Welcome to the Café

Each week we add immigration-related updates and other helpful information you can reference as often as you like!
 

Weekly Updates - February 23rd, 2024

Australia
Bahrain
Belgium
Brazil
Canada
Canada/India
China
China/Thailand
Costa Rica
Cyprus
Czechia
Denmark
Egypt
European Union
Estonia
Germany
Finland
France
France/United States
Hong Kong
Iceland
India
Ireland
Israel
Italy
Japan
Kazakhstan
Kenya
Kyrgyzstan
Kuwait
Luxembourg
Malaysia
Netherlands
New Zealand
Nigeria
Norway
Oman
Panama
Peru
Philippines
Poland
Qatar
Russia
Saudi Arabia
Singapore
Slovakia
South Africa
South Korea
Sweden
Switzerland
Turkey
United Arab Emirates
United Kingdom
United States
Vietnam
Close Open Australia

2/9/24

ImmiAccount security enhancements

From 31 January 2024, all new and existing users of ImmiAccount must verify their email address. This first phase of security enhancements is designed to better protect ImmiAccount users.

Existing users with an unverified email address must verify or update their email address when they next log in.

New users must verify their email address when they create an ImmiAccount. They must ensure their email address meets the security requirements. This change will ensure all active users in ImmiAccount have a valid email address linked to their account.

2/2/24

Pandemic Event visa has closed

Effective 1 February 2024, the Temporary Activity visa (subclass 408) Australian Government endorsed events (COVID-19 Pandemic event) visa closed to new applicants.

The Australian Government introduced the Pandemic Event visa in April 2020 to allow temporary visa holders to remain in Australia lawfully while the border was closed. It also addressed labour shortages in critical sectors in the local economy.

Now that Australia’s borders are open and temporary visa holder numbers in Australia have returned to pre-COVID-19 levels, the Pandemic Event visa is no longer required.

Visa holders should ensure they remain lawful if they wish to stay in Australia and are encouraged to use the Visa Entitlement Verification Online (VEVO) system to check their visa conditions and visa validity. Individuals who remain in Australia without a valid visa risk being detained and removed. They may also incur a debt to the Australian Government for the cost of their removal. 

The Department will continue to process all visa applications received before 1 February 2024. 

1/5/24

Extension of work rights exemption for Working Holiday Makers

The government has decided to continue the previous exemption process relating to visa condition 8547, while consultation on the Working Holiday program settings and reform process is underway, in line with the recently published Migration Strategy. 

From 1 January 2024, Working Holiday Makers can work for the same employer in Australia for more than six months without asking permission if the work is:

  • in different locations and work in any one location does not exceed 6 months;
  • in plant and animal cultivation anywhere in Australia;
  • in certain industries, including  aged care and disability services, fishing and pearling, tree farming and felling, construction and mining, in northern Australia only;
  • natural disaster recovery work;
  • in critical sectors, including agriculture, food processing, health, aged and disability care and childcare, anywhere in Australia;
  • in the critical sector of tourism and hospitality anywhere in Australia.

For any other situations not covered above, Working Holiday Makers must request for permission to work longer than six months with one employer.

12/26/23

Skilled-Recognised Graduate visa capped

The Skilled-Recognised Graduate visa has been capped from 22 December 2023. ​Applicants with a pending application will be able to apply for a repayment of their Visa Application Charge (VAC). As the authorities work through pending applications, applicants will be sent instructions on how to claim a repayment of their VAC through ImmiAccount.

The Skilled-Recognised Graduate visa is usually issued for a stay of up to 18 months and allows travel, work and study. Eligible applicants must be under 31 years of age; must have completed an engineering degree at a specified educational institution in the past 2 years; and must not have previously been the primary visa holder of a subclass 476 or 485 visa.

 

12/15/23

Student visa processing priorities

Ministerial Direction No. 107, signed on 14 December 2023, formalises the Australian government’s processing priorities for the student and student guardian visa programmes.

An evidence level is allocated to each Commonwealth Register of Institutions and Courses for Overseas Students (CRICOS)-registered education provider. The new Ministerial Direction works with the evidence level framework to prioritise applications from international students wishing to study in Australia.

Ministerial Direction No. 107 provides the highest priority to:

  • student visa applications lodged outside Australia by:
    • Schools sector, Foreign Affairs or Defence sector, and Postgraduate Research sector applicants;
    • Higher Education, English Language Intensive Course for Overseas Students (ELICOS), Vocational Education and Training (VET), and Non-Award sector applicants studying at an education provider with an evidence​ level 1;
  • subsequent entrant applications lodged outside Australia that include an unmarried family member under 18 years​;
  • all Student Guardian visa applications (lodged in or outside Australia).

Any secondary applicant (spouse, de-facto partner or dependent child) who is included in the primary visa application will be given the same priority as the primary applicant.

Subsequent entrant means a secondary applicant for a student visa who did not make a combined application with the primary applicant / primary visa holder. 

Where the primary applicant intends to undertake two or more courses of study (course packaging), the application will be given the order of priority that applies to the principal course of study (i.e. the course of study with the highest Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) level).

The new student visa processing priorities apply to all visa applications lodged on or from 15 December 2023, as well as applications lodged prior to this date that are yet to be finalised.

Student visa applications lodged in Australia will continue to be processed according to existing processing arrangements.

Removal of the Labour Market Testing (LMT) Requirement to Advertise on the Workforce Australia Website

On 11 December 2023, immigration law has been​ updated to remove the requirement for employers to advertise on the Workforce Australia website. This change will apply to subclass 482 and 494 nomination applications, and will allow employers greater flexibility in relation to how they undertake LMT.

At the same time, clarifying text has been incorporated into the updated instrument which indicates that nominated positions may be advertised over two or more overlapping periods totalling a minimum of four weeks.

This change is an immediate outcome of the Government’s Migration Strategy (see below).

Migration Strategy published

On 11 December 2023, the Australian government released its Migration Strategy, including significant reforms to the migration system.

The Migration Strategy builds on the findings of the first comprehensive review of the migration system in a generation, the 2023 Review of the Migration System (the Parkinson Review), and also the​ Rapid Review into the Exploitation of Australia’s Visa System (the Nixon Review).

The eight key actions are as follows:

  1. Targeting temporary skilled migration to address skills needs and promote worker mobility
  • A new Skills in Demand visa, with full mobility and clear pathways to permanent residence
  • A new Specialist Skills Pathway to make it easier for Australia to attract highly skilled workers, for example in the technology or green energy industries
  • A Core Skills Pathway to meet targeted workforce needs, with a simpler, regularly updated occupation list for the skills Australia needs
  • New visa settings that give migrant workers more mobility in the labour market to help tackle worker exploitation and drive productivity
  • Streamlined labour market testing (LMT) and visa processing.
  1. Reshaping permanent skilled migration to drive long-term prosperity
  • A commitment to explore a reformed points test for permanent skilled migration, and a new Talent and Innovation visa for migrants who can drive growth in sectors of national importance.
  1. Strengthening the integrity and quality of international education
  • Higher English language requirements for international students and graduates
  • More scrutiny of high-risk student visa applications and a $19m investment into the Home Affairs student visa integrity unit
  • Restrictions on onshore visa hopping that undermines system integrity and drives ‘permanent temporariness’
  • Strengthened and simplified Temporary Graduate visa settings
  • Measures to support international students and graduates to realise their potential.
  1. Tackling worker exploitation and the misuse of the visa system.
  • A new public register of employer sponsors to improve integrity and support migrant worker mobility.
  1. Planning migration to get the right skills in the right places.
  • A new approach to planning permanent migration over the long-term and greater state and territory collaboration on net overseas migration forecasts.
  1. Tailoring regional visa and the Working Holiday Maker Program to support regional Australia and its workers.
  • A new direction to ensure regional visas receive the highest priority visa processing.
  1. Deepening people-to-people ties in the Indo-Pacific.
  2. Simplifying the migration system to improve the experience for migrants and employers.
  • The removal of 20+ unnecessary and duplicative visas to simplify the visa system.

11/27

End of the COVID-19 concession period

The Department of Home Affairs has announced that the COVID-19 concession period will cease on 25 November 2023. ​

From early 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in international travel restrictions, and deteriorating business and employment conditions. The former government implemented temporary measures related to an initial concession period. This was to provide concessions for applicants of certain visa subclasses affected by travel restrictions and which made it difficult for them to meet visa requirements. This included where the applicant must be located at time of application.

The concession period is no longer relevant as all COVID-19 international travel restrictions have been lifted. Travellers to Australia no longer need to:

  • provide information in relation to their vaccination status, or
  • seek travel exemptions. 

Ending the concession period will contribute to a well-managed migration system. This will restore integrity by ensuring unintended cohorts are not accessing concessions.

Employer Sponsored visas

From 25 November 2023, new nominations for the following visa streams will require Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) holders to have worked in a position with their sponsoring employer, or worked in the occupation for medical practitioners and certain executives, for two out of the previous three years.

  • Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS)
  • Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (RSMS)
  • Temporary Residence Transition (TRT) stream.

The following COVID-19 concessions will become redundant and will end:

  • Periods of reduced work due to COVID-19 will not count towards meeting the work experience requirements for new ENS/RSMS TRT stream nomination applications.
  • The COVID-19 concession to the age exemption for high income earning applicants will not apply for new ENS/RSMS visa applications.

The age exemption for legacy 457 workers in Australia for 12 months during the pandemic from 1 February 2020 to 14 December 2021 will apply for ENS visa applications lodged before 1 July 2024.

Skilled Regional Visa subclass 887

The temporary concessions available to holders of eligible skilled provisional visas to apply for the subclass 887 visa are set around the COVID-19 concession period.

The concessions allowed​​ eligible prospective subclass 887 visa applicants to lodge from in or outside Australia during the concession period and to access shorter periods of employment and regional residence requirements.

Applicants can only access the employment requirement concession if they:

  • held an eligible skilled provisional visa during the concession period, and
  • make a valid application within three months of Monday 26 February 2024.

The ending of the concession period will end any other concessions for the subclass 887 visa.

After 25 November 2023, eligible skilled provisional visa holders applying for a subclass 887 visa must be in Australia, but not in immigration clearance, when applying.

Family visas

The COVID-19 concessions removed restrictions on ‘the location at the time of visa grant’ requirement for certain Family program visa applicants.

Applicants for certain Partner and Child visas who applied before 26 November 2023, and who were in Australia at any time during the concession period, will continue to be eligible to be granted a visa in Australia (if they meet all other visa criteria) after the end of the concession period. The COVID-19 concession arrangements will not apply to Partner and Child applicants who were not in Australia at any time during the COVID-19 concession period.

The COVID-19 concessions for certain Parent visa applicants only applied during the COVID-19 concession period, from 1 February 2020 to 25 November 2023. 

Business Innovation and Investment Program visas 

COVID-19 concessions were put in place for the Business Innovation and Investment Program (BIIP) under the:

  • provisional subclass 188 visa - Business Innovation Extension stream
  • permanent subclass 888 visa under all streams.

BIIP applicants who are eligible to exercise COVID-19 concessions to make a valid application can do so for three months after the end of the concession period. Applications must be submitted before the end of 26 February 2024.

Safe Haven Enterprise Visa

The end of the COVID-19 concession will have minimal impact for the Safe Haven Enterprise visa pathway program. The Australian Government has provided a permanent visa pathway option to Safe Haven Enterprise visa holders through the Resolution of Status (subclass 851) (RoS) visa.

Temporary Graduate visa

From 25 November 2023 all applications for any stream of the Temporary Graduate visa (TGV) program must be lodged in Australia. Subsequent entrant applications can be lodged in or outside of Australia. The ability to grant applications to applicants who are either in or outside of Australia (but not in immigration clearance) will continue. 

11/3/23

Start date set for permanent residence changes

The Department of Home Affairs has set a start date of 25 November 2023 (subject to the approval of regulation changes) for its previously announced changes to the employer-sponsored permanent residence programme.

From that date, all Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) (subclass 482) visa holders will be able to access permanent residence via the Temporary Residence Transition (TRT) stream of the Employer Nominated Scheme (ENS) (subclass 186) visa.

  • Changes to the TSS visa will apply to new applications lodged on or after 25 November 2023.
  • Changes to the Temporary Residence Transition (TRT) stream nomination requirements will apply to new ENS/RSMS nomination applications and applications that are yet to be finally determined as of 25 November 2023.
  • 482 visa holders will be eligible regardless of whether they are sponsored in an occupation on the Short-term (STSOL), Long-term (MLTSSL) or Regional Occupation List (ROL).
  • The eligibility period of employment on a TSS 482 visa has been also reduced from 3 years to 2 years of employment with the most recently approved sponsor. 
  • Changes will also be made to age exemptions for regional medical practitioner and high-income earning applicants aged 45 years and over to allow for a two-year pathway instead of the current three-year requirement.
  • The limits on the number of short-term stream TSS applications visa holders can make in Australia will be removed. Applicants who want to submit a third or more short-term stream TSS visa can do so without having to depart Australia.
  • Nominated occupations will no longer be assessed against skilled migration occupation lists.
  • The nominated occupation will need to be listed in the Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO) and the nominated worker will need to continue to work in the occupation nominated for their TSS visa(s).
  • The period in which TSS visa holders are required to have worked in a position with their sponsoring employer (or in the occupation for medical practitioners and certain executives) will be reduced to 2 out of the 3 years before nomination.
  • The RSMS visa will continue to be restricted to transitional 457 workers and transitional 482 workers.

10/13/23

New visa pathway for UK citizens

The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) has issued more information about the Innovation and Early Careers Skills Exchange Pilot (IECSEP), part of the Australia-United Kingdom Free Trade Agreement (A-UKFTA).

IECSEP establishes a new, streamlined mobility pathway for early career professionals and demonstrated innovators from the United Kingdom.

There are two streams under IECSEP:

  • the Early Careers Skills stream, which will allow participants to undertake a short-term placement, secondment, or intra-corporate transfer for up to one year in Australia;
  • the Innovation stream, which will allow highly skilled and experienced participants, with a demonstrated contribution to innovation, to undertake opportunities for up to three years in Australia.

Total visas available under the IECSEP will be 1000 in the first year, and 2000 in the second year of operation, during which the program will be reviewed.

IECSEP is now open for applications. Application forms are available here. The current round will close at 11.59pm (GMT) on Monday 20 November 2023. DFAT may close this application round with respect of one or both IECSEP streams on a date before this advertised time. DFAT will provide seven days' notice prior to closing a round before the advertised date.

An IECSEP guidebook is available here, with further details about the application process and assessment criteria.

All IECSEP applicants must have a confirmed job in Australia to be eligible to participate in the IECSEP. Applicants will need to provide DFAT with either a letter of employment offer, or a copy of an employment contract, to prove their prospective employment in Australia when they submit their application. This document needs to contain specific information in order for DFAT to accept it.

All IECSEP applicants must be able to demonstrate UK citizenship, and that they have adequate financial means to support themselves for the duration of their stay in Australia ($5000 plus the fare to where the applicant is going to after Australia).

To be eligible for the Early Careers stream applicants must:

  • be aged between 21 and 45 (inclusive) at the time of application
  • hold tertiary qualifications
  • have worked for at least 3 months in their current role, and the prospective employment in Australia must be relevant to the applicant's field of work in their current role
  • have prospective employment in Australia in an occupation defined at the ANZSCO Skill Levels 1, 2 or 3

To be eligible for the Innovation stream applicants must:

  • have a demonstrated contribution to innovation
  • be highly skilled
  • be highly experienced
  • have prospective employment in Australia in an occupation defined at the ANZSCO Skill Level 1

Successful IECSEP applicants will need to apply to the Department of Home Affairs for a Temporary Work (International Relations) subclass 403 visa Government Agreement stream. DFAT will issue successful applicants with a Letter of Support, which must be presented to the Department of Home Affairs when applying for this visa.

Close Open Bahrain

The Interior Ministry has announced that residency and work permits will soon be renewable from outside Bahrain.

The new service, which applies to foreign nationals working in the commercial and government sectors, registered labourers and domestic workers, will be jointly delivered by the Nationality, Passports and Residence Affairs (NPRA) and the Labour Market Regularly Authority (LMRA). As yet, no implementation date has been announced.

Close Open Belgium

10/6/23

Updated shortage occupation list in Wallonia

Effective 1 October 2023, the shortage occupation list in Wallonia has been updated, with seven occupations removed: carpenter, cook, chef cook, credit analyst, fountain maker, glass maker and speech therapist.

Applicants for work permits in occupations on the list are not required to fulfil labour market testing requirements.

The new list will be in effect until 30 September 2024.

Close Open Brazil

12/8/23

eVisa platform open

Effective 1 December 2023, the electronic visa system for nationals of Australia, Canada and the United States is operational. Nationals of these countries can apply now for entry from 10 January 2024.

In March 2023, Brazil decided to reinstate the visitor visa requirement for citizens of Australia, Canada, Japan and the United States, effective 1 October 2023. In August 2023 this measure was postponed until 10 January 2024.

9/15/23

New visas for nationals of Portuguese-speaking countries

A new InterMinisterial Ordinance regulates the granting of temporary visas and residence permits to nationals of the Community of Portuguese-Speaking Countries (CPLP), effective 2 October 2023.

CPLP member states, apart from Brazil, include Angola, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Equatorial Guinea, Mozambique, Portugal, São Tomé and Príncipe and Timor-Leste.

The CPLP Temporary Visa, issued by a Brazilian consulate and valid for entry within one year, will be available to CPLP nationals who are highly-qualified researchers and teachers, technicians, business people and entrepreneurs, and cultural agents, including exchange students.

The visa holder must register with the federal Police within 90 days after entry and can then remain in Brazil for up to two years.

The CPLP Residence Permit is available to CPLP nationals who have already arrived in Brazil, and is valid for a stay of two years. It can be renewed within 90 days before expiry for an indefinite period, provided that the holder can prove financial means and no criminal record in Brazil.

Close Open Canada

2/23/24

Post-graduation work permit (PGWP) update

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has confirmed that the previously-announced new, longer, three-year post-graduation work permit (PGWP) is now available to those who are graduating from a master’s degree program that is less than two years and who meet all other PGWP eligibility criteria.

The length of PGWPs for programs other than master’s degrees will continue to align with the length of the study program, to a maximum of three years.

Graduates of programs that are at least two years in length at PGWP-eligible designated learning institutions are eligible for a three-year PGWP, as are graduates of master’s degree programs less than two years in length

New visa application centre in Portugal

On 19 February 2024, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) announced the opening of a new Canada visa application centre (VAC) in Lisbon, Portugal on 26 February 2024. Applicants can make an appointment as of 12 February 2024.

VACs are managed by private companies that have contracts with the Government of Canada. Their primary role is to accept documents required in the visa application process, securely transmit them to IRCC offices and provide biometric collection services. VAC service agents are available by phone, email or in person to answer questions in local languages and to help make sure that applications are complete.

Portuguese citizens visiting Canada for up to six months typically only need an electronic travel authorization. Those who plan to visit or study for longer than six months or to work in Canada are required to apply for a visa and a study or work permit.

With the opening of the Lisbon VAC, applicants in Portugal will no longer need to travel outside of the country. Non-Portuguese citizens living in Portugal who need a visa to come to Canada can also access services at the Lisbon VAC.

 

2/9/24

Ban on foreign ownership of housing extended

The government has announced that its ban on foreign ownership of foreign housing is to be extended for a further two years.

The ban, originally introduced on 1 January 2023, was originally set to expire on 1 January 2025 but will now be extended until 1 January 2027. Foreign commercial enterprises and people who are not Canadian citizens or permanent residents will continue to be prohibited from purchasing residential property in Canada.

2/2/24

Extension of permanent residence programme for out-of-status construction workers in Greater Toronto

The policy making available permanent residence for construction workers (and their family members) in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) who have fallen out of status has been extended for another six months until 2 July 2024.

All existing program criteria remain the same, including the cap of 1000 principal applicants. More information about the policy is available here.

12/26/23

Upcoming changes to authentication services

Global Affairs Canada recently announced upcoming improvements to its authentication services for documents to be used outside Canada.

Effective 11 January 2024, wen the Apostille Convention comes into force in Canada, a single certificate, called an ‘apostille’, will be issued to authenticate Canadian public documents. This will facilitate their use in more than 120 countries that are members of the convention, eliminating some of the steps currently required to have documents accepted outside Canada.

Public documents such as birth and marriage certificates, education documents and government-issued export and corporate records, as well as notarized documents, can be authenticated with an apostille certificate.

As part of this change, Alberta, British Columbia, Ontario, Quebec and Saskatchewan will be responsible for issuing apostilles for documents issued or notarized in their respective provinces.

Global Affairs Canada will issue apostilles for documents from the remaining provinces, the territories, and the Government of Canada.

More information is available here

12/15/23

International Experience Canada 2024 opens

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRC) has announced that, effective 11 December 2023, the 2024 season of the International Experience Canada (IEC) Program is open.

The program will allow nearly 90,000 young people from IEC partner countries and territories to travel to Canada to participate. Those interested in applying can submit a profile now.

IEC is a reciprocal program that allows Canadian and international youth aged 18–35 to work and travel in each other’s countries. Canada has established youth mobility partnerships with over 35 countries and territories, and in 2023, signed new arrangements or agreements with Finland, Iceland and Ukraine, and improved existing ones with South Korea and the United Kingdom.

IEC has 3 participation categories:

 

  • Working Holiday participants receive an open work permit that allows them to work anywhere in the host country to support their travels.
  • International Co-op (Internship) participants receive an employer-specific work permit that allows students to gain targeted experience in their field of study.
  • Young Professionals participants receive an employer-specific work permit to gain targeted, professional work experience within their field of study or career path.

Canada and Finland signed a new youth mobility agreement in March 2023. Youth from Finland are expected to be able to participate once the agreement is ratified by both countries sometime in 2024.

Young people will be able to participate in the Canada–Ukraine youth mobility agreement once travel to Ukraine becomes safe

12/8/23

Revised cost-of-living requirement for study permits

On 7 December 2023, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRC) announced that, starting 1 January 2024, the cost-of-living financial requirement for new study permit applicants will be increased to CAD 20,635.

This threshold will then be adjusted each year when Statistics Canada updates the low-income cut-off (LICO). LICO represents the minimum income necessary to ensure that an individual does not have to spend a greater than average portion of income on necessities. CAD 20,645 represents 75% of LICO.

Applicants must, in addition, have enough to pay for their tuition and travel costs.

The cost-of-living requirement for study permit applicants has not changed since the early 2000s, when it was set at CAD 10,000 for a single applicant.

Update on temporary policies affecting international students

IRCC also provided an update on the following three temporary policies affecting international students that were all set to expire at the end of 2023:

  • The waiver on the 20-hour-per-week limit on the number of hours international students are allowed to work off campus while class is in session will be extended to 30 April 2024. International students already in Canada, as well as applicants who have already submitted an application for a study permit as of 7 December 2023, will be able to work off campus more than 20 hours per week until that time. We continue to examine options for this policy in the future, such as expanding off-campus work hours for international students to 30 hours per week while class is in session.
  • The facilitative measure that has allowed international students to count time spent studying online towards the length of a future post-graduation work permit, as long as it constitutes less than 50% of the program of study, will continue to be in place for students who begin a study program before 1 September 2024. This measure will no longer apply to students who begin a study program on or after that date. Distance learning facilitation measures were first implemented in 2020 in response to travel restrictions during the pandemic, and were reduced in scope in September 2022. At this point, the vast majority of international students are studying in person in Canada.
  • In response to labour market disruptions during the pandemic and post-pandemic recovery, a temporary policy was introduced on three occasions to provide an additional 18-month work permit to post-graduation work permit holders as their initial work permit was expiring. Foreign nationals with a post-graduation work permit expiring up to 31 December 2023, remain eligible to apply. However, this temporary policy will not be extended further.

New global immigration processing centre in Romania

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has announced the launch of a new global operations centre in Romania. The new centre is located within the Embassy of Canada in Bucharest and will be supported by 20 new employees, including both Canada-based and locally-engaged staff.

This is IRCC’s second global operations centre outside Canada—the first one opened this past March in the Philippines. These centres complement Canada’s processing network, extend the work day over multiple time zones, and help boost IRCC’s overall processing capacity for the benefit of applicants.

Extended deadline for permanent residence applications

According to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), some applicants for permanent residence through Express Entry have been unable to submit their applications due to technical problems with the online form. This has affected applicants with dependent children aged over 18 years residing in Canada. The issue has now been resolved.

For those affected, IRCC has extended the deadline to submit a permanent residence application for an additional 60 days.

Those who were invited to apply on

  • 26 September 2023 have until 26 January 2024 to submit their application 
  • 27 September 2023 have until 27 January 2024 to submit their application 
  • 28 September 2023 have until 28 January 2024 to submit their application.

12/1/23

Changes to inadmissibility fees

Effective 1 December 2023, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has increased the fees for foreign nationals applying to regain their status or to return to Canada after being inadmissible.

  • Authorisation to return to Canada has increased from CAD 400 to CAD 459.55;
  • Rehabilitation for those inadmissible on the grounds of criminality has increased from CAD 200 to CAD 229.77;
  • Rehabilitation for those inadmissible on the grounds of serious criminality has increased from CAD 1000 to CAD 1148.87;
  • Restoration of status as a visitor, worker or student has increased from CAD 200 to CAD 229.77;
  • Restoration of status as a worker with a new work permit has increased from CAD 355 to CAD 384.77;
  • Restoration of status as a student with a new study permit has increased from CAD 350 to CAD 379.77;
  • A temporary resident permit has increased from CAD 200 to CAD 229.77.

These fees will continue to be adjusted annually for inflation every 1 December.

 

11/3/23

Immigration targets for 2024-2026 published

On 1 November 2023, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) tabled the 2024-2026 Immigration Levels Plan.

The government is maintaining its target of 485,000 permanent residents for 2024 and plans to reach 500,000 in 2025. Starting in 2026, the government projects that it will stabilize permanent resident levels at 500,000, with the intention of allowing time for successful integration, while continuing to augment Canada’s labour market.

The government also plans to take action over the next year to recalibrate the number of temporary resident admissions to ensure this remains sustainable.

The new Levels Plan also aims for over 60% of permanent resident admissions dedicated to the economic class by 2025, and new Francophone immigration targets to support Francophone communities outside of Quebec.

 

Changes to the Temporary Foreign Worker (TFW) Program Workforce Solutions Road Map

The Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Official Languages has announced changes to the Temporary Foreign Worker (TFW) Program Workforce Solutions Road Map. These extended measures will be in place until 30 August 2024 and include:

  • continuing to allow employers in seven sectors with demonstrated labour shortages to hire up to 30% of their workforce through the TFW Program for positions under the provincial or territorial median hourly wage;
  • maintaining the maximum duration of employment for positions under the provincial or territorial median hourly wage at up to two years; and
  • adjusting the Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) validity period from the current 18-month maximum to a maximum of 12-months to better respond to the labour market. 

The seven sectors in which employers can continue to hire up to 30% of their workforce through the TFW Program are the following: Food Manufacturing (NAICS 311); Wood Product Manufacturing (NAICS 321); Furniture and Related Product Manufacturing (NAICS 337); Accommodation and Food Services (NAICS 72); Construction (NAICS 23); Hospitals (NAICS 622); and Nursing and Residential Care Facilities (NAICS 623).

Along with these temporary measures, employers will be required, as of 1 January 2024, to annually review temporary foreign workers’ wages to ensure that they reflect increases to prevailing wage rates for their given occupation and region of work. Through periodic wage increases, these reviews will ensure that employers continue to pay temporary foreign workers at the prevailing wage level throughout their period of employment.

 

Plans for the immigration system published

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has released a report setting out a pathway for the future of the country’s immigration system.

An Immigration System for Canada’s Future identifies changes, some of which are already underway, while others are still in development. These include:

  • positioning the immigration system to adapt quickly and to respond equitably and sustainably to growing global humanitarian crises;
  • developing a new Francophone Immigration Policy to enhance the vitality of Francophone minority communities, while maintaining and increasing the demographic weight of French linguistic minority communities in Canada;
  • improving the International Student Program by working with provinces and territories on a Recognized Institutions Framework so that post-secondary institutions with high standards in key areas such as integrity and student supports can benefit from faster processing of study permits;
  • integrating housing, health care and infrastructure planning, along with other important services, into Canada’s immigration levels planning, in close collaboration with provinces, territories and municipalities;
  • building an advisory body of newcomers with experience in immigration to inform program and policy improvements, as well as service delivery;
  • creating a Chief International Talent Officer position to more effectively align immigration programs and pathways with the labour market, including industry and sector strategies;
  • making the IRCC website more user-friendly, so that applicants can easily find the information they need.

11/3/23

The Quebec government has announced that they will be imposing a French language requirement for Work Permit renewals under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program. The workers that will be affected are the employees that have LMIA/CAQ based work permits.

  • This will apply to renewals under LMIA/CAQ for temporary foreign workers who have more than 3 years in Quebec.
  • They will be required to pass a French language test to demonstrate oral knowledge to Level 4.
    • Level 4 is the highest beginner level
    • No written requirement in French
  • Employers using the Temporary Foreign Worker Program will have to support the employee in learning French by allocating time during the normal working hours.
  • Foreign workers in Quebec are eligible for French classes organized by the Quebec government.

There is no confirmation as to when this new policy with be enforced, though it is believed to be in the coming weeks.

This new policy does not apply to LMIA exempt work permits which fall under the Federal jurisdiction. The Quebec government has asked for similar measures to be imposed but there have been no announcements from the Federal Government.

10/20/23

Pilot to streamline work permit applications in the Philippines

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has announced the launch of CAN Work Philippines at the Canadian visa office in Manila, a pilot programme allowing eligible Canadian employers to schedule group appointments for medical examinations and biometrics for potential employees.

The pilot is open to Canadian employers recruiting from the Philippines and hiring approximately 50 or more workers, or for critical occupations in sectors such as health care, construction and agri-food.

Filipino nationals are among the top recipients of Canadian work permits. For the first six months of 2023, one in every ten Temporary Foreign Worker Program work permits were issued to Filipino nationals.

On 6 June 2023, Canada announced expanded access to its Electronic Travel Authorization Program to include the Philippines, giving more Filipinos access to visa-free entry to Canada by air.

10/13/23

New permanent residence pathway for migrants from the Americas

As part of its commitment, earlier this year, to welcome 15,000 migrants from the Americas, Canada will welcome up to 11,000 Colombians, Haitians and Venezuelans through a new permanent residence pathway.

Starting this autumn, Colombian, Haitian and Venezuelan nationals located in Central or South America or the Caribbean who have extended family connections in Canada will be eligible to apply for this new pathway. To qualify, the principal applicant must be a child (regardless of age), grandchild, spouse, common-law partners, parent, grandparent or sibling of a Canadian citizen or permanent resident.

Successful applicants will be offered enhanced pre-arrival services, including an employment skills assessment and a referral to a settlement provider organization in their intended community. More detailed information will be available closer to the launch of the new pathway.

10/6/23

No upfront medical exam required for Express Entry

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), effective 1 October 2023, applicants for permanent residence via Express Entry are no longer required to undergo an immigration medical exam (IME) before submitting their application.

Instead, applicants who have never completed an IME must:

  • upload a blank document in the upload field of the Express Entry Profile Builder when submitting the application, and
  • wait for IRCC to send further instructions on when to get a medical exam.

Applicants who have already completed an IME as part of a previous application (e.g., for work or study) within 5 years before submitting a new application and are currently living in Canada, may not need to complete another IME.

They should provide a copy of the documents (information printout sheet and IMM 1017B Upfront Medical Report form) given to them by the panel physician at their previous IME, or their IME number (or unique medical identifier number) from their previous IME, when they apply online.

If IRCC cannot use the old results, they will send instructions on how to arrange an IME  after the application is submitted.

An IME from a panel physician is a requirement for permanent residence. The applicant’s family members must also have a medical exam, even if they aren’t accompanying the applicant to Canada.

9/29/23

Category-based permanent residence invitations for agriculture and agri-food workers

On 27 September, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRC) announced the first round of invitations for agriculture and agri-food occupations through category-based selection in Express Entry, due to take place during the week after the announcement.

This follow the  changes to Express Entry through category-based selection announced on 31 May 2023, aimed at addressing labour shortages and supporting economic goals by inviting candidates with specific work experience or French language ability to apply for permanent residence.

Since May 2023, Canada has invited French speakers, STEM professionals, health workers, candidates with trades expertise and transport workers to apply for permanent residency through Express Entry.

9/22/23

Category-based permanent residence invitations for transport workers

On 18 September, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRC) announced the first round of invitations for transport occupations through category-based selection in Express Entry, due to take place during the week after the announcement.

This follows the changes to Express Entry through category-based selection announced on 31 May 2023, aimed at addressing labour shortages and supporting economic goals by inviting candidates with specific work experience or French language ability to apply for permanent residence.

Since May 2023, Canada has invited French speakers, STEM professionals, health workers and candidates with trades expertise to apply for permanent residency through Express Entry.

9/15/23

Parents and Grandparents Program to re-open

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has announced that it will accept up to 15,000 complete applications for sponsorship under the Parents and Grandparents Program in 2023. On October 10, 2023, IRCC will begin sending invitations to apply to 24,200 interested potential sponsors, aiming to receive up to 15,000 complete applications. Invitations will be sent over the course of two weeks.

Due to the number of forms remaining in the pool of submissions from 2020, IRCC will send invitations to apply to randomly selected potential sponsors from that pool instead of opening a new interest to sponsor form. This is the same approach taken for the 2021 and 2022 intakes. Anyone who submitted an interest to sponsor form in 2020, but did not receive an invitation to apply in 2021 or 2022, is encouraged to check the email account they provided in 2020 when they submitted their interest to sponsor form.

