Worldwide: Weekly Immigration Update: September 13-19, 2019

Last Updated: September 30 2019
Article by Fragomen  

In immigration news this week:

  • United States: A proposed regulation to terminate the H-4 work authorization program is not likely to be published before Spring 2020, according to the Department of Homeland Security. Next month, cutoff dates for EB-2 China will retrogress, while EB-2 and EB-3 will become current for most countries, according to the State Department's October Visa Bulletin (VB). U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has stated it will honor the VB's filing eligibility dates for applications for adjustment of status filed in October.
  • Saudi Arabia: A recently implemented standardization of validity periods of visitor visas, including commercial and work visit visas, and a unified visa fee is part of the nation's goal to standardize and streamline the immigration system for employers.
  • Georgia: Employers of foreign nationals in Georgia are subject to a new turnover standard as well as a requirement to notify the government upon the termination of a foreign worker.

In Brexit news this week:

  • Netherlands: Plans have been published for UK nationals about the transition period that would follow a no-deal Brexit.

These items and other news from Georgia, India, New Zealand, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka follow in this edition of the Fragomen Immigration Update.

Important Updates in Immigration This Week

Georgia, September 19, 2019

New Documentary and Departure Notification Requirements Implemented

  • Effective immediately, applicants for employment residence permits in Georgia must submit a reference letter issued by the Revenue Service confirming that the employer or host company has an annual turnover of at least GEL 50,000 (approximately USD 17,000) per each foreign employee. Employers must now calculate their turnover and track this against each foreign employee, which may limit the number of foreign workers they can hire.
  • Employers must also file a notification to the Service Development Agency within five days of the termination of employment of a foreign worker.

To view entire article, click here.

United States, September 18, 2019

October 2019 Visa Bulletin: EB-2 China Retrogresses, EB-2 and EB-3 Become Current for Most Countries; USCIS to Honor Filing Eligibility Dates

  • In October, EB-2 China will retrogress by two years to January 1, 2015.
  • EB-2 and EB-3 Worldwide will become current once again.
  • EB-1 Worldwide will advance to April 22, 2018. EB-1 China will advance to November 1, 2016 and EB-1 India to January 1, 2015.
  • The State Department projects modest advancement in most categories in the next few months, though little movement is expected overall for India.
  • USCIS will honor the Visa Bulletin's filing eligibility dates, rather than final action dates, for acceptance of applications for adjustment of status.

To view entire article, click here.

Saudi Arabia, September 18, 2019

Standardized Visit Visa Validity Periods May Require Re-Applying for Visa

  • Effective immediately, the validity periods of many visitor visas, including commercial visit and work visit visas, have been standardized.
  • Foreign nationals who have submitted visa applications accompanied by invitation letters that request a visa with a validity that is inconsistent with the new regulations will need to obtain new letters in order to avoid Saudi consular posts returning visa applications.
  • Additionally, the Saudi Arabian government has introduced a uniform fee of SAR 300 (approximately USD 80) per application for all visit visas, where previously, the fee varied based on the visa category and the applicant's nationality.

To view entire article, click here.

United States, September 17, 2019

H-4 EAD Rescission Proposal Unlikely Before Spring 2020, DHS Says

  • The Department of Homeland Security has stated that the earliest possible publication date of a proposed regulation to rescind the H-4 employment authorization program is Spring 2020, but suggests that the proposal might come even later.
  • Eligible H-4 spouses can continue to seek new or renewed work authorization under current rules until further notice.

To view entire article, click here.

Brexit News and Related News Briefs This Week

Netherlands, September 13, 2019

No-Deal Brexit Updates

  • The Dutch Immigration and Naturalization Service (IND) updated its Brexit website with new information for UK nationals and their family members in the Netherlands about the transition period that would follow a no-deal Brexit.
  • Under the updated instructions, the 15-month transition period would run until January 31, 2021 if the UK leaves the EU without a deal on October 31, 2019.
  • The IND plans on re-sending temporary residence permits to registered UK nationals and their family members to allow them to continue to reside in the Netherlands during the transition period.

