Worldwide: Weekly Immigration Update: September 19-26, 2019

Last Updated: September 30 2019
Article by Fragomen  

In immigration news this week:

  • United States: Congress has passed a measure to fund the federal government, including immigration functions, through November 21 while Fiscal Year 2020 budget negotiations continue. E-Verify and the EB-5 Regional Center Program will be extended through the same date. The State Department announced it will accept online registrations for the fiscal year 2021 Diversity Visa Lottery from October 2 through November 5. The Department of Homeland Security has extended Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Syria for 18 months, through March 31, 2021. Eligible TPS beneficiaries have until November 22 to request the full extension of status and work authorization.
  • Georgia: The minimum monthly salary for foreign workers has increased from two times to at least five times the national minimum monthly wage.
  • Luxembourg: On September 27, the minimum salary level for EU Blue Card positions will increase for both regular and shortage occupations.
  • New Zealand: Effective October 7, accredited employers under the Talent (Accredited Employer) Work Visa scheme will be subject to a higher salary threshold and a shorter accreditation duration. Permanent Resident Visas for Talent Work Visa holders will no longer be available.

These items and other news from Namibia, New Zealand, Panama, Russia, and Ukraine follow in this edition of the Fragomen Immigration Update.

Important Updates in Immigration This Week

United States, September 26, 2019

Congress Passes Short-Term Spending Measure Temporarily Extending Key Immigration Programs

  • A continuing resolution will fund the federal government through November 21, 2019.
  • The E-Verify and EB-5 Regional Center programs, among others, will be extended through the same date.

To view entire article, click here.

Germany, September 26, 2019

Easier Route to Citizenship for Descendants of Nazi Persecution

  • The German Federal Ministry of the Interior has created an easier citizenship path for foreign nationals whose ancestors lost German citizenship due to Nazi persecution.
  • The new route benefits victims of Nazi prosecution who were previously German citizens but left Germany between January 30, 1933 and May 8, 1945 and naturalized in another country due to Nazi persecution.
  • Foreign nationals eligible under this route can retain their existing nationality once they have obtained or reinstated their German nationality, whereas Germany does not generally allow dual nationality.

To view entire article, click here.

United States, September 25, 2019

FY 2021 Diversity Visa Lottery Registration Opens October 2

  • Entrants have from Wednesday, October 2, 2019 at noon EDT until Tuesday, November 5, 2019 at noon EST to register online at the State Department's official Diversity Visa lottery website.
  • Lottery applications must conform to the State Department's strict requirements.

To view entire article, click here.

Luxembourg, September 25, 2019

Minimum Salary for EU Blue Cards to Increase

  • Effective September 27, 2019, the minimum salary level for EU Blue Card positions in Luxembourg will increase for both regular and shortage occupations. The new salary level for regular occupations will be EUR 78,336 (up from EUR 73,998), and the new level for shortage occupations will be EUR 62,668.80 (up from EUR 59,198.40).
  • Shortage occupations include mathematicians, actuaries and statisticians; system analysts; software developers; web and multimedia developers; and application programmers and other computer professionals.

To view entire article, click here.

Georgia, September 24, 2019

Minimum Wage Level Increased

Effective July 30, 2019, the minimum monthly salary for foreign workers in Georgia has increased to at least five times the national minimum monthly wage, up from at least twice the national minimum monthly wage.

To view entire article, click here.

United States, September 23, 2019

Syria TPS Re-Registration Period Opens

  • Temporary Protected Status for Syria will be extended by 18 months, from October 1, 2019 through March 31, 2021.
  • To extend their benefits, Syrian TPS beneficiaries will be required to re-register by November 22, 2019.
  • Current Syrian TPS employment authorization documents with an expiration date of September 30, 2019 or March 31, 2018 will be automatically extended through March 28, 2020.

To view entire article, click here.

New Zealand, September 20, 2019

Minimum Salary Increase and Category Limitations for Talent Work Visas Forthcoming

The government will implement the following changes to the Talent (Accredited Employer) Work Visa scheme, a visa only available to accredited employers:

  • The salary threshold will be increased from NZD 55,000 to NZD 79,560;
  • The duration of accreditation for employers under this scheme will be limited to 24 months; and
  • Permanent Resident Visas for Talent Work Visa holders will no longer be available - only Resident Visas will be available under this scheme.