Those invited to apply as part of the 2023 intake will continue to use the Permanent Residence Portal or the Representative Permanent Residence Portal, which allow applications to be submitted electronically.

Those who wish to reunite with their parents and grandparents in Canada, but who are not invited this year, may consider having their parents or grandparents apply for a super visa, which is a multiple-entry visa that is valid for up to 10 years. Enhancements to the super visa allow super visa holders to stay in Canada for five years at a time, with the option to extend their visit by up to two years at a time without leaving the country. These changes make it easier for Canadian citizens and permanent residents to reunite with their parents and grandparents in Canada for longer periods.

Close Open Canada/India

10/27/23

Fewer Canadian diplomatic staff in India

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has announced that it is reducing its number of employees in India from 27 to five. CC will continue to accept and process applications from India, but reduced staffing levels are expected to impact processing times.

The large majority of applications from India are already processed outside the country, with 89% of India’s applications processed through the global network. The 5 Canada-based IRCC staff who remain in India will focus on work that requires an in-country presence such as urgent processing, visa printing, risk assessment and overseeing key partners.

Clients from India can expect to see some delays over the next few months. This includes delays in overall processing times, responses to enquiries and returning visas or passports.

IRCC noted that this decision follows India’s intent to unilaterally remove immunities for all but 21 Canadian diplomats and dependents in Delhi.

The Ministry of External Affairs of India responded by stating that the much higher number of Canadian diplomats in India, and their continued interference in our internal affairs warrant a parity in mutual diplomatic presence in New Delhi and Ottawa; and by rejecting any attempt to portray the implementation of parity as a violation of international norms.

On 26 October 2023, the High Commission of India in Ottawa, along with the Indian consulates in Toronto and Vancouver, resumed the processing of entry, business, medical and conference visas. All Indian visa services in Canada had been suspended for several weeks.

Close Open China

2/9/24

Rules for entry to Hainan Province loosened for some nationalities

On 9 February 2024, the National Immigration Administration (NIA) announced that, effective immediately, nationals of certain countries can enter Hainan Province visa free for up to 30 days for purposes including commercial activities and trade, visit and exchange, and family reunions, receiving medical treatment, attending exhibitions and taking part in sporting events, excluding long-term work and study.

The eligible countries are as follows:

  • 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, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, South Korea, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Malta, Mexico, Monaco, Montenegro, the Netherlands, New Zealand, North Macedonia, Norway, the Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, United Arab Emirates, United States, United Kingdom, Ukraine

Foreign nationals who need to enter Hainan for the aforementioned purposes can enter through any open port in the province and remain in the province's administrative area during their stay period (subject to the relevant provisions of any mutual visa exemption agreement, if applicable).

Each entry period is calculated from 00:00 on the day following the day of entry.

1/5/24

Simplified tourist visa requirements for US nationals

Effective 1 January 2024, tourist visa applicants within the United States will no longer be required to submit proof of a round-trip air ticket booking, proof of a hotel reservation, an itinerary or an invitation letter.

12/15/23

On 8 December 2023, the Ministry of foreign Affairs published a notice on the temporary reduction of visa fees. From 11 December 2023 to 31 December 2024, visa fees will be reduced by 25%.

China’s consulates in the United States, for example, have reduced the fee for US citizens to USD 140 (from USD 185) for single, double and multiple-entry visas.

11/27/23

Visa-free pilot

The foreign ministry has announced a unilateral visa waiver for nationals of France, Germany, Italy, Malaysia, the Netherlands or Spain entering China for up to 15 days for business, tourism, family visits or transit. The visa-free policy is effective 1 December 2023 until 30 November 2024.

Expansion visa-free transit policy

Effective 17 November 2023, China has extended its 72/144-hour transit visa-free policies to visitors from Norway, increasing the number of countries covered by the policies to 54.

The updated list below of eligible countries is as follows:

  • Europe: Albania, Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Montenegro, the Netherlands, North Macedonia, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and Ukraine;
  • The Americas: Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Mexico, and the United States;
  • Oceania: Australia and New Zealand;
  • Asia: Brunei, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Qatar, Singapore, and the United Arab Emirates.

European Union

The Council of the EU has agreed its negotiating mandate for updating the EU Long-Term Residents Directive.

This directive, from 2003, sets out the conditions under which third-country nationals can acquire EU long-term resident status. In order to acquire EU long-term resident status, third-country nationals have to legally and continuously reside in a member state for at least five years. This EU status exists alongside national long-term resident schemes.

On the basis of this agreed negotiation mandate, the Council can enter into interinstitutional talks with the European Parliament to conclude a final legal text.

 

Acquiring long-term resident status

The Council has agreed that third-country nationals can cumulate residence periods of up to two years in other member states in order to meet the requirements of the five-year residence period. However, in the event of an applicant having resided in another member state, the Council has decided to accept only certain types of legal residence permits, such as holders of EU Blue Cards or residence permits issued for the purpose of highly qualified employment.

Certain conditions will apply in order for applicants to be able to acquire long-term resident status. For instance, third-country applicants must provide evidence of stable and regular resources that are sufficient to maintain themselves and the members of their family, as well as sickness insurance. Member states may also require third-country nationals to comply with integration conditions.

Long-term resident status is permanent. However, it can be withdrawn in certain cases, for instance when a person has not had their main residence in the EU for a certain period of time.

Intra-EU mobility rights

Unlike national residence systems, EU long-term resident status grants status holders the possibility to move and reside in other EU countries, for instance for work or studies. This right to intra-EU mobility is not automatic but is subject to a number of conditions. Such a condition is that member states may assess the situation of their national labour markets in case an EU long-term resident moves to their country from another EU member state for work.

Equal treatment with EU nationals

EU long-term residents enjoy the same treatment as nationals with regard to access to employment and self-employment, education and vocational training and tax benefits, for example. There are a number of conditions, such as the requirement that holders of a residence permit live within the territory of the member state concerned.

10/27/23

Relaxed visa policy for Macau residents

Effective 25 October 2023, foreign national residents of Macau can apply for multiple-entry visas for mainland China with extended validity.

According to the Commissioner’s Office of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Macau SAR:

  • Foreign permanent residents of Macao can apply for multiple-entry visas valid for up to five years;
  • Foreign non-permanent residents of Macao can apply for multiple-entry visas valid for up to two years;
  • Foreign professional employees can apply for multiple-entry visas valid for up to one year.
  • Foreign non-professional employees and domestic helpers can apply for multiple-entry visas valid for up to six months.

9/22/23

Simplified visa form

Effective 20 September 2023, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has optimized the visa application form, reducing the amount of information required.

For example, the applicant must now include their travel history from only the last year, rather than five years; and only their highest educational qualifications need to be included.

Expanded online visa services

The National Immigration Administration (NIA) has announced that, effective 9 October 2023, new online immigration services will be available.

The new services will include online booking for appointments for individual applications, including for visa reissuance, extension and renewal and for stay and residence permits. Applicants will also be able to check the status of their applications online. They can also make enquiries about requirements and application procedures for visas, permits, Foreign Permanent Resident ID Cards and passports and about exit-entry administration service centres.

New Foreign Permanent Resident ID Card

The National Immigration Administration (NIA) has announced that a new version of the Foreign Permanent Resident ID Card will be issued effective 1 December 2023.

The current version of the card will remain valid within its expiration date.

The Foreign Permanent Resident ID Card is a legal identity document issued by NIA to qualifying foreigners whose permanent residence applications have been approved. It can be used as a personal identity document in accommodation registration, paying for train, ship or airline tickets and other occasions that require personal identification, instead of a passport.

 

Close Open China/Thailand

2/2/24

Mutual visa exemption agreement

On 28 January 2024, the governments of China and Thailand signed an agreement on mutual visa exemption.

The agreement, which will enter into force on 1 March 2024, allows ordinary passport holders from each country to enter the other country for a stay of up to 30 days for tourism, business or family visit (with a maximum cumulative stay of 90 days in 180 days).

In January 2024, China also announced unilateral visa waivers for nationals of Ireland and Switzerland; and in November 2023, China allowed citizens from France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and Malaysia to enter the country without a visa for a trial period until November 2024.

Close Open Costa Rica

9/15/23

Longer stays for certain nationalities

Effective 8 September 2023, a new law has increased the maximum stay period for nationals in the 60 countries in “Group One” from 90 days to 180 days.

Group One countries include Australia, Canada, Israel, Japan, Singapore, South Africa, United Kingdom, United States, most European countries and several South and Central American countries.

The 30-day stay for nationals of countries in groups two, three and four remains unchanged.

The new law has not changed the 90-day maximum period for using a foreign driving licence in Costa Rica.

Close Open Cyprus

12/8/23

Changes to citizenships rulesOn 30 November 2023, the parliament passed amendments to the Civil Registry Law designed to encourage highly skilled workers to apply for citizenship in Cyprus.

Highly qualified employees of foreign companies who have level A2 Greek language knowledge can apply for citizenship after residing for five years in Cyprus. Those with level B1 Greek language can apply after four years of residence. Periods of absence of up to 90 days per year are not deducted from the total period of stay.

The spouse or civil partner of the main applicant can also apply for citizenship under the same conditions.

These applications will be examined under a fast-track procedure within eight months for an additional fee.

Further guidance and implementing regulations are expected to be provided by the government.

Close Open Czechia

9/22/23

Updated medical insurance requirements

Effective 20 September 2023, foreign national applicants for a long-term visa or stay are permitted to arrange comprehensive travel and medical insurance with any insurance provider authorised in Czechia. Previously, insurance could only be obtained from Pojišťovna VZP.

Moreover, the contracted limit for one insured accident must now be at least EUR 400,000, rather than EUR 60,000 as previously.

Close Open Denmark

2/16/24

New application form for sideline employment and work permit for accompanying family

The Danish Agency for International Recruitment and Integration (SIRI) has announced that, effective 14 February 2024, it will make a new printable application form available which is tailored to those who wish to apply for a work permit for ‘sideline employment’, or for a work permit as an accompanying family member because they have been offered a job within the same company as their sponsor.

The new form is called AR8. This form will replace the application forms AR1, AR3 and AR6/7, which have previously been used for these two categories.

Applicants must now use the new application form AR8 when applying for a work permit (but not a residence permit) in Denmark if:

 

  • they have a residence and work permit based on a job with a certain employer, and you would like to take up an additional job as ‘sideline employment’, or if
  • they already have (or are currently applying for) a residence permit as an accompanying family member to a person who either works or is about to work in Denmark, and they need a work permit because they have been offered a job by the same company that their family member (the sponsor) works for, or at a company that has a close connection to the company where their sponsor works.

Current holders of a work permit based on either of these two schemes can use the new AR8 form to apply for an extension of their work permit.

Please note that commuters cannot use the AR8 form. A commuter is a person who works in Denmark, but lives abroad. Commuters must continue to use the application forms AR1, AR3 or AR6/7.

1/5/24

Updated Positive Lists

The Danish Agency for International Recruitment and Integration (SIRI) has updated the Positive Lists for people with a higher education and for skilled work. The new lists re applicable from 1 January 2024. 

The Positive Lists are lists of professions experiencing a shortage of qualified professionals in Denmark. Those offered a job included in the Positive List can apply for a residence and work permit in Denmark based on the scheme.

The new Positive List for People with a Higher Education includes 72 job titles, while the Positive List for Skilled Work includes 38.

12/26/23

New au pair rates upcoming

The new rate for the monthly allowance (pocket money) for au pairs is expected to be DKK 4850, and the new rate for the amount that helps finance Danish language classes is expected to be DKK 19,305.

The new rates apply to au pair applications that are submitted from 1 January 2024

The submission date of the application determines what type of rate applies to the application.

The submission date is the date when the application has been

  • received at a diplomatic mission or at a visa application centre
  • received at one of SIRI’s branch offices
  • received by SIRI as physical mail or via SIRI’s contact form
  • submitted by using the online application form AU1

The submission date is not dependent on when he applicant begins to fill out the application form, or when the application is signed by the applicant. For instance, if the application process begins in December 2023, but the application itself is not submitted until January 2024, the rates for 2024 will apply to the application. 

12/15/23

Authorities publish updated income statistics applicable from 1 January 2024.

The Danish Agency for International Recruitment and Integration (SIRI) uses income statistics made by the Confederation of Danish Employers (DA) in the case processing of applications to decide if an offered job is within the Danish standards for salary. This applies to the Pay Limit Scheme, the Positive List and the Fast Track Scheme, among other routes.

The new income statistics contain information from the third quarter of 2023 and will take effect for applications submitted from 1 January 2024. It is expected that the income statistics will be updated each quarter and that the next update will take effect from 1 April 2024. 

SIRI will usually assume that the salary corresponds to Danish standards, and will not make further assessment, if it is stated in the application form and employment contract that:

  • The employer is covered by a collective agreement though a membership of an employers’ association.
  • The employment is covered by a collective agreement in the relevant sector.
  • The salary is at least DKK 67,812.50 per month (2023 level). 

If the above-mentioned terms are not documented in the employment contract, SIRI will assess whether the salary offered corresponds to Danish standards, using the income statistics from the DA as a guideline.

Applications for a residence and work permit after 31 December 2023 will be evaluated according to the income statistics for the third quarter of 2023. 

Applications between 1 October 2023 and 31 December 2023 will be evaluated according to the income statistics from the second quarter of 2023. 

12/8/23

Brexit Withdrawal Agreement residence application deadline approaches

British citizens and their family members covered by the Withdrawal Agreement between EU and the United Kingdom are reminded of the 31 December 2023 deadline for submissions of residence applications. The deadline was extended in Spring 2023.

British citizens and their family members who do not already hold a residence document in Denmark under the Withdrawal Agreement must submit an application – SIRI will not send out individual reminder letters.

Applications can be submitted here. The extended deadline applies for individuals who have not previously submitted an application. Applicants who have previously received a rejection due to submitting the application too late can, based on the extended deadline, ask SIRI to have their case reopened.

Applicants must have had legal residence in accordance with the EU rules on free movement before 31 December 2020. Individuals who already have residence in Denmark under the Withdrawal Agreement should not apply again. 

11/10/23

New short-term work permit exemption

According to Danish business groups, from 17 November 2023, a new rule issued by the Danish Ministry of Immigration and Integration will exempt non-EU/EEA nationals employed by an intra-company group from requiring a work permit for two separate 15-day periods within a 180-day period.

  • The employee must leave Denmark for at least 14 days between the two 15-day periods.
  • The company in Denmark must have a minimum of 50 employees.
  • Temporary workers from an agency abroad are not eligible for the exemption.
  • Skilled and unskilled work is not covered by the exemption in the following industries:
    • building and construction
    • agriculture, forestry and horticulture
    • cleaning (including window cleaning)
    • hotel and restaurant
    • road freight transportation
  • However, the exemption does apply to highly-skilled and managerial workers in the above-mentioned industries.

11/3/23

Extension of Residence for Refugees from Ukraine

The government has decided that residence permits issued for people displaced from Ukraine can be extended until 17 March 2025.

The Immigration Service will automatically assess whether a residence permit under the Special Act can be extended. If the holder still complies with the requirements laid down in their current residence permit, the residence permit will be automatically extended.

When the Immigration Service has processed a case, and the residence permit has been extended, the holder will receive a new residence card by mail and does not have to have their biometric features recorded for the new residence card.

The Immigration Service will process the case before a current residence permit under the Special Act expires and expects to complete the processing of all cases before 17 March 2024.

10/27/23

Updated calculation of residence under short-term track

SIRI has updated the guidelines for calculating residence under the short-term track, within the Fast Track Scheme.

Under the short-term track, applicants can be granted a residence and work permit that will last for up to 90 days. The update provides further information on how to calculate the distribution of the 90 days across these several stays.

When calculating the multiple stays within 90 days, the method being used is referred to as a ‘rolling’ calculation. This means that the method only accounts for the number of days of residence within a 365-day period. When calculating the period, the count starts from the first day that your permit is to be valid, and is then counted 365 days back in time.

Applicants who have used a calculation of a short-term stay which is attached to their first entry into Denmark in connection to a pending application under the short-term track can contact SIRI no later than 1 December 2023.

10/6/23

Updated Positive List for people with a higher education

SIRI has updated the Positive List for people with a higher education. The updated job titles on the list are based on the Regional Labour Market Councils additions. The new list is applicable from 1 October 2023. 

The Positive List is a list of professions experiencing a shortage of qualified professionals in Denmark. Those offered a job included in the Positive List can apply for a residence and work permit in Denmark based on the scheme. To qualify, applicants must have a suitable educational background.

A job title can appear in the list, if there is a regional or national shortage of qualified professionals for the position. A job title can be added to the Positive List if:

  • Ongoing labour market monitoring (the Labour Market Balance Model) shows that there is a national shortage of qualified professionals for a job title (twice a year - 1 January and 1 July);
  • Profession specific unemployment insurance funds (a-kasser) assess that there is a national shortage of qualified professionals for a job title (1 October and 1 April); or
  • The Regional Labour Market Councils assess that there is a regional shortage of qualified professionals for a job title (1 October and 1 April).

The added job titles on The Positive for people with a Higher Education are added by the Regional Labour Market Councils and they will be on the list until at least 30 September 2025.  The profession specific unemployment insurance funds has not added any job titles to the list that will be applicable from 1 October 2023.

The job titles will only apply for the geographical area (municipalities) each council covers. No job titles are taken off the Positive List for people with a Higher Education as a result of this update.

Another list - the Positive List for Skilled Work - is updated twice a year, on 1 January and 1 July.

9/22/23

The Danish Agency for International Recruitment and Integration (SIRI) has published updated income statistics which will take effect 1 October 2023.

The Danish Agency for International Recruitment and Integration (SIRI) uses income statistics made by the Confederation of Danish Employers (DA) in the case processing of applications to decide if an offered job is within the Danish standards for salary. This applies to the Pay Limit Scheme, and the Fast Track Scheme, among other routes.

 

The new income statistics contain information from the second quarter of 2023 and will take effect for applications submitted from 1 October 2023. In the future it is expected that the income statistics will be updated each quarter and that the next update will take effect from 1 January 2024. 

SIRI will usually assume that the salary corresponds to Danish standards, and will not make further assessment, if it is stated in the application form and employment contract that:

  • The employer is covered by a collective agreement though a membership of an employers’ association.
  • The employment is covered by a collective agreement in the relevant sector.
  • The salary is at least DKK 67,812.50 per month (2023 level). 

If the above-mentioned terms are not documented in the employment contract, SIRI will assess whether the salary offered corresponds to Danish standards, using the income statistics from the DA as a guideline.

Applications for a residence and work permit after 1 October 2023 will be evaluated according to the income statistics for the second quarter of 2023. 

Applications between 1 August 2023 and 30 September 2023 will be evaluated according to the income statistics from the first quarter of 2023. 

9/15/23

Effective 6 September, a new Health Agreement has taken effect in Greenland, affecting “healthcare persons” (those with a healthcare education) who have been offered employment in the Greenlandic Health Care System.

Those who apply for a residence and work permit according to the Health Agreement are not required to send their authorizations or documentation for education or for previous employment.

The change of the requirements for documentation only applies to healthcare persons that are hired in The Greenlandic Health Care System, when the position is covered by the Greenlandic collective bargaining agreement.

 

Effective 2 September 2023, applications for residence permits for accompanying family members must be supported by documentary evidence that the sponsor in the Faroe Islands is able to support them.

However, this rule does not apply if the person has residence under the Sports Agreement.

  • All first-time applications submitted on or after 2 September 2023 are subject to the changes. The permit will state whether it is a condition for the residence permit that the sponsor can support the accompanying family member. The requirement for support will in these instances also apply to applications for an extension of a residence permit.
  • For applications for a residence permit or for an extension of a residence permit submitted before 2 September 2023, the requirement for support does not apply.
  • For applications for an extension of a residence permit granted before 2 September 2023, the requirement for support does not apply.

The applicant must submit the sponsor’s current employment contract in the Faroe Islands and, if they have already started work in the Faroe Islands, their pay checks for the last three months.

The documents must show that the sponsor has:

  • 34,716.12 kr. in gross income each month, for a spouse or a cohabiting partner.
  • 39,797.37 kr. in gross income each month, for a spouse or a cohabiting partner and for a child under the age of 18 that is also traveling to the Faroe Islands, as an accompanying family member. 1,248.25 kr. is added for each additional child, for a maximum of 4 children.
  • 28,317.70 kr. In gross income each month, for a child under the age of 18. 3,186.58 kr. is added for each additional child, for a maximum of 4 children.

The fixed amount applies for all of 2023. The amounts are partially regulated by the development of wages in Føroya Arbeiðarafelago’s (the labour union of the Faroe Islands’) collective agreement for unskilled workers, and partially by the government’s regulation percentage annually, on 1 January, which is fixed according to Løgtingslóg um javningarprosent til almannaveitingar (the Lagting law on the regulation rate for social benefits.

Close Open Egypt

929/23

Immigration fees must be paid in US dollars or equivalent

According to a decree which took effect 1 September 2023, foreign nationals must pay immigration fees in US dollars or the equivalent in another hard currency. This includes fees for visas, residency, residence cards and late fees.

Also per the decree, illegal foreign residents must legalize their stay by proving they are staying with an Egyptian national host and by paying a USD 1000 fee, within three months of the decree taming effect.

9/15/23

New visa requirements for Canadian nationals

Effective 1 October 2023, Canadian nationals will no longer be eligible for a visa on arrival in Egypt. Instead, they will be required to apply for an entry visa from an Egyptian consulate.

Applications can be submitted in person, or by mail using a certified courier envelope and providing a certified prepaid return envelope.

E-visas will not be issued to Canadian nationals from 1 October 2023. However, e-visas issued before that date will be valid for entry until their expiry date.

Canadians of Egyptian origin will have the choice of obtaining a free consular visa free of charge or paying for a visa on arrival in Egypt. For the second option, those who do not hold a valid Egyptian passport must first apply to the Egyptian embassy in Ottawa or the consulate in Montreal for a certificate of nationality.

Close Open European Union

1/5/24

Bulgaria and Romania to join Schengen area

On 30 December 2023, the European Council decided to accept Bulgaria and Romania into the Schengen area, with air and sea border controls lifted from March 2024.

Discussions on a further decision to lift controls at land borders will continue in 2024.

Kosovans qualify for visa-free travel

Effective 1 January 2024, Kosovo passport holders can travel to the EU without a visa for up to 90 days in any 180-day period. Equally, EU citizens are able to travel to Kosovo without a visa.

 

The proposal to grant visa free travel to Kosovo was approved by the European Union co-legislators in April 2023.

 

The EU Member States covered by the visa waiver are:

  • the following EU Member States which are part of the Schengen area: Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Czechia,       Denmark, Estonia Finland,       France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Sweden;
  • the EU Member States which are not yet part of the Schengen area but do apply the EU acquis related to the EU visa lists Bulgaria, Cyprus and Romania;

The visa waiver also applies to the associated Schengen states: Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.

Although Ireland is an EU Member State, it is not part of the Schengen Area, so the visa waiver does not apply.

Kosovans can enter the EU as a tourist, to visit friends or family, to attend cultural or sports events, business meetings, for journalistic or media purposes, medical treatment, for short-term studies or training and any similar activities. However, the visa waiver does not apply to persons travelling for those who come to work in the EU.

12/26/23

Political agreement on revised single permit rules

On 18 December 2023, the European Commission, Parliament and Council reached a political agreement on the revised Single Permit Directive.

The updated rules establish a single application procedure for a combined EU work and residence permit (a ‘single permit'). The revised rules provide for a common set of rights for workers from non-EU countries, regarding working conditions, social security, recognition of qualifications, and tax benefits.

The new rules aim to streamline the application procedure for the single permit, while making it more effective and improving the safeguarding of non-EU workers' rights.

Once adopted, the revised legislation will:

  • Enable non-EU nationals to apply for a single permit not only from non-EU countries but also from a Member State if they already reside in that Member State on the basis of a residence permit;
  • Introduce faster application procedures to facilitate international recruitment;
  • Provide for stronger protection of workers from non-EU countries, by introducing the right to change employer and a minimum period of unemployment during which their single permit should not be withdrawn; this means that within the period of validity of the permit, workers will have the right to change employers while continuing to reside legally in the Member State.
  • Ensure that beneficiaries of protection in accordance with national law can benefit from equal treatment rights if they are allowed to work;
  • Include new obligations for Member States to provide for inspections, monitoring mechanisms and sanctions against employers who violate the rights of non-EU workers, including equal treatment rights.

The political agreement reached by the European Parliament and the Council is now subject to formal approval by the co-legislators. Once published in the Official Journal, the Directive will enter into force 20 days after publication and Member States will have 2 years to transpose the provisions of the Directive into national law

Background
In April 2022, the Commission presented the Skills and Talent package: an ambitious and sustainable outlook to legal migration. To improve the previous legislation on single permits, this package included a proposal for a recast of the Single-Permit Directive, alongside a proposal for a revised Long-Term Residence Directive – where negotiations are still ongoing with co-legislators

11/27/23

The Council of the EU has agreed its negotiating mandate for updating the EU Long-Term Residents Directive.

This directive, from 2003, sets out the conditions under which third-country nationals can acquire EU long-term resident status. In order to acquire EU long-term resident status, third-country nationals have to legally and continuously reside in a member state for at least five years. This EU status exists alongside national long-term resident schemes.

On the basis of this agreed negotiation mandate, the Council can enter into interinstitutional talks with the European Parliament to conclude a final legal text.

Acquiring long-term resident status

The Council has agreed that third-country nationals can cumulate residence periods of up to two years in other member states in order to meet the requirements of the five-year residence period. However, in the event of an applicant having resided in another member state, the Council has decided to accept only certain types of legal residence permits, such as holders of EU Blue Cards or residence permits issued for the purpose of highly qualified employment.

Certain conditions will apply in order for applicants to be able to acquire long-term resident status. For instance, third-country applicants must provide evidence of stable and regular resources that are sufficient to maintain themselves and the members of their family, as well as sickness insurance. Member states may also require third-country nationals to comply with integration conditions.

Long-term resident status is permanent. However, it can be withdrawn in certain cases, for instance when a person has not had their main residence in the EU for a certain period of time.

Intra-EU mobility rights

Unlike national residence systems, EU long-term resident status grants status holders the possibility to move and reside in other EU countries, for instance for work or studies. This right to intra-EU mobility is not automatic but is subject to a number of conditions. Such a condition is that member states may assess the situation of their national labour markets in case an EU long-term resident moves to their country from another EU member state for work.

Equal treatment with EU nationals

EU long-term residents enjoy the same treatment as nationals with regard to access to employment and self-employment, education and vocational training and tax benefits, for example. There are a number of conditions, such as the requirement that holders of a residence permit live within the territory of the member state concerned.

11/17/23

Council adopts online visa plan

On 13 November 2023, the European Council adopted new rules allowing people who plan to travel to the Schengen area to apply online for a visa.

The two regulations adopted will create an EU visa application platform. With a few exceptions, applications for Schengen visas will be made through that platform. On the platform, visa applicants will be able to enter all the relevant data, upload electronic copies of their travel documents and supporting documents, and pay their visa fees.

This is intended to render in-person appearance at the consulate redundant. In-person appearance will only be necessary for first-time applicants, people whose biometric data are no longer valid and people with a new travel document.

When a person intends to visit several Schengen countries, the platform will automatically determine which one of them is responsible for examining the application on the basis of the duration of stay. However, the applicant will also have the possibility to indicate whether the application needs to be processed by a specific member state according to the purpose of travel.

The current visa sticker will be replaced with a cryptographically signed barcode.

The two regulations will enter into force 20 days after they are published in the Official Journal of the European Union.

10/27/23

New ETIAS timeline confirmed

The European Council has announced a new timetable for the implementation of the Entry/Exit system and the ETIAS online travel authorisation system.

The Entry/Exit system will be ready to enter into operation in Autumn 2024 and ETIAS will be ready to enter into operation in Spring 2025.

The Council adopted the regulation for the Entry/Exit System (EES) in November 2017. EES will electronically register the time and place of entry and exit of third-country nationals, and calculate the duration of their authorised stay. It will replace the obligation to stamp the passports of third-country nationals which is applicable to all Member States.

The Council adopted the regulation establishing the European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS) in September 2018. ETIAS is a pre-travel authorisation system for visa exempt travellers. Its key function is to verify if a third country national meets entry requirements before travelling to the Schengen area. The information submitted, via an online application ahead of their arrival at borders enabling pre-travel assessment of irregular migration risks, security or public health risk checks. It will be similar to existing systems in place in the US, Canada and Australia, among others.

9/29/23

Extension of temporary protection

The Council of the European Union has agreed to extend the temporary protection for people fleeing Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine from 4 March 2024 to 4 March 2025.

The temporary protection mechanism was activated on 4 March 2022 – only a few days after Russian armed forces launched a large-scale invasion of Ukraine – and it was automatically extended by one year.

What is temporary protection?

The system provides immediate and collective (i.e. without the need for the examination of individual applications) protection to displaced persons who are not in a position to return to their country of origin.

The objective is to alleviate pressure on national asylum systems and to allow displaced persons to enjoy harmonised rights across the EU. These rights include:

  • residence
  • access to the labour market and housing
  • medical assistance
  • social welfare assistance
  • access to education for children

 

Background and next steps

Following today’s political agreement, the Council will have to formally adopt the decision to extend the temporary protection. This will happen once the legal scrubbing and translation in all EU languages has taken place.

Temporary protection is an EU emergency mechanism which is activated in exceptional circumstances of mass influx. The EU directive on temporary protection was adopted in 2001, in the aftermath of the large-scale displacement experienced in Europe due to the armed conflicts in the Western Balkans, in particular from Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo.

9/15/23

More favourable Schengen visa rules for Kuwaiti nationals

On 8 September 2023, the European Commission adopted more favourable rules for Kuwaiti nationals on the issuing of Schengen multiple-entry visas with longer validity.

Kuwaiti nationals, including first-time travellers, can be issued with new multiple-entry visas valid for five years, if the passport validity allows.

The change makes it easier for Kuwaitis to travel to the 27 Schengen countries for business, tourism and family purposes, permitting multiple stays of no more than 90 days in any 180-day period within the Schengen area.

The Schengen area consists of 27 European countries (of which 23 are EU Member States): Belgium, Croatia, Czechia, Denmark, Germany, Estonia, Greece, Spain, France, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Hungary, Malta, Netherlands, Austria, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia, Slovakia, Finland and Sweden, along with Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.

9/8/23

The European Commission has proposed measures to make it easier for European citizens to live, work and travel abroad by making access to social security services quicker and simpler across borders.

The Commission’s Communication lays out suggested actions for Member States to further digitize the coordination of social security systems, including the following:

  • Accelerate the national implementation of the Electronic Exchange of Social Security Information (EESSIso that it is fully operational by the end of 2024 across Europe. EESSI digitalises the exchanges among national social security institutions, to move away from paper-based, time-consuming and cumbersome procedures.
  • Deliver more social security coordination procedures fully online, to make it even easier for people to move and work abroad, and ensure they get fast access to their eligible benefits. Member States can build on the Single Digital Gateway Regulation, which foresees a fully online delivery of some important administrative procedures to citizens and businesses by 12 December 2023 at the latest.
  • Fully engage in the European Social Security Pass (ESSPASSpilot activities, which explore how to simplify the issuance and verification of citizens' social security entitlements across borders.
  • Work towards introducing EU Digital Identity (EUDI) wallets, which will allow EU citizens to carry digital versions of entitlement documents, such as the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), making it easier for social security institutions, labour inspectorates and healthcare providers to instantly verify these documents.

The Commission invites the European Parliament and the Council to endorse the approach set out in this Communication and calls on Member States and all stakeholders to work together to implement its actions.  Advancing the digitalisation of social security coordination is also relevant in the context of ongoing negotiations by co-legislators on the revision of EU social security coordination rules. The Commission encourages the European Parliament and on the Council to modernise the legal framework by reaching an agreement on the revision.

EU nationals are entitled to travel, work and live in another EU country. EU rules (Regulation No 883/2004 and Regulation No 987/2009 on its implementation) protect people's social security rights when moving within Europe, for instance when it comes to healthcare, family benefits and pensions, and make sure they get access to their eligible benefits as quickly as possible across the EU.

Close Open Estonia

12/1/23

Residence permit appointment booking opens

 

Effective 27 November 2023, applicants can book appointments for submitting applications in December for residence permits on the basis of the 2024 immigration quota.

The recently-announced 2024 quota is 1303 permits, in the following categories:

  • 200 temporary residence permits for employment in the transport and storage sector;
  • 35 temporary residence permits for employment as a journalist accredited by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs;
  • 34 temporary residence permits for professional activities as an athlete, coach, sports referee or sports professional at the invitation of the relevant sports federation;
  • 15 temporary residence permits for employment in a performing arts institution as a creative employee within the meaning of the Performing Arts Institutions Act;
  • 5 temporary residence permits on the basis of a treaty;
  • 1,014 temporary residence permits freely distributed.

Some foreign workers are excluded from the quota, including those working in information and communications technology and start-up workers; those in short-term employment or in a growth company; those employed as lecturers, or highly-paid specialists; and family or student migrants. Citizens of the European Union and their family members, citizens of the United States, the United Kingdom, and Japan, and applicants for international protection are also not included in the quota.

To submit an application for a residence permit at the Police and Border Guard Board (PBGB), an appointment should be booked on the PBGB's website.

Applicants can also apply for a permit at the nearest Estonian embassy, but the PBGB asks applicants to contact the embassy in advance.

 

If an applicant for an extension of a residence permit has provided a fingerprint image to the PBGB in the last six years, they may also apply by e-mail or mail.

