Worldwide: Weekly Immigration Update: July 19-25, 2019

Last Updated: August 30 2019
Article by Fragomen  

In immigration news this week:

  • United States: Stringent new EB-5 regulations, which will increase EB-5 investment thresholds and limit the types of development projects that qualify for the program, will take effect November 21, 2019. Latest USCIS data confirm continued high rates of nonimmigrant requests for evidence and denials in fiscal year 2019. Also in the United States, the Department of Homeland Security has begun conducting on-site inspections of F-1 STEM optional practical training (OPT) employment.
  • United Kingdom: Brexit is expected to be at the top of the agenda for new Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who is committed to leaving the European Union on October 31, 2019 with or without a Withdrawal Agreement.
  • China/Turkey/India/Israel: Visa services at Israeli consulates in China, Turkey and India have resumed after being suspended for 22 days.
  • Spain: The Immigration authorities are increasingly refusing to accept national Intra-Company Transfer permit applications for non-EU foreign nationals transferring to Spain from another EU Member State.
  • India: The Ministry of Home Affairs is expected to further liberalize and streamline immigration policies by including fewer visa categories and expanding activities that can be performed under a tourist or e-tourist visa, among other changes.
  • Iraq: Foreign nationals seeking employment in Federal Iraq must now undergo a mandatory blood test in their country of residence prior to travel.

These items and other news from Colombia, Czech Republic, Dominican Republic, France, India, Ireland, Israel, Malaysia, Netherlands, Spain, the United Kingdom, and Venezuela follow in this edition of the Fragomen Immigration Update.

IMPORTANT UPDATES IN IMMIGRATION THIS WEEK

Spain, July 25, 2019

Entrepreneur's Act Residence Permits May Need to be Resubmitted

  • Immigration authorities in Spain must adjudicate residence permit applications under the Entrepreneur's Act category within 20 business days of submission of the application, and applications that are not adjudicated within this timeframe are deemed approved. Spanish authorities are now reviewing the initial permits approved under this policy when the related renewal application is submitted in order to ensure compliance with Entrepreneur's Act requirements.
  • When the renewal application is due, Fragomen will assess the best strategy for the company and employee, as they may need to file new applications which may require meeting different criteria and extra costs. This strategy would allow applicants to continue working under their granted permit while their applications are pending.

To view entire article, click here.

Iraq, July 25, 2019

Blood Test Must Now be Completed in Country of Residence

  • All foreign nationals seeking employment in Federal Iraq must now undergo a mandatory blood test in their country of residence prior to travel. Previously, some foreign nationals could complete their blood tests in Iraq.
  • Foreign nationals subject to this requirement who fail to provide their blood test results upon arrival will be denied entry.
  • The new rule is expected to reduce overall processing times for work and residence permits in jurisdictions where post-arrival requirements take a significant amount of time to complete but may on the other hand delay foreign nationals' arrival dates in Iraq.

To view entire article, click here.

France, July 25, 2019

Updated Posted Worker Notification System Available

  • The online posted worker notification system in France has been updated to streamline the process for employers and comply with new rules.
  • The new employer declaration is now valid for six months. For assignments longer than six months, employers must modify the declaration before the initial six-month period ends.
  • Employers must now declare the gross salary per hour and ensure they comply with gender salary equality rules and requirements to pay seconded and French employees equal salaries.

To view entire article, click here.

United States, July 24, 2019

STEM OPT Worksite Inspections: What Employers Need to Know

  • DHS has begun conducting on-site inspections of F-1 STEM optional practical training (OPT) employment.
  • The purpose of the inspections is to review employer compliance with STEM OPT regulations and with individual training plans for specific foreign nationals.
  • Companies that employ F-1 students pursuant to STEM OPT should plan in advance for a potential DHS site visit.

To view entire article, click here.

Czech Republic, July 24, 2019

Biometric Submission Appointment Delays

  • The Ministry of Interior in the popular filing location of Brno in the Czech Republic is experiencing a backlog and lengthy delays in appointment scheduling for biometrics submission. The soonest available appointment date is September 2019.
  • Employers hiring new foreign nationals to work in the Czech Republic should expect start date delays and initial applications should be submitted well in advance of start dates.
  • Foreign nationals should start renewal processes at least four to five months prior to the expiry of their current Czech permits.

