Immigration weekly update: February 05, 2020


Brazil and Qatar: Entry visa exemption for tourism, business and transit purposes

Ordinary passport holders from Brazil and Qatar are allowed to enter each other´s territory without an entry visa for up to 90 days within 12 months of the date of first entry. An extension of the same period may be allowed in accordance with each country´s legislation.

Impact

This agreement plans to facilitate tourism and business activities between nationals of the two countries. These are likely to increase during the FIFA World Cup in Qatar in 2022.

Looking ahead

We advise applicants to confirm if additional requirements apply – i.e. health insurance coverage, return flight ticket, accommodation and proof of sufficient funds – with the relevant consulate/embassy.

This summary was prepared using information obtained from the Brazilian Official Gazette (in Portuguese).

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 Roberta Carnaccini, Global Operations Director, Immigration.


Malaysia: MDEC urges foreign national workers to transfer passes to new passports

Impact

Foreign knowledge workers or dependents who hold a valid employment/dependent pass and a new passport are reminded to complete a Transfer of Endorsement application urgently.

If the current pass is expiring within seven days of the application, the Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) has communicated the following exceptions to a transfer:

  • Renewals: if a new passport is obtained during the pass renewal application
  • Change of job position
  • Change of employer: if cancelation procedures have been completed prior to a new passport being issued

Special Pass processing

MDEC has also announced that Special Pass (SP) applications must be paid for as a bank draft, instead of the previous cash method. A SP can be obtained if the current employment or dependent pass is expiring, or a new pass is being processed, and is valid for 30 days.

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 Debra Beynon, Regional Immigration Manager, APAC.


New Zealand: Minimum income thresholds increase

The minimum required incomes for an essential skills work visa and skilled migrant residence visa will increase in February.

Impact Image of

The changes are as follows:

Essential skills work visas

Skill level New rate as of Feb. 24, 2020
High-skilled employment in any occupationNZD 38.25/hour
Mid-skilled employment (ANZSCO level 1-3)NZD 21.68/hour
Mid-skilled employment (ANZSCO level 4-5, treated as exception)NZD 25.50/hour
Low-skilled employment (Any ANZSCO level)Less than NZD 21.68/hour

 

Skilled migrant residence visas

Skill level New rate as of Feb. 24, 2020
Skilled employment at ANZSCO level 1-3 (or ANZSCO Level 4-5 and treated as exception)NZD 25.50/hour
Skilled employment at ANZSCO levels 4-5 (or where there is no matching ANZSCO code)NZD 38.25/hour
Threshold to earn bonus points for being highly paidNZD 51.00/hour

Looking ahead

Employers are advised to review the salaries of their foreign employees to ensure they meet the minimum requirements.

This summary was prepared using information obtained from the New Zealand Government and 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.


Philippines: Mayor’s/ Business Permits for CY 2020

To ensure companies remain compliant with statutory requirements and guidelines set out by the Philippines Government, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) reminds the public to submit a Certified True Copy (CTC) of their Mayor’s/Business Permit when making Alien Employment Permit Card applications (including renewals).

Impact Philippines

All businesses in the Philippines should have applied for permit renewals between Jan. 1 and Jan. 20.

Some companies may still apply for renewals until March, however, penalties will apply (a fine of no less than five thousand pesos, but no more than twenty thousand pesos, and imprisonment of no less than six months, but no more than two years).

The DOLE normally accepts the previous year’s Mayor’s/Business Permit until the end of March. This year, the DOLE will temporarily accept a Notarized Affidavit of Undertaking in lieu of the 2020 Mayor’s/Business Permit. The following conditions apply:

  • Submission of the 2020 Mayor’s/Business Permit within the first quarter of 2020
  • Proof of processing the permit, such as official receipt or certification
  • Copy of the CTC

This summary was prepared using information obtained from the DOLE.

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 Regional Immigration Manager (APAC), Debbie Beynon.


Saudi Arabia: Changes to the tourist visa

The new visa regime is a historic milestone in the implementation of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030. The benefits are enormous: the move will attract significant new investment in the travel and tourism sector, and see improvements to the Kingdom’s infrastructure – creating as many as one million new jobs before 2030.

EU nationals and citizens from the following countries are eligible to apply for an e-visa online as well as visas on arrival: Australia, Brunei, China, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea and the U.S..