 

Important information for employers and foreigners arriving for work:

  • The submission of an application for a first residence permit does not give the applicant a legal basis for stay in the country. If the applicant’s visa or other basis for stay expires before a decision has been made on the application for a residence permit, they must leave Estonia and wait for the decision in their home country. In this case, it may also be necessary to inform the PBGB and amend the place of receipt of the residence card on the application if Estonia was initially indicated as the place of receipt of the document.
  • Russian and Belarusian citizens are still subject to sanctions and will not be issued residence permits for employment or business.
  • A booking is mandatory for a foreign national when submitting an application for a residence permit – the booking is not intended for the employer and cannot be used by the employer for another employee.
  • A booking is only intended for the person in whose name it was registered. An application will not be accepted based on a booking registered in the name of another person.
  • Applicants will not be able to change their booking later. If they cannot arrive at the scheduled appointment, they will have to cancel the appointment and make a new booking.
  • Cancelled bookings will be re-opened in the calendar for everyone to book after a while.
Close Open Germany

2/2/24

New nationality law passed

On 19 January 2024, the German parliament passed a law to modernise the German Nationality Act. The legislation is expected to come into force at the beginning of the second quarter of 2024.

The key changes under the new law are as follows:

  • Multi-nationality is generally possible: Naturalization applicants no longer have to give up their previous nationality during naturalization, unless this is required under the nationality law of the country of origin. German nationals who acquire a different nationality can also easily retain their German nationality. A retention permit is no longer required.
  • Naturalization is accelerated: Instead of after eight years, people will be able to obtain German citizenship after five years.
  • Special performance is rewarded: With "special integration services" naturalization is possible after only three years.
  • Eased Ius-soli purchase: All children of foreign parents born in Germany will acquire German citizenship in the future and can retain the nationality of their parents if at least one parent has been legally living in Germany for more than five years and has a permanent right of residence. The option regulation is completely eliminated and the pre-stay period of the relevant parent is shortened from eight to five years.
  • Life performance of the guest worker generation is recognized: Proof of oral language skills is sufficient for naturalization and no naturalization test is necessary.

11/10/23

Skilled worker law implementation begins

The initial part of Germany’s new skilled worker law will take effect on 18 November 2023. From that date, changes to the rules for EU Blue Cards will take effect, among some other measures intended to expand access to Germany for skilled workers.

EU Blue Card

To implement the requirements of Directive (EU) 2021/1883, which reforms the EU Blue Card scheme across the EU, the German government has introduced the following changes:

  • Lower salary thresholds: The salary thresholds for the EU Blue Card in regular occupations and bottleneck professions will be significantly lowered. In future, a minimum salary of 45.3% of the annual contribution assessment ceiling for pension insurance (in 2023: €39,682.80) will apply to bottleneck professions and new entrants to the labour market; for all other occupations, the figure will be 50% (in 2023: around €43,800).
  • New entrants to the labour market: The possibility of obtaining an EU Blue Card will be opened to a wider group of people. For example, foreign nationals who have graduated from university within the last three years can obtain an EU Blue Card if their job in Germany earns them a minimum salary of 45.3% of the annual assessment ceiling for pension insurance (in 2023: €39,682.80). This applies to both bottleneck professions and regular occupations.
  • IT specialists: Another change is that IT specialists will be able to obtain an EU Blue Card if they do not have a university degree but can prove that they have at least three years of comparable professional experience. In this case, the lower salary threshold for bottleneck professions will apply (45.3% of the annual assessment ceiling; in 2023: €39,682.80).
  • Extension of the list of bottleneck professions: The list of bottleneck professions for the EU Blue Card will be significantly expanded. Here, too, the lower salary threshold for bottleneck professions will apply (45.3% of the annual assessment ceiling; in 2023: €39,682.80). In addition to the existing bottleneck professions (mathematics, IT, science, engineering, and human medicine), skilled workers in the following occupations will be able to obtain an EU Blue Card if they meet the other requirements: 
    • Manufacturing, mining, construction, or distribution managers
    • Information and communications technology service managers
    • Professional services managers, such as child care or health services managers
    • Veterinarians
    • Dentists
    • Pharmacists
    • Nursing or midwifery professionals
    • School and out-of-school teachers and educators
  • Short-term and long-term mobility: Holders of an EU Blue Card issued by another EU Member State will be entitled to short-term and long-term mobility in Germany. For a maximum stay of 90 days, Blue Card holders from other EU countries will be able come to Germany and stay here for the purpose of a business activity directly related to their employment. Neither a visa nor a work permit from the Federal Employment Agency (BA) is required for such short stays. 
    After a minimum stay of twelve months with an EU Blue Card in another EU country, long-term residence in Germany is possible without a visa. After entering Germany, the professional must apply to the foreigners authority for a German EU Blue Card. 
  • Facilitated family reunification for EU Blue Card holders: EU Blue Card holders who have already lived in another EU Member State with their family will be entitled to privileged family reunification. If these family members require a visa due to their nationality, they will be entitled to enter and reside in Germany as family members of an EU Blue Card holder with the residence permit issued in the previous Member State without having to undergo a visa procedure beforehand. When a residence permit is issued in Germany, the requirements of sufficient living space and the requirement to secure one’s livelihood will no longer apply.

Further changes from 18 November 2023

The restriction that individuals may only work on the basis of the skills acquired with the professional qualification will be removed. In other words, if applicants have a vocational qualification or a university degree, they are not restricted to jobs related to that qualification when looking for employment. There are exceptions for regulated professions.

 

Also, the granting of approval by the Federal Employment Agency for employing professional drivers from third countries is to be simplified. As a result, it will no longer be checked whether the applicant has the required EU or EEA driving licence and the initial qualification or accelerated initial qualification. In addition, the priority check will be abolished and language skills will no longer be a requirement

 

Further changes, listed here, are due to be implemented in March or June 2024.

 

Streamlined document issuance

Effective 1 November 2023, individuals can now confirm the receipt of the PIN letter for their online ID card via text message. This allows identity cards, passports and electronic residence permits to be picked up at document dispensing machines, if these machines are available onsite. An in-person appointment for the collection of the documents at a government office is then no longer necessary.

 

With the PIN of their online ID card, individuals can safely access over 200 online services from government authorities and companies from anywhere.

 

Further changes will be implemented by spring 2025

  • Individuals will receive their PIN letter directly when submitting their application, rather than by post.
  • In addition, on request and for a fee, they can have the requested identification documents sent directly by the manufacturer to their registration address - this also eliminates the appointment for the collection of new identity documents.
  • From May 2025, only digital biometric photographs will be used for new documents. The photographs must be taken either at government offices or by photographers. The biometric photographs will then always comply with international requirements.
Close Open Finland

2/9/24

No more service point visits for child applications

The Finnish Immigration Service (Migri) has announced that children (aged under 18 years) are no longer required to visit a service point when applying for an extended permit, a new residence permit card or a new residence card via the Enter Finland account of their parent or guardian.

The parent or guardian must use strong identity authentication to access Enter Finland and must include the child’s customer number when completing the child’s application.

To avoid having to visit a service point, the application must be for one of the following reasons:

  • The card will expire soon;
  • The card is lost or stolen;
  • The card is so worn out that the information on it is unreadable;
  • A passport containing a residence permit sticker is about to expire.

1/5/24

Increased financial requirement for Schengen visas

Effective 1 January 2024, Finland has increased the daily financial requirement for short-stay visitors to EUR 50 per day of stay (previously EUR 30). This financial requirement applies to visits of no more than 90 days. The financial requirement is raised as it has been lagging behind the cost of living.

Also effective 1 January 2024, Finland has introduced a proof of sponsorship and/or accommodation form, which allows visa applicants to finance their visit using the funds of the inviting party. This applies Article 14.4 of the EU’s Visa Code.

With the introduction of the proof of sponsorship, the fact that a Finnish citizen or a person residing in Finland with a residence permit undertakes to finance the travel of the visa applicant may be taken into account in the visa consideration. The inviting party must fill in a proof of sponsorship form to be attached to the visa application.

 

Increased processing fees

The Finnish Immigration Service (Migri) has announced an increase to certain of its processing fees, effective 1 January 2024.

The key changes are as follows:

  • The processing fees for permanent residence permits will be different depending on whether you apply online in Enter Finland or submit a paper application. The fee for an online application for a permanent residence permit will be EUR 220. The processing fee for a paper application will be EUR 270. Before the changes, the fee was EUR 160 for both paper and online applications.
  • The processing fee for a citizenship application submitted online will be EUR 490. Previously, the fee was EUR 460.
  • The processing fee for an online application for a first residence permit for an employed person will be EUR 540. Previously, the fee was EUR 490. 
  • The processing fee for an online application for an extended permit will be EUR 170. Previously, the fee was EUR 160. 
  • The fee for renewing a residence permit card will be different depending on whether you submit the application online in advance or apply for a new card at a service point without having filled in an application form beforehand. The processing fee for an online application will be EUR 60. Without an online application, the processing fee will be EUR 75. Previously, the fee was EUR 54 in both cases.

12/15/23

Processing backlog in family applications

The processing of application files on the basis of family ties is currently backlogged. Currently, around 11,800 applications are awaiting a decision.

The Finnish Immigration Service (Migri) notes that the number of applications has increased dramatically over the last two years. In 2021, there were around 26,000 applications based on family ties, whereas in 2022 the figure was around 32,000. This year, the number of pending applications is expected to rise to 40,000. The increase in applications is around 50% compared to 2021.

However, Migri claims that the backlog does not affect the majority of applications based on family ties. In 2023, more than 60% of applications based on family ties have been decided in less than three months and 76% will be decided in less than six months from the date of application.

The majority of applicants have received a positive decision. In 2022, a total of 17,476 decisions were taken on first residence permits based on family ties and 11,589 decisions on subsequent permits, totalling around 29,000 decisions. In 2023, around 35,000 decisions have already been made, and for the year as a whole, the estimate is 37,500 decisions. Of these, the proportion of positive decisions is around 93% for the first permits and around 96% for subsequent permits

Migri offers the following reminders for applicants for a residence permit on the basis of family ties:

  1. Fill in the application carefully. 
  2. Have documents legalised before submitting the application. 
  3. If there are any changes in the family relationships, inform the Finnish Immigration Service. 
  4. Remember to renew the passport if it is about to expire.

12/8/23

Appointment booking update

Appointments can now be booked for identity checks at service points in early 2024 for applicants for new residence cards or for Finnish citizenship.

From 2 January 2024, the time required for renewing a residence card, applying for citizenship or submitting a citizenship application at the service point will be 20 minutes. Until the end of 2023, 30 minutes must be allowed for these applications.

Applicants should note that applying for a new residence card is different from applying for an extension. An application for a new residence card can be made in the following cases:

  • Permanent residence permit (P) holders whose residence card is about to expire or has expired; or
  • valid residence permit (A, B or P permit) holders if
    • the residence card is lost; or
    • the residence card is damaged and illegible; or
    • the personal data on the residence card have changed.

Applicants should complete the application form in advance using the Enter Finland e-service.

  • Those who log in to Enter Finland with, for example, their online banking credentials don't necessarily need to visit a service point.
  • Those applying for citizenship who cannot use Enter Finland should complete a paper application before visiting the service point. Applications for the residence card renewal are available online only.

Appointments should be booked via the appointment service.

The appointment service will be updated on 2 January 2024. After that, all appointments for the renewal of the residence permit card, the citizenship application or the citizenship declaration will be 20 minutes.

10/20/2023

Pilot of automated decision-making for residence permits for study

Effective 19 October 2023, the Finnish Immigration Service (Migri) has started using automated decision-making in the processing of residence permits for study. Negative decisions and decisions that require individual consideration are not issued automatically.

Migri issues an automated decision if the application meets all the requirements for issuing the permit, including proof of identity in person and payment of the processing fee. The full list of requirements is here.

Migri is first testing automated decision-making with residence permit applications submitted by degree students at universities and by all exchange students. Based on the results, automation will later be expanded to include other customer groups.

Automated processing is intended to standardize the processing of applications and to free up specialists’ time to work on cases which need individual consideration or further clarification. Migri aims at an average processing time of no more than one month for residence permits for employed persons and students.

10/13/23

Extension of temporary protection

Finland is implementing the extension of the temporary protection mechanism agreed by the Council of the European Union on 28 September 2023.

The temporary protection mechanism was originally activated on 24 February 2022 and will now be extended until 4 March 2025.

According to the decision of the Council of the European Union, the extension of temporary protection applies to

  • Ukrainian citizens and family members of Ukrainian citizens who resided in Ukraine on 24 February 2022;
  • Those who were granted international protection in Ukraine before 24 February 2022 or who are a family member of a person who was granted international protection in Ukraine;
  • Those who resided in Ukraine with a permanent residence permit on 24 February 2022 and who cannot return to their home country or region of origin in safe and durable conditions.

In March 2022, the Finnish government extended temporary protection to 

  • Ukrainian citizens who had left Ukraine before the start of the war and
  • third-country nationals who were residing in Ukraine with a non-permanent residence permit. The decision concerning these third-country nationals was repealed by decision of the Government on 7 September 2023. Third-country nationals are citizens of countries that have not joined the European Union or the Schengen Agreement. 

In the next few weeks, the government will decide whether to continue granting temporary protection to these persons as well.

Qualifying residents whose residence permit on the basis of temporary protection is extended will be sent a letter containing information about the extension. Current holders should make sure that their reception centre has their current address, telephone number and email address. If they are not registered as client of a reception centre, they should make sure that the Finnish Immigration Service has their contact details.

They will also receive a text message stating that their permit has been extended. The message will be in Finnish and English. It will contain a link to our website: migri.fi/uk/timcasovij-zahist. The sender of the message is ‘Migri’.

If the permit is not extended, the authorities will send a letter with further instructions. It is not currently possible to apply for a new card that is valid until 4 March 2025.

 

9/29/23

Automatic post-decision monitoring of student residence permits

Effective 28 September 2023, the Finnish Immigration Service will carry out post-decision monitoring of the residence permits of degree-level students to check whether the holder still meets the requirements for the permit.

Holders of residence permits granted since 1 June 2022 will be monitored to check whether they have started their studies, are making progress in their studies and have a valid right to study, among other criteria.

The automatic post-decision monitoring is based on automatic register checks. The Finnish Immigration Service can run register checks on different national registers, such Kela’s register, the Finnish National Agency for Education’s Koski register, and the Population Information System registers. Based on the results of the register checks, officials of the Finnish Immigration Service will assess whether the requirements for a residence permit are still met and decide whether to withdraw the permit, on a case-by-case basis.

If a permit holder’s residence permit is withdrawn, the holder has 30 days from the date they receive the decision to request a review of the decision. Usually, the holder’s right to work remains, and they can reside in Finland until their request for review is processed.

The legislation covering students’ residence permits was amended in 2022, so that a residence permit for studies is granted for the entire duration of the studies and students do not necessarily need to apply for an extended permit at any point. Before the legislative amendments, the requirements for the permit were checked when students applied for an extended permit.

9/22/23

Immigration service points can now be used by citizenship applicants and new Enter Finland users

Effective immediately, individuals can avoid visiting a service point of the Finnish Immigration Service in more circumstances.

Customers are no longer required to visit a service point to prove their identity if they use Enter Finland

  • to apply for Finnish citizenship (and their children are not applying at the same time); or
  • to apply for an extended permit, a new residence permit card or a new residence card and they submit the application from a new Enter Finland account (i.e. a first-time online application).

Previously, avoiding a visit to a service point has been possible for customers who apply for an extended permit, a new residence permit card or residence card if they have had an Enter Finland account and have previously used it to submit an application.

To avoid visiting a service point, applicants must log in to Enter Finland using strong authentication (using their Finnish online banking ID, mobile certificate or citizen certificate). If they have previously created an account with an email address, they should change the login method to strong authentication. They must also submit a photograph retrieval code from the photo shop where they had their passport taken (if relevant) and pay the processing fee before sending the application.

9/15/23

Certain non-EU nationals no longer eligible for temporary protection

Effective 7 September 2023, Finland will not issue residence permits on the basis of temporary protection to third-country nationals and stateless persons who have resided in Ukraine on the basis of a temporary residence permit. Third-country nationals are citizens of countries that have not joined the European Union or the Schengen Agreement.

The change does not apply to

  • Ukrainian citizens and their family members;
  • Persons who have been granted international protection in Ukraine and their family members; or
  • persons who have resided in Ukraine with a permanent residence permit if they are unable to return to their home country in safe and durable conditions.

The change applies to applications for temporary protection that have been submitted on 7 September 2023 or later. The Finnish Immigration Service will decide applications submitted before 7 September 2023 in accordance with the previous decision-making practice.

Residence permits already granted in Finland on the basis of temporary protection are valid until 4 March 2024.

Third-country nationals and stateless persons applying for temporary protection in Finland must show proof of their family ties to a Ukrainian citizen or that they have been granted international protection in Ukraine, that their family member has been granted international protection in Ukraine or that they have a permanent residence permit in Ukraine.

For example, they can show their marriage certificate, a birth certificate for a child who is a Ukrainian citizen, a certificate of refugee status issued by Ukraine or a permanent residence permit granted in Ukraine.

For those who have resided in Ukraine with a permanent residence permit, the Finnish Immigration Service (Migri) will investigate whether they can return to their home country in safe and durable conditions. If it cannot be assessed whether the applicant is able to return to their home country, Migri will advise the applicant to apply for asylum.

Close Open France

New immigration law published

On 27 January 2024, the new immigration law took effect.

The principle changes affecting work immigration include:

  • A new residence permit for health care professionals;
  • French language proficiency requirements for certain residence categories;
  • Limited renewals in certain residence categories;
  • Stricter family reunification rules;
  • A temporary (until the end of 2026), new, one-year (renewable) residence permit category for foreign workers in France who are undocumented and have been resident in France for at least three years, and employed for at least 12 of the previous 24 months. This category regularizes certain undocumented workers and allows them to work in sectors and areas which are experiencing labour shortages.

A clause providing British nationals owning a second-home in France with an automatic long-stay visa was rejected by the Constitutional Court on 25 January 2024, along with 31 other provisions of the new law.

Nationality application now online

Effective 6 February 2024, foreign nationals can apply directly for French nationality online.

It is no longer necessary to travel to the prefectural office to submit an application, or to send the application by post.

Applicants can track the progress of their application online and upload any additional documents supporting required. It will only be necessary to appear in person for an integration interview during processing, and for the welcome ceremony if the application is successful.

Close Open France/United States

12/1/23

Mutual visa agreement for investors

Effective 16 November 2023, a new visa and residence permit mechanism for French and US investors allows US investors and their family members to access a fast-track process for obtaining visas and four-year “passeport talent” residence permits.

At the same time, French citizens wishing to invest in the US are now eligible for US Treaty Trader (E-1) and Treaty Investor (E-2) visas valid for four-years, up from 25 months.

"Passeport talent" residence permits allow stays of up to four years for highly-qualified employees, intra-company transferees, employees of “new innovative enterprises”, business creators, investors and performers, among others.

Treaty Trader (E-1) and Treaty Investor (E-2) visas are for citizens of countries with which the United States maintains treaties of commerce and navigation, including France. Applicants must be going to the United States to engage in substantial trade, including trade in services or technology, in qualifying activities, principally between the United States and the treaty country; to develop and direct the operations of an enterprise in which they have invested a substantial amount of capital; or to fill an executive/supervisory role or provide skills essential to the operations of a firm that qualifies as an E-1 or E-2 business.

Close Open Hong Kong

11/3/23

Talent Engage office opens

The Hong Kong Talent Engage (HKTE) office opened in Hong Kong on 30 October 2023. Following the launch of the Hong Kong Talent Engage (HKTE) online platform last year, the physical office will provide support for incoming talents and follow up with their development and needs after arrival.

The office will also partner with different organizations as well as the Dedicated Teams for Attracting Businesses & Talents under the Government's Mainland and overseas offices, to get the needed information and services for the incoming talent.

In 2024, the government will organize a "Global Talent Summit cum Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area High-quality Talent Development Conference" to promote regional exchange and co-operation in talent attraction.

10/27/23

New immigration measures announced

In his annual policy address on 25 October 2023, the Chief Executive announced

the following measures intended to attract more foreign investment and skilled workers to Hong Kong:

  • Effective 26 October 2023, foreign national staff of companies registered in Hong Kong may apply with the Chinese Visa Application Service Centre in Hong Kong for "multiple-entry visas" valid for two or more years to mainland China, enjoying priority processing.
  • Following the launch of the Hong Kong Talent Engage (HKTE) online platform last year, a physical office will be established by the end of October 2023. The office will provide support for incoming talents and follow up with their development and needs after arrival. In 2024, the government will organise a "Global Talent Summit cum Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area High-quality Talent Development Conference" to promote regional exchange and co-operation in talent attraction.
  • Effective November 2023, the government will add eight “top-notch” institutions from mainland China and overseas to the list of eligible universities under the Top Talent Pass Scheme, making a total of 184 institutions.
  • Effective 25 October 2023, the government will relax the visa policy in respect of employment for Vietnamese talents and the criteria for Vietnamese applying for "multiple-entry visas" for business and travel. It will also relax the visa policy for Laotian and Nepalese talents for employment, training and study in University Grants Committee (UGC)-funded institutions.
  • Under the Capital Investment Entrant Scheme, eligible investors who make investments of HKD 30 million or above in assets such as stocks, funds, bonds, etc. (excluding real estate) can apply for entry into Hong Kong. Details of the scheme will be announced by the end of 2023.
  • To alleviate the manpower shortage in skilled trades, starting from the 2024/25 admission cohort, non-local students of designated full-time professional Higher Diploma programmes of the Vocational Training Council (VTC) will be allowed to stay in Hong Kong for one year after graduation to seek jobs relevant to their disciplines. The Vocational Professionals Admission Scheme will be a pilot arrangement and will be reviewed after two years.
Close Open Iceland

2/9/24

Increased financial support requirement

The Directorate or Immigration has announced that, effective 15 February 2024, the amount an individual residence permit or citizenship applicant is required to show they have to support themselves is raised from ISK 217,799 to ISK 239,895 per month. The amount for married couples is raised from ISK 348,476 to ISK 383,832 per month.

The amounts refer to pre-tax income and apply to applications received from 15 February 2024.

10/27/23

New online information service

The Directorate of Immigration has launched a new website providing immigration information.

The “Service Web” offers detailed information about visas, residence permits, citizenship, international protection and application tracking, as well as step-by-step guides to visa and permit requirements, frequently asked questions and an online enquiry form.

Close Open India

11/27/23

eVisa service resumed for Canadian nationals

Effective 22 November 2023, the consular posts of India in Canada have resumed the eVisa service for all eligible Canadian citizens holding ordinary passports.

On 26 October 2023, suspended in-person visa services resumed at the Indian consular posts in Canada, including for entry, business, medical and conference visas, after “a considered review of the security situation”.

9/22/23

Suspension of visas for Canadians

Effective 21 September 2023, India has suspended the issuance of all categories of visa to Canadian citizens until further notice. The ban also applies to Canadian nationals resident in third countries.

The measure was announced by the Ministry of External Affairs during their weekly media briefing and is in response to escalating tension between the two countries over the killing of a Sikh separatist in Canada.

Close Open Ireland

2/2/24

Introduction of email application form for Reactivation Employment Permit Scheme

From 1 February 2024, Domestic Residence will accept applications for Reactivation Employment Permit Scheme via DRPcustomerservice@justice.ie.

Applicants should use this application form. It is important that applicants read the qualifying criteria before submitting an application

Background

The Reactivation Employment Permit scheme is operated by the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment (DETE).   Reactivation Employment Permits are designed to provide a pathway to re-employment for non-EEA nationals who entered the State on a valid Employment Permit but who fell out of the system through no fault of their own or who has been badly treated or exploited in the workplace.

Either the foreign national or the employer can apply for a Reactivation Employment Permit and the Employment Permit is issued to the foreign national, and a certified copy sent to the employer, which permits his or her employment in the State, by the employer, in the occupation and location/s specified on the permit.

12/26/23

Increased salary thresholds and newly eligible roles for employment permits

The government has announced comprehensive changes to the employment permits system, with 43 additions to the jobs eligible for an employment permit as well as a roadmap for increasing salary thresholds.

The main changes include:

  • 11 roles added to the Critical Skills Occupations List:
    • Professional Forester
    • Resource modelling, earth observation and data analyst
    • Meteorologist
    • Operational Forecaster
    • Chemical Engineer
    • Project Engineer
    • BIM Manager
    • Optometrist (Ophthalmic Optician)
    • Commercial Manager
    • BIM Coordinator/Technician
    • Estimator
  • 32 roles made eligible for a General Employment Permit;
  • Salary requirement for majority of General Employment Permit holders will rise from EUR 30,000 to EUR 34,000 in January 2024;
  • Healthcare assistants and home carers salary requirement will increase from EUR 27,000 and horticultural workers and meat processor salary requirement will increase from EUR 22,000 to EUR 30,000 in January 2024, bringing them in line with family reunification thresholds;
  • Extension of existing quotas for dairy farm assistants, butcher/deboners, meat processors and horticultural workers;
  • A Labour Market Needs Test (LMNT) is required for General Employment Permit applications and will have to reflect the revised thresholds in order to be deemed valid.

Currently, the salary threshold for General Employment Permits is EUR 30,000 and has not changed in almost a decade. This will increase to EUR 34,000 in January 2024, and further increases will be introduced up to EUR 39,000 in 2025.

 

Several occupations which had previously been made eligible for General Employment Permits (GEPs) have had their quotas extended, with effect from January 2024.

  • 1000 GEPs for meat processing operatives;
  • 350 GEPs for butcher/deboners;
  • 350 GEPs for dairy farm assistants;
  • 1000 GEPs have been provided for horticultural workers to support the sector until the introduction of the Seasonal Employment Permit.

12/15/23

Immigration Services Delivery (ISD) has announced an initiative to facilitate Christmas travel

Immigration Services Delivery (ISD) of the Department of Justice has acknowledged that persons seeking to renew their permissions to reside in Ireland are currently experiencing a backlog in processing of those renewals. Following the completion of the renewal process for a registration, it may take a further two weeks to receive an Irish Residence Permit (IRP) card via post.

To facilitate Non-EU/EEA nationals legally resident in the State who are required to renew their current permission and who wish to travel internationally during the Christmas and New Year period, the Minister for Justice is issuing a Travel Confirmation Notice.

The Notice requests carriers to allow individuals to travel on their recently expired IRP card during the period from 06 December 2023 to 31 January 2024 if they have submitted an application to renew their residence permission in advance of the expiry date of their IRP card.

  • Persons should download and print this travel noticeand present it, along with their expired IRP card, and proof of their renewal application (email confirmation that details the date of application) to immigration authorities and airlines if requested to do so.
  • ISD will advise all airlines and foreign missions of the Irish initiatives in place. However, it cannot force them to comply.
  • If you have to travel through a third country to return to Ireland it is a matter for that jurisdiction to require you to meet their immigration requirements including visa etc.
  • Travellers intending to use the travel notice should contact their carrier in advance of travel.
  • Further details on these arrangements can be found here.

12/8/23

An online form (Form 11) for citizenship applications for minors is now available. The Department of Justice previously announced (on 16 October 2023) that citizenship applications can now be made online. At that time, work was still ongoing on the development of an online form for minor applications.

11/17/23

Stamp 4 changes

Effective 30 November 2023, the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment (DETE) will cease taking applications for Stamp 4 support letters. This will impact Critical Skills Employment Permit holders, Researchers on a Hosting Agreement, and NCHD Multi-Site General Employment Permit holders wishing to transfer to a Stamp 4 Immigration permission.

However, all applications received by DETE prior to 30 November 2023 will continue to be processed.

The Registration Office, Immigration Services will continue to accept these support letters for applications to register a Stamp 4 residence permission.

Individuals who did not apply to DETE for a support letter prior to 30 November 2023 will be required to provide The Registration Office, Immigration Services the following evidence in support of applications to register a Stamp 4 residence permission:

  • A copy of the biometric page of their current valid passport(s).
  • A copy of the front and back of their current Irish Residence Permit (IRP) card.
  • Copies of the relevant Employment Permit or Hosting Agreement issued by the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment.
  • A copy of the most recent payslip.
  • A letter from the employer, dated within the last three months, confirming the job title, location of employment, and dates of employment.
  • Copies of ‘Employment Detail Summaries’ issued for each year of employment covering the duration of the Employment Permit, available here.

Applicants must have been registered and in permission for a total of 24 months under a Stamp 1 on the basis of a Critical Skills Employment Permit and/or Hosting Agreement, or under Stamp 1H as a Non-Consultant Hospital Doctor on the basis of a Multi-Site General Employment Permit. Applications for renewal of permission are accepted up to 12 weeks before expiry to allow sufficient time for processing.

10/27/23

Stamp 4 work permission expanded

On 23 October 2023, the government announced that holders of Stamp 4 immigration permission are now eligible to apply for civil service jobs.

Stamp 4 is an immigration permission allowing work without an employment permit. It is issued for two years and is renewable. It may be granted after a foreign national has had permission to work in Ireland with a Critical Skills Employment Permit for two years, with an employment permit for five years or as a researcher for two years.

10/20/23

Online citizenship applications

Citizenship applications can now be made online, including completing and submitting forms, uploading supporting documents and making payments.

Note that work is ongoing for the development of an online form for minor applications (Form 11).

Applicants who have already begun the application process via the old paper-based system can continue to submit via mail, although it is recommended to submit the online form if possible.

10/13/23

Reminder to residents intending to travel over Christmas holiday period

Immigration Service Delivery has notified its customers that the Immigration Services Registration Office at Burgh Quay in Dublin is currently experiencing a very large volume of applications for renewal of permission, with a current processing time to renew an IRP card of three to four weeks.

Following registration renewal, it may take a further two weeks to receive a new IRP card via post. An in-date IRP card may be required to facilitate travel to and from Ireland.

Non-EEA nationals legally resident in or near Dublin who are intending to travel over the Christmas holiday period and who are required to submit a renewal application are urged to do so online, via the ISD portal, as soon as possible and by 31 October 2023.

Considering the current processing times, of almost 6 weeks, the Immigration Services Registration Office Burgh Quay Dublin cannot guarantee that any renewal submitted after the 31 October 2023 will be processed and an IRP card delivered in time to facilitate travel over the Christmas holiday period.

Please note: Regardless of the date a renewal application is submitted or processed, the validity period for renewal of the permission will be based on the current expiry date.

9/25/23

Irish Resident permit cards for Temporary Protection beneficiaries

The Department of Justice has begun a project to issue Irish Resident Permit (IRP) cards to beneficiaries of Temporary Protection in a phased manner.

The Department of Justice is currently in the process of contacting, in phases, Ukrainians and third country nationals who have been granted Temporary Protection by email to seek proof of current address in order to issue IRP cards. Beneficiaries of Temporary Protection are not required to contact the Department until requested.

9/15/23

Visa now required for Bolivian nationals

On 8 September 2023, the Department of Justice announced that, effective 12 September 2023, all Bolivian nationals are required to obtain a visa before travelling to Ireland. A transit visa is also now required for those intending to transit Ireland end route to another destination.

The new visa requirement for Bolivian nationals brings Ireland into alignment with the visa regimes of the UK and of the Schengen area.

Part 2

New application form for extension of student permission

Domestic Residence and Permissions Division (DRP) has introduced an application form for Extension of Student Conditions.

Non-EEA national students should note that the Student Pathway sets out the immigration route for non-EEA national students.

Those who have been refused registration at their local immigration office and who believe they have exceptional circumstances can apply to DRP for an extension of their student permission using this application form.

Applications are only accepted through the post. The DRP helpdesk cannot process these applications.

Close Open Israel

11/17/23

Special measures for foreign workers

  • In view of the security situation and in order to assist the operation of hotels, the Population and Immigration Authority has extended, until 31 January 2024, permission for foreign workers in the hotel industry to work in hotels in the same chain or owned by the same owners, throughout the country.
  • The government has authorized the Population and Immigration Authority to admit up to 10,000 construction foreign workers into Israel. Licensed Human Resources companies for foreign employees in the construction sector, will now have the authorization to recruit these foreign workers even in the absence of bilateral agreements with the workers’ countries of origin. This framework will remain effective for a period of 90 days.
  • In addition, government officials have decided to extend, until 31 December 2023, the application submission deadline for companies seeking authorization as Human Resource Organizations to employ foreign workers in the construction industry.

11/10/23

Visa extensions for hotel workers

On 7 November 2023, the Population and Immigration Authority (PIBA) announced an automatic three-month extension of the visas and work permits of all foreign nationals in the hotel sector who are in Israel and whose work permit has expired or will expire before 31 December 2023. The extended visas and work permits are now valid until 31 March 2024.

At the end of this period, and if no further notice of extension is published, these permit holders must file applications to the Foreign Worker Administration of PIBA to extend their visas and employment permits, according to the usual procedures.

11/3/23

Measures during the security crisis

On 29 October 2023, the Population and Immigration Authority (PIBA) announced that all non-work visas due to expire within the next three months are extended until 8 February 2024. After this period, if there is no further notice, visa extension must be carried out as per the usual procedures.

The work visa extension process at the Interior Ministry for expiring B-1 expert work visas is currently not operating as usual. Instead, the Ministry is acknowledging the submission of extension applications and automatically extending the visas for one month at a time.

On 30 October 2023, PIBA announced a three-month extension of the work permits of all foreign nationals in the domestic nursing and agriculture sectors who are in Israel and whose work permit has expired or will expire between the dates 7 October 2023 and 7 January 2024.

