Worldwide: Seyfarth Global Immigration Update: December 2019

Seyfarth maintains 11 offices across the United States, as well as international offices in London, Shanghai, Melbourne, Sydney, and Hong Kong. Our Global Mobility Team is staffed with a group of professionals that includes licensed lawyers in Canada, Germany, the United Kingdom and Ireland, paralegals, and a Senior Global Mobility Specialist who coordinates all aspects of our practice for our clients.

For countries where we do not have a physical presence, we have established business partnerships with premier providers of global immigration services, currently covering more than 70 foreign jurisdictions. Our Senior Global Mobility Specialist works closely with our business partners to ensure quality, monitor case progress, and communicate with our clients (rather than “hand them off”).

United Kingdom - Expansion of Shortage Occupation List for Immigration Purposes

The Shortage Occupation List (SOL) has recently been updated in accordance with the recommendations of the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC). The SOL has been expanded to cover a range of additional occupations in health, technology, and STEM fields in an effort to accommodate such roles in the labor market in the future. This change means a significant increase in the roles covered in the SOL, as it will now cover about 9% of UK jobs rather than the previous 1% of UK jobs. The update to the SOL represents an acknowledgement from the immigration authorities of the difficulty for UK employers to fill such positions. The recommendation from MAC only applies to the current immigration system, and it remains unclear what changes will be made to the SOL once the new immigration system is implemented following the Brexit transition period.

France - Simplification of Procedures

As of Summer 2020, a new fast-track procedure will be available for companies that can justify a recurrent need for international mobility. The processes for the Talent Passport and French Tech visa categories are also "potentially subject to improvement and simplification."

Per a government press release, there will be process improvements for applicants at the Prefecture level, with the addition of new procedures for "the first steps of a new service of online filing of residence permit applications." Implementation of this service will begin with "student" residence permits in Spring 2020, to become widespread by 2022.

Switzerland - New Card Format for Residence Permits

Effective immediately, residence permits issued to European Union (EU) and European Free Trade Area (EFTA) citizens (L, B and C permits) will have a new credit card-like format, including a biometric photograph and signature (no fingerprints), replacing the old paper permits. A card in this new format will also be provided to third country nationals in possession of a border crossers permit (Category G) or working spouses and children of members of foreign representations and international organizations (Category Ci).

The new residence permits will be rolled out by canton from now until July 2021 starting with the cantons of Geneva, Schwyz, St. Gallen, and Thurgau. The implementation plan is subject to change. Current paper permits are valid until their expiration date.

On November 27, 2019 the Swiss government has published the following permit quota numbers for 2020:

Work permit quotas for assignees from EU/EFTA:
L permits: 3,000
B permits: 500

Work permit quotas for non-EU/EFTA nationals :
L permits : 4,000
B permits : 4,500

These numbers are the same as they were for 2019, thus the current level of granted quota is deemed to be an adequate response to the economy’s requirement for specialists.

The Swiss Council has decided on separate quotas for UK nationals who move to Switzerland based on employment:

Work permit quota for UK nationals based on employment in the event of a no-deal Brexit:
L permits: 1,400
B permits: 2,100

If the UK will leave the EU with a negotiated withdrawal agreement, the free movement agreement will continue to apply during the agreed transitional period between Switzerland and the UK.

Australia - New Regional Visas Now Available

A new visa category, Subclass 494 Skilled Employer-Sponsored Regional (provisional), became available as an option on November 16, 2019. Eligibility for this new category is geographically based, for work locations defined by postal code as “regional Australia”—generally considered anywhere outside the metropolitan areas of Brisbane, Sydney, and Melbourne. The application process is very similar to the TSS visa application process. The 494 visa is advantageous for employers in that new recruits arrive with an assessment of their skills against Australian standards (particularly attractive for trades workers), have a higher level of English than required for the TSS visa, and do not require further nomination from the business in order to apply for a permanent visa.

Israel - Hi-Tech Visa No Longer Available to Visa Nationals

Effective immediately, non-visa waiver nationals are no longer eligible for the fast-track Hi-Tech (HIT) one-year B-1 work permit and visa process. This affects both new and renewal applications. Instead, qualifying high-tech companies seeking work authorization for visa nationals are required to follow the standard B-1 Foreign Expat process (which is significantly longer in duration).

Additionally, spouses of non-visa waiver nationals are no longer eligible to apply for or extend Employment Authorization for Spouse (EAS) B-1 Work visas.

Singapore - Higher Minimum Salary for S Pass Applicants

Starting January 1, 2020, the minimum qualifying salary for the S Pass will be increased from SGD 2,300 to SGD 2,400. Existing S Passes which expire prior to June 30, 2020 may be renewed based on the previous salary requirement. As of July 1, 2020, renewals will be subject to the new minimum salary requirements.

Saudi Arabia - Work Visit Visa Cancelled

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has confirmed privately that the Work Visit Visa (WVV) is no longer available, though those currently in country under a WVV can stay until the expiry date. No official public announcement has been made as of yet.

Business Visas are issued instead of the Work Visit Visas but these cannot be converted post-arrival to work and residence permits, instead a Work Visa is required. Business Visa holders may not be employed by the sponsoring company. A list of allowable Business Visa activities is being prepared by the Ministry of Labour, but is not yet confirmed.

Chile - Updates on Visas and Permanent Residency Procedures

Over the past several months, the Chilean Immigration Department and Immigration Police have introduced various changes to immigration procedures and processes. These updates affect permanent residency processes and requirements, and have created new visa options, new procedures on current visa processes, special exemptions and restrictions for tourists of specific nationalities, and benefits for tourists with special qualifications who apply for a special work permit. These changes are particularly relevant for travelers of affected nationalities who seek to enter as tourists. A new online application process has also been introduced for Mercosur nationals to facilitate visa processing, and there are new documentation requirements for permanent residency applications.

Malaysia - ESD Foreign Knowledge Worker Projections for 2020 Opens November 20th, 2019

Beginning on November 20, 2019, companies that are registered with the Expatriate Services Division (ESD) may apply for their 2020 Foreign Knowledge Worker (FKW) projection for Employment Passes (EP) and Professional Visit Passes (PVP). The projection must be approved before any EP or PVP applications may be submitted to the ESD and applications can be made through the ESD online porta. The FKW projection processing time is about 5-10 business days though timelines may vary. Employers should note the current unused balance for the 2019 projection will not carry over to 2020.

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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