To view entire article, click here.

United States, July 23, 2019

Latest USCIS Data Confirm Continued High Rates of Nonimmigrant RFEs and Denials in FY 2019

  • In the first three quarters of FY 2019, the rate of requests for evidence and petition denials rose for H-1B and L-1 petitions filed at USCIS Service Centers.
  • RFE and denial rates for this fiscal year are likely to exceed last year's highs.

To view entire article, click here.

United States, July 23, 2019

Stringent New EB-5 Regulations Take Effect November 21

  • The minimum standard EB-5 investment will increase to $1.8 million and the minimum Targeted Employment Area (TEA) investment to $900,000.
  • USCIS will have the exclusive authority to designate TEAs based on a new methodology that could limit urban development projects.
  • EB-5 petitioners will retain their original place in the green card queue if circumstances beyond their control – such as a material change in a project business plan – require them to file a new petition.
  • Existing rules will continue to be in effect for Form I-526 investor petitions filed before November 21, 2019. However, a currently approved Regional Center project that does not meet the new criteria will no longer be eligible for EB-5 investment as of November 21, 2019.

To view entire article, click here.

United Kingdom, July 23, 2019

Boris Johnson To Become Prime Minister

  • Boris Johnson will replace Theresa May as the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom on July 24, 2019.
  • Brexit will be at the top of the agenda for the new Prime Minister, who is committed to leaving the European Union on October 31, 2019 with or without a Withdrawal Agreement.
  • Employers should continue to make contingency plans for a no-deal Brexit and identify, reassure and assist any European Economic Area and Swiss staff or their family members who will need to apply for status under the EU Settlement Scheme.

To view entire article, click here.

Czech Republic, July 23, 2019

Certificates of Temporary Residence to Expire After 10 Years

  • Starting August 2019, all certificates of temporary residence for European Economic Area and Swiss nationals in the Czech Republic will become invalid after 10 years.
  • There will be no change to the legal status of temporary residence card holders when their current residence card expires.
  • However, since all applicants must provide valid certificates of temporary residence when applying for permanent residency to evidence their lawful stay in the Czech Republic, and because certain services like opening a bank account requires valid residence status, temporary residence permit holders should apply for a new temporary residence permit.

To view entire article, click here.

Spain, July 23, 2019

National Intra-Company Work Permit Applications for Intra-EU Secondments May Not be Available

  • Immigration authorities in Spain are increasingly refusing to accept national Intra-Company Transfer permit applications for non-EU foreign nationals transferring from another EU Member State to Spain on assignment.
  • Instead, affected applicants are advised to submit a Van Der Elst visa application at their local Spanish consular post, though their immigration process may be delayed under this process.

To view entire article, click here.

China/Turkey/India/Israel, July 23, 2019

Visa Processing Resumes at Israeli Consulates; Delays Ahead

  • The strike at the Foreign Ministry's Workers Union has ended, resuming visa services at Israeli consulates in China, Turkey and India, which were suspended for 22 days.
  • Significant processing delays are expected in each affected consulate. Foreign nationals applying for Israeli visas in the affected countries should account for the delays in their travel and work plans.

To view entire article, click here.

Venezuela, July 22, 2019

New Power of Attorney Rule Affecting Apostille and Legalization Process

  • Based on recent cases, the Venezuelan Ministry of Foreign Affairs is now requiring Powers of Attorney signed abroad to be authenticated by a Venezuelan consulate, despite Venezuela being part of the Hague Convention. Apostilled Powers of Attorney without an authentication from a Venezuelan consulate are not being accepted.
  • Individuals who are outside Venezuela and need to apostille or legalize documents in Venezuela through a local third-party representative must personally appear at a Venezuelan consulate to sign the Power of Attorney and have it authenticated.
  • Affected applicants may need to travel outside of their country of residence to complete this process, as numerous countries do not currently have active Venezuelan consulates.