On 1 November 2023, the government announced a further series of measures to recruit foreign national workers in the agriculture sector, which is currently experiencing a manpower crisis. These include allowing the immediate entry of 5000 foreign nationals to work in the sector, including foreign nationals who previously stayed in Israel in recognized agricultural training programs, who will be recruited by licensed private agricultural bureaus, not within the framework of bilateral agreements. Ministers also announced the implementation of existing bilateral agreements and the extension of a fast-track process to more countries of origin.

Approximately 7800 foreign agricultural workers have left Israel, out of approximately 30,000 foreign agricultural workers who worked in Israel before the fighting began. In addition, during this period it was decided not to allow the entry into Israel approximately 20,000 Palestinian workers in the agricultural sector.

10/13/23

Security response

The Israeli government has implemented certain measures in response to the ongoing security situation.

The Population and Immigration Authority has extended work visas for all foreign nationals who are in Israel with a valid visa whose validity will expire within the next month. The visas were extended until 9 November 23.

Most Population and Immigration Authority units are closed and will not receive public, including the Population Administration offices and the Foreign Workers Administration. Employers should expect heavy delays in visa processing.

The Population and Immigration Authority has issued a letter to foreign workers in the country and has increased the response hours of the PIBA Call Centre for foreign worker questions and complaints in various languages at the following number; 1700707889.

In addition, several consulates have suspended visa services and several airlines have cancelled all or some flights into or out of Israel’s airports.

Some governments have arranged repatriation flights for their citizens who are in Israel. These include Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Cyprus, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Italy, Kazakhstan, Mexico, Norway, Poland, Portugal, South Korea, Spain, Switzerland, Thailand, The Netherlands, Ukraine, United Kingdom and United States.

Close Open Italy

2/2/24

Foreign worker “click days” postponed

On 29 January 2024, the government announced the postponement of the opening days (“click days”) for the submission of applications to hire foreign workers under the 151,000 quotas authorized by the government for 2024 through the flows decree (“decreto flussi”).

A Decree of the President of the Council of Ministers has amended the calendar of click days (initially scheduled for 5, 7 and 12 February 2024) for the different types of workers as follows:

  • from 18 March 2024, applications can be sent for non-seasonal employees who are citizens of countries that have cooperation agreements with Italy;
  • from 9:00 am on 21 March 2024, applications can be sent for other non-seasonal employees (also in the family and social and social assistance sector);
  • from 9:00 am on 25 March 2024, applications for seasonal workers can be sent.

For 2024, the 151,000 quotas are to be allocated as follows:

  • 89,050 quotas for seasonal work in agriculture, hospitality and tourism, reserved to certain nationalities;
  • 61,250 for non-seasonal work as an employee;
  • 700 quotas for self-employment.

11/10/23

Start date for new EU Blue Card rules

The decree which transposes EU Directive 2021/1883 into Italian law, and introduces new rules for the entry and residence of highly qualified foreign nationals under the EU Blue Card scheme, was published in the official gazette of 2 November 2023. The new rules will enter into force on 17 November 2023.

Under the new rules:

  • Applications for unregulated professions now require a two-year university degree, or post-secondary professional qualifications of at least two years, or five years of relevant professional experience (or three years of relevant professional experience for information technology managers and specialists. Previously, a three-year university degree was always required.
  • Beneficiaries of international protection and seasonal workers are now entitled to apply for an EU Blue Card.
  • A job offer of at least six months is required, with an annual salary not lower than that established by national collective agreements.       Previously, a job offer for at least one year was required, with a minimum salary at least three times the minimum wage.
  • During the first 12 months of legal employment (rather than 24 months as previously), the EU Blue Card holder is restricted in terms of changing employer and carrying out works not fulfilling the criteria for admission.
  • An EU Blue Card holder can now conduct self-employed work alongside their highly-skilled employment. This was not previously permitted.
  • A holder of an EU Blue Card issued by another EU member state can enter Italy and stay for up to 90 days in any 180-day period to work. Previously only business activities were allowed.
  • A holder of an EU Blue Card issued by another EU member state can enter Italy without a visa and stay for work for more than 90 days if they have been legally resident in the issuing state for at least 12 months (previously 18 months).

10/20/23

Proposal to charge foreign nationals for use of health service.

On 16 October 2023, Italy’s Economy Ministry announced that the government has approved a draft budget bill for 2024-26 which includes the requirement for non-EEA residents to contribute EUR 2000 per year to use the national health service.

According to the budget, which still requires EU approval, the amount of the contribution will be reduced for foreign nationals holding a residence permit for study and for au pairs.

New rules for EU Blue Card approved

The Italian government has approved a decree which transposes EU Directive 2021/1883 into Italian law, introducing new rules for the entry and residence of highly qualified foreign nationals under the EU Blue Card scheme.

Under the new rules:

  • Applications for unregulated professions now require a two-year university degree, or post-secondary professional qualifications of at least two years, or five years of relevant professional experience (or three years of relevant professional experience for information technology managers and specialists. Previously, a three-year university degree was always required.
  • Beneficiaries of international protection and seasonal workers are now entitled to apply for an EU Blue Card.
  • A job offer of at least six months is required, with an annual salary not lower than that established by national collective agreements.       Previously, a job offer for at least one year was required, with a minimum salary at least three times the minimum wage.
  • During the first 12 months of legal employment (rather than 24 months as previously), the EU Blue Card holder is restricted in terms of changing employer and carrying out works not fulfilling the criteria for admission.
  • An EU Blue Card holder can now conduct self-employed work alongside their highly-skilled employment. This was not previously permitted.
  • A holder of an EU Blue Card issued by another EU member state can enter Italy and stay for up to 90 days in any 180-day period to work. Previously only business activities were allowed.
  • A holder of an EU Blue Card issued by another EU member state can enter Italy without a visa and stay for work for more than 90 days if they have been legally resident in the issuing state for at least 12 months (previously 18 months).

The decree will enter into force after it has been published in the Official Gazette.

10/6/23

2023-25 quota decree passes into law

The Decree of the President of the Council of Ministers of 27 September 2023 "Programming of legal entry flows into Italy of foreign workers for the three-year period 2023-2025" was published on 3 October 2023 in the Official Gazette.

The decree establishes a three-year immigration plan with a quota of 452,000 non-EU nationals permitted to enter for work between 2023 and 2025. In the past, quota decrees have been issued annually.

The 2023-25 quota (“Flussi”) decree increases the entry quotas for work and extends the professional categories and production sectors involved. Moreover, the quotas increase in each of the three years.

The 2022 quota decree allowed 82,705 entries: The proposed decree allows for 136,000 entries in 2023, 151,000 in 2024 and 165,000 in 2025.

For the 2023 quotas, applications may be submitted as follows:

  • from 2 December 2023, for non-seasonal employees from countries that have cooperation agreements with Italy;
  • from 4 December 2023 ,for other non-seasonal employees;
  • from 12 December 2023, for seasonal workers.

For 2023, the 136,000 quotas are to be allocated as follows:

  • 82,550 quotas for seasonal work in agriculture, hospitality and tourism, reserved to certain nationalities;
  • 52,770 for non-seasonal work as an employee.
    • In freight transportation, building, hospitality and tourism, mechanics, telecommunications, food, shipbuilding, transportation of passengers by bus, fishing, hairdressing, electricians, plumbers:
      • 2000 for citizens of countries that promote media campaigns regarding the risks resulting from involvement in irregular migration;
      • 25,000 for the following nationalities. Albania, Algeria, Bangladesh, Bosnia-Herzegovina, South Korea, Ivory Coast, Egypt, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Philippines Gambia, Georgia, Ghana, Jordan, Japan, Guatemala, India, Kyrgyzstan, Kosovo, Mali, Morocco, Mauritius, Moldova, Montenegro, Niger, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, Republic of North Macedonia, Senegal, Serbia, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Tunisia, Ukraine;
      • 12,000 for citizens of countries with which Italy has cooperation agreements;
      • 100 (employed or self-employed) reserved for foreign nationals who have Italian ancestry and reside in Venezuela;
      • 200 (employed or self-employed) reserved for stateless persons and refugees;
    • 9500 quotas for workers in the family care and support services;
    • 500 quotas for self-employment for:
      • Entrepreneurs intending to implement an investment plan of interest for the Italian economy, involving an investment of at least EUR 500,000 and creating at least three new jobs in Italy;
      • Freelancers/independent contractors who intend to practise regulated or controlled professions;
      • Chairman, CEO, director or auditor in an Italian company, active for at least three years;
      • Foreign citizens who intend to set up innovative start-up companies and who have a self-employment relationship with the start-up;
      • Internationally well-known artists, artists of recognised high professional qualification or artists who are hired by well-known Italian theatres, important public institutions, public television or well-known national private television;

4000 quotas for conversion from seasonal to standard work permits, for non-EU nationals already in Italy/EU.

Close Open Japan

12/16/24

Digital nomad visa forthcoming

It has been reported that Japan’s Immigration Services Agency has announced that it will introduce a six-month digital nomad visa in March 2024. The final conditions, benefits and application procedure are not yet finalised but the following details have been reported:

The visa is non-extendable and the digital nomad will not be able to apply for another digital nomad visa within six months after leaving Japan. Holders are permitted to apply for a working visa while in Japan.

Eligible applicants must be working remotely for an employer outside of Japan and must have an annual income of at least JPY 10 million. Applicants must also be from one of the 49 countries whose citizens are visa exempt for Japan, and must be from a country which has entered into a tax treaty with Japan. The digital nomad must also obtain traveller’s health insurance covering their stay.

A certificate of eligibility will not be required and the applicant can submit the application directly to the Japanese consulate with jurisdiction for their country of residence.

Digital nomads will not be considered residents of Japan so will not be able to open a bank account or rent long-term accommodation; but they will not be liable for tax in Japan. They can be accompanied by their family members but cannot enroll their children in school in Japan.

The Immigration Services Agency is accepting public comment on the proposed plan.

Close Open Kazakhstan

10/27/23

Visa-free agreement with China

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan has announced that the agreement on the mutual exemption from visa requirements between China and Kazakhstan, signed on 17 May 2023, will come into force on 10 November 2023.

According to the agreement, nationals of the two countries are exempt from visa requirements for the purposes of business, tourism, private affairs, medical treatment, international transport and transit. The period of stay must not exceed 30 calendar days from the moment of crossing the border, and a total of 90 calendar days within 180 calendar days.

If citizens need to stay for more than 30 days, they will need to obtain an entry visa of the appropriate category in advance. The visa-free regime does not provide the right to work, study or carry out missionary activity.

 

Deadline for 2024 quota applications

The deadline for employers to submit quota applications for 2024 is 30 September 2023.

A quota application must be submitted to the Employment Department by an employer which wishes to bring foreign nationals to work in Kazakhstan. Applications must be submitted in all regions where the company plans to employ the foreign workers, and should include the number of foreign nationals the company currently employs and plans to employ in the next year.

A quota application is not required for intra-corporate transferees or those eligible for work permit exemptions (for example investors or directors of 100% foreign-owned companies).

 

Close Open Kenya

11/17/23

Immigration fees increased

On 7 November 2023, the Kenyan Department for Immigration and Citizen Services (DICS) published increased fees for immigration services, including for work permits, visas and consular services, permanent residence, citizenship, passports and the registration of births and deaths.

However, after the High Court suspended the gazette notice, the government revoked it and, on 14 November 2023, published a new notice with adjusted fee increases, which is intended to take effect on 1 January 2024.

The State Department for Immigration and Citizen Services has been directed to conduct and complete a public consultation no later than 10 December 2023.

Close Open Kyrgyzstan

10/27/23

Visa-free entry for certain citizens of China and India

The government has introduced visa-free entry for up to seven days for nationals if China and India holding long-term multiple-entry visas issued by the United Kingdom or a Schengen zone country. Eligible nationals are also permitted to re-enter Kyrgyzstan after 21 days after departure from the country.

Moreover, the government has announced visa-free entry for up to 30 days (with a return air ticket) for permanent residents of Hong Kong or Macau, with the right to re-enter after 30 days after departure from the country.

Close Open Kuwait

2/9/24

Expanded family visa

Effective 28 January 2024, the government has resumed the issuance of family residence visas.

Eligibility has also been expanded to include the dependent spouse and children of foreign national residents who have a minimum salary of KD 800 (up from KD 550 before these visas were suspended in 2022). The minimum salary requirement may be waived for applications for children aged up to five years whose parents are both resident in Kuwait.

Other family members of the principal applicant are not currently eligible for family residence visas.

The principal applicant must also have a university degree corresponding to their field of work in Kuwait. Certain professions are exempt from this requirement:

  • Advisors, judges, prosecutors, experts, and legal researchers in the government sector;
  • Medical professionals, including doctors and pharmacists;
  • University, college, and higher institute professors;
  • School administrators, vice principals, education mentors, teachers, social workers, and laboratory attendants in the government sector;
  • Financial and economic advisors in universities;
  • Engineers;
  • Imams, preachers, and muezzins in mosques;
  • Librarians in government agencies and private universities;
  • Ministry of Health staff, including nurses, paramedics, medical technicians, and social service workers;
  • Social workers and psychologists in the government sector;
  • Journalism, media professionals, and correspondents;
  • Sports coaches and athletes in federations and clubs;
  • Pilots and flight attendants;
  • Professionals overseeing burial preparations and services.

Family residence visa applications must be submitted within Kuwait after arrival on an entry visa, and the process must be completed within two months of entry. This visa does not permit employment.

Visit visas resumed

On 5 February 2024, the Ministry of the interior announced the resumption of visit visas for family , commercial and tourist purposes, effective 7 February 2024.

A family visit visa is issued to the parents, spouse or children of foreign national workers earning a monthly salary of at least KD 400, and to other relatives if the foreign national worker earns at least KD 800 per month.

A commercial visit visa can be issued at the request of a Kuwaiti company or institution to foreign nationals with university or technical qualifications, for purposes in line with the company’s field of activity.

A tourist visit visa can be issued to nationals of 53 countries either directly on arrival at the port of entry or online via the Ministry of Interior website (the list of eligible nationalities is also at this link).

The tourist visit visa can also be issued to residents of Gulf Cooperation Council countries with professions specified in the Ministerial Resolution no. 2030/2008 and its amendments.

Finally, the tourist visit visa can be issued by hotels and companies connected to the Residency Affairs Department’s system.

 

9/15/23

Debts must be cleared before residence permit renewals

The Interior Ministry has announced that, effective 10 September 2023, foreign nationals wishing to renew their residence permits must first ensure that they have paid off all debts owed to state authorities.

Meanwhile, the Public Authority for Manpower (PAM) has issued new regulations for modifying the work permit information of foreign workers.

If an employer wishes to make changes to the foreign worker’s name, date of birth or nationality, they must first apply through the Ashal service for the cancellation of the visa associated with the worker. This application must be submitted within two weeks of the issuance of the work permit.

Once the visa is cancelled, the employer must visit the Ministry of Interior to modify the data held for the foreign worker and to apply for a new work permit.

Furthermore, PAM has introduced a new electronic service for the cancellation of the entry visa of an expatriate worker, accessible via the authority’s electronic services portal.

Close Open Luxembourg

Effective 1 September 2023, a new law aims to address the shortage of skilled workers by assisting companies to hire skilled foreign workers. The key changes are outlined below.

Third-country national family members of third-country national residents are now permitted to work without obtaining a separate work permit.

  • Third-country nationals who have a 'family member' residence permit now have free access to the Luxembourg labour market as soon as they arrive on the basis of a temporary authorisation to stay. However, they must take the necessary steps to obtain a residence permit as soon as possible.
  • Third-country nationals holding a 'family member' residence permit issued before 1 September 2023 were only authorised to work in Luxembourg if this was explicitly stated on their residence permit and under the conditions set out therein. Since 1 September 2023, they are authorised to work in Luxembourg, regardless of any observations stated to this effect on their residence permit. There are no plans to replace these residence permits which will only cease to be valid on their expiry date. It is only the note or observation on the back of the permit that ceases to be valid from 1 September 2023.

The procedure for approving temporary employment for international protection applicants will also be expedited. For asylum seekers whose process has not been completed after six months, as well as for individuals whose deportation has been postponed or cancelled, the National Employment Agency (ADEM) will no longer conduct a job market test when granting approval for temporary employment.

The period of validity of residence permits issued from this date for the purposes of job search or business creation has been extended from nine to twelve months.

 The process for issuing a certificate permitting the recruitment of third-country nationals will also be simplified.

Companies looking to hire a third-country national must have reported the job vacancy to ADEM and apply for a certificate that authorizes them to hire the person of their choice.

  • For professions listed as shortage professions, ADEM will no longer be required to conduct a job market test. In such cases, the certificate will be issued within five days of receiving the application.
  • For positions not listed as shortage professions, the job market test will still be conducted, but with shortened deadlines.
    • ADEM now has seven working days to assess the availability of job seekers with the required qualifications for the reported position.
    • If no suitable candidate can be proposed, the certificate will be issued within five working days after the seven-day period has expired.
    • However, if ADEM can suggest candidates with the desired qualifications, they have an additional 15 working days to provide the employer with placement suggestions.
Close Open Malaysia

12/8/23

ESD opens expatriate quota projection applications

On 1 December 2023, the Expatriate Services Division (ESD) of the Immigration Department of Malaysia announced that from 15 December 2023, companies registered on the Expatriate Services Division (ESD) online portal may apply for the projection of expatriates for Employment Pass (EP) and Professional Visit Pass (PVP) for 2024.

As reported in March 2023, the process for Expatriate Services Division (ESD) projection (quota) applications has been simplified and requests will be instantly approved. Previously, processing time was four weeks.

 

The projection application is only applicable for utilisation in its respective year. Any projection balance for the year 2023 needs to be utilised in the year 2023 and will not be carried forward for year 2024.

ESD reminds employers to:

  • update the latest e-SSM before the submission of the projection request;
  • fill out all the information required;
  • choose the correct projection year (i.e. 2024) and position group (e.g., top Management etc.)

Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) opened its system on 1 November 2023 for submission of Foreign Knowledge Worker (FKW) Projection for Employment Pass (EP) for 2024.

Digital arrival card

Effective 1 December 2023, the Immigration Department of Malaysia will require foreign nationals to complete the Malaysia Digital Arrival Card (MDAC) for entry to Malaysia.

Until 31 December 2023, MDAC may be completed at Malaysia’s entry checkpoints. From 1 January 2024, MDAC must be completed three days in advance of arrival.

Moreover, Singaporean passport holders are exempted from completing MDAC, along with Malaysian Permanent Residents and Malaysian Long-Term Pass holders, Brunei Common Certificate of Identification (GCI), Brunei Malaysia Frequent Traveller Programme participants, Thailand Border Pass holders and Indonesian Cross Border Pass (PLB) holders.

Permanent residents, holders of the Malaysian Automated Clearance System (MACS) card and transit passengers are also exempted from this requirement.

It is not clear whether holders of long-term passes are required to complete the MDAC before entry. However, long-term pass applicants entering Malaysia to have their passes endorsed in their passports are required to complete MDAC.

Visa liberalisation plan

The Immigration Department has announced a visa liberalisation plan, which includes the following measures effective 1 December 2023 to 31 December 2026 (unless otherwise stated):

Visa waiver for Chinese and Indian nationals

  • Effective 1 December 2023 to 31 December 2024.
  • 30-day stay, with no extension of stay allowed.
  • Visa approvals received before 1 December 2023 do not need to be presented on entry. However, fees paid for these visa approvals will not be refunded.

Multiple Entry Visa (MEV) facility

  • The visa validity period for entry is extended from 3 months to six months from the date of issuance.
  • Each entry allows a stay of 30 days.

 

Extension of visa validity period

  • For all visa types, the visa validity period for entry is extended from 3 months to six months from the date of issuance. This includes Visa with Reference (VDR) and Visa Without Reference (VTR).
  • Applicants for long-term passes travelling to Malaysia to have the pass endorsed in their passport must be sure to arrive within six months of issuance of the pass approval letter.

Extension of Social Visit Pass (SVP) stay period

  • The SVP duration is increased from 14 days to 30 days for the following 22 countries only:
    • Angola, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Colombia, Congo Democratic Republic, Congo Republic, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea-Bissau, Hong Kong, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Mali, Mozambique, Nigeria, Niger and Rwanda.
  • Visas for entry to Malaysia are still required for the said 22 countries
  • No extension is allowed beyond the 30-day SVP.

 

New Graduate Pass

  • A new Graduate Social Visit Pass (GSVP) is available for international students from the following 23 countries who have completed or are going to complete a bachelor’s degree or above in any higher education institute in Malaysia:
    • Australia, Bahrain, Brunei, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Japan, Kuwait, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Korea, Switzerland, Sweden, UAE, UK and USA.
  • The GSVP is a kind of Long-Term Social visit pass (LTSVP), valid for 12 months and issued together with a Multiple Entry Visa (MEV).
  • The GSVP allows tourism, study and work in certain sectors.
  • Dependents of holders are eligible for a LTSVP.
  • Applicants must present proof of a personal bond from a Malaysian sponsor who has an income of at least RM 1500.

 

Umrah Transit Visa

  • A new Umrah transit visa with a 7-day Social Visit Pass (SVP) is available for nationals of 32 countries who wish to visit Malaysia for social reasons before or after performing the Umrah.
  • Applications should be submitted through a travel agency registered with the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture.

10/27/23

Expatriate Services Division restarts iKad issuance

Effective 24 October 2023, the Expatriate Services Division (ESD) of the Immigration Department of Malaysia has begun issuing the i-KAD to ESD-registered holders of Employment Pass (EP) Category I, II and III and Residence Pass-Talent (RP-T). i-KAD will be issued for new, renewal and transfer of endorsement applications It will be issued to dependents of RP-T holders but not to dependents of EP holders.

The i-KAD is an identification document for foreign national residents in Malaysia and has not been issued since 2019.

 

Updates to the ESD Online Guidebook

The latest version of the Expatriate Services Division (ESD) Online Guidebook has been released, with the following important updates:

 

  • Companies regulated by Agencies are required to submit an approval letter for each Employment Pass (Category I, II, and III) application from the relevant Agencies in the Xpats Gateway platform to obtain their approval letter.
  • All new Employment Pass (EP) Categories I, II, and III (knowledge/skilled workers) applications must obtain an Approval Letter and Visa with a Reference Letter (VwR) for the purpose of employment. The Approval and VwR Letters must be produced at Malaysia's Entry Point for verification purposes. 
    • For categories I, II, and III, nationalities that require a visa to enter Malaysia can apply at the nearest Malaysian Embassy, High Commission, or Consulate General in the respective country or can apply through the eVISA website (If applicable).
  • All new Professional Visit Pass (PVP) applications must obtain an Approval Letter before entering Malaysia for the purpose of employment. The Approval Letter must be produced at Malaysia's Entry Point for verification purposes.
  • Applicants who have entered the country will have 30 days from the date of entry to endorse the EP sticker and 14 days for the PVP sticker via pass delivery by Pos Malaysia (for new and renewal applications); alternatively, applicants who have entered Malaysia via KLIA Terminal 1 will be able to collect and endorse the EP or PVP sticker at the ESD Satellite Centre (ESC), KLIA Terminal 1 (for new applications only).
  • Endorsed stickers will be delivered within Klang Valley in one working day, outside of Klang Valley in three working days and to Labuan in five working days upon collection by Pos Malaysia. 
  • An ePASS (for Employment Pass and Dependent Pass renewals only) can be generated through the ESD Online for applicants with a previously endorsed sticker on the passport, subject to the discretion of the Immigration Department of Malaysia.

10/20/23

MDEC restarts iKad issuance

Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) has begun issuing iKads to Employment Pass (EP) holders registered with it, for new, renewal and transfer of endorsement applications. iKad has not been issued in Malaysia since 2019.

  • For EP sticker endorsements, the iKad will be provided during the sticker endorsement stage.
  • For EP ePass issuance, the iKad can be collected at the Xpats Centre any time after the ePass is issued.
  • iKads are being issued for endorsements completed on or after 16 October 2023.
  • iKads are not currently being issued for dependents.
  • The Expatriate Services Division (ESD) has not yet announced the issuance of iKads to foreign national employees of companies registered with it.

MDEC Foreign Knowledge Worker (FKW) projection for 2024

Effective 1 November 2023, the Expats system is open for submission of Foreign Knowledge Worker (FKW) Projection for 2024.   MDEC advises only companies with FKW headcount requirement for the first quarter of 2024 to submit the projection to ease the approval process. Companies may continue to submit their FKW projection as and when required throughout the year 2023.

Note that the submission for 2023 FKW projection is still open until 15 November 2023, so companies should ensure they choose the right year for their request. Any balance from FKW projection that has been approved for the year 2023 will be forfeited by 31 December 2023.

Companies may proceed with their FKW projection submission by logging in here and following the relevant instructions. Document submission checklists are available here for MSC Status companies and here for ICT companies.

Close Open Netherlands

2/2/24

Visa-exempt nationals can stay for 90 days beyond their residence permit

Effective 15 February 2024, visa-exempt nationals are permitted to remain in the Netherlands for up to 90 days immediately after the expiry of their residence permit. It will no longer be necessary to first leave the Schengen area.

The foreign national does not have to submit an application for the 90-day visa-exempt period, but must meet all the requirements for a short-stay visa.

This new benefit does not apply if the foreign national’s residence permit has been withdrawn or if a return decision has been issued.

The sponsor (i.e., employer, spouse, parent) of the holder of the expired residence permit is responsible for any costs of returning to the country of origin for up to one year after expiry or cancellation.

Termination of temporary protection for third-country nationals from Ukraine

The Dutch immigration authorities (IND) have announced that non-Ukrainians with a temporary Ukrainian residence permit will receive a letter from the Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND). In this letter the IND informs the third-country nationals about the consequences of stopping temporary protection for this group after 4 March 2024.

The IND will send three different letters to three different groups. These letters include more information about appeal and other court proceedings, reception, assistance with return and the residence document. 

Return decision

The largest group of third-country nationals have no other permit to reside in the Netherlands, nor do they have an asylum or regular residence permit process in progress. The letter they will receive tells them, among other things, that temporary protection will end for them on 4 March 2024. Until that time they can make use of assistance with leaving the Netherlands by the Repatriation and Departure Service (DT&V). After 4 March 2024, they will no longer be allowed to work and they will have a time of 28 days to depart. This means that they will be allowed to stay in the municipal reception centre up to and including 1 April 2024. 

The IND will also inform these third-country nationals that the former return decision dated 4 September 2023 will be withdrawn. Anyone who has appealed against this will have their legal costs reimbursed. They will receive a new return decision before 4 March. 

Going through the asylum process

Third-country nationals with a current asylum process will not receive a return decision. They are allowed to wait for the decision on their asylum application in the Netherlands. The IND will inform them in early February 2024 that the Service will continue processing their asylum applications after 4 March 2024. They are allowed to work under the normal requirements belonging to an asylum process. 

Regular residence

A small number of third-country nationals have a different right of residency, for example a regular residence permit. At the beginning of February 2024, they will receive a letter from the IND about the consequences of the termination. They will be allowed to reside in the Netherlands under the conditions of their permit, as long as it is valid. 

Residence documents

The residence pass (Type O) of all third country nationals for whom the TPD will end will no longer be valid after 4 March 2024. Anyone who has applied and still does not have a Foreign Nationals Identity Document (Type W) can pick this up at an IND desk. They can also surrender their old Type O passes there. 

12/26/23

New income requirements for highly skilled migrants

New income requirements for highly skilled migrants have been published in the Government Gazette (Staatscourant, only in Dutch). These are the required amounts as of 1 January 2024:

  • Highly skilled migrants over 30 years of age: €5331
  • Highly skilled migrant under 30 years of age: €3909
  • Orientation year for highly educated migrants: €2801
  • European Blue Card: €6245

The above amounts will be published here from 1 January 2024.

The income of a highly skilled migrant must meet the required amount applicable on the application date.

New rules for EU Blue Card

The transposition of the revised EU Blue Card directive into Dutch national legislation has been delayed until 2024. However, some rules from the revised directive took effect on 18 November 2023 and this is reflected in the relevant application forms and web page.

The changes are as follows:

  • Persons who have international protection status in an EU Member State can now qualify for a European Blue Card if they meet the requirements. 
  • A higher education degree is required for the Blue Card. However, IT managers and IT professionals can now qualify on the basis of work experience. At least 3 years of relevant experience in the past 7 years is required for this.
  • The minimum term of the required employment contract has been shortened from 12 to 6 months.
  • Holders of an EU Blue Card in a different EU Member State are now allowed to come to the Netherlands for work-related activities for 9 months at most. This is called short-term mobility. In order to stay more than 90 days (long-term mobility), an individual must apply for a European Blue Card in the Netherlands. Long-term mobility is possible after a stay of a least 12 months in another EU Member State. This was previously after 18 months. 
  • Holders of European Blue Cards who have used long-term mobility may qualify sooner than before for the status long-term EU resident. For this purpose they may in fact also include other forms of residence.  
  • No job-market test applies to EU long-term residents who are former holders of a European Blue Card and have applied for residence in the Netherlands for the purpose of performing an economic activity as an employee or self-employed person. This means that the application is no longer assessed for the presence of jobseekers from the EEA. Nor does an employer need to place a vacancy notice and demonstrate recruitment efforts. 
  • Several decision periods have been shortened.

‘30 Percent Rule’ restrictions passed by parliament

On 19 December 2023, the upper house (Senate) of the Dutch parliament approved the 2024 tax plan, as well as the Minimum Tax Act 2024 (Pillar Two). These amend the Dutch corporate income tax act and Dutch personal income tax act, including the introduction of restrictions on the 30% facility.

Currently, eligible highly skilled foreign workers are not required to pay tax on up to 30% of their income for five years (reduced from eight years in 2019). This is justified as a reimbursement for costs incurred in moving to the Netherlands form abroad. From 1 January 2024, this reimbursement can only be up to a maximum of EUR 233,000.

It is also permitted for employers to reimburse the actual moving costs of the employee, instead of using the 30% facility.

The first amendment requires that, effective 1 January 2024, the 30% ruling for new applications can only be applied to a maximum of 30% of the taxable salary for the first 20 months. In the following 20 months, the rule can be applied up to a maximum of 20% of the taxable wage. The following 20 months only up to a maximum of 10% of taxable wages. After 60 months, the maximum duration of the 30% ruling has expired.

Transitionally, foreign employees already using the 30% ruling before 1 January 2024 will not be subject to the reduction.

The second amendment regulates the abolition of partial foreigner taxpayer status by 2025. Currently, foreign workers who are resident in the Netherlands and use the 30%-ruling can select partial foreign taxpayer status in their income tax return so that, for the purposes of Box 2 and Box 3, they are considered foreign taxpayers despite being resident in the Netherlands.

Transitionally, foreign national residents who already use this facility before 1 January 2024 can continue to use the partial foreign tax liability until 2026 at the latest.

11/3/23

Further restriction of the 30% ruling

On 27 October 2023, the Dutch House of Representatives passed two amendments to the 2024 Tax Plan which, if approved by the Senate, will further scale back the so-called “30% ruling”.

Currently, eligible highly skilled foreign workers are not required to pay tax on up to 30% of their income for five years (reduced from eight years in 2019). This is justified as a reimbursement for costs incurred in moving to the Netherlands form abroad. From 1 January 2024, this reimbursement can only be up to a maximum of EUR 233,000.

It is also permitted for employers to reimburse the actual moving costs of the employee, instead of using the 30% facility.

The first amendment requires that, effective 1 January 2024, the 30% ruling for new applications can only be applied to a maximum of 30% of the taxable salary for the first 20 months. In the following 20 months, the rule can be applied up to a maximum of 20% of the taxable wage. The following 20 months only up to a maximum of 10% of taxable wages. After 60 months, the maximum duration of the 30% ruling has expired.

Transitionally, foreign employees already using the 30% ruling before 1 January 2024 will not be subject to the reduction.

The second amendment regulates the abolition of partial foreigner taxpayer status by 2025. Currently, foreign workers who are resident in the Netherlands and use the 30%-ruling can select partial foreign taxpayer status in their income tax return so that, for the purposes of Box 2 and Box 3, they are considered foreign taxpayers despite being resident in the Netherlands.

Transitionally, foreign national residents who already use this facility before 1 January 2024 can continue to use the partial foreign tax liability until 2026 at the latest.

9/29/23

Residence permit for foreign investors to close

Effective 1 January, the residence permit for foreign investors will close.

The residence permit is valid for a maximum of three years, and the Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND) can extend this period by up to five years. Holders of the residence permit for foreign investors may work in the Netherlands without a work permit (TWV).

While the investor permit is still available, applicants must invest a minimum of EUR1,250,000 in an innovative company based in the Netherlands; or in a fund that, according to the Ministry of Economic Affairs, falls within the SEED regulation; or in a participation fund or contractual partnership that invests in a company in the Netherlands. Investing in real estate for private occupation is excluded.

The investment must be deposited into a bank account of a Dutch or EU Member State bank supervised by De Nederlandsche Bank (DNB); and have added value for the Dutch economy, as assessed by the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO).

The added value is there if the investment meets 2 of the following 3 criteria:

  • Within 5 years at least 10 jobs will be created.
  • A contribution is made to increasing the innovativeness of the Dutch company. This may be proven through, among other things, the introduction of a patent, investing in both technological and non-technological innovation or investing in a company that belongs to a top sector.
  • There is another, non-financial added value, such as specific knowledge, networks, clients and active involvement of the investor.

 

Close Open New Zealand

2/23/24

Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) threshold to increase

The New Zealand minimum wage will increase on 1 April 2024. This means that the wage threshold for all Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) workers will also increase to align with the new minimum wage.

RSE workers must be paid at the New Zealand minimum wage plus 10 percent. This means that from 1 April 2024 employers in this sector must pay workers NZD$25.47 per hour to ensure that RSE remuneration continues to increase in line with the minimum wage.