To view entire article, click here.

Many other EU countries have published contingency plans for UK nationals in case of a no-deal Brexit, with more expected soon. Fragomen will provide updates on the situation as they become available.

Please contact a Fragomen immigration professional for assistance in planning contingency arrangements in a single project. For more information, please visit Fragomen's dedicated Brexit site, which contains news, FAQs, and analysis/commentary in the form of blogs, videos, webcasts and events.

Other Weekly News Briefs

Georgia: Investment Residence Permit Minimum Investment Amount Tripled – Effective July 30, 2019, the minimum investment amount for an Investment Residence Permit has been tripled from GEL 295,500 (approximately USD 100,000) to GEL 886,500 (approximately USD 300,000). All other requirements remain the same, such as a document to prove the legal stay of the applicant in Georgia, the application form and a recommendation letter issued by the government of Georgia or by three citizens of Georgia with the authority to represent a Georgian-based business entity. If the investment is in the form of property in Georgia, other specific documentary requirements apply.

India: E-Tourist Validity and Scope Expanded – As expected, the Ministry of Tourism has expanded the E-Tourist visa's maximum validity period to five years (available in 30-day with double entries, one-year or five-year options, both with multiple entries). Additionally, the E-Tourist visa now allows short-term voluntary work under one month and courses on local languages, music, dance, arts & crafts, cooking, and medicine that last up to six months and do not issue a qualifying certificate/diploma. Foreign nationals seeking to travel to India for such trips will no longer need to obtain an Employment Visa.

India: Medical Care Now Allowed Without Visa Conversion – The Ministry of Home Affairs has published a new policy allowing foreign nationals to receive outpatient medical care on their initial visa and inpatient treatment of up to 180 days without converting their visa to a medical visa even for pre-existing diseases (with some exceptions). Previously, foreign nationals had to convert their visa to a medical visa prior to admission to a hospital or medical center. Foreign nationals employed in India now benefit from fewer administrative burdens if they fall ill during their stay.

New Zealand: Silver Fern Visa Category Permanently Closed – Due to an overhaul of the temporary work visa system, the government of New Zealand has permanently closed the Silver Fern Visa category. The Silver Fern Visa allowed highly-skilled foreign nationals aged 20-35 to stay in New Zealand to look for skilled employment and work for any employer for up to nine months and study for up to three months. The visa offered a path to temporary residence under the Skilled Migrant Category. Those currently holding a Silver Fern Visa will not be affected by this change.

Pakistan: Consular Visa for Employment No Longer Required for Most Foreign Nationals – Effective immediately, nationals of 175 countries traveling to Pakistan for employment can have their entry visa stamped upon arrival by presenting a copy of a visa pre-approval document issued by the Ministry of Interior, based on a recommendation from the Board of Investment in Pakistan. Previously, these foreign nationals were required to have their visa stamp endorsed at a Pakistani consular post abroad, which is still required of foreign nationals whose countries of citizenship do not appear on the list. The relaxed entry requirement is part of Pakistan's change in entry visa policies, which included the introduction of an electronic portal to facilitate application processes for over 10 different categories of entry visas to Pakistan.

Sri Lanka: Police Clearance Certificates Now Required for Some Letter of Recommendation Applications – Foreign nationals applying for a Letter of Recommendation from the Department of Commerce or Board of Investment--as a preliminary step to obtain a Residence Visa--must now submit a police clearance certificate (PCC) from their country of residence to support their application. The PCC must also be legalized and authenticated by the Sri Lankan consulate in that jurisdiction. Applicants renewing their Residence Visas may obtain PCCs from the local Police headquarters with jurisdiction over their place of residence in Sri Lanka. Processing a PCC application can take approximately 14 business days, but this period may vary on a case-by-case basis. PCCs are currently not required for applications for Letter of Recommendations to be issued by other ministries.

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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