The changes are effective October 7, 2019.

To view entire article, click here.

Other Weekly News Briefs

Namibia: Employment Permit No Longer Required for Conservation Purposes – Foreign nationals will no longer require an employment permit to conduct conservation work in Namibia. Instead, foreign nationals are now able to apply for an ordinary holiday visa which allows entry into Namibia for up to 90 days. Visa-exempt foreign nationals are not subject to a fee, while foreign nationals on a holiday visa for non-exempt nationals will be subject to a fee of NAD 500, an amount that is significantly lower than the NAD 2,500 fee for an employment permit.

New Zealand: Reminder- Required Electronic Travel Authorization for Entry Goes Into Effect – As previously announced, beginning October 1, 2019, foreign nationals from 60 visa waiver countries will need to obtain an electronic travel authorization (ETA) before travelling to New Zealand. The ETA, which will be valid for entry for two years, costs NZD 9 for mobile requests and NZD 12 for web browser requests. Travelers will also be required to pay NZD 35 for an International Visitor Conservation and Tourism Levy (IVL), which will be valid for the duration of the ETA. The ETA system opened for applications in July 2019. New Zealand citizens traveling with their New Zealand passports and holders of valid New Zealand visas (both resident visas and temporary visas) will not be subject to the new ETA requirement. Australian citizens, among others, will be considered exempt from this requirement. Australian permanent residents, however, will be required to obtain an ETA, but will be exempt from paying the additional IVL fee.

Panama: Reinstatement of Status Process Simplified – Permanent residents in Panama who have been outside of the country for more than two years (but less than six years) are now eligible for a more streamlined reinstatement of status process. The new process allows applicants to request reinstatement without having to submit updated versions of the documents submitted when obtaining permanent resident status. Instead, applicants must submit copies of their passport (with the registration stamp), permanent resident card and permanent resident approval resolution, along with a sworn declaration of the reasons for their absence from Panama. Applicants must still apply for reinstatement of status through an authorized attorney and within 30 business days of their arrival in Panama.

Russia: Invitation Letters Issued in Moscow Will Only be Available Electronically – Starting October 1, 2019, invitation letters for foreign citizens and stateless persons in Moscow will be issued in electronic format only. This will cause certain limitations for the application: 1) applicants will need to pay the state fee prior to submitting their invitation letter applications since payment certificates will have to be filed with the application (which may delay the process as state fee payment order processing times can be lengthy); 2) applicants will only be able to make spelling corrections to the invitation letter after it is submitted; and 3) applicants will no longer be able to change their consulate location after filing their invitation letter, since their electronic invitation letters will be sent directly to the consulate mentioned in their application for the letter of invitation. This change only affects invitation letters submitted in Moscow; other regions will continue to issue invitation letters both electronically and on an official hard copy form.

Russia: Citizenship Application Process Simplified – Effective immediately, beneficiaries of the Russian government's resettlement program, which offers Russian citizenship to citizens of countries which previously comprised the former Soviet Union, can apply for citizenship overseas. They can now apply to their nearest territorial office of the Internal Affairs Ministry, which is likely to speed up the application process. In addition, all applicants for Russian citizenship will benefit from faster processing times as decisions on citizenship will be communicated with the applicant within approximately 10 business days whereas currently the processing time is one month.

Ukraine: Fines Increased in Line with Minimum Salary – As a result of the higher minimum salary effective since January 1, 2019, fines for employers for noncompliance with immigration rules have also increased. The minimum monthly salary for foreign nationals (currently UAH 41,730 or USD 1,704.99) is ten times the minimum monthly national salary (UAH 4,173 or USD 170.49). Fines are set at the minimum national salary, therefore fines for employers are now UAH 83,460 (USD 340.99) (equivalent to 20 minimum national salaries) per foreign national working without work authorization, and UAH 125,190 (USD 5,114.96) (equivalent to 30 minimum national salaries) per foreign national working without formalization of employment such as an employment contract or assignment letter.

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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