Currently, RSE workers are required to be paid a minimum of NZD$24.97 per hour for actual hours worked.

Employers who fail to update wages in line with the new minimum hourly wage would breach their Agreement to Recruit (ATR) commitments.

If a worker transfers from one RSE employer to another, the new employment agreement must also comply with minimum pay.

New wage thresholds imminent

Immigration New Zealand has confirmed that Wage thresholds for the Skilled Migrant Category, the Green List Straight to Residence and Work to Residence visas, and the Parent Category residence class visa will increase in line with the median wage (NZD 31.61 an hour) on 28 February 2024.

The wage threshold for the Transport Sector Work to Residence Visa will also increase in line with the new median wage (excluding bus drivers).

This increase does not apply to the Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV), which the Government signalled in December will remain at the current rate of NZD 29.66 an hour.

For consistency the pause also applies to AEWV-linked work visas that are either set at or indexed to the median wage rate from February 2023 (NZD 29.66 an hour) including:

  • the Partner of a Worker Work Visa
  • variation of conditions for AEWVs, legacy Essential Skills work visas, interim visas granted under the Skilled Migrant Category, and Partner of a Worker work visas
  • Subsequent Migrant Exploitation Protection Visas.

This pause allows time for decisions to be taken on alternatives to the median wage threshold to ensure it is attracting the workers New Zealand needs and filling genuine skill shortages.

Migrants who already hold an AEWV which is paid at the paused wage rate (NZD 29.66 an hour) may continue to accrue work experience for Skilled Residence, despite the increase in wage requirements. However, they will need to have a job or job offer that meets the skilled residence pathway rate in line with the median wage at the time that they apply.

Migrants who do not yet hold an AEWV and are looking to apply for one of the Skilled Residence pathways in the future should note that to meet eligibility they will be required to meet the higher threshold (NZD 31.61 an hour) rather than the lower one they need for an AEWV.

We use median wage data published by Stats NZ:

  • NZD 29.66 an hour reflects the June 2022 quarter
  • NZD 31.61 an hour reflects the June 2023 quarter.

All sector agreements and exemptions to the median wage will also remain in place with current wage rates until further decisions are taken on the use of the median wage under the AEWV.

The expiry of the tourism and hospitality wage exemption and the transport sector agreement have been delayed.

2/2/24

Permanent Resident Visa applications now online

As of 29 January 2024, the applications for the Permanent Resident Visa (PRV), Second or Subsequent Resident Visa (SSRV) and Variation of Travel Conditions of a resident visa (VOTC) are online.

Applicants must apply for these visas online and will be able to see the status of their application online.

Immigration New Zealand (INZ) will only accept paper applications in special circumstances or if an exception applies.

Applicants must have held their resident visa for at least two years to be eligible for permanent residence. If they were outside New Zealand when their resident visa was issued, their first day in New Zealand on their resident visa must have been at least two years ago. Applicants can check the Permanent Resident Visa page for the full list of criteria.

If an application is incomplete or missing supporting documents it may be delayed.

If the applicant submits an application before they are eligible, it is likely that it will be declined, and they will need to re-apply once they have met all of the eligibility criteria. They will also need to pay another processing fee.

Other permanent resident visa types, such as the Global Impact Permanent Resident Visa, and the Afghan Emergency Resettlement Permanent Resident Visa are not being moved online at this time. Eligible applicants for these visas should continue to use the paper form. More information is available here.

12/26/23

Pause on median wage rate increase for Accredited Employer Work Visa

The government has announced that it is pausing the scheduled increase of the median wage rate for the Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV) that was due in February 2024.

The median wage rate is the minimum amount that must be paid by employers to hire migrant workers on an AEWV.

The pause means the rate for workers on an AEWV will remain at the current rate of NZD 29.66 per hour. The pause also extends to median wage requirements for partners of workers.

All other sector agreements and exemptions to the median wage will also remain in place based on the current rate.

The new median wage of NZD 31.61 per hour will still apply to other visa categories that use it from February 2024, such as the Skilled Migrant Category and Parent Category.

The pause allows time for decisions to be taken on alternatives to the median wage threshold in the AEWV, which the Government has committed to removing.

Upcoming immigration changes to protect migrants

The Worker Protection (Migrant and Other Employees) Act 2023 will come into effect on 6 January 2024. The Act introduces a suite of changes across the Employment Relations Act, the Immigration Act, and the Companies Act, to combat migrant exploitation.

The changes to the Immigration Act are:

  • Requiring employers to provide employment-related documentation within 10 working days of it being requested by an immigration officer.
  • Introducing 3 new immigration infringement offences. These are:
    • allowing a person who is not entitled under the Immigration Act to work in the employer’s service to do that work.
    • employing a person in a manner that is inconsistent with a work-related condition of that person’s visa.
    • failing to comply with a requirement to supply documents within 10 working days.
  • Enabling the Chief Executive of MBIE to publish the names of employers who offend against the Immigration Act.

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) will not commence issuing infringement notices until changes to the immigration regulations have been made to prescribe the form of the infringement notice. This is subject to decisions by the new government. MBIE will provide more information on how infringement notices will be implemented following the government’s decision,.

Once the amended immigration regulations are in place to enable the issuing of infringement notices, MBIE will be able to issue them for offences that occurred before the regulations were in place (up to a max of 90 days previously, or 6 January 2024, whichever is later).

In most cases, the new infringement offences do not change employers’ obligations. Employers are already required to only employ people who hold a valid visa and in line with those visa conditions, as well as provide documents as part of post-decision checks under the Accredited Employer scheme. Adding infringement offences to the Act strengthens and standardises the sanction for non-compliance with these requirements.

MBIE will also not start publishing the names of non-compliant employers immediately on 6 January 2024. This power is intended to support the publication of an immigration stand-down list, where the names of non-compliant employers are published alongside a “stand-down” period, during which they are not able to support further visa applications.

The offences that will lead to a stand-down and the formula for calculating a stand-down period are still to be approved by the government. MBIE will not start publishing a stand-down list until these details are confirmed.

12/15/23

90-day trial periods

The New Zealand Government announced on 11 December 2023 its intention to extend 90-day trial periods to all employers.

However, Immigration New Zealand (INZ) clarifies that this does not apply to accredited employers and those on the Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV).

On 29 October 2023, rules came into effect that mean accredited employers are not able to use 90-day trial periods in employment agreements. This is to encourage accredited employers to treat migrant fairly, and only recruit someone when they have a genuine labour need or skills gap to fill.

  • Employment agreements provided with job check applications must not include a trial period.
  • Employers who use a trial period in employment agreements will risk having their accreditation revoked.
  • Breaches could be detected up front as part of the job check process, or through post-decision and reaccreditation checks.

12/8/23

Permanent residence visa applications go online

Effective from the end of January 2024, customers will be able to submit the following applications electronically using Immigration Online (instead of using a paper-based application):

  • Permanent resident visa
  • Second or subsequent resident visa
  • Variation of travel conditions of a resident visa.

Currently, these applications are submitted using paper forms, limiting an applicant's ability to track the progress of their applications online. Moving to Immigration Online means applicants:

  • can check their application status online without having to call the INZ contact centre, and
  • no longer have to submit physical documents, such as passports.

Foreign nationals are only eligible for a Permanent Resident Visa once they have held their resident visa for at least two years.

  • If someone was outside of New Zealand when their resident visa was issued, the start of the two-year period is when they arrived in New Zealand on their resident visa.
  • Submitting an application within the two-year period may result in the application being declined, meaning customers will need to reapply and pay an additional application fee.

Immigration New Zealand (INZ) notes that an update sent to some Resident Visa 2021 holders on 5 December 2023 may contain an incorrect date for when they will be eligible for a Permanent Resident Visa, and they should check the eligibility criteria before they apply.

10/20/23

Additional Parent Category draw

An additional Parent Category draw of 1500 expressions of interests (EOIs) will be taking place on Tuesday 17 October 2023.

This additional selection from the queued EOIs is being made to provide certainty for those who have had their EOI in the queue and fulfil the 2000-cap available under this category for the financial year.

The remaining EOIs in the queue are expected to be selected as part of the November draw.

INZ will not be selecting EOIs from the ballot in this draw. The next ballot selection will take place in November.

To be considered for the next ballot draw, EOIs must be submitted no later than 31 October 2023.

An updated table for when EOIs are expected to be selected can be found here.

Reopening of Vietnam Working Holiday Scheme

Aotearoa (New Zealand) has agreements with 45 countries, including Vietnam, that allow young people aged between 18 and 30 (or up to 35 in some cases) the opportunity to travel around New Zealand and work temporarily while there.

On 30 October 2023, the scheme will reopen to Vietnam nationals, capped at 100 places.

In February, it was announced that Vietnam would receive a cap increase to 200 this year. However, this increase will now come into effect later than expected to enable time for the necessary processes between both our countries to be completed.

New Zealand officials are working to finalize details for raising the cap for New Zealanders looking to travel to Vietnam as part of a Working Holiday Scheme.

Changes to 90-day trial periods on Accredited Employer Work Visa and to AEWV labour hire (triangular) employment threshold workers

From 29 October 2023, employers cannot use 90-day trial periods when hiring people on an Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV). From 27 November 2023, labour hire (triangular) construction employment firms will need to have at least 35% of their labour hire workforce made up of New Zealand citizens and residents.

Changes to 90-day trial periods on Accredited Employer Work Visa

From 29 October 2023, accredited employers are not able to use 90-day trial periods in employment agreements when hiring people on an Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV). This is to encourage accredited employers to treat migrant fairly, and only recruit someone when they have a genuine labour need or skills gap to fill. 

  • Employment agreements provided with job check applications must not include a trial period.
  • Employers who use a trial period in employment agreements will risk having their accreditation revoked. 
  • Breaches could be detected up front as part of the Job Check process, or through post-decision and re-accreditation checks. 

After that date, an employer’s AEWV Job Check application under assessment will be declined if it includes an employment agreement with a trial period (regardless of the submission date),or Immigration New Zealand (INZ) may request updated information. This includes Job Checks submitted before 29 October 2023 but assessed on and after this date. 

The 90-day trial rule will not apply to: 

  • applications based on already-approved Job Checks; or 
  • migrants who already hold, or have applied for, an AEWV based on a job check that was approved prior to 29 October 2023 (when the policy takes effect). 

AEWV employer accreditation changes

Additionally, technical updates have been made to immigration instructions to clarify the ability to suspend or revoke an employer’s accreditation under the AEWV. 

From 29 October 2023: 

  • an employer’s accreditation can be suspended when INZ or another regulator is taking active steps to confirm an employer or its key people are compliant with immigration, employment and business standards. This includes any verification or compliance activities – not just formal investigations; 
  • the requirement for accredited employers not to pass on certain costs to migrant workers includes passing on costs to visa applicants, as well as those who already hold a visa. 

AEWV Labour hire (triangular) employment threshold change 

From 27 November 2023, INZ will be requiring accredited employers who are labour hire (triangular) employment firms who place migrants in specific construction occupations to have at least 35% of their labour hire workforce made up of New Zealand citizens and residents in full time employment. This is an increase from the current threshold of 15%. 

INZ will assess the New Zealand workforce threshold at both the accreditation and Job Check stages. Job Checks will fail if the new threshold is not met. 

Existing employers will not lose their current accreditation if they don't meet the new 35% threshold, as long as they continue to meet the 15% threshold. However, INZ will not approve a further Job Check until the employer meets the new threshold. 

The increased threshold will only apply to labour hire employers who are placing, or intending to place, AEWV holders in the occupations listed here.

Triangular employer are those who:

  • are employing staff for the purposes of placing or assigning the employee with a controlling third party. 
  • Are one party to an employment arrangement between three parties, with each party having distinct relationships with one another.  

Checks for employers with incorrect accreditation are underway. 

 

AEWV processing times

 

Immigration New Zealand (INZ) has made adjustments to its Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV) assessment approach, making more requests for further information from employers to confirm job vacancies are current, vacancies are genuine and whether employers can support the migrants they plan to hire.   

As a result, INZ is experiencing an increase processing times for the employer accreditation and job check phases of the Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV). 

Most applications are taking longer than 10 days to process at present. INZ recommends employers allow at least six weeks to apply for an accreditation and six weeks to apply for a job check with current processing times.

If an application has not yet been allocated for assessment and employers need to request urgent allocation, they can use the INZ employment visa escalation process to request that their application is prioritised if necessary. Note: an application taking longer than 10 days to process is not in itself a reason to be prioritised given the current processing volumes.

10/6/23

New Skilled Migrant Category

On 9 October 2023, the Skilled Migrant Category Resident Visa will open, with a simplified points system that sets a clear skills threshold for residence and offers several ways for applicants to demonstrate their skill level. Under the new system, applicants will need six points to be granted residence.

Applicants who wish to apply for the Skilled Migrant Category Resident Visa can claim three to six points from one of the following skill indicators:

  • Occupational registration (where an occupation has a regulated registration, licensing, or certification scheme in New Zealand and full registration requires at least two years of formal training or experience);
  • A bachelor’s degree or higher-level qualification; or
  • A skilled job earning at least 1.5 x median wage in New Zealand.

If applicants do not gain enough points through one of these skill pathways, they will need to gain additional points through having skilled work experience in New Zealand.

All applicants will need a skilled job offer in New Zealand, and most applicants will be required to spend time working in New Zealand before becoming eligible for residence.

Under the new settings, there will be no cap on the number of people who can gain residence if they meet the skills threshold. This, along with simpler settings, means applicants can expect faster decision times (where complete information is provided to Immigration New Zealand).

Employers can continue to bring skilled workers to New Zealand on a temporary work visa, such as the Accredited Employer Work Visa, or employ migrants on other work visas such as the Working Holiday Visa, even if they do not meet the residence criteria.

Recently, additional changes have also been made:

  • Interim visas now allow for Skilled Migrant Category Resident Visa applicants to be on an interim visa while they await the outcome of their application);
  • Interim visa holders who are awaiting the outcome of their Skilled Migrant Category Resident Visa application will be able to vary some of the conditions of their interim visa if their circumstances change;
  • Changes to the List of Qualifications Exempt from Assessment (LQEA) were made ahead of the Skilled Migrant Category Resident Visa opening, as well as the Work to Residence (WtR) category opening.

 

Pacific Access Category and Samoan Quota

The ballot draws for the Pacific Access Category (PAC) and Samoan Quota (SQ) to select who will be invited to apply for residence in New Zealand will happen on 6 October 2023.

The PAC and SQ residence pathways recognise the special relationship between New Zealand and Samoa and the Pacific Access Category countries of Tonga, Tuvalu, Kiribati and Fiji.

Sufficient registrations will be drawn to allow up to 1650 Samoan citizens, 500 Tongan, 500 Fijian citizens, 150 Kiribati and 150 Tuvaluan citizens to be granted residence.

These places are how many people will be granted residence under each category. Registrations for the ballots can contain more than one person, for example if a family have applied under the same registration.

Immigration New Zealand will publish successful registrant reference numbers online by the end of October 2023.

Successful applicants will be sent an invitation to apply letter after the reference numbers are published. This letter will include information about how to apply for the residence visa.

You must apply for New Zealand residency within 8 months of receiving an invitation to apply.

New income threshold

The minimum income requirement for those applying for residence under PAC and SQ with dependent children will increase to $51,734.80 from 20 October 2023.

This will apply to those who are invited to apply for residence following the ballot draw. The purpose of this requirement is to ensure that parents can adequately support children in New Zealand. The income of a secondary applicant partner may also be taken into account as long as both applicants have an acceptable offer of employment in New Zealand.

9/29/23

Changes to interim visas and variation of conditions ahead of Skilled Migrant Category opening

Ahead of the new Skilled Migrant Category Resident Visa opening on 9 October 2023, the Government has recently agreed to changes to interim visas and interim variations of conditions for Skilled Migrant Category Resident Visa applicants, their dependents, and partners.

Changes to interim visas come into effect on 9 October 2023 when the new Skilled Migrant Category Resident Visa opens, and variation of conditions changes will be effective from 5 November 2023.

Interim visa changes

Changes have been made to interim visas to allow for Skilled Migrant Category Resident Visa applicants to be on an interim visa while they await the outcome of their application.

Applicants will be granted an interim visa which will be valid for up to 24 months and include multiple entry travel conditions, allowing them to leave New Zealand and return on the same interim visa while it is valid. Applicants must be in New Zealand on the date their visa expires to be eligible to be granted an interim visa.

These interim visa changes will also apply to partners and dependents of Skilled Migrant Category Resident Visa applicants.

Interim variation of conditions changes

The changes to variations of conditions (VOCs) to interim visas will mean interim visa holders who are awaiting the outcome of their Skilled Migrant Category Resident Visa application will be able to vary some of the conditions of their interim visa if their circumstances change.

As interim visas for Skilled Migrant Category Resident Visa applicants are valid for 24 months, it is highly likely some applicants’ circumstances will change in that timeframe. These changes are being made to allow applicants to vary the conditions of their visa while they await the outcome of their applications.

Eligibility for Skilled Migrant Category Interim Visa VOCs will be based on the conditions of the interim visa held and the situation of the applicants.

This means that not all people with the same interim visa conditions will have the same VOC pathway.

The cost to vary the conditions of a visa is NZD$210.

Work to residence visas open for applications

On 29 September 2023, the Green List and sector agreements work to residence visas will open for residence visa applications.

This means migrants who want to apply for residence under the Work to Residence Visa, Care Workforce Work to Residence Visa, or Transport Work to Residence Visa can apply if they:

  • have two years of eligible work experience in a Green List or sector agreement role in New Zealand, and met the relevant skill and wage thresholds, and
  • meet the other standard visa application requirements such as health, character, English language, and age.

The 24 months of work experience in a relevant role must be gained:

  • while holding any type of work visa, or a Critical Purpose Visitor Visa with work rights, and
  • from 29 September 2021, and within 30 months of the date their residence visa application is made.

 

Wage requirements for the Green List Work to Residence Visa

People applying for the Work to Residence Visa will need to meet a Green List role requirement of median wage, or role-specific wage threshold in place:

  • at the start of their 24 months of work experience, and
  • at the time they apply for residence.

If the median wage increases during their 24 months of work experience, they need to meet the new threshold when either they apply for the visa or if they change jobs.

There is an exemption If someone applied for their work visa or Critical Purpose Visitor Visa (with work rights) before 29 September 2023. In this case, they only need to be paid the median wage at the time they apply for their residence visa. The exemption does not apply to people on the Accredited Employer Work Visa.

Changes to skilled residence application processing priorities

A new priority of processing skilled residence applications has been agreed. From 29 September 2023, priority will be given to some of these skilled residence applications: 

  • Straight to Residence Visa
  • Skilled Migrant Category Resident Visa
  • Work to Residence Visa.

 

How skilled residence applications will be prioritised

For a skilled residence application to be prioritised, the applicant will need to be either:

  • in a Tier 1 Green List role, or
  • paid three times the median wage, or
  • applying for the Skilled Migrant Category Resident Visa and have 6 points without work experience.

Prioritisation means that immigration officers will assess these applications before other skilled residence applications. Once the applications have been allocated, assessment and verification is the same as all other skilled residence applications.

There is no cap on the number of skilled residence visas that can be granted, and all visas will be granted to applicants who meet the relevant immigration requirements.

Changes to immigration settings

The government has announced changes to New Zealand’s immigration pathways.

The changes include:

  • adding 17 roles to the Green List
  • increasing the Recognised Seasonal Employer cap to 19,500 for 2023/24 season
  • closing the Recovery Visa to new applicants from 23 September 2023
  • existing holders of a Recovery Visa in New Zealand can apply for a 3-month extension
  • adding a small number of roles to the Construction and Infrastructure Sector Agreement
  • requiring a judicial warrant for out-of-hours compliance visits.

 

Roles added to the Green List

Seventeen roles will be added to the Green List, following a scheduled and targeted review conducted by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE).

Roles being added to the Green List are:

  • Aviation Engineer (Avionics, Aeronautical, Aerospace Engineer)
  • Naval Architects (aka Marine Designer)
  • Mechanical Engineering Technician
  • ICT Database and System Administrator
  • Aircraft Maintenance Engineer
  • Road Roller Operator
  • Paving Plant Operator
  • Corrections Officer
  • Metal Fabricator
  • Pressure Welder
  • Welder
  • Fitter (General)
  • Fitter and Turner
  • Fitter-Welder
  • Metal Machinist (First Class)
  • Panel Beater
  • Vehicle Painter.

The roles will be added to the Green List from March 2024. More information, including the specific requirements for each role and the specific residence pathway that will be available, will be available nearer the time.  

Applications for work to residence pathway open

From 29 September 2023, the Green List and Sector Agreement Work to Residence pathways will open to applications for existing occupations on those lists.

Migrants with two years of eligible work experience in a Green List Work to Residence or eligible Sector Agreement role will be able to apply for residence if they meet other requirements relating to age, health, character and English language ability.

Increasing the cap for Recognised Seasonal Employer Scheme

The cap on the number of workers who may be employed under the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme is increasing to 19,500 for the 2023/2024 season — 500 more than the previous year.  

The new RSE cap will allow access to workers from participating Pacific countries, providing workforce to the horticulture and wine sectors where local workers are not available. 

This year’s increase reflects the request from industry for access to more workers, while balancing the effects on the New Zealand labour market, including expected labour market conditions in the coming year and the availability of suitable accommodation.  

Cyclone Gabrielle Response Recovery Visa

The Government has announced that the Recovery Visa is closed to new applications from 23 September 2023.   

From that date, existing visa holders already in New Zealand will be able to apply for a 3-month extension to the Recovery Visa, to allow them time to transition to longer term work visas if necessary.

Immigration New Zealand will contact existing visa holders as their visas approach expiration, to inform them of their options. Eligible visa holders will be able to apply for the extension using the existing online form for the Specific Purpose Work Visa. 

New roles added to Construction and Infrastructure Sector Agreement

Additional roles will also be added to the Construction and Infrastructure Sector Agreement. These will be added early next year, and more information will be available closer to the time.  

The roles being added to the Construction and Infrastructure Sector Agreement are:  

  • Driller’s Assistant
  • Earthmoving Labourer
  • Earthmoving Plant Operator (General)
  • Linemarker
  • Machine Operators N.E.C.
  • Mechanic’s Assistant
  • Road Traffic Controller

 

Legislative changes to our out-of-hours compliance visits

Cabinet has agreed to amend the Immigration Act 2009 to require a judicial warrant to be sought for out-of-hours compliance activity, following the recommendation in Mike Heron KC’s independent review of out of hours compliance visits that the Government consider legislative change to specify criteria for these visits.

This change will ensure that powers are not used disproportionately and that there is a legal, third-party check and balance.

MBIE has already accepted the four operational recommendations made in the report and is in the process of implementing them.

Officials will continue work on this legislative change and report back with a specific proposal by the end of November 2023. It will be progressed as a standalone bill that will be passed as soon as possible in the next term.

9/22/23

Government to review exempt qualifications list

The government has agreed to update the List of Qualifications Exempt from Assessment (LQEA) ahead of the opening of the Skilled Migrant Category Resident visa on 9 October 2023.

The LQEA is a publicly available list which sets out the comparable New Zealand Qualifications and Credentials Framework (NZQCF) level for specified overseas qualifications. Note that within immigration instructions the NZQCF is referred to as the New Zealand Qualifications Framework or NZQF.

The review will include:

  • A review of the existing list;
  • Removal of qualifications which do not meet the new Skilled Migrant Category Resident Visa criteria;
  • Compiling quality assured, approved, accredited and relevant qualifications that meet the requirements; and
  • The addition of ‘qualification type’ to all qualifications on the list.

 

The updated LQEA will be in effect from 29 September 2023, to coincide with the Green List and Sector Work to Residence categories opening to application. It will be in place for the opening of the revised Skilled Migrant Category Resident Visa on 9 October 2023. It will include the following seven countries:

  • Hong Kong
  • Malaysia
  • Philippines
  • South Africa
  • United Kingdom
  • United States of America

 

Some of these country lists will be further updated in further phases, and qualification types will be added. For example, further work is being undertaken to confirm which Doctoral-level qualifications will be recognised from the USA and which non-bachelor’s degrees will be recognised from the Philippines.

More qualifications from additional countries will be added to the LQEA in further phases.

The updated LQEA will be used for the Green List Straight to Residence, Green List and Sector Work to Residence categories, and the Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV). It will also be used for the new Skilled Migrant Category Resident Visa when it opens on 9 October 2023.

Applicants whose overseas qualification is not listed in the updated LQEA must get an International Qualifications Assessment (IQA) before submitting a visa application and submit the IQA with the visa application.

 

Changes to work rights for Student Visa holders

Effective 9 October 2023, changes will be made to in-study work rights for students visa holders, to maintain in-study work right eligibility once the higher Skilled Migrant Category Resident Visa qualification threshold comes into effect.

The changes include:

  • References to Skilled Migrant Category Resident Visa in the in-study work instructions will be removed. Instead, the programme level and type of eligible qualification will be stated.
  • References to the requirement for a course to be relevant to the ANZSCO occupation at skill levels 3-5 will also be removed from instructions.

As a result of these changes, all students studying a full-time programme resulting in a New Zealand qualification at Level 4 or above on the New Zealand Qualifications and Credentials Framework (NZQCF) will be eligible for in-study work rights. Training schemes and micro-credentials are not qualifications and remain ineligible for in-study work rights.

Students generally need to be studying full time to be eligible for a student visa and in-study work rights.

However there is an exception for students who are:

  • completing a course of study which would qualify for points under the Skilled Migrant Category Resident Visa, or
  • in their final semester of a programme that lasts at least two academic years.

This allows students who may have a part time study load in their last semester to remain on a student visa. These instructions will also be updated to reference level 4 qualifications and higher.

9/15/23

A new median wage of NZD 31.61 per hour will be adopted into the immigration system from February 2024.

Many work and residence visa categories have wage thresholds or criteria that are based on the median wage, and most of these will be updated. This includes the Accredited Employer Visa (AEWV), the Skilled Migrant Category, and some occupations covered by Sector Agreements and the Green List.

Parent category wage thresholds are updated separately and the tourism and hospitality wage threshold will also be updated separately in April 2024.

In 2022, a standard process was set up to update the median wage in the immigration system in February the following year. This gives businesses around six months to prepare for the change from the time it gets updated by Statistics NZ.

Close Open Nigeria

11/17/23

Expat quota returns via e-Citibiz

The Nigerian Federal Ministry of Interior (FMI) has announced that, effective 8 November 2023, all companies holding expatriate quota positions must submit their monthly returns through the FMI’s e-CITIBIZ website within the first ten days of each month.

A penalty fee will be implemented effective from December 2023 for companies who fail to comply. Any company that fails to submit their quota returns within this number of days from the following month will pay:

  • After the first 10 Days - N100,000;
  • After 20 Days - N150,000;
  • After 25 Days - N200,000.

The monthly quota return is a mandatory report detailing the status of expatriate quota (EQ) positions granted by the FMI to Nigerian companies. The quota return provides comprehensive information, including details on the utilization of expatriate positions, workforce composition, understudies and other relevant data.

Close Open Norway

12/16/24

Closure of au pair scheme

The Norwegian Directorate of Immigration (UDI) has announced that the government has decided to close the au pair scheme, effective 15 March 2024.

Applicants who have, by 15 March 2024, registered their application via udi.no and booked an appointment to hand in their application, may still be eligible for an initial au pair permit.

Current au pair permit holders may still apply to renew their permit to change host families until the two-year au pair permit period has expired.

Close Open Oman

2/9/24

New Wages Protection System deadline

On 14 January 2024, the Ministry of Labour of Oman announced that small and micro companies must register in the Wages Protection System (WPS) within 55 days. The registration period for large and medium companies has already passed.

The Wages Protection System (WPS) is an electronic salary transfer system that allows companies in Oman to pay workers’ wages through banks or financial institutions approved and authorized to provide the service.

In July 2023, the government issued a decree requiring private sector employers to transfer workers’ wages to locally licensed banks within seven days of the due date and giving large and medium size companies six months to implement the new rules.

The employer must update employment contracts with the Ministry when there is any change in the wages of the workers, and these contracts must specify the actual wage that the worker receives.

The decree allows certain exemptions from the requirements for labour disputes, unjustified resignations, new employees and employees on unpaid leave.

Violations of the WPS requirements can lead to administrative penalties including a warning, suspension from work permit services and a fine of OMR 50, which can be doubled.

Close Open Panama

9/15/23

Tougher immigration rules introduced

The immigration authorities have announced measures, effective 8 September 2023, in response to an increase in irregular migration.

Among the new measures are the following:

  • The stay period for tourists may be decreased from 90 days to 15 days for some nationalities, based on security profiling carried out by the authorities on entry.
  • Arrivals must prove financial means of PAB 1000, up from PAB 500 previously.
  • Deportations and expulsions via charter flights will be increased.
  • The authorities will relocate established control and migrant assistance points in the communities of Bajo Chiquito and Canaán Membrillo, in order to mitigate the health and security impact on these communities of large influxes of irregular migrants.
Close Open Peru

11/17/23

Regularization deadline passes; new digital nomad visa introduced

The deadline to initiate the online immigration regularization procedure passed on 10 November 2023. During the previous six months, foreign nationals in Peru with an irregular migration status could register and obtain a temporary residence permit (CPP). A face-to-face appointment for the registration of biometric data was also required.

After six months, CPP holders can apply for special resident immigration status, allowing them to receive an immigration card for a period of one year (this is renewable). Irregular migrants who did not register in time under this procedure are subject to administrative sanctions which may include a mandatory exit order or expulsion.

Recent amendments (Decreto Legislativo No.1582) to the Migration Law have created a faster deportation process for certain foreign nationals with an irregular immigration status and those who carry out activities that threaten public order, national security or the security of citizens.

The same amendments introduced a new resident visa for digital nomads working in Peru while employed and paid by an employer outside of the country.

The decree also ties the validity of identification cards (carné de extranjería) to the validity of the holder’s visa.

Further details and administrative regulations are expected.

10/27/23

On 22 October 2023, the Single Text of Administrative Procedures (TUPA) of Migraciones (the immigration authorities) was published. With this publication, the modification and incorporation of several articles in the Regulation of the Legislative Decree of Migraciones No.1350 entered into force. These measures were established in two Supreme Decrees published earlier this year – No. 003-2023-IN of 27 April 2023 and No. 004-2023 of 28 April 2023.

The changes to the immigration law include the following:

  • The procedure is established for applications for temporary residence for nationals of MERCOSUR countries and for nationals of the Andean Community countries (Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru). Applications are submitted from outside Peru; the status is extended to the applicant’s family members (including if they are not nationals of member countries); the status is valid for a stay of up to two years and is not renewable.
  • The procedures for in-country change of status applications for temporary residence, permanent residence and extension of tourist stay for nationals of Andean Community countries are also established.
  • The application, change or extension of resident, temporary immigration statuses, temporary stay permit card or immigration regularization procedure for children and adolescents can now also be carried out by a representative who has been granted Power of Attorney for a maximum of 90 days.
  • Immigration statuses and temporary stay permit cards can also be cancelled by a firm court order.
  • Immigration permits are not immigration statuses but are complementary mechanisms and are registered in the Migratory Information Registry (RIM).
  • Authorizations to stay outside the country for 30 days that are granted when immigration procedures for change or extension of immigration statuses are processed can also be granted in procedures for obtaining stay permit cards or immigration regularization.
  • Authorizations to stay outside the country for more than 183 days (or for more than 365 days for holders of permanent immigration status) are granted only for reasons of emergency or force majeure.
  • New conditions are established for the granting of Special Resident Immigration Status for holders of a Temporary Stay Permit Card, and for the extension of this status.
  • A parent or guardian may act as the legal representative of a minor in immigration procedures even if they have an irregular immigration status.
  • A temporary stay permit is granted for up to two years to foreign nationals who are in Peru with an irregular immigration status. This permit is lost if the holder is absent from Peru for more than 183 consecutive days in a 365-day period.
  • A temporary stay permit card (CPP) is exceptionally extended if it expires up to 30 days after the publication of the modification of the conditions for the Special Resident Immigration Status.
Close Open Philippines

2/9/24

Medical clearance requirement lifted

On 1 February 2024 the Bureau of Immigration announced that Bureau of Quarantine medical clearance is no longer required for nationals of 53 countries listed in annex A of BI Operations Order No. SBM-2014-059 for any of the visa applications listed in annex B of the same order.

The 2014 order was a response to an Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

 

12/26/23

Mandatory eTravel registration

The Bureau of Immigration has reminded travellers that eTravel registration is mandatory and must be carried out at least 72 hours before the intended travel.

The following are required to register, free of charge, in the eTravel System:

  • Arriving Filipino and foreign passengers;
  • Arriving Filipino and foreign crew members; and
  • Departing Filipino passengers.

Exceptions are made for foreign diplomats, and their dependents, foreign dignitaries, and members of their delegation, 9(e) visa holders, and holders of diplomatic and official/service passport.

Close Open Poland

2/2/24

Business Harbour Programme suspended

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) has suspended its participation in the Poland.Business Harbour Programme until solutions are in place that guarantee proper verification of its beneficiary companies and foreigners.

The programme was launched in 2020 to encourage IT professionals and companies from Belarus to work in Poland, and was later extended to include Armenia, Georgia, Moldova, Russia and Ukraine. As of September 2022, it included a Business Path designed for strategic sector companies from across the world.

According to the MFA, the programme has failed to achieve its goals, and there have been concerns about the misuse of visas issued under the programme.

Foreign national IT specialists can still apply for a work visa. The MFA says that it will start work on streamlined visa procedures for applicants from high-demand industries.