To view entire article, click here.

India, July 22, 2019

Visa Processes and Categories to be Further Streamlined

  • Based on unofficial reports, the Ministry of Home Affairs in India will be further liberalizing and streamlining immigration policies.
  • The changes are expected to include fewer visa categories and an expansion of the activities that can be performed under a tourist or e-tourist visa, among other changes.
  • The government is expected to announce the changes and related details shortly.

To view entire article, click here.

WEEKLY NEWS BRIEFS

Colombia: New Special Permit for Venezuelan Refugees – The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has introduced a new special permit, PECP (Permiso Especial Complementario de Permanencia), for eligible Venezuelan nationals to work in Colombia for up to two years with access to health care services and public education. Venezuelan nationals must apply for the PECP before September 30, 2019 and meet the following criteria:

  • Denied refugee status between August 19, 2015 and December 31, 2018;
  • Have a clean criminal record;
  • No open deportation or expulsion cases;
  • Were physically in Colombia on July 3, 2019; and
  • No valid Colombian visa or special permit or pending visa or permit application.

PECP permits will automatically be canceled if the Venezuelan national remain outside Colombia for more than 90 days or obtains any other Colombian visa or permit. Employers hiring Venezuelan nationals holding PECPs must comply with mandatory notification requirements to Migracion Colombia and the Ministry of Labor, at the beginning and end of employment, as applicable.

Dominican Republic: New Fine for Missing Scheduled Appointment – The Dirección General de Migración (DGM) is now imposing a fine of DOP 1,000 (approximately USD 20) for applicants who do not attend their scheduled appointment to collect their temporary residence, renewed temporary residence, permanent residence, duplicate residence permit or identification cards. Applicants who miss their appointment must schedule a new one through the DGM's system (no walk-in appointments are currently available) and must pay the fine to the DGM on the rescheduled appointment day.

India/Israel: Expedited Processing Unavailable in India – The Israeli authorities in India are no longer accepting fast track services, which benefit from expedited processing times of two to three business days. Visa processing will take at least four to five business days until further notice due to the backlog of requests following the suspension of visa processing earlier this month.

Ireland: Irish Visa Processing Changes in United Kingdom – Irish visas in the United Kingdom are now processed by VFS Global, UK. Ltd, whereas they were previously processed by the Embassy of Ireland. The Visa Office Public Counter in Cromwell Road is closed, and applications are now being accepted in five VFS Global Irish Visa Application Centres across Britain: London, Manchester, Birmingham, Edinburgh and Cardiff. This is expected to make in-person appointments faster and more convenient. To apply, applicants must complete the online Irish visa form and visit one of the VFS Application Centres with their documentation. Processing times may increase slightly as the Embassy of Ireland was historically comparatively fast, however applicants will benefit from increased choice in location. The change is in line with the trend of consulates outsourcing visa processing to VFS Global to streamline the visa application process, which has also occurred in China, India, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates.

Malaysia: Issuance of iKAD Suspended – The Immigration Department has indefinitely suspended the issuance of iKAD identification cards to Employment Pass (Category I and II) holders until further notice. The suspension is apparently due to the expiry of the contract with the current iKad provider. Because vetting and appointing a new provider can be a lengthy process, it is expected that several months may pass before iKADs will be made available again. However, the suspension will not have an impact on Employment Pass applications filed with the Immigration Department. The iKAD is not a mandatory document but merely a government issued identification document for Employment Pass (Category I and II) holders.

Netherlands: Moscow Consulate Experiencing Delays – Due to the high volume of applications, the Dutch consulate in Moscow is currently experiencing delays in issuing long-term visa (MVV) appointments. The first available time slots for long-term visa appointments are currently in September. Saint Petersburg may be a viable alternative; contact your Fragomen professional for more information.

United Kingdom: Biometric Residence Card Issuance Delay – In recent weeks, Fragomen has noticed a two- to three-week delay in the issuance of biometric residence cards, whereas usually issuance takes 10 business days. Applicants should take the delays into account when planning their travel.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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