper permits

The Swiss Federal Council announced its intention to replace all paper permits with new photo ID cards. The State Secretary of Migration confirmed the paper ID currently being used with its glued-on passport photo beneath a layer of plastic is impractical and does not meet today’s security requirement.

These new permits are set to be more modern and secure. However, unlike the short-term (L), residence (B) and settlement (C) permits of third-state nationals, there are no plans to make these updated permits biometric.

Who will be affected?

  • EU/EFTA citizens (L, B, and C permits)
  • Cross-border commuters irrespective of their nationality (G permit)
  • Family members of diplomats pursuing gainful employment in Switzerland (Ci card)
  • Asylum seekers during the asylum procedure (N permit)
  • Temporarily admitted people (F permit)
  • People in need of protection (S permit)

Key considerations

The new ID cards are set to cost the same as the current permits and the replacement process will be carried out in stages between July, 1, 2019 and December, 31, 2020.

Holders of a valid paper permit that expires after these dates will be issued with the newer version when they apply for renewal.

This summary was prepared using information obtained from Ejpd 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 Michele Giordani, Regional Immigration Manager, EMEA.


Holiday closures

Governmental offices and some Crown offices may be closed during the holiday season or operational with skeleton staff. Foreign nationals with pending immigration applications and those that must be submitted during this period will likely experience processing delays.

For country-specific details please contact our Regional Immigration Managers:


 

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