Close Open Qatar

12/8/23

New rules for family members

Effective immediately, the Ministry of Interior has revised certain regulations and procedures to streamline and simplify the entry process for residents’ families intending to visit or reside in Qatar.

Sponsoring families is now subject to the provisions in the employee's electronic work contract concerning salary and accommodation. Government and semi-government sector employees must secure family housing through their employer or maintain a salary not less than QAR 10,000, verified by an employment contract. For private sector employees, the profession should belong to technical or specialized fields (non-labour), with a salary not less than QAR 10,000, or QAR 6000 along with family housing verified in the employment contract.

Moreover, for family sponsorship, children should not exceed 25 years of age, and daughters must be unmarried. It is also mandatory to provide health insurance covering the entire duration of their stay, effective from their date of entry into the country. Additionally, children within the mandatory education age bracket (6-18 years old) must be enrolled in licensed schools within the country or provide evidence of their education enrolment outside the country through the educational platform supervised by the Ministry of Education and Higher Education.

For family visits, the sponsoring resident's profession must belong to non-labour sectors, with a salary not less than QAR 5000. They should have family housing accredited by the relevant authorities. The visitor should be a relative within the permissible degrees of relation to the sponsoring resident, with no specific age restriction; however, it is mandatory to have health insurance covering the visitor's period of stay in Qatar.

Close Open Russia

1/5/24

Updated forms and new notification procedure

Effective 1 January 2024, there are changes in the forms for applications and notifications concerning foreign employees submitted to the Ministry of Internal Affairs, as well as to the notification submission procedure.

Forms

The following new forms are available:

  • quarterly salary notification;
  • Notification of termination of an employment agreement with a foreign national;
  • Application for work permit issuance;
  • Application for work permit renewal;
  • Application for duplicate work permit issuance;
  • Application for work permit amendment;
  • Application by a foreign national for involvement as an HQS;
  • Notification of employment of a foreign national by an organization providing employment services for foreign nationals in Russia.

Notification procedure

A single electronic signature or an enhanced unqualified electronic signature should now be used for the notification of conclusion and termination of an employment agreement and for quarterly salary notifications.

Previously, it was necessary to use an enhanced qualified electronic signature.

 

Close Open Saudi Arabia

2/2/24

Three-year entry ban lifted

Effective 16 January 2024, the Saudi General Directorate of Passports (Jawazat) has lifted the three-year entry ban on foreign workers who did not return to Saudi Arabia before their exit and re-entry vidsas expired.

Jawazat notified various Saudi departments and ports of entry of its decision to amend this policy.

10/27/23

Expansion of e-Visa

The Ministry of Tourism has announced that it will grant e-Visas to visitors from six newly eligible countries: Mauritius, Panama, Türkiye, Thailand, Saint Kitts and Nevis and Seychelles, for leisure, business and religious (Umrah only) travel. This brings the total number of nationalities eligible for visitor e-Visas to 63.

A visitor e-Visa is also available to holders of valid Schengen, UK and US visas that have been used to enter those countries before arriving in Saudi Arabia, and to permanent residents of EU and GCC countries, the UK and the US.

Saudi Arabia also grants the free 96-hour Stopover Visa, allowing passengers traveling via SAUDIA and Flynas airlines to stay in the country for up to 96 hours for tourism or Umrah before reaching their final destination.

The Ministry of Tourism launched the visitor e-Visa in 2019.

Visa rules reminder

The General Directorate of Passports is urging all holders of visit visas currently in the Saudi Arabia to follow the visa regulations and extend their visa validity electronically at least seven days before the expiration date, eliminating the need to visit a Passports office.

To extend a single visit visa, the Passports Directorate recommends using the services of the Ministry of Interior's electronic platform Absher (individuals, businesses) or the Muqeem electronic portal. The host can access their account on these platforms and pay the service fees to extend the visit. It is important to note that the visa holder must meet the medical insurance requirements, and the maximum extension period for a visit visa is 180 days.

In cases where the extension request cannot be completed electronically for any reason, the visitor can submit a request through the communication service on the Absher platform. The General Directorate of Passports will study and process the request, and the beneficiary will receive a notification via text message regarding the status of their request.

 

Close Open Singapore

2/23/24

Local Qualifying Salary will increase

The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) of Singapore has announced that, effective 1 July 2024, the Local Qualifying Salary (LQS) will increase from SGD 1400 per month to SGD 1600 per month.

The LQS determines the number of local employees who can be used to calculate a firm’s Work Permit and S Pass quota entitlement. It ensures that local workers are employed meaningfully, rather than on token salaries for firms to access to foreign workers, and was previously known as the Full-Time Equivalent salary.

A Singaporean or Permanent Resident employee employed under a contract of service, including the company’s director, is counted as:

  • 1 local worker if they earn the LQS;
  • 0.5 local worker if they earn at least half the LQS but less than the LQS.

Since 1 September 2022, firms employing foreign employees (e.g., Work Permit, S Pass or Employment Pass holders) are required to pay:

  • Progressive Wages (PWs) to local employees covered by the relevant Sectoral or Occupational PWs; 
    AND
  • At least the LQS to all other local employees not covered under the PWs.

9/15/23

Employers required to provide proof of accommodation before their work permit holders enter Singapore

From 19 September 2023, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) will require employers in the Construction, Marine Shipyard and Process (CMP) sectors to provide proof of acceptable accommodation before they are permitted to bring their new non-Malaysian Work Permit Holders (WPHs) into Singapore. This is in addition to the work permit approval process.

Employers must complete and submit an online Pre-entry Housing Check form with proof of accommodation. The documentary proof required should be in the form of tenancy or rental agreements, or contracts with accommodation providers. Once the necessary checks are done, MOM will provide employers with the approval to proceed, via email. Onboard Centre bookings will also be checked to ensure that the workers registered have had their accommodation details verified. The requirement will apply to new WPHs in the CMP sectors (i.e., In-Principle Approval holders) arriving in Singapore from 19 September 2023.

Employers should factor the time needed for the checks into their recruitment plans. Those who are housing their workers in Purpose-Built Dormitories, Construction Temporary Quarters (CTQs), Temporary Occupation Licence Quarters (TOLQs), or their own dormitories, will obtain approvals within a week. Those who are housing their workers in private residential properties, hotels or hostels should expect the approval process to take around six weeks or longer due to additional checks.

Employers who bring their workers into Singapore without the required proof of accommodation may face suspension of their work pass privileges.

 

Close Open Slovakia

9/15/23

Foreign Police offices closed for September

From 11 to 30 September 2023, offices of the Border and Foreign Police will be closed and most immigration processing will be suspended.

The only applications which will be processed during this period are those for national visas in the national interest and for first-year students with appointments that have already been booked through the reservation system, and applications for temporary asylum.

Other foreign nationals with already-booked appointments can send a request to the relevant police authority for an exception to the suspension of processing. Otherwise, applicants will have to reschedule their appointments through the online reservation system.

Stay periods which are due to expire during this period will be automatically extended until two months after this period.

 

 

Close Open South Africa

12/16/24

Draft immigration law changes published

On 8 February 2024, the South African government published draft amendments to the immigration regulations and requested public comments until 29 March 2024.

The key proposed changes are as follows:

  • A points-based work permit system is introduced, assessing applicants on their work experience, job offer, qualifications, age, language skills and :ability to adapt within the Republic”;
  • A new digital nomad visa category is proposed, with a three-year duration, which allows family to accompany the principal applicant and has a minimum income requirement;
  • The draft proposes a one-year critical skills visa which requires a job offer and proof that an application for professional registration has been submitted (rather than proof that professional registration has been granted);
  • Radiological reports would no longer be needed for the medical clearance process;
  • It is clarified that police clearance certificates are only needed for the last five years of residence;
  • It is clarified that spouse and children of South African permanent residents or citizens are permitted to change their status within the country;
  • Parents of South African children would also be allowed to change their status within South Africa.

10/13/23

Trusted Employer Scheme pilot

The Department of Home Affairs (DHA) has issued an invitation to corporate employers to submit an expression of interest in the pilot of the Trusted Employer Scheme (TES).

To qualify for membership in the TES, an employer, investor or business must demonstrate that it has the financial means to employ a foreign national, that it runs training programmes for South African citizens and that it is a good corporate citizen.

Participating businesses, investors and corporate employers will qualify for priority processing of their visa applications with reduced requirements and supporting documents. TES membership will be applicable to local applications as well as to all applications submitted at South African High Commissions abroad. Current corporate account clients are invited to apply for TES membership.

DHA will use a points system, with <30 points available for proven/pledged investment, <25 points for employment, <15 points depending on the sector, <20 points for skills transfer/development and <10 points for equity equivalence. The selection criteria are explained in more detail here.

 

The application process is as follows:

  • Interested companies which are registered and operational in South Africa should submit their expression of interest using the TES application form.
  • Applications should be addressed to the Chief Directorate and forwarded to the DHA by hand or mail or email.
  • Applications must contain all information specified in the selection criteria and supported by the documents mentioned in the application form.
  • Applications will be assessed by a selected inter-departmental committee.
  • DHA will make the final selection and advise applicants of the outcome.
  • The decision of the TES inter-departmental committee will be final.
  • The closing date for submissions is 20 November 2023

The TES was proposed in the Operation Vulindlela Work Visa Review Report (2022) to address the unpredictable nature of visa adjudications.

 

10/6/23

Updates to the Critical Skills list

On 2 October 2023, an updated Critical Skills list was published in the Government Gazette. Two new occupations have been added to the list:

  • Registered Nurse – Veterinarian;
  • Registered Nurse – Veterinary Nurse.

Foreign nationals are now able to apply for a Critical Skills Work Visa in these occupations.

The Critical Skills list is a list of occupations that the South African government considers to be in high demand and essential to the country’s economic growth and development, and is updated regularly.

Close Open South Korea

1/5/24

New remote worker visa

The government has introduced a digital nomad visa for remote workers, effective 1 January 2024.

The “Workation” (Digital Nomad) Visa (F-1-D), valid for one year, is applicable to foreign nationals aged 18 years or above who have been employed by a foreign company for more than one year (or who own a foreign company) and are able to work remotely in South Korea. Family members can also obtain this visa.

  • Applicants must earn more than twice the Korean GNI (Gross National Income) per capita of the previous year as announced by the Bank of Korea, after tax deduction. This is currently approximately EUR 61,000 per year or EUR 5,083 per month after tax.
  • Applicants must have no criminal record.
  • Applicants must have medical insurance with coverage of EUR 70,000 for medical treatment and flight transfer to home country during stay in Korea.
  • Holders must not take employment in South Korea or conduct profitable work in Korea.
  • For stays more than 91 days in South Korea, applicants need to apply for foreigner registration with the immigration (branch) office which has jurisdiction over their place of residence within 90 days from the date of entry into the country.
  • The authorized period of stay is one year from the date of entry and can be extended up to one year.
Close Open Sweden

12/16/24

Proposal for a new minimum salary condition for work permits

The migration minister has received a report commissioned by the government, which proposes tighter conditions for labour migration.

Among the proposals being considered by the government are the following:

  • A new minimum salary requirement for non-EU workers. The report proposes that this should be set at the median national salary (currently SEK 34,200). The maintenance salary was increased in November 2023 from SEK 13,000 to SEK 27,360 (80% of the median salary).
  • Exceptions to the median salary rule. Exceptions could be made for certain occupations or regions with more acute labour shortages, and for new graduates.
  • Changes for highly qualified workers. The report proposes changes to facilitate EU blue card and intra-company transfer permit holders.
  • Exclusion of certain professions. it is proposed that the Swedish Migration Agency should annually inform the government about professions where abuse of the regulatory system is so great that the professions should be excluded from the possibility of being granted a work permit.

The changes to the immigration law are proposed to enter into force on 1 June 2025.

12/8/23

Closing of certification process

The Swedish Migration Agency (Migrationsverket) has reminded interested parties that its certification process ends on 15 December 2023 and, on 29 January 2024, its new working method for handling work permit applications will be introduced. The last day to submit an application for a work permit as a certified employer is 14 December 2023.

Between 15 December 2023 and 29 January 2023, Migrationsverket will focus on finalizing the new way of working and handling the applications received from certified actors.

Through the certification process, employers have been able to access faster processing. Migrationsverket has striven to make decisions for complete applications for a work permit within ten working days for the first application and 20 working days for a renewal application.

According to the authorities, the system has grown so large that it has come to include a large number of applications that should not be prioritised according to the Swedish Migration Agency's mission to promote the recruitment of highly qualified labour.

12/1/23

Temporary passport checkpoints

The Swedish Migration Agency (Migrationsverket) will open temporary passport control checkpoints around the world in December 2023.

The temporary checkpoints are open to applicants who

  • live in Canada, the United States, Brazil, Hong Kong, or Taiwan; and
  • have applied for a residence permit to study or work in Sweden; and
  • do not need an entry visa to travel to Sweden.

 

Applicants for a residence permit as a student or employee who do not need an entry visa to travel to Sweden still need to show their passport in person before they can receive a decision.

Pop-up passport controls are available as follows:

Canada

1 December: University of British Colombia, Vancouver, Canada

USA

2 December: The University of California Berkeley, San Francisco, California, USA

3 December: Honorary Consulate of Sweden in Los Angeles, California, USA

6 December: Honorary Consulate of Sweden in Chicago, Illinois, USA

7 December: Honorary Consulate of Sweden in Boston, Massachusetts, USA

Brazil

6 December: Honorary Consulate of Sweden in São Paulo, Brazil

7 December: Honorary Consulate of Sweden in São Paulo, Brazil

Taiwan

4 December: Business Sweden in Taipei, Taiwan

Hong Kong

5 December: Consulate-General of Sweden in Hong Kong

No appoint­ment needed

Those who want to have their passport verified at one of the temporary checkpoints do not need to book an appointment. They also do not have to wait for the Swedish Migration Agency to notify them that it is time to show their passport. If they meet the requirements above, they are welcome to visit any of the temporary locations.

No inter­views at the tempo­rary check­points

Applicants who need a residence permit card or entry visa to enter Sweden should not visit the temporary checkpoints. They must visit a Swedish embassy or consulate-general as usual to be photographed and leave their fingerprints. The same applies for those who need to be interviewed, for example if they have applied for a residence permit to be reunited with a close relative in Sweden. They should contact the embassy in question for information on how to book an appointment.

 

11/3/23

New maintenance requirement takes effect

As previously announced, effective 1 November 2023, the maintenance requirement for foreign national workers has increased from SEK 13,000 to SEK 27,360, which is 80% of the current median salary in Sweden. The monthly salary must also be in line with collective agreements or practices in the relevant profession or industry.

  • If someone has been granted a work permit before 1 November 2023, the previous maintenance requirement still applies for the remainder of the permit’s validity. If the holder applies for an extension, however they will need to meet the new maintenance requirement.
  • The new requirement does not apply to permits granted on the basis of protection, close family ties, or studies, nor to those covered by the Temporary Protection Directive or the Upper Secondary School Act. EU/EEA citizens, permanent residents and long-term residents who exercise their freedom of movement are also unaffected.
  • Professional coaches and athletes, au pairs, trainees within the framework of international exchange or trainees with traineeships related to higher education, and researchers will not be subject to the new requirement.
  • People who possess or are applying for an EU Blue Card or ICT permit, as well as seasonal workers, are also unaffected.
  • The occupational areas that will be most affected by the higher maintenance requirement are service, care, sales, agriculture, gardening, forestry, berry picking, fishing, and occupations that demand a shorter education or introduction. As a rule, the salary earned by employees in these groups falls below the new maintenance requirement.

9/22/23

Minimum salary increase postponed

The Migration Agency has postponed an increase in the minimum salary requirement for work permit holders until 1 November 2023. This was originally scheduled for 1 October 2023.

The required monthly salary will be more than doubled from SEK 13,000 to SEK 27,360, which is 80% of the median wage in Sweden.

For existing work permit holders, the new requirement only applies if they apply for an extension after the change, or if they apply for an extension before the change but the Migration Agency only assesses the application after the change.

The increase does not affect holders of EU ICT Permits or EU Blue Cards or seasonal workers, for whom different salary thresholds apply.

9/15/23

Details of the new model for work permit processing

The Swedish Migration Agency has decided to introduce a new model for handling work permit-related matters. It is also establishing units for international recruitment. In particular, the new model promotes the recruitment of employers seeking to hire highly qualified workers from outside the EU, but it also aims to shorten the processing time for all labour market cases. The new model will be introduced in January 2024.

With the new model, the Swedish Migration Agency aims to provide better service to employers of highly qualified workers, with dedicated staff and an improved online service. A complete application for a work permit for a highly-qualified worker should receive a decision within 30 days. For other categories, the aim is that decisions should always be made within four months.

The new international recruitment units will replace the certification system, which is currently used for handling work permit cases, which will be phased out. The new model includes four categories:

  • Category A covers work permit applications for highly qualified occupations. The term “highly qualified” is defined in the Swedish Standard Classification of Occupations (SSYK). In Category A, it applies to the three occupational areas: managerial occupations, occupations with requirements for advanced university competence, and occupations with requirements for higher education competence or equivalent. This category will be the agency’s way of replacing the current certification system. The ambition is that complete applications for highly qualified workers will be processed within 30 days.
  • Category B covers applications for work permits in occupations with specific rules, such as seasonal occupations, berry pickers, intra-corporate transferees (ICT), permits under the EU Blue Card Directive, artists, researchers, athletes/coaches, au-pairs, trainees, youth exchange agreements, and volunteers. It also covers applications to start business activities and so-called “track changers” from asylum cases.
  • Category C covers occupations that do not require a higher level of academic competence, i.e., non-highly qualified occupations in sectors that do not require a particularly high level of case investigation. This category includes, e.g., occupations that constitute an important social benefit, even if they do not meet the criteria for being classified as highly qualified. Applications for major new establishments in growth areas also fall into this category.
  • Category D includes work permit applications for employment in industries that the Swedish Migration Agency defines as particularly demanding in terms of case investigation, including cleaning, construction, personal assistance, and hotels and restaurants.

The deadline to submit new applications to become a certified employer was 31 May 2023, but no deadline has yet been established for existing certified employers to submit work permit applications.

 

Close Open Switzerland

12/15/23

Government launches consultation on digitisation of Schengen visas

At a meeting on 8 December 2023, the Federal Council opened a consultation on the draft legislation required to implement the new EU regulation on Schengen visa applications.

Under the regulation, Schengen visa applications will have to be submitted on an electronic EU platform (yet to be developed). The visas will be issued in digital form and replace the stickers issued in paper form until now.

Some of the provisions of the new EU regulation must be incorporated into Swiss law before becoming applicable. This requires amendments to the Foreign Nationals and Integration Act (FNIA) relating to the future platform, the content of the national visa system and the delegation of new tasks, such as the verification of travel documents, to appointed third parties.

There will be some exemptions from using the EU platform, for example in special humanitarian cases or where internet access is difficult. The Federal Council will define these exemptions at ordinance level at a later date.

The consultation on the legislative amendments will run until 22 March 2024. The new European platform is scheduled for roll-out in January 2026, with Switzerland expected to connect to the platform in 2028 at the earliest.

As part of the new submission procedure, the visa format must be redefined so that visas can be issued in digital form. At its meeting on 8 December, the Federal Council therefore also adopted an amendment to the Ordinance on Entry and the Granting of Visas (EGVO), providing for a digital visa in the form of a barcode in addition to a paper visa sticker.

Digitalisation of the visa procedure will apply not only to short-stay Schengen visas, but also to visas for stays exceeding 90 days (‘national visas’). The change will come into force on 1 February 2024.

12/1/23

Work permit quota unchanged for 2024

On 29 November 2023, the Federal Council decided to leave unchanged work permit quotas for non-EU/EFTA nationals and for service providers in 2024. The separate quota for UK nationals will also remain unchanged for now, but will be incorporated into the regular quota for third country nationals in the medium term.

Up to 8500 skilled workers can be recruited from third countries in 2024:

  • 4500 with a category B residence permit;
  • 4000 with a short-term category L permit.

Up to 3500 permits are available to service providers from the EU/EFTA with stays exceeding 90 or 120 days per year:

  • 3000 short-term category L permits;
  • 500 category B permits.

Since 1 January 2021, the Agreement on the Free Movement of Persons (AFMP) between Switzerland and the UK no longer applies. UK nationals are therefore now considered third-country nationals. Separate quotas apply to them as a transitional arrangement. According to the Federal Council's decision, 3,500 permits will be available to this category once again in the coming year:

  • 2100 category B residence permits;
  • 1400 short-term category L permits.

In recent years the quotas have not been fully used. At the end of October 2023, 68% of category B residence permits and 65% of short-term category L permits had been reached for third-country workers. Of the quotas for service providers from the EU/EFTA for a duration of more than 90 and 120 days per year, 36% (B permits) and 45% (L permits) had been reached respectively. In the case of the separate quotas for UK nationals, only 23% of category B permits and 18% of category L permits had been utilised; a comparatively low rate.

11/27/23

Further extension of safeguard clause for Croatia

On 22 November 2023, the Federal Council decided to extend for another year the safeguard clause provided for in the Agreement on the Free Movement of Persons (AFMP) for Croatian nationals coming to work in Switzerland. The number of new work permits for 2024 will remain at the same level as for 2023.

The AFMP concluded with the EU provides for a phased opening of the Swiss labour market to Croatian nationals. Full freedom of movement was introduced on a trial basis in 2022, resulting in a sharp increase in the number of Croatian workers in Switzerland. The Federal Council therefore unilaterally activated the safeguard clause provided for in the AFMP from 1 January to 31 December 2023 and reintroduced permit quotas for Croatian nationals.

Between January and the end of October, Switzerland issued the entire quota of B permits (i.e. 1,204 permits, valid for five years) and 76 per cent of the available 1,053 L permits (i.e. short-term permits, renewable beyond twelve months) for 2023. Given the high demand for permits this year, the Federal Council has decided to extend the safeguard clause for a further year. In 2024, the number of permits issued to workers from Croatia will be capped at the same level as in 2023.

Under the AFMP, the safeguard clause can only be invoked for two consecutive years. Full freedom of movement for Croatian nationals will therefore come back into force again in 2025 on a trial basis. The transitional arrangements for Croatian nationals run over a period of ten years, until 31 December 2026.

New tax agreement with Italy for cross-border commuters

On 10 November 2023, Italy and Switzerland signed a declaration regulating the taxation of home working for cross-border commuters.

According to the declaration, from 1 January 2024 all cross-border commuters as defined in the agreement on cross-border commuters signed in December 2020 will be able to work from home for up to 25% of their working hours, without this affecting either the country which is eligible to collect tax on income from salaried employment or the status of cross-border commuters.

It was also decided to expand the interim solution agreed between the two countries on 20 April 2023. By end-November 2023, the competent authorities of both states will agree on special rules for the taxation of home working for cross-border commuters for the period from 1 February 2023 to 31 December 2023.

New tax agreement with France for cross-border workers

On 22 November 2023, the Swiss Federal Council adopted the dispatch on the approval and implementation of an additional agreement supplementing the double taxation agreement (DTA) with France. The additional agreement regulates in particular the taxation of cross-border remote working of up to 40% of working hours per year.

The additional agreement signed with France on 27 June 2023 regulates the taxation of cross-border remote working of up to 40% of annual working hours. Within the limits, the agreement makes provision for remuneration in connection with remote working to be taxed in the contracting state in which the employer is located. The agreement also envisages that the country of the employer will transfer to the employee's country of residence 40% of the tax which it has levied on the remuneration from remote working in the country of residence. In order to ensure that the new rules are applied, an automatic exchange of salary data is planned.

The additional agreement also updates other provisions in the double taxation agreement between Switzerland and France. In particular, it brings the double taxation agreement into line with the results of the OECD's efforts to combat base erosion and profit shifting.

Furthermore, the Federal Council dispatch makes provision for the federal government to contribute around CHF 50 million per year to the equalization payments made annually by the canton of Geneva to two French departments. This will achieve a certain degree of equal treatment with other cantons that have federal rules for the taxation of cross-border commuters.

The cantons and interested business sectors have welcomed the conclusion of the additional agreement. It still has to be approved by the legislator in both countries before it can come into force.

11/3/23

Special status for Ukrainian refugees to continue

On 1 November 2023, the Federal Council decided not to lift the protection status S for Ukrainian refugees before 4 March 2025, unless the situation changes fundamentally before then. For the first time, it has also defined a target for labour market integration: By the end of 2024, 40 per cent of persons capable of employment with protection status S should be in work. The currently level is about 20%.

Protection status S has been granted to Ukrainian refugees since 12 March 2022. The specific support measures for people with protection status S (Programme S), which were first adopted on 13 April 2022 and extended on 9 November 2022, will also be extended until 4 March 2025. The Swiss federal government contributes CHF 3000 per person per year to these measures, in particular for language courses, which is paid to the cantons in stages.

Close Open Turkey

Visa-free travel extended to six more countries

Effective 2 December 2023, citizens of Bahrain, Canada, Oman, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and the United States can travel to Türkiye visa-free.

The visa-free regime was extended in a decree published on that date in the official gazette of Türkiye.

Ordinary passport holders from those six countries are now able to enter Turkey for tourism or business purposes for up to 90 days within a 180-day period.

 

Close Open United Arab Emirates

New temporary work permit for medical professionals in Dubai

The Dubai Health Authority (DHA) has launched the Permit to Practice Initiative.

The initiative allows health facilities in Dubai to obtain a temporary permit for a healthcare professional who has not yet obtained their full licence. The professional can then practice at the facility for up to three months.

The medical director of the health facility can apply for the permit to practice from the health facility’s account.

  • The temporary permit is non-renewable and non-transferable;
  • Healthcare professional can be granted a temporary permit to practice once only;
  • The permit duration is selected by the healthcare facility with a maximum permit period of three months;
  • The medical director can submit only one application at a time;
  • The facility is responsible for ensuring the availability of valid malpractice insurance to cover the professional obtaining the temporary permit;
  • The facility/medical director is liable for all clinical/administrative services provided by the professional obtaining the permit;
  • The Dubai Health Authority reserves the right to immediately suspend or cancel the temporary permit to practice without notice in cases where fraudulent information is provided;
  • The application is subject to DHA review and, if rejected, a refund is not applicable;
  • Draft applications that are inactive for over three months will be cleared from the account. A 15-day reminder will be sent to the registered mail.
Close Open United Kingdom

2/23/24

Changes to Ukraine schemes and care worker route

On 19 February 2024, the government published a new statement of changes to the immigration rules which makes significant amendments to the humanitarian schemes for Ukrainian nationals and to the Skilled Worker route for care workers.

On 30 January 2024, the immigration minister confirmed that the Home Office intended to use this statement of changes to make previously-announced changes to the route for care workers. Effective 11 March 2024, the government has removed the right for care workers to bring dependents to the UK, and now required that a sponsor be registered with the Care Quality Commission and is performing regulated activity. The Care Quality Commission requirement does not apply to care workers who have applied on the route and are sponsored in these occupations before these changes come into effect, and who wish to extend their permission with the same sponsor or to settle.

The changes to the Ukraine scheme, on the other hand, were not announced in advance.

Effective 19 February 2024, the Ukraine Family Scheme (UFS) is closed to new applicants. This route allowed UK residents to bring Ukrainian national family members to the UK.

The same Ukrainian nationals who qualified under UFS can qualify under the Homes for Ukraine (HFU) Sponsorship Scheme if their UK family member is approved as a sponsor and they meet the other requirements of the HFU. However, third country (non-Ukrainian) nationals are not eligible for HFU if they are not immediate family members of Ukrainian nationals who qualify or hold permission under the scheme (unlike under UFS). Previously, a sponsor only needed to hold at least six months' permission to stay in the UK from the date of the visa application.

Holders of permission under UFS will continue to hold that permission despite the closure of the scheme to new applicants.

Meanwhile, new visas issued under the Homes for Ukraine route will grant a reduced period of leave of 18 months, rather than three years as previously.

The Ukraine Extension Scheme (UES) will close to new applications on 16 May 2024.

Applications can be made under the UES until it closes on 16 May 2024 if one of the following is true:

  • The applicant had permission to be in the UK for any period between 18 March 2022 and 16 November 2023; or
  • The applicant previously had permission to be in the UK and that permission expired on or after 1 January 2022.

Amendments have been made to the UES to allow children born in the UK after 18 March 2022 to those who have permission under the Ukraine Scheme (including under the now closed Ukraine Family Scheme) to be eligible to apply under this route beyond 16 May 2024. They will be granted permission aligned to the length of permission under the Ukraine Scheme held by their parent. Where the parents hold differing lengths of permission under the Ukraine Scheme, a child will be granted in line with the parent who holds permission that expires last.

The government also announced that it intends to launch a new Ukraine Permission Extension (UPE) Scheme. Ukraine Scheme visa holders will be able to apply three months before their existing visa is due to expire. The government states that it will provide further details “shortly”.

The government has also applied to Appendix Ukraine Scheme several grounds for refusal from part 9 of the immigration rules that had been previously omitted from the Ukraine routes.

2/16/24

Next date announced for India Young Professionals Scheme ballot

UK Visa and Immigration (UKVI) has announced that the next ballot for the India Young Professionals Scheme will open at 2:30pm India Standard Time (IST) on 20 February 2024 and will close at 2:30pm IST on 22 February 2024.

Anyone intending to apply for a visa for the India Young Professionals Scheme must enter the ballot and can do so at any time while the ballot is open.

  • The ballot is open to Indian citizens who are eligible for the India Young Professionals Scheme visa.
  • Successful entries will be picked at random. Results will be sent by email within two weeks of the ballot closing.
  • Entry to the ballot is free but the visa application costs £298 and there are financial, educational and other requirements.
  • There are 3000 places available for the India Young Professionals Scheme visa in 2024. Most places will be made available in the February ballot. The remaining places will be made available in the July ballot.
  • Applicants can only submit one entry per person for each ballot. Any further attempts to enter will not be counted.
  • Successful entrants in the ballot will be invited to apply for a visa.
  • Visa applicants will have 90 days from the date of the email to apply online, pay the visa application fee, including the immigration health surcharge and provide biometrics.
  • Successful entrants in the ballot who choose not to apply for the visa do not need to inform UKVI.
  • The results of the ballot are final. With no right to appeal. Unsuccessful entrants can enter future ballots.

An India Young Professionals Scheme visa allows Indian citizens between 18 and 30 years old to live and work in the UK for up to two years. To be eligible for the visa, applicants must:

  • be an Indian citizen;
  • be between 18 and 30 years old;
  • have an eligible qualification;
  • have £2530 in savings.

Visa holders can:

  • study - for some courses they’ll need an Academic Technology Approval Scheme certificate;
  • work in most jobs;
  • be self-employed and set up a company - as long as the premises are rented, the equipment is not worth more than £5000 and there are no employees.

Visa holders cannot:

  • extend their stay;
  • apply for most benefits (public funds);
  • include family members on their application - they must apply separately;
  • work as a professional sportsperson (for example as a coach).

2/2/24

Changes to visitor rules take effect

Changes to the rules for business visitors took effect on 31 January 2024.

The following amendments, published in a statement of changes on 7 December 2023, expand the range of business activities visitors can undertake without requiring sponsorship or obtaining another category of immigration permission.

  • The scope of activities permitted for intra-corporate transferees (those employed abroad but working in the UK for a branch or entity within the same corporate group) is expanded to remove the prohibition on working directly with clients. However, client-facing activity must now be incidental to the visitor’s employment abroad and must not amount to the offshoring of a project or service to their overseas employer.
  • Permission for flight crew to enter the UK as part of a Civil Aviation Authority approved wet lease agreement between the months of March and October is now part of the standard Visitor rules, rather than a concession outside the rules.
  • Visitors are now permitted to work remotely while in the UK, although remote work must not be the primary purpose of their visit.

Scientists, researchers and academics can now conduct research in the UK as part of their visit. Previously, scientists and researchers could only conduct independent research, and academics could only conduct research for their own purposes if they are on sabbatical leave from their home institution. This change does not apply to academics applying for a 12-month visit visa or to those applying to extend their permission within the UK.

  • The activities permitted for legal professionals has been expanded to include advice (no longer limited to a UK-based client), providing advocacy for a court or hearing, appearing in arbitrations or courts, acting as an arbitrator, mediator or expert witness, participating in conferences and teaching, litigation and transactional legal services (including drafting contracts).
  • Speaking at conferences is now included in the list of Permitted Paid Engagements (PPE), and can now be paid.
  • Permitted Paid Engagements (PPE) are now part of the Standard Visitor Visa, meaning that those entering for PPE can in principle be issued permission for up to six months, rather than one month. However, the PPE must be completed within 30 days of entry.

Government announces details of upcoming immigration changes

On 30 January 2024, the immigration minister made a written statement announcing further details of the changes to the immigration rules which were announced on 4 December 2024. A statement of changes to the Immigration Rules will be laid on 19 February 2024 for the care worker changes and on 14 March 2024 for the skilled worker and family/spouse visa changes.

 

  • On 19 February 2024, the government intends to lay Immigration Rules which will remove the right for care workers and senior care workers to bring dependants, which will come into force on 11 March 2024. The rules will ensure that care providers in England will only be able to sponsor migrant workers if they are undertaking activities regulated by the Care Quality Commission (CQC).
  • On 14 March 2024, the government intends to lay Immigration Rules to increase the earnings thresholds for those arriving on the Skilled Worker route, with the minimum threshold rising by 48% from £26,200 to £38,700. These changes will come into force from 4 April 2024. Those coming on the Health and Care Visa route will be exempted from this specific threshold.       Workers on national pay scale occupations are also exempted.
  • The minimum income for Family visas will be raised incrementally, in stages. The Immigration Rules the government intends to lay on 14 March 2024 will set out that from 11 April 2024 the threshold will be raised to £29,000 - that is the 25th percentile of earnings for jobs which are eligible for Skilled Worker visas. The government will incrementally increase the threshold to the 40th percentile (currently £34,500), and finally to the 50th percentile (currently £38,700, and the level at which the General Skilled Worker threshold is set) by early 2025.
  • On 17 January 2024 the government commissioned the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) to carry out a rapid review of the Shortage Occupation List to inform which occupations should be temporarily added to an Immigration Salary List from early April. The Immigration Rules the government intends to lay on 14 March 2024 will remove the 20% going rate discount for occupations on the Shortage Occupation List, as well as temporarily add any occupations as recommended by the MAC to the new Immigration Salary List.

Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) now required for nationals of Gulf Cooperation Council and Jordan

On 1 February 2024, the Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) scheme opened for nationals of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Jordan, who will require an ETA to travel to the UK from 22 February 2024. Qatari nationals already need an ETA. Other nationalities cannot and do not need to apply yet.

The ETA scheme is broadly for visitors who do not need a visa for short stays to the UK, or who do not already have a UK immigration status prior to travelling.

An ETA costs £10, permits multiple journeys and is valid for two years or until the holder’s passport expires – whichever is sooner.

Previously, Gulf nationals paid £30 through the electronic visa waiver scheme and Jordanians paid £115 for a single-use visitor visa.

Expanded Youth Mobility schemes

Changes to the UK’s Youth Mobility schemes (YMS) came into effect on 31 January 2024.

Enhancements to the existing Youth Mobility schemes with Australia, Canada, Japan and South Korea have come into force.

  • The age range for the Australia, Canada, and South Korea schemes has been expanded to 18-35.
  • Australian and Canadian nationals in the UK on a Youth Mobility visa can also now apply for a one-year extension, taking the total amount of time they can be in Britain to three years.
  • The reciprocal quota with Japan is being increased to 6000, while the quota with South Korea is rising to 5000. Citizens from both countries will now no longer be required to enter a ballot before applying.

New schemes with Andorra and Uruguay have also taken effect for individuals aged between 18 to 30, with 100 and 500 places available for Andorran and Uruguayan youth respectively to come to the UK for a maximum stay of up to two years. 

The UK now has YMS agreements in place with Andorra, Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Iceland, Japan, Monaco, New Zealand, San Marino, South Korea, Taiwan and Uruguay.

Government announces date of increase to civil penalty fines for employers and landlords

The government has published updates to its Code of Practices for the Right to Work Scheme and the Right to Rent Scheme which come into force on 13 February 2024. The new rules include the previously announced increase to civil penalty fines for employers and landlords who employ or let property to foreign nationals who do not have the right to work or rent in the UK.

From 13 February 2024:

  • The civil penalty for employers will increase from £15,000 to a maximum £45,000 per illegal worker for a first breach of the Scheme, and from £20,000 to a maximum £60,000 per illegal worker for repeat breaches.
  • For landlords, the civil penalty for a first breach will increase from £80 per lodger and £1,000 per occupier, to up to £5,000 per lodger and £10,000 per occupier. Repeat breaches will increase from £500 per lodger and £3,000 per occupier to £10,000 and £20,000 respectively.

1/5/24

Fee increase for legalising public documents

Effective 1 January 2024, the fees for the legalisation of UK public documents have increased. Legalised documents form the UK may be required for work visa applications and other procedures outside the UK.

  • The standard legalisation service in the UK has increased from GBP 30 to GBP 45.
  • The standard next-day fee has increased from GBP 30 to GBP 45.
  • A digital e-Apostille has increased from GBP 30 to GBP 35.
  • The urgent service in the UK has increased from GBP 75 to GBP 100.
  • The overseas service has increased from GBP 30 to GBP 45.

12/26/23

Further information on net migration plan

On 4 December 2023, the government announced a plan to curb immigration abuse and cut net migration.

The government has now published further information about these measures:

  • The government still intends to raise the minimum income requirement for family visas in lien with the new general salary threshold for Skilled Workers (i.e., GBP 38,700). However, it now states that it intends to raise the minimum income for family visas incrementally, in stages.
  • In Spring 2024, the government will raise the threshold to GBP 29,000, that is the 25th percentile of earnings for jobs at the skill level of RQF3, moving to the 40th percentile (currently GBP 34,500) and finally the 50th percentile (currently GBP 38,700 and the level at which the General Skilled Worker threshold is set).

Until the Immigration Rules are amended, the current thresholds and policies remain in place The government has set out an indicative timetable for introducing the changes in 2024:

Carers and senior carers – these changes will be introduced as soon as possible in the new year.

  • Care workers and senior care workers already in the route will be able to remain with their dependants, including extending, changing employer (within these SOC codes) and settlement.​
  • Where a care worker or senior care worker is in the route before the Immigration Rules change, but has not yet brought dependants, they will be allowed to bring dependants during their sponsorship (on this visa).
  • Individuals who are in the UK on any other route, including where that route permits dependants, who switch into the care visa as a care worker or senior care worker after this date, will not be able to stay with (or bring over) dependants.
  • Care providers who were sponsoring workers in exclusively non-regulated activities (and therefore not required to be registered with the CQC) before the rules change should be able to continue to sponsor these workers, including for extensions to their visa on those terms, but not hire new ones.

Salary thresholds – these changes will be introduced via Immigration Rules with implementation in April.

  • Those already in the Skilled Worker route before the Immigration Rules changes should be exempt from the new median salary levels when they change sponsor, extend, or settle. They would, however, be subject to the updated 25th percentiles using the latest pay data when they next make an application to change employment, extend their stay, or settle.

Immigration Salary List –the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) will be commissioned in January.

  • The Shortage Occupation List (SOL) will be renamed the Immigration Salary List and the MAC will advise on which of the current SOL occupations should remain on the list in line with the new salary thresholds.
  • The current SOL will remain in place until the new salary thresholds are put in place in late Spring.

Family migration minimum income.

  • Those who already have a family visa within the five-year partner route, or who apply before the minimum income threshold is raised, will continue to have their applications assessed against the current income requirement and will not be required to meet the increased threshold. This will also be the case for children seeking to join or accompany parents.
  • Anyone granted a fianc(é)e visa before the minimum income threshold is raised will also be assessed against the current income requirement when they apply for a family visa within the five-year partner route.
  • Those already in the UK on a different route who apply to switch into the five-year partner route, after the minimum income requirement has been increased, will be subject to the new income requirement.

Graduate route review

  • The MAC will review the visa route to ensure that it is operating in the best interests and priorities of the UK, and ensuring the integrity and quality of the UK higher education system is maintained.  The MAC will be commissioned in January and their work is expected to continue until late 2024.

Youth Mobility Scheme for Taiwan 2024

The first ballot for the Youth Mobility Scheme (YM) for Taiwanese youth will run between 31 January and 2 February 2024.

Applications are submitted by email, according to the instructions here. The email account will only be open for 48 hours and all emails received within this timeframe will be sent an automated reply confirming receipt.

Once the ballot closes, allocations for the 800 places will be chosen at random by UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI). Successful applicants will be sent a second email by 7 February 2024 to confirm acceptance and provide further instructions on how to start their application, along with documentary evidence required to apply for their entry clearance.

Successful applicants must prepare online applications and online credit card payments no later than 6 March 2024. Failure to submit payment online by this date will automatically remove their name from the list and their allocation will be retracted. After payment online, applicants have 90 days to book an appointment at the Visa Application Centre (VAC) and submit their paperwork for consideration.

12/8/23

Plan to reduce net migration

The Home Secretary has made a statement outlining the government’s five-point plan to reduce net migration, which is due to come into force in spring 2024.

The plan consists of the following five measures:

  1. Holders of Health and Care Worker visas will no longer be able to bring dependent family members to the UK. Overseas care workers wishing to bring their families with them to the UK will then only be eligible for a regular skilled worker visa, with no minimum salary discount and no exemption from the immigration health surcharge. In addition, care providers will have to be regulated by the Care Quality Commission in order to sponsor foreign national care workers.
  2. The skilled worker salary threshold will be increased by nearly 50% from £26,200 to £38,700. Health and Care Worker visas will be exempt from the increase, along with those on national pay scales, for example teachers.
  3. The government will remove the 20% “going rate” salary discount for roles on the Shortage Occupation List. A new “Immigration Salary List”, with a reduced number of occupations and a general salary threshold discount, will be published in coordination with the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC).
  4. The minimum income requirement for family visas for dependents of British citizens and those settled in the UK will also be raised, from £18,600 to £38,700.
  5. The MAC has also been asked to review the Graduate route “to prevent abuse and to protect the integrity and quality” of the higher education sector. The Graduate route, allowing international graduates two or three years to find skilled employment in the UK, was introduced only two years ago. It is not clear whether the 30% “going rate” salary discount for new entrants, including those switching from the Student or Graduate routes, will be maintained, amended or abolished.

The announced changes are expected to make it more expensive and more difficult for employers to sponsor migrant workers, especially in the health and care sector and in other lower-wage industries, and outside of London, where salaries tend to be lower.

 

Statement of changes to immigration rules

On 7 December 2023, the government published a statement of changes to the immigration rules. The changes will come into effect on various dates between 7 December 2023 and 31 January 2024.

According to the government’s own Explanatory Memorandum, the changes include “changes to the EU Settlement Scheme and to travel document requirements for school groups visiting the UK from France. The Youth Mobility Scheme has also been updated to reflect changes and enhancements to the arrangements in place between the UK and specific countries. Three new Appendices to the Rules have also been introduced: Appendix Bereaved Partner and Appendix Statelessness which replace existing provisions and Appendix Victims of Domestic Abuse which introduces an out of country settlement route for victims of transnational marriage abandonment."

In a written statement to the House of Commons, the Home Secretary summarised the changes as follows:

“Changes to Visitor Rules

As set out in the Spring Budget 2023, we are amending the list of permitted business activities that can be undertaken by individuals on a UK Visit visa, including by: (a) removing the restriction on visitors working directly with clients in an intra-corporate context (subject to the activity being incidental to their employment abroad and to the delivery of a wider project by the UK branch of their overseas employer), (b) naming remote work as a permitted activity, providing this is not the primary purpose of the visit, (c) expanding the list of unpaid work activities that legal professionals can undertake in the UK, allowing scientists to conduct research in the UK as part of their visit, and (d) allowing pilots and cabin crew members to travel to the UK as part of a Civil Aviation Authority approved wet leasing agreement.

We are also reforming Permitted Paid Engagements (PPE), by including speaking at conferences in the list of permitted engagements. By incorporating the provisions of the route into the Standard visitor route, to enable easier switching between PPE activities and the other permitted business activities, and to enable easier travel across the UK border for nationalities eligible to use e-passport gates. 

Introduction of new Appendix Statelessness

A partner or child will no longer be eligible to apply for permission as a dependent under the stateless route but will instead need to meet the requirements to come to, or stay in, the UK as a partner or child of a stateless person under the family rules in Appendix FM. A person who already has permission as a partner or child of a stateless person under the current Stateless Immigration Rules in Part 14 will be able to continue to extend their permission or stay in the UK under those provisions. 

Changes to the EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS)

 

We are making two particular changes where the EUSS is concerned.

First, to reinforce the Government’s approach to tackling illegal migration, we will prevent a valid application to the EUSS as a joining family member being made by an irregular arrival to the UK (which will include small boat arrivals) as well as by an illegal entrant.

Second, consistent with the temporary protection of rights conferred on them by the Citizens’ Rights Agreements for three months from their arrival in the UK, we will require a person in the UK as a visitor to make any application to the EUSS as a joining family member within three months of their arrival (subject to reasonable grounds for any delay in applying).

 

Changes to travel document requirements for school groups visiting the UK from France

 

We are making changes to allow children aged 18 and under, studying at a school in France, to visit the UK on an organised educational trip without the usual passport or visit visa requirements. EU, other EEA and Swiss national children will be able to travel on their national identity card. Visa national children will still be required to travel on their passport but will not have to obtain a visit visa. 

Introduction of new Appendix Victim of Domestic Abuse

We are introducing an out of country settlement route for victims of transnational marriage abandonment.

 

Changes to the Youth Mobility Scheme

We are adding Uruguay to the list of countries and territories participating in the YMS and making changes to reflect that the UK’s existing reciprocal, bilateral arrangements with Japan and the Republic of Korea have been enhanced.” 

11/27/23

Government proposes business visitor visa reform

In its Autumn Statement published on 22 November 2023, the government proposed expanding the business visitor rules to allow businesspeople in an intra-corporate setting to engage in a wider range of permitted activities and paid engagements, including wider coverage for the legal services sector, to take effect from January 2024.

The government is also signing and expanding new and existing Youth Mobility Schemes.

11/17/23

Electronic Travel Authorisation opens for Qatari nationals

Effective 15 November 2023, Qatari nationals require an electronic travel authorisation (ETA) to travel to the United Kingdom.

ETA applications have been open to Qatari nationals since 25 October 2023.

Nationals of the remaining Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states (Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates) and Jordan will need an ETA if they’re visiting the UK from 22 February 2024, and can apply for their ETA from 1 February 2024. It will be expanded worldwide throughout 2024.

The move to the ETA scheme means that the visa requirement will be removed for nationals from GCC states and Jordan.

The ETA, which allows multiple entry to the UK over a two-year period, applies to those visiting or transiting through the UK who do not need a visa for short stays, or who do not currently hold another UK visa. Currently, Gulf nationals pay £30 per visit to the UK under the current Electronic Visa Wavier (EVW) scheme and Jordanian nationals £100 for a visit visa.

When applying for an ETA, applicants need to provide biographic and biometric information, and answer questions on suitability and criminality. Once individuals have successfully applied, their ETA is digitally linked to their passport.

While the standard processing time for an application is three working days, government sources claim that the majority of applications so far have been decided within hours.

 

10/31/23

UK Sponsors are required to take the below actions at your earliest convenience. These updates will be reflected on the license immediately.

  1. The current Authorising Officer (AO) or Key Contact (KC) or Level 1 users should add their National Insurance Number (NINO) to their details in Sponsorship Management System (SMS).
  2. If your organization is registered with Companies House, you should add your Companies House reference number (CHN)on SMS.

If you need our assistance with the CHS update, please contact us.

10/27/23

Electronic Travel Authorisation now available for Qatari nationals

Effective 25 October 2023, applications are open for the electronic travel authorisation (ETA) required for nationals of Qatar travelling to the UK on or after 15 November 2023.

Nationals of Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia or the United Arab Emirates travelling to the UK on or after 22 February 2024 will also require an ETA, and will be able to apply from 1 February 2024.

The ETA scheme will eventually be rolled out to all nationalities who do not need a visa for short stays (up to six months) to the UK for tourism, visiting family and friends, business or short-term study; for stays of up to three months on the Creative Worker visa concession; and for transiting through the UK.

 

An ETA permits multiple journeys and is valid for two years or until the holder’s passport expires – whichever is sooner.

  • The easiest way to apply for an ETA is through the ‘UK ETA app’. Individuals can also search for ‘Apply for an Electronic Travel Authorisation to come to the UK’ on GOV.UK if they do not have access to a smartphone.  
  • To apply for an ETA, individuals need to:  
    • Pay the £10 fee 
    • Provide contact and passport details 
    • Provide a valid photo, complying with our rules for digital photos on GOV.UK 
    • Answer a set of questions.
  • Most applicants will receive a response within three working days, with many receiving a result sooner.  
  • If an individual’s ETA application is refused they will need to apply for a visa if they wish to seek permission come to the UK. 
  • British and Irish citizens will not require an ETA. 

Immigration Health Surcharge Increase Confirmed

In July 2023, the government announced it intended to increase the rates of the immigration health surcharge. On 18 and 19 October 2023, the government laid before parliament the Immigration (Health Charge) (Amendment) Order 2023, which confirms that the increase will take effect on 16 January 2024.

As previously announced, the annual cost of the Health Charge will increase from £470 to £776 for students, dependents of students, applicants for entry clearance as a Tier 5 (Youth Mobility Scheme Applicant) and persons under 18 years of age. For all other applications made in respect of a person aged 18 or over at the date of the application, the Health Charge will increase from £624 to £1035.

 

The order also clarifies that applicants who are applying for the Stateless immigration route are exempt from the requirement to pay the Health Charge. This will put applicants in a similar position to migrants who are granted refugee status.

 

The order also formalises existing exemptions under the Ukraine Schemes. The Ukraine Schemes were launched in March 2022 following the Russian invasion of Ukraine to support migrants displaced by the war in Ukraine to either enter or remain in the UK.

In its own explanatory memorandum, the government admits that these substantial increases will likely have a significant impact on businesses, charities and volunteer bodies. “The indirect cost to businesses is estimated in the order of tens of millions of pounds per year”.

 

10/6/23

New report on shortage occupation list

The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) has published a report recommending the abolition of the shortage occupation list (SOL).

In the interim, the MAC has recommended including only eight occupations on the SOL and a further two occupations on the Scotland-only SOL.

The Mac also recommends that, while the SOL continues, the going rate discount for occupations on the list should be removed; that asylum seekers be given the right to work in any job, not just in occupations on the SOL; and that the Creative Worker (CW) visa route be opened up to any occupation without a labour market test.

The MAC also recommends that, if the SOL is retained, the Government changes the name of the SOL to the Immigration Salary Discount List (ISDL) to correctly reflect its function in the immigration system.

9/22/23

Increased immigration fees

The previously-announced Increases to immigration and nationality fees are set to come into effect on 4 October 2023, following legislation laid in Parliament on 15 September 2023.

The changes mean that the cost for a visit visa for less than six months is rising by £15 to £115, while the fee for applying for a student visa from outside the UK will rise by £127 to £490, to equal the amount charged for in-country applications.

On 13 July 2023, the government announced a 15% increase in the cost of most work and visit visas, and an increase of at least 20% in the cost of priority visas, study visas and certificates of sponsorship.

The changes include:

  • Fees for up to six months, and for two-, five- and ten-year visit visas;
  • The majority of fees for entry clearance and certain applications for leave to remain in the UK including those for work and study;
  • Fees for indefinite leave to enter and indefinite leave to remain;
  • Convention travel document and stateless person’s travel document;
  • Health and Care visa fees;
  • Fees in relation to certificates of sponsorship and confirmation of acceptance for studies;
  • The in and out of country fee for the super priority service and the out of country fee for the priority service.  The settlement priority service will reduce so it is aligned with the cost of using the priority service;
  • Applications to Register and Naturalise as a British Citizen;
  • The fee for the User Pays Visa Application service.

Subject to Parliamentary approval, the immigration and nationality fees will increase from 4 October 2023. These changes do not include the planned increase to the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) which is scheduled to be introduced later in 2023.

A full list of the new fees can be found here.

Georgians and Russians require transit visas

Effective 8 September 2023, the UK government has amended the Immigration (Passenger Transit Visa) Order 2014 to require citizens of Georgia and Russia to obtain a transit visa to pass through the UK without entering while transiting to another country.

This amendment, via a statutory instrument, took effect one day after it was laid before Parliament, rather than after the usual 21-day scrutiny period. The government explained that there were concerns that giving notice of introducing a visa requirement may have triggered a substantial increase in Georgian and Russian nationals travelling to the UK and potentially claiming asylum on arrival, before the new transit visa regime came into force.

However, during a 28-day transition period until 5 October 2023, nationals from these countries can transit through the UK without a Direct Airside Transit Visa (DATV), if their travel was booked on or before 8 September 2023 and who arrive on or before 5 October 2023.

The government states that the amendment will prevent these nationals from travelling to the UK on the pretence of transiting but claiming asylum on arrival and that, since 2018, Georgian and Russian nationals have consistently ranked top in the nationalities abusing the UK’s transit provisions to claim asylum.

The Immigration (Passenger Transit Visa) Order 2014 was previously amended, effective 20 July 2023, to require citizens of Dominica, Honduras, Namibia, Timor-Leste and Vanuatu to obtain a transit visa to pass through the UK without entering while transiting to another country. In that case also, a 21-day scrutiny period was not applied, for similar reasons, and a transition period was allowed. A Visa Regime was imposed on citizens of those countries, requiring them to obtain a visa to enter the UK.

 

9/25/23

On 7 September 2023, the Home Office published a statement of changes to the immigration rules. According to the accompanying explanatory memorandum,

“The changes being made primarily deliver changes to the EU Settlement Scheme and changes to Appendix Electronic Travel Authorisation.”

The majority of the changes take effect on 5 October 2023, with some changes to the Youth Mobility Scheme only becoming effective from 31 January 2024.

Below are highlights of the changes – further details are available in the explanatory memorandum and in the written statement by the Immigration Minister.

EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS) and EUSS family permits

The changes in respect of Appendix AR and Appendix AR (EU) remove the right of administrative review for all decision types where it currently applies for the EUSS, the EUSS family permit and the S2 Healthcare Visitor visa. The right of appeal against those decisions will be maintained as the mechanism for meeting the government’s obligations under the Citizens’ Rights Agreements (CRAs) to provide judicial redress. The changes will apply to all relevant decisions made on or after 5 October 2023.

Some minor technical amendments are also being made to the Immigration Rules for the EUSS in Appendix EU to clarify the existing policy position that where a dependent parent or child has already been granted limited leave under Appendix EU, they will not need to evidence dependency for any further applications under Appendix EU.

Appendix Electronic Travel Authorisation

The UK will launch an Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) scheme in October 2023 in a phased manner on a nationality basis. The ETA scheme will ultimately apply to all those passengers visiting the UK or transiting through the UK who do not currently need a visa for short stays and do not have any other immigration status before travelling.

At present, Appendix Electronic Travel Authorisation states than an application for an ETA may be refused if an applicant has failed to pay relevant NHS charges with a total value of at least £500. The statement of changes removes NHS debt as a ground for refusal of an ETA application.

However, a successful ETA application does not guarantee that an applicant will be granted permission to enter at the UK border. Therefore, travellers seeking permission to enter the UK who have outstanding NHS debts, and who do not take the necessary steps to settle their debts in advance of travel, may be refused entry at the UK border on arrival.

At present, Appendix Electronic Travel Authorisation stipulates that an applicant who is lawfully resident in Ireland and is travelling to the UK from elsewhere in the Common Travel Area (CTA) does not need to obtain an ETA.

The statement of changes clarifies that the ETA exemption for applicants lawfully resident in Ireland, who are travelling within the CTA, will require a person aged 16 or over to demonstrate residency in Ireland, if required by a UK official, in order to benefit from this exemption. On 20 July 2023, the Home Office published guidance detailing which documents can be used to demonstrate residency for the purpose of this exemption, including a Permanent Residence Certificate, European Health Insurance Card, Irish driving licence/learner permit, medical card and GP visit card, National Age card and Irish Residence Permit.

Youth Mobility Scheme (YMS)

The UK’s existing reciprocal, bilateral arrangements with Australia and Canada have been enhanced – the age range is being expanded from 18-30 to 18-35 and the length of stay is being increased from 2 to 3 years. The Rules changes bring these enhancements into effect.

A minor technical edit is also being made to clarify the limitations on self- employment on this route.

The UK has negotiated a YMS arrangement with Andorra. Therefore it will be added to the list of countries and territories participating in this route and the Rules will be amended to reflect the requirements for Andorran citizens coming to the UK.

Appendix Children

The government is introducing an Appendix Children that will include common requirements for both children applying as dependants of a lead applicant, and children applying in their own right. Common requirements for dependent children relate to age, independent life, care, and relationship requirements. A common parental consent requirement will apply where a child is applying for entry clearance or permission to stay in their own right. No policy changes have been made to these requirements, but this approach is intended to provide clarity and consistency across over 20 routes.

Appendix English Language

This is being updated to allow applicants in an additional six routes to demonstrate they meet the English Language requirement if they have a GCSE, A level, Scottish National Qualification at level 4 or 5 or Scottish Higher or Advanced Higher in English.

Appendix Tuberculosis

The rules for tuberculosis testing are being placed into a new Appendix Tuberculosis.

Appendix Returning Resident is being added to the immigration rules, for “clarity and consistency”.

Gurkhas and Hong Kong Military Units

The 2009 concession enabling settlement applications from pre-1997 Gurkhas will be brought into the Rules and at the same time extended to cover pre-1997 members of Hong Kong military units, and their families, as announced in March 2023

Long Residence

In April 2023 the definition of ‘lawful residence’ for the purposes of long residence was changed to exclude time spent on immigration bail, as a visitor, short-term student, or seasonal worker. The rules are being changed to clarify that this exclusion extends to time spent on previous versions of immigration bail (temporary admission and temporary release) and previous visitor, short-term student visa, or seasonal worker routes.

Skilled Workers

Prison service officers are being made eligible for this route. This occupation meets the skills threshold, and workers can be sponsored where the Civil Service nationality requirements are met.

Further minor policy and technical changes are also being introduced, as described in the explanatory memorandum.

Close Open United States

2/2/24

USCIS adjusts certain immigration and naturalization fees

On 30 January 2024, US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) published a final rule to adjust certain immigration and naturalization benefit request fees for the first time since 2016.

The new fees under the final rule will go into effect on 1 April 2024.

The final rule is the result of a comprehensive fee review, as required by law. The review concluded that the current fee schedule falls far short in recovering the full cost of agency operations, including the necessary expansion of humanitarian programs, federally mandated pay raises, additional staffing requirements, and other essential investments.

The final rule:

  • Lowers the agency’s required annual cost recovery by $727 million, in part by considering the budget effects of improved efficiency measures;
  • Expands fee exemptions for Special Immigrant Juveniles and victims of human trafficking, crime, and domestic violence; US military service members and Afghan allies; and families pursuing international adoption;
  • Provides special fee discounts for non-profit organizations and small business employers;
  • Allows for half-price Employment Authorization Document applications for applicants for adjustment of status and a reduced fee for adjustment of status applicants under the age of 14 in certain situations;
  • Expands eligibility for a 50% fee reduction for naturalization applications, available to individuals who can demonstrate household income between 150% and 400% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines; and
  • Implements a standard $50 discount for online filers.

Every fee in the final rule is the same or lower than in the proposed rule. For most individual filers, the final rule limits how much newly established fees may increase. Under the final rule, the new fees will not increase by more than 26%, which is equivalent to the increase in the Consumer Price Index since the last fee rule was issued in 2016.

USCIS will accept both previous and new editions of certain forms during a grace period from 1 April 2024, until 3 June 2024. 

There will be no grace period for the following new forms, however, because they must be revised with a new fee calculation. Filers should click the links below to access a preview version of each new form edition before the 1 April 2024, effective date:

USCIS will use the postmark date of a filing to determine which form version and fees are correct but will use the receipt date for purposes of any regulatory or statutory filing deadlines.

USCIS announces strengthened integrity measures, FY 2025 H-1B Cap Initial Registration Period and Online Filing of H-1B Petitions

On 30 January 2024, US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced a final rule to strengthen the integrity of and reduce the potential for fraud in the H-1B registration process, including by reducing the potential for gaming the registration system so that each beneficiary has the same chance of being selected, regardless of the number of registrations submitted on their behalf. 

USCIS has also announced the initial registration period dates for the fiscal year (FY) 2025 H-1B cap, and the launch of an online filing option for Forms I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker and Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing Service for H-1B petitioners.

H-1B Registration Final Rule

Under the new beneficiary centric process, registrations will be selected by unique beneficiary rather than by registration. Starting with the FY 2025 initial registration period, USCIS will require registrants to provide valid passport information or valid travel document information for each beneficiary. The passport or travel document provided must be the one the beneficiary, if or when abroad, intends to use to enter the United States if issued an H-1B visa. Each beneficiary must only be registered under one passport or travel document.

USCIS is also clarifying requirements regarding the requested employment start date on certain petitions subject to the congressionally mandated H-1B cap to permit filing with requested start dates that are after 1 October of the relevant fiscal year, consistent with current policy.

Additionally, the H-1B final rule codifies USCIS’ ability to deny or revoke H-1B petitions where the underlying registration contained a false attestation or was otherwise invalid. Also under the new rule, USCIS may deny or revoke the approval of an H-1B petition if it determines that the fee associated with the registration is declined, not reconciled, disputed, or otherwise invalid after submission.

USCIS has also announced the Fee Schedule final rule. That rule will go into effect after the initial registration period for the FY 2025 H-1B cap. Therefore, the registration fee during the registration period starting in March 2024, will remain $10.

A new edition of Form I-129 with the H-1B Registration final rule and Fee Schedule final rule changes will soon be available to preview on uscis.gov. From 1 April 2024, only the 04/01/24 edition of Form I-129 will be accepted.

The H-1B Registration final rule makes final some provisions proposed in the Oct. 23, 2023, Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM). Note that DHS intends to publish a separate final rule to address the remaining provisions contained in the NPRM.

FY 2025 H-1B Cap Initial Registration Period

The initial registration period for the FY 2025 H-1B cap will open at noon Eastern Time (ET) on 6 March 2024, and run until noon ET on 22 March 2024. During this period, prospective petitioners and their representatives, if applicable, must use a USCIS online account to register each beneficiary electronically for the selection process and pay the associated registration fee for each beneficiary.   

Organizational Accounts and Online Filing for Forms I-129 and I-907

On 28 February 2024, USCIS will launch the previously announced new organizational accounts in the USCIS online account that will allow multiple people within an organization and their legal representatives to collaborate on and prepare H-1B registrations, H-1B petitions, and any associated Form I-907. 

Also on 28 February 2024, USCIS will launch online filing of Form I-129 and associated Form I-907 for non-cap H-1B petitions. On 1 April 2024, USCIS will begin accepting online filing for H-1B cap petitions and associated Forms I-907 for petitioners whose registrations have been selected.

Petitioners will continue to have the option of filing a paper Form I-129 H-1B petition and any associated Form I-907 if they prefer. However, during the initial launch of organizational accounts, users will not be able to link paper-filed Forms I-129 and I-907 to their online accounts.

As a reminder, USCIS recently announced a final rule that will increase the filing fee for Form I-907, to adjust for inflation, effective 26 February 2024. If USCIS receives a Form I-907 postmarked on or after 26 February 2024, with the incorrect filing fee, it will reject the Form I-907 and return the filing fee. For filings sent by commercial courier, the postmark date is the date reflected on the courier receipt.

New Fee Payment Process for Filing In-Person

US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is starting a new process for most applicants, petitioners, and requestors, and their attorneys and accredited representatives to pay for certain benefit request forms by mail or remotely instead of in person at a field office.

Under the new process, applicants may mail either a check or Form G-1450, Authorization for Credit Card Transactions, to the field office with their benefit request. Applicants, petitioners, and requestors, and their attorneys and accredited representatives should carefully read the filing instructions to ensure that their benefit request form can be submitted by mail or remotely and that they are filing at the correct location. USCIS will return any incorrect filings to the applicant, who must then resubmit their filing to the correct office.

In addition, attorneys and accredited representatives now can process payments for EOIR-29, Notice of Appeal to the Board of Immigration Appeals from a Decision of a DHS Officer, through a link in the email they receive or via text from the USCIS Contact Centre. Once such payment has processed, attorneys and accredited representatives must mail their client’s EOIR-29; their EOIR-2; their EOIR-27, Notice of Entry of Appearance as Attorney or Representative Before the Board of Immigration Appeals, and their Pay.gov receipt to the field office.

An exception to the new process is emergency advance parole (EAP) requests. Applicants submitting Form I-131, Application for Travel Document, with an EAP request must still make an appointment with the USCIS Contact Centre, apply in person with their package (completed form and supporting documentation), and pay the application fee (if applicable) by credit card with Form G-1450 or check at the field office.

1/5/24

Increased fees for Premium Processing

US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced a final rule that will increase the filing fee for Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing, to adjust for inflation.

The USCIS Stabilization Act established the current premium processing fees and the authority for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to adjust the premium fees on a biennial basis. After leaving these fees unchanged for the three years following passage of the Act, DHS is now increasing the premium processing fees USCIS charges for all eligible forms and categories to reflect the amount of inflation from June 2021 through June 2023 according to the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers. The adjustment increases certain premium processing fees from USD 1500 to USD 1685, USD 1750 to USD 1965, and USD 2500 to USD 2805.

The fee change will go into effect on 26 February 2024. If USCIS receives a Form I-907 postmarked on or after 26 February 2024 with the incorrect filing fee, it will reject the Form I-907 and return the filing fee. For filings sent by commercial courier (such as UPS, FedEx, and DHL), the postmark date is the date reflected on the courier receipt.

Applicants may only request premium processing for a benefit if USCIS has announced on its website that premium processing is available for that benefit.

12/26/23

Pilot program for domestic renewal of H-1B visa

The US Department of State has announced a pilot program to resume domestic visa renewal for qualified H–1B nonimmigrant visa applicants who meet certain requirements.

The pilot program will accept applications from 29 January 2024 to 1 April 2024. Applicants who meet the requirements will be able to participate during the application window by applying online here.

Eligibility

Participation in this pilot will be limited to applicants who(se):

  • Are seeking to renew an H–1B visa; during the pilot phase, the Department will not process any other visa classifications;
  • Prior H–1B visa that is being renewed was issued by Mission Canada with an issuance date from 1 January 2020 to 1 April 2023; or by Mission India with an issuance date of 1 February 2021 to 30 September 2021;
  • Are not subject to a nonimmigrant visa issuance fee (Note: this is commonly referred to as a “reciprocity fee”);
  • Are eligible for a waiver of the in-person interview requirement;
  • Have submitted ten fingerprints to the Department in connection with a previous visa application;
  • Prior visa does not include a “clearance received” annotation;
  • Do not have a visa ineligibility that would require a waiver prior to visa issuance;
  • Have an approved and unexpired H–1B petition;
  • Were most recently admitted to the United States in H–1B status;
  • Are currently maintaining H–1B status in the United States;
  • Period of authorized admission in H–1B status has not expired; and
  • Intend to re-enter the United States in H–1B status after a temporary period abroad.

