Immigration weekly update: November 12, 2020

Immigration updates for China and Saudi Arabia


Asia-Pacific

China: Arrival requirements and temporary ban

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From November 2020, arrivals from Indonesia, Iran, Israel, Japan, Malaysia, Pakistan, Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, UAE and Vietnam have to submit negative Immunoglobulin M (IgM) antibody tests (in addition to the original negative nucleic acid test and certified Health Declaration Form). All sampling and testing must be done within 48 hours of the departure flight. Passengers transiting through a third country on the way to China will need to repeat the double-negative test and certified Health Declaration Form in the transit country (within 48 hours of the final flight to China).

Japan and Singapore to China

Passengers from Japan and Singapore are not required to obtain a Certified Health Declaration form from the Chinese embassy if tests are done at an accredited institute and the flight is direct. However, passengers arriving from Singapore will be asked to provide a Declaration Form for Direct Flight Passengers to China (this form can be downloaded from the embassy’s website and the embassy will not need to review/ approve it).

South Korea to China

South Korea has issued a reminder that passengers transiting through will be subject to the new testing requirements if their origin flight takes off after the new rules take effect in that country. There is no formal announcement on when flights originating from South Korea will start implementing the new regulations.

Sampling and test issuance reports in India will vary according to the below scenarios:

  • The Indian and Chinese government arrange Charter/Special flights  
    • First nucleic acid test – sample collected within 72 hours of boarding
    • Second nucleic acid test + IgM antibody test – samples collected within 36 hours of boarding
    • Tests must be done at authorized testing centers
    • Three Negative Test Results and a signed Health Declaration Form to be sent directly or emailed to the Chinese embassy in India from the respective organizations for stamping and verification at least 24 hours before boarding
  • Commercial transit flights (currently there are no direct India-China flights)
    • Nucleic acid + IgM antibody tests in India – samples collected within 48 hours of boarding the flight to the transit country
    • Tests must be done at authorized India testing centers
    • Negative Test Results and a signed Health Declaration Form to be emailed directly to the Chinese embassy in India for stamping and verification at least 24 hours before boarding
    • Nucleic acid + IgM antibody tests in transit country – samples collected within 48 hours of boarding the final flight to China
    • Tests in transit country subject to the governing regulations of that country
    • Negative Test Results and a signed Health Declaration Form to be emailed directly to the Chinese embassy in the transit country for stamping and verification at least 24 hours before boarding

Foreign nationals from Bangladesh, Belgium, France, India, Italy, Russia, Philippines, and the U.K. are banned from entry. Currently, valid Chinese residence permits, and entry visas issued after March 28 are ineligible for entry into China.

Chinese embassies and consulates in these countries will no longer process requests for Certified Health Declaration Forms for holders of the above visas/permits (i.e. non-Chinese passengers transiting through the above mentioned countries will be unable to secure the required certification to board the final leg of their flight).

Holders of diplomatic, service, courtesy, or C crew visas remain unaffected by the above announcement. Only holders of visas issued after November 3, 2020 will be eligible for entry into China.

No source available at the time of writing.

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 Jane Beynon, Regional Immigration Manager (APAC).


Europe, Middle East and Africa

Saudi Arabia: Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development launches labor reforms for private sector workers

The Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development (MHRSD) in Saudi has announced a Labor Reform Initiative (LRI) under the National Transformation Program (NTP) to enhance and provide value to employer and employee relationships in the private sector. The LRI is designed to improve the job market and establish trust in employers and to help empower and develop the work environment in Saudi Arabia.

Impact

The new reform is expected to take place in March 2021 and will allow expatriates in the Kingdom to transfer their sponsorship from one employer to another, request exit/re-entry and secure a final exit visa without requiring the employer’s consent. This is in line with the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 and the National Transformation Program.

The LRI includes the following major reforms:

  • Employee/Job Mobility Reforms:

This will allow expatriate workers to transfer between employers upon the expiry of the binding work contract with the employer’s consent. LRI also outlines conditions applicable during the validity of the contract, provided a notice period and specific measures are adhered to.

  • Reforms on the issuance of Exit/Re-Entry Visas:

This will allow expatriate workers to travel outside the Kingdom without the employer’s approval after submitting a request; the employer will be notified electronically of their departure.

  • Final Exit Visa Reforms:

It allows expatriate workers to leave the Kingdom after the end of the employment contract without the employer’s consent. This will notify the employer electronically with the worker bearing all consequences, financial or otherwise, relating to breaking the employment contract.

These reforms will be made available to the public through the Absher and Qiwa apps of the MHRSD. This will include specific control measures to consider both parties. The LRI is applicable to all expatriate workers in the private sector and does not include domestic workers: household workers, drivers, guards, garden keepers, etc.

This reform will permit employees to change their employers and also allow employers to attract the best talent – ultimately increasing competition, wages and public spending inside the Kingdom.

The initiative would also lead to less disputes between local employers and expatriate workers relating to employee mobility or exit-visa requests.

This summary was prepared using information obtained from the The Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development.

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).


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