Tourist visa eligibility

The list of eligibility for the tourist visa has been extended to U.K., U.S. and Schengen visa holders, irrespective of their citizenship. Visitors from eligible countries can apply online through the online tourism portal or on arrival at electronic kiosks or immigration counters.

The tourist visa allows individuals to stay for up to three months per entry, spending no more than 90 days a year in Saudi Arabia. It is valid for one year, with multiple entries. In the event that an individual overstays, fines of SAR 100 per day will be applied. The cost of application is SAR 440 plus VAT, and is non-refundable in the case of rejection.

Tourist visa

The tourist visa also allows its holder to attend business meetings, practice tourism and allows Muslims to perform Umrah. However, it does not permit tourists to work in the Kingdom or hold any type of business activity. Additionally, the visa does not permit tourists to have local payroll or employment.

This summary was prepared using information obtained from the Saudi Commission for Tourism & National Heritage.  

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 Laxmi Vikraman, Regional Immigration Manager, EMEA.


Singapore: Fair Considerations Framework enhancements

As of Jan. 2020, employers guilty of unfair hiring practices will be subjected to stricter penalties.

Impact

The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) has raised the penalties to act as a strong deterrent against discriminatory hiring practices and to ensure local employees are considered fairly for job opportunities.

  • Employers found guilty of unfair hiring practices will not be able to apply or renew new work passes for a period of twelve months (previously six months). For serious cases of unfair and discriminatory hiring practices, firms will not be able to apply for or renew work passes for up to twenty-four months
  • Employers who are found guilty of providing false hiring declarations will be prosecuted and may face imprisonment of up to two years

Looking ahead

Actions for hiring companies

  • They should not pre-select a foreign employee or finalize the offer prior to the Jobs Bank advertisement (this applies for internal transfers)
  • *Highlight key criteria (non-discriminatory, accurate job requirements and remunerations for positions) on the National Jobs Bank portal (as per FCF requirements)
  • Review all applications received from local candidates and conduct a thorough and fair assessment
  • Conduct interviews for local candidates who meet the key criteria and document the interviews
  • Provide an accurate breakdown on the number of local candidates interviewed and reasons as to why they were not suitable candidates
  • Interview and only offer the position to a foreign employee upon fair assessment that no locals were qualified for the role

*Under the Fair Consideration Framework (FCF), employers – with ten or more full-time employees, and for positions that pay a fixed monthly salary of less than SGD 15,000/month – must post job advertisements on the National Jobs Bank portal. Adverts must be posted for at least fourteen days before they can file an Employment Pass (EP) application for a foreign worker. Both S Pass and Work Permit applications are exempt from the jobs bank advertisement.

This summary was prepared using information obtained from the Ministry of Manpower.

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.


U.S.: Birth right changes

The Trump administration has issued a new rule instructing U.S. consular officers to deny pregnant women “B non-immigrant visas” unless they can prove, “to the satisfaction of the officer,” that they are not traveling to the U.S. to give birth, or they have a legitimate medical reason to give birth in the U.S..

Impact 

The new rule is applicable to all pregnant women, no matter how far along they are in their pregnancy.

The final rule also codifies a requirement that “B non-immigrant visa” applicants who seek medical treatment in the U.S. must establish their ability to pay for all associated costs.

Looking ahead

If a consular officer believes the visa applicant could receive similar treatment in their home country, or in a country geographically closer than the U.S., the officer can deny the application. Applicants whose visas are denied can apply again as there is no appeal to the consular officer’s decision.

This summary was prepared using information obtained from the Federal Register.

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 Roberta Carnaccini, Global Operations Director, Immigration.


Vietnam: New restrictions for Chinese nationals

Chinese nationals whose passports show a “nine-dash line” are facing challenges with work permit applications and local police clearance certificates in Hanoi. This links to the ongoing disputes between Vietnam and China over part of the South China sea.

Impact Vietnam

Since Dec. 2019, the Labor and Justice Departments in Hanoi have rejected applications from Chinese nationals for work permits and police clearance certificates. Other government authorities in Vietnam, including the Immigration Department, continue to accept applications as usual.

Looking ahead

These restrictions are temporary; it is not possible to predict how long they will last, or if they are likely to be enforced in other provinces or Government departments.

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 Debra Beynon, Regional Immigration Manager, APAC.


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