The Department is limiting the scope of the pilot to applicants who were previously issued visas within specified dates by Missions Canada or India to properly assess the performance and capabilities of contractors who manage the majority of the Department's worldwide visa processing.

Procedure

In order to control the number of applications received, the Department will, each week, release approximately 2000 application slots for applicants whose most recent H–1B visas were issued by Mission Canada, and approximately 2000 application slots for those whose most recent H–1B visas were issued by Mission India (approximately 4000 total each week) on the following dates:

  • 29 January 2024
  • 5 February 2024
  • 12 February 2024
  • 19 February 2024
  • 26 February 2024

Once the limit is reached, the online portal will be locked until the next tranche of slots are released for each participating Mission group on the next application date. Applicants who are unable to apply on one application date may attempt to apply on any of the remaining application dates during the entry period. The application period for the pilot will close when all application slots are filled or on 1 April 2024, whichever comes first. 

After online submission of the DS–160 and payment of the non-refundable, non-transferrable MRV fee (USD 205), applicants will receive instructions through the portal to send their passports and other required documents (as specified in section d. Required Documents of this notice) via the U.S. Postal Service or commercial courier service to the Department. 

The average processing time for a domestic visa renewal application is expected to be six to eight weeks from the time that the passport and other required documents are received by the Department. The Department aims to complete processing of all applications no later than 1 May 2024.

Background

In 2004, the State Department discontinued the domestic renewal of non-diplomatic nonimmigrant visas primarily because of the passage of the Enhanced Border Security and Visa Entry Reform Act of 2002, which required that US visas issued after 26 October 2004, include biometric identifiers.

Then, as now, the State Department did not possess the capacity to collect fingerprints in the United States, so all non-diplomatic visa applicants were required to apply for new visas outside of the United States where fingerprints can be collected at a US embassy, consulate or, for certain posts, at an offsite contract facility.

For purposes of implementing this pilot, however, those prior concerns are overcome, as participation in the pilot is limited to individuals who have previously submitted fingerprints in connection with the application for the prior visa, are eligible for a waiver of the in-person interview requirement and meet other applicable requirements.

Updated policy guidance for international students

US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has issued policy guidance regarding the F and M student nonimmigrant classifications, including the agency’s role in adjudicating applications for employment authorization, change of status, extension of stay, and reinstatement of status for these students and their dependents in the United States.

This guidance consolidates existing policy. USCIS expects that this will provide welcome clarity to international students and US educational institutions on a wealth of topics, including eligibility requirements, school transfers, practical training, and on- and off-campus employment.

For example, the guidance clarifies that F and M students must have a foreign residence that they do not intend to abandon, but that such students may be the beneficiary of a permanent labour certification application or immigrant visa petition and may still be able to demonstrate their intention to depart after a temporary period of stay.

In addition, the guidance specifies how F students seeking an extension of optional practical training (OPT) based on their degree in a science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) field may be employed by start-up companies, as long as the employer adheres to the training plan requirements, remains in good standing with E-Verify, and provides compensation commensurate to that provided to similarly situated US workers, among other requirements.

The nonimmigrant academic student (F-1) classification allows a noncitizen to enter the United States as a full-time student at a college, university, seminary, conservatory, academic high school, elementary school, or other academic institution, or in a language training program. The nonimmigrant vocational student (M-1) classification includes students in established vocational or other recognized non-academic programs, other than language training programs.

12/15/23

Updated guidance on family-based conditional permanent residence

US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has issued updated guidance on family-based conditional permanent residence in its Policy Manual. The update consolidates and updates guidance on eligibility, filing, and adjudication for Form I-751, Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence.

The update clarifies what noncitizens must do to change the basis of filing in cases of waivers based on battery or extreme cruelty. It also clarifies that if a noncitizen’s conditional permanent resident status is terminated for failing to timely file Form I-751, they may be eligible to adjust permanent resident status on a new basis. This is true even if USCIS issues a notice of termination of conditional permanent resident status before the noncitizen files Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status.

Under the Immigration Marriage Fraud Amendments of 1986, a noncitizen obtains permanent resident status on a conditional basis for two years if:

  • They obtain permanent resident status based on marriage; and
  • That marriage began less than two years before they obtain that status.

To remove the conditions on their permanent resident status, conditional permanent residents generally must file Form I-751 within the 90-day period before the two- year anniversary of when they obtained conditional permanent resident status.

New filing location for certain forms

US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced that it will begin transitioning the filing location for Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing, when filed for a pending Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Workers, from the service centres to appropriate USCIS lockboxes on 15 December 2023.

The change in filing location allows USCIS to centralize digitization of these forms for downstream electronic adjudication. This is the second of three phases of this transition.

This change in filing location does not apply for those filing Form I-140 concurrently with an associated application (such as Form I-485, I-765, or Form I-131). USCIS will soon announce a filing location change for these forms, but at this time, such forms should be filed with the service centres, as listed on the Direct Filing Addresses for Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker page.

USCIS previously announced that effective 13 November 2023, the filing location for Form I-907 filed together with Form I-140 has changed from the service centres to the USCIS lockbox (phase 1). As a reminder, starting on or after 13 December 2023, USCIS will reject any Form I-907 filed with Form I-140 that is received at the previous service centre address.

Starting 15 December 2023, applicants should use the addresses listed here when mailing Form I-907 to USCIS for a currently pending Form I-140. Starting on or after 14 January 2024, USCIS will reject any Form I-907 filed for a pending Form I-140 that is received at the previous service centre address.

 

USCIS Reaches Fiscal Year 2024 H-1B Cap

On 13 December 2023, US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that it has received a sufficient number of petitions needed to reach the congressionally mandated 65,000 H-1B visa regular cap and the 20,000 H-1B visa US advanced degree exemption, known as the master’s cap, for fiscal year (FY) 2024.

USCIS will send non-selection notices to registrants through their online accounts, after which the status for properly submitted registrations that it did not select for the FY 2024 H-1B numerical allocations will show:

  • Not Selected: Not selected – not eligible to file an H-1B cap petition based on this registration.

USCIS will continue to accept and process petitions that are otherwise exempt from the cap. Petitions filed for current H-1B workers who have been counted previously against the cap, and who still retain their cap number, are exempt from the FY 2024 H-1B cap. USCIS will continue to accept and process petitions filed to:

  • Extend the amount of time a current H-1B worker may remain in the United States;
  • Change the terms of employment for current H-1B workers;
  • Allow current H-1B workers to change employers; and
  • Allow current H-1B workers to work concurrently in additional H-1B positions.

US businesses use the H-1B program to employ foreign workers in specialty occupations.

11/27/23

USCIS extends myProgress to Forms I-485 and I-821

US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced on 21 November 2023 that it is expanding myProgress (formerly known as personalized processing times) to Form I-821, Application for Temporary Protected Status, and Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status. myProgress will initially only be available for family-based or Afghan special immigrant I-485 applicants.

myProgress provides applicants with access, in their online account, to personalized estimates of their wait time for major milestones and actions on their case, including their final case decision. While estimates are based on case type and historical patterns, they are not a guarantee of timing, and cannot take into consideration all possible unique application processing factors.

In addition to Form I-485 and Form I-821, myProgress is available for applicants with a USCIS online account who file Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization; Form I-131, Application for Travel Document; Form N-400, Application for Naturalization; Form I-90, Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card; or Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative.

To view myProgress, applicants must first create a USCIS online account or log into their online account and select their pending application. If they filed online or linked one of the applicable forms to their online account using an online access code, they will see a myProgress tab for their application. The myProgress tab displays the estimated wait time until their case has a decision, along with a checkmark beside milestones as they are completed:

  • Confirmation that the application was received;
  • Movement of the application through preprocessing and adjudicative steps; and
  • Case decision.
  •  

Applicants will still need to visit the public Check Case Processing Times webpage to determine if they are eligible to file an Outside of Normal Processing Times service request. 

11/17/23

FY2024 H-2B availability

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS), through the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), and the Department of Labour (DOL) have published a temporary final rule making available an additional 64,716 H-2B temporary non-agricultural worker visas for fiscal year (FY) 2024, on top of the statutory cap of 66,000 H-2B visas that are available each fiscal year.

The H-2B supplemental includes an allocation of 20,000 visas to workers from Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, and Honduras.. 
 
In addition to the 20,000 country-specific allocation, 44,716 supplemental visas will be available to returning workers who received H-2B visas or were otherwise granted H-2B status during one of the last three fiscal years. The rule allocates these supplemental visas for returning workers between the first half and second half of the fiscal year to account for the need for additional seasonal and other temporary workers over the course of the year, with a portion of the second half allocation reserved to meet the demand for workers during the summer season. The semi-annual cap of 33,000 H-2B visas authorized under the Immigration and Nationality Act (statutory cap) for the first half of FY 2024 was reached on 11 October 2023.

The supplemental H-2B visas have been divided into the following allocations:

  • First half of FY 2024 (1 October to 31 March): 20,716 visas are immediately available to returning workers – those who were issued H-2B visas or held H-2B status in FY 2021, FY 2022, or FY 2023, regardless of country of nationality.  These petitions must request employment start dates on or before 31 March 2024.
  • Early second half of FY 2024 (1 April1 to 14 May): 19,000 visas are limited to returning workers – those who were issued H-2B visas or held H-2B status in FY 2021, FY 2022, or FY 2023, regardless of country of nationality. These early second half of FY 2024 petitions must request employment start dates from 1 April 2024 to 14 May 2024.  
  • Late second half of FY 2024 (15 May to 30 September): 5,000 visas are limited to returning workers – those who were issued H-2B visas or held H-2B status in FY 2021, FY 2022, or FY 2023, regardless of country of nationality. These late second half of FY 2024 petitions must request employment start dates from 15 May 2024 to 30 September 2024.
  • For the entirety of FY 2024: 20,000 visas are reserved for nationals of El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Haiti, Colombia, Ecuador, and Costa Rica, regardless of whether such nationals are returning workers. Employers requesting an employment start date in the first half of FY 2024 may file such petitions immediately after the publication of this temporary final rule.  

The H-2B program permits employers to temporarily hire noncitizens to perform non-agricultural labour or services in the United States. The employment must be of a temporary nature, such as a one-time occurrence, seasonal need, or intermittent need. Employers seeking H-2B workers must take a series of steps to test the US labour market. They must obtain certification from DOL that there are not enough US workers who are able, willing, qualified, and available to perform the temporary work for which they seek a prospective foreign worker, and that employing H-2B workers will not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of similarly employed US workers. The maximum period of stay in H-2B classification is three years. A person who has held H-2B nonimmigrant status for a total of three years must depart and remain outside of the United States for an uninterrupted period of three months before seeking readmission as an H-2B nonimmigrant.

Petitions requesting supplemental allocations under this rule must be submitted at the USCIS Texas Service Centre. Petitions filed under the supplemental allocations in this rule at any location other than the Texas Service Centre will be rejected, and the filing fees will be returned.

11/10/23

Additional H-2B visas made available

On 11 November 2023, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced that it would make available an additional 64,716 H-2B temporary nonagricultural worker visas for the Fiscal Year (FY) 2024.  

This is a supplement to the congressionally mandated 66,000 H-2B visas available every fiscal year. These additional H-2B visas represent the maximum permitted under the September 2023 Fiscal Year 2024 Continuing Resolution.

The H-2B supplemental is expected to include an allocation of 20,000 visas to workers from Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, and Honduras.

In addition to the 20,000 country-specific allocation, 44,716 supplemental visas would be available to returning workers who received an H-2B visa, or were otherwise granted H-2B status, during one of the last three fiscal years. The regulation would allocate these supplemental visas for returning workers between the first half and second half of the fiscal year to account for the need for additional seasonal and other temporary workers over the course of the year, with a portion of the second half allocation reserved to meet the demand for workers during the peak summer season..

The H-2B program permits employers to temporarily hire noncitizens to perform nonagricultural labour or services in the United States. The employment must be of a temporary nature, such as a one-time occurrence, seasonal need, or intermittent need. Employers seeking H-2B workers must take a series of steps to test the US labour market. They must obtain certification from DOL that there are not enough US workers who are able, willing, qualified, and available to perform the temporary work for which they seek a prospective foreign worker, and that employing H-2B workers will not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of similarly employed US workers.

The maximum period of stay in H-2B classification is three years. A person who has held H-2B nonimmigrant status for a total of three years must depart and remain outside of the United States for an uninterrupted period of three months before seeking readmission as an H-2B nonimmigrant.

The forthcoming temporary final rule implementing this allocation is expected to feature several provisions to protect both U.S. and H-2B workers. Additional details on H-2B program safeguards, as well as eligibility and filing requirements, will be available in the temporary final rule when published and on the USCIS webpage.

Bolivia added to list of eligible H-2A and H-2B countries

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS), in consultation with the Department of State (DOS), has announced the lists of countries whose nationals are eligible to participate in the H-2A and H-2B visa programs in the next year. The notice listing the eligible countries was published in the Federal Register on 9 November 2023.

Effective 9 November 2023, DHS and DOS have added Bolivia to the list of countries eligible to participate in the H-2A and H-2B programs.

The H-2A and H-2B visa programs allow US employers to bring foreign nationals to the United States to fill temporary agricultural and nonagricultural jobs, respectively. Typically, USCIS approves H-2A and H-2B petitions only for nationals of countries that the secretary of homeland security has designated as eligible to participate in the programs. However, USCIS may approve H-2A and H-2B petitions, including those that were pending as of the date of publication of the Federal Register Notice, for nationals of countries not on the lists on a case-by-case basis only if doing so is determined to be in the interest of the United States.

This notice does not affect the status of H-2 beneficiaries who currently are in the United States unless they apply to extend their stay in H-2 status on the basis of a petition filed on or after the date of publication of the Federal Register Notice. Similarly, this notice would not affect the eligibility of an H-2 beneficiary to apply for an H-2 visa and/or seek admission to the United States based on an H-2 petition approved prior to the date of publication of the Federal Register Notice. It does apply to nonimmigrants changing status in the United States to H-2A or H-2B. Each country’s designation is valid from 9 November 2023, until 8 November 2024.

New filing locations for premium processing form

US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will begin transitioning the filing location for Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing, when filed with Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Workers, from the service centres to the relevant USCIS lockbox (as listed here) on 13 November 2023.

This change in filing location does not apply for applicants filing Form I-907 for a currently pending Form I-140, or for those filing Form I-140 with an associated application (such as Form I-765, Form I-131, or Form I-485). USCIS will soon announce filing location changes for these forms, but at this time, they should be filed with the service centres, as listed on the Direct Filing Addresses for Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker page.

Starting 13 December 2023, USCIS will reject any Form I-907 filed with Form I-140 that is received at the previous service centre address.

11/3/23

180-day extension of Employment Authorization for certain renewal applicants

US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced that, effective 27 October 2023, eligible renewal applicants who have filed Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, qualify for an automatic 180-day extension of their expiring employment authorization and/or employment authorization documents (EADs) while their renewal application is pending. This includes those who have applied for or have received Temporary Protected Status or asylum.

In May 2022, USCIS announced a temporary final rule (TFR) that increased the automatic extension period for EADs available to certain EAD renewal applicants from up to 180 days to up to 540 days. The latest change is not retroactive; all previous up to 540-day automatic extensions will remain in place.

USCIS is in the process of determining whether there is a need for a new regulatory action similar to the May 2022 TFR.  

As announced in the May 2022 TFR, automatic extensions of employment authorization and EAD validity will be the original up to 180-day period for those eligible applicants who timely file a Form I-765 renewal applications on or after 27 October 2023.  

For individuals who received an increased automatic extension period under the TFR, the increased automatic extension will end when they receive a final decision on their renewal application or when the up to 540-day period expires (counted from the expiration date of the employment authorization and/or their EAD), whichever comes earlier.

Meanwhile, USCIS recently published a Policy Manual update increasing the maximum EAD validity period to five years for initial and renewal applications approved on or after 27 September 2023, for the following categories:

  • Certain noncitizens who are employment authorized incident to status or circumstance, including those admitted as refugees, paroled as refugees, granted asylum, and recipients of withholding of removal; and
  • Certain noncitizens who must apply for employment authorization, including applicants for asylum and withholding of removal, adjustment of status, and suspension of deportation or cancellation of removal.

New Form I-9

Effective 1 November 2023, all employers must use a new Form I-9. The revised version of the form was published on 1 August 2023 by US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

The revised Form I-9:

  • Reduces Sections 1 and 2 to a single-sided sheet;
  • Is designed to be a fillable form on tablets and mobile devices;
  • Moves the Section 1 Preparer/Translator Certification area to a separate, standalone supplement that employers can provide to employees when necessary;
  • Moves Section 3, Reverification and Rehire, to a standalone supplement that employers can print if or when rehire occurs or reverification is required;
  • Revises the Lists of Acceptable Documents page to include some acceptable receipts as well as guidance and links to information on automatic extensions of employment authorization documentation;
  • Reduces Form instructions from 15 pages to 8 pages; and
  • Includes a checkbox allowing employers to indicate they examined Form I-9 documentation remotely under a DHS-authorized alternative procedure rather than via physical examination (see below).

10/27/23

J-1 Policy Clarified

US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has issued policy guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual, effective immediately, clarifying the two-year foreign residence requirement for the nonimmigrant exchange visitor (J) classification.

 

The update adds information about how USCIS determines whether the requirement has been met, the evidence a benefit requestor may submit to show compliance with the requirement, and how it considers situations in which it is effectively impossible for the benefit requestor to satisfy the requirement.

 

It also corrects an omission, from existing Policy Manual content, of one of the foreign medical graduates’ grounds for waivers of the foreign residence requirement. This update includes the ground and clarifies employment requirements.

 

The J-1 nonimmigrant classification is for exchange visitors who intend to participate in an approved program in the United States for the purpose of teaching, instructing or lecturing, studying, observing, conducting research, consulting, demonstrating special skills, receiving training, or receiving graduate medical education or training.

 

L-1 Policy Clarified

US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has issued policy guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual clarifying that a sole proprietorship may not submit a petition on behalf of its owner because the sole proprietorship does not exist as a distinct legal entity separate and apart from the owner.

This Policy Manual update affirms the existing guidance. The update distinguishes a sole proprietor from a self-incorporated petitioner (such as a corporation or a limited liability company with a single owner), where the corporation or the single member limited liability company is a separate and distinct legal entity from its owner, which may petition for that owner.

This update also clarifies guidance regarding blanket petitions. International organizations submit blanket L-1 petitions on behalf of all individual entities named in the petition. USCIS is updating policy guidance to clarify that the failure to submit an extension of the blanket petition on time does not trigger the three-year waiting period before another blanket petition may be submitted.

This guidance, contained in Volume 2 of the Policy Manual, is effective immediately. The guidance contained in the Policy Manual is controlling and supersedes any related prior guidance on the topic.

The L-1 nonimmigrant visa classification enables a US employer that is part of a qualifying organization to temporarily transfer employees from one of its related foreign offices to locations in the United States. Existing USCIS policy and practice provide that a sole proprietorship may not submit an L-1 petition on behalf of its owner.

 

Proposed modernization of H-1B program

On 23 October 2023, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) in the Federal Register that would modernize the H-1B specialty occupation worker program by streamlining eligibility requirements, improving program efficiency, providing greater benefits and flexibilities for employers and workers, and strengthening integrity measures.

The H-1B nonimmigrant visa program allows US employers to temporarily employ foreign workers in specialty occupations, defined by statute as occupations that require highly specialized knowledge and a bachelor’s or higher degree in the specific specialty, or its equivalent.

The proposed rule would change how USCIS conducts the H-1B registration selection process to reduce the possibility of misuse and fraud. Under the current process, the more registrations that are submitted on behalf of an individual, the higher chance that individual will be selected in a lottery.

Under the new proposal, each unique individual who has a registration submitted on their behalf would be entered into the selection process once, regardless of the number of registrations submitted on their behalf. This would improve the chances that a legitimate registration would be selected by significantly reducing or eliminating the advantage of submitting multiple registrations for the same beneficiary solely to increase the chances of selection.

Furthermore, it could also give beneficiaries more choice between legitimate job offers because each registrant who submitted a registration for a selected beneficiary would have the ability to submit an H-1B petition on behalf of the beneficiary.

Among additional provisions, the proposed rule would improve the H-1B program by:

  • Streamlining eligibility requirements – criteria for specialty occupation positions would be revised to reduce confusion between the public and adjudicators and to clarify that a position may allow a range of degrees, although there must be a direct relationship between the required degree field(s) and the duties of the position;
  • Improving program efficiency –The proposed rule codifies that adjudicators generally should defer to a prior determination when no underlying facts have changed at time of a new submission;
  • Providing greater benefits and flexibilities for employers and workers – certain exemptions to the H-1B cap would be expanded for certain non-profit entities or governmental research organizations as well as beneficiaries who are not directly employed by a qualifying organization. DHS would also extend certain flexibilities for students on an F-1 visa when students are seeking to change their status to H-1B. Additionally, DHS would establish new H-1B eligibility requirements for rising entrepreneurs; and
  • Strengthening integrity measures – in addition to changing the selection process, misuse and fraud in the H-1B registration process would be reduced by prohibiting related entities from submitting multiple registrations for the same beneficiary. The rule would also codify USCIS’ authority to conduct site visits and clarify that refusal to comply with site visits may result in denial or revocation of the petition.

A 60-day public comment period follows publication of the NPRM in the Federal Register.

10/20/23

Visa-free entry opens for Israelis

The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has announced the start of visa-free travel for short-term visits to the United States for eligible Israeli citizens and nationals under the Visa Waiver Programme (VWP).

The VWP allows eligible travelers to apply online for authorization to travel to the United States through ESTA. These authorizations allow successful applicants to travel to the United States for tourism or business purposes for up to 90 days without first obtaining a US visa. Israeli citizens and nationals with valid B-1/B-2 visas may continue to use them for business and tourist travel to the United States.

Eligible Israeli citizens and nationals must have a biometrically enabled passport book. Travelers who possess non-biometric, temporary, or emergency travel documents, or travel documents from a non-VWP designated country, are not eligible for travel under the VWP and may instead apply for a US visa. ESTA applications may take up to 72 hours for processing. The ESTA application will be available in English only at this time and will be available in other languages no later than 1 November 2023.

Individuals traveling under the VWP for an intended stay beyond 90 days may be determined to be inadmissible to the United States. Individuals determined to be inadmissible will be refused admission to the United States under the VWP individuals admitted under the VWP who WP and ineligible for future Visa Waiver Program travel.

Traveling on a visa may still be the best option for some travelers such as those who would like to stay in the United States longer than 90 days or those who think they may wish to extend their stay or change their status once in the United States.

ESTA applications may be found atesta.cbp.dhs.govor via the “ESTA Mobile” app.

10/13/23

New online change of address tool

US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has launched a new Enterprise Change of Address (E-COA) self-service tool to allow customers with pending applications, petitions, or requests to update their address with USCIS more easily. E-COA will significantly improve the speed and efficiency of the process for USCIS customers to update their address with USCIS.

With E-COA, most individuals with a USCIS online account can update their mailing and physical address with USCIS for pending applications, petitions, or requests in a single place, eliminating the need to update the address in multiple places; fill out a paper AR-11, Alien’s Change of Address Card; call the Contact Centre; or visit a USCIS Field or Asylum Office. E-COA will automate address changes for almost all form types (the exceptions are listed at uscis.gov/addresschange).

Customers who do not have any pending applications, petitions, or requests can use the tool to meet the requirement to notify USCIS if they have moved. The E-COA tool is available in English only and can be accessed via a USCIS online account regardless of whether an individual’s pending case was submitted online or by mail.

Individuals protected under 8 USC 1367 (persons who have pending or approved applications or petitioners for Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) benefits, T nonimmigrant status, or U nonimmigrant status and their beneficiaries or derivatives) cannot use E-COA during the initial phase. Represented applicants or petitioners with VAWA-, T-, or U-related cases can request a change of address by emailing the designated mailbox under the Inquiries for VAWA, T, and U Filings section. Unrepresented individuals with VAWA-, T-, or U-related cases can request a change of address by following the instructions on the How to Change Your Address webpage. Individuals who requested parole for an Afghan national can request a change of address for beneficiaries who have relocated outside of Afghanistan by following the instructions on the Information for Afghan Nationals webpage.

To use the E-COA tool, individuals need a USCIS online account, and must enter their last name, date of birth, and new physical and mailing addresses. Individuals are also encouraged to include information about their pending application, petition, or request.

Changing an address with the US Postal Service (USPS) will not change an address with USCIS. Users should update their information with both USCIS and USPS. Address changes made through E-COA will not affect Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) or Privacy Act (PA) requests. Those who need to change their address for a FOIA or PA request should email FOIAPAQuestions@uscis.dhs.gov.

9/29/23

Israel designated into Visa Waiver Program

On 27 September 2023, the Secretary of Homeland Security and the Secretary of State announced the designation of Israel into the Visa Waiver Program (VWP).

By 30 November 2023, the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) will be updated to allow citizens and nationals of Israel to apply to travel to the United States for tourism or business purposes for up to 90 days without first obtaining a US visa. Following updates in Israel’s travel policies, all US citizens may request entry to Israel for up to 90 days for business, tourism, or transit without obtaining a visa.

In advance of this designation, Israel made updates to its entry policies to meet the VWP requirement to extend reciprocal privileges to all US citizens without regard to national origin, religion, or ethnicity.

Increased Employment Authorization Document validity period for certain categories

United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is updating guidance in the Policy Manual to increase the maximum validity period to five years for initial and renewal Employment Authorization Documents (EADs) for certain noncitizens who are employment authorized incident to status or circumstance, including those admitted as refugees, paroled as refugees, and granted asylum, as well as recipients of withholding of removal.

USCIS is also increasing the maximum validity period to five years for initial and renewal EADs for certain noncitizens who must apply for employment authorization, including applicants for asylum or withholding of removal, adjustment of status under INA 245, and suspension of deportation or cancellation of removal.

The updated guidance also explains the categories of noncitizens who are automatically authorized to work (also known as being employment authorized incident to status or circumstance) and provides more information on who can present a Form I-94, Arrival/Departure Record, to an employer as an acceptable document showing employment authorization under List C of Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification. The Form I-94 must be accompanied by identity documentation for purposes of employment authorization. Finally, this guidance clarifies that certain Afghan and Ukrainian parolees are employment authorized incident to parole.

 

Form I-539 applicants exempt from biometric services fee

US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced that, effective 1 October 2023, it is exempting the USD 85 biometric services fee for Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status.

Applicants do not need to pay the fee if the application is postmarked 1 October 2023 or later. However, for Forms I-539 filed prior to that date, certain filers will still be scheduled for an ASC appointment and should still attend that appointment as scheduled. In most cases, after 1 October 2023, applicants will not be scheduled to attend a biometric services appointment. However, if USCIS determines that biometrics are required, the applicant will receive a notice with information about appearing for their biometric services appointment.

If applicants mistakenly submit the biometric services fee and the payment is submitted separately from the Form I-539 fee, USCIS will return the biometric services fee and accept the Form I-539. If applicants mistakenly submit the biometric services fee and the payment is combined with a paper-based Form I-539 filing fee, this is considered an incorrect filing and USCIS will reject the Form I-539. If applicants mistakenly authorize a credit card payment that combines the biometric services fee with the Form I-539 application fee, USCIS will accept the application, and only charge the application fee.

The biometric services fee exemption will apply to all applicants filing on or after 1 October 2023, including those applicants filing Form I-539 requesting an extension of stay in or change of status to H-4, L-2, or E nonimmigrant for whom USCIS had previously suspended the biometrics requirement through 30 September 2023.

Online registration for Diversity Visa 2025

The online registration period for the FY 2025 Diversity Visa (DV-2025) Program opens 4 October 2023 at 12:00 noon, Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) (GMT-4) and concludes on 7 November 2023, at 12:00 noon, Eastern Standard Time (EST) (GMT-5).  Submission of more than one entry for a person during the registration period will disqualify all entries for that person. Further instructions can be found here and here.

9/15/23

USCIS Clarifies Guidance for EB-1 Eligibility Criteria

US Citizenship and Immigration Services has issued policy guidance in its Policy Manual to clarify the types of evidence that may be evaluated to determine eligibility for extraordinary ability (E11) and outstanding professor or researcher (E12) EB-1 immigrant visa classifications.

The update, effective immediately, adds clarifying guidance describing examples of evidence that may satisfy the relevant evidentiary criteria or qualify as comparable evidence, as well as considerations for evaluating such evidence, with a focus on science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) fields. Among other revisions, this update incorporates more detailed guidance and examples, similar to previously- issued nonimmigrant guidance for O-1A nonimmigrants of extraordinary ability.

Persons with extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics can self- petition for first preference immigrant visa classification (E11) without a job offer or certification from the U.S. Department of Labour.

A US employer, including a university, institution of higher learning, or private employer, may petition for a professor or researcher who is internationally recognized as outstanding in a specific academic area to receive a first preference immigrant visa classification (E12) to work in a tenured or tenure-track position or a comparable position to conduct research.

Part 2

Digital Visa Authorization (DVA) Proof of Concept

The State Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs is developing the capability to issue a digital visa authorization (DVA) instead of the traditional visa printed and placed in applicants’ passports. The US Embassy in Dublin is conducting a limited DVA proof of concept with a small number of K-1 (fiancé(e)) visas.

If this initial proof of concept is successful, the DVA could be extended to other visa classes and additional posts in the future.

US Customs and Border Protection’s Document Validation program will digitally notify airlines when a traveller has valid travel credentials, including a DVA.

The Department of State is conducting this proof of concept with K-1 visas as they are single-entry (single use) visas and will only be issued to travellers who plan to travel directly to the United States from Dublin.

United States

DHS Extends TPS Re-registration Periods for El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Nepal, Nicaragua and Sudan to 18 Months

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is extending from 60 days to 18 months the periods to re-register for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) under the designations of El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Nepal, Nicaragua and Sudan. 

The 18-month re-registration period under the designation of: 

  • El Salvador now runs until 9 March 2025; 
  • Haiti now runs until 3 August 2024; 
  • Honduras now runs through 5 July 2025; 
  • Nepal now runs through 24 June 2025;  
  • Nicaragua now runs through 5 July 2025; and 
  • Sudan now runs through 19 April 2025. 

This re-registration extension will allow TPS beneficiaries to submit Form I-821, Application for Temporary Protected Status, and Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, at any time during the 18-month extensions of the TPS designations of these six countries. 

Note that this announcement does not change the previously announced extensions of the TPS designations for these six countries, and it does not change the eligibility requirements. It extends the period when existing beneficiaries may re-register for their benefits.

The Secretary of Homeland Security may designate a foreign country for TPS due to conditions in the country that temporarily prevent the country's nationals from returning safely, or in certain circumstances, where the country is unable to handle the return of its nationals adequately. USCIS may grant TPS to eligible nationals of certain countries (or parts of countries), who are already in the United States. Eligible individuals without nationality who last resided in the designated country may also be granted TPS.

9/8/23

The US Department of State has confirmed that all receipts for payment of Machine-Readable Visa (MRV) fees issued before 1 October 2022 will expire 30 September 2023.

There will be no extensions of fee validity. Applicants must schedule an appointment or submit an interview waiver application before 30 September 2023 to avoid paying a new fee. Please note that the interview itself does not need to take place before 30 September 2023, but an interview appointment needs to be made in the system, even if it is scheduled months into the future.

Furthermore, applicants using MRV fees paid before 1 October 2022 to book an appointment are cautioned not to attempt to change their appointment dates on or after 1 October 2023. Doing so will result in forfeiture of both the original appointment slot and the MRV fee receipt. The applicant will be required to pay a new fee and submit a new application package.

Under a temporary COVID pandemic policy, all receipts for payment of MRV fees issued before 1 October 2022 were extended until 30 September 2023.

All MRV fee payment receipts issued on or after 1 October 2022 are valid for 365 days from the issuance date.

Close Open Vietnam

9/29/23

Updated requirements for foreign workers

Effective 18 September 2023, the government issued Decree No 70/2023/ND-CP which amends Decree No. 152/2020/ND-CP and changes some requirements for foreign national workers in Vietnam. Key changes are listed below:

Labour market testing

From 1 January 2024, employers will be required to advertise the job position on the jobs website of the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs (MOLISA), or the relevant Employment Service Centre. for at least 15 days before applying for permission to hire a foreign national for the position.

Qualifications and work experience

Foreign nationals are no longer required to have bachelor's degrees or training which is directly related to their intended job positions in Vietnam, as was previously required.

Now, foreign nationals are required to have a bachelor's degree or higher, or a graduation certificate, and at least three years of suitable working experience for the position to be taken in Vietnam to be considered as an "expert"; or be trained for at least one year and have at least five years of suitable working experience for the position to be taken in Vietnam to be considered a "technical worker".

Work permit exemption

 

The new decree introduces a new work permit exemption for managers, executives, principals, and deputy principals of educational institutions established by foreign diplomatic representative agencies or intergovernmental organisations.

Document requirements

Vietnamese companies can now certify copies of a foreign national’s passport, removing the need for notarised or certified true copies, which will expedite the application process. The new decree also recognises that Vietnamese translations of legalised documents issued by foreign organisations can be either notarised or certified instead of certified only as previously.

Foreign lawyers and foreign workers married to Vietnamese citizens no longer require job position approval, and can apply for work permit exemption certificates.

Moreover, job position approval must now be sought at least 15 days prior to the employment begins, rather than 30 days as previously.

Finally, previously-issued work permits or work permit exemption certificates can now be used as evidence of work experience.


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