Please note: while we address some country-specific updates related to the COVID-19 outbreak, the below contains information regarding global restrictions and closures as they stand today. Given the constantly changing nature of this situation, we highly recommend reviewing any global mobility inquiries on a case-by-case basis, including any consulate-specific or immigration authority resources, in "real-time" before traveling internationally. Please reach out to our Global Mobility Team in advance of any international travel.

Canada - Removal of all COVID-19 Travel Restrictions and New Employer Compliance Obligations

The Government of Canada announced that all COVID-19 border requirements, including vaccination, mandatory use of ArriveCAN, and any testing and quarantine/isolation requirements will end for all travelers entering Canada, whether by land, air, or sea.

Effective October 1, 2022, all travelers, regardless of citizenship, will no longer be required to:

  • submit public health information through the ArriveCAN app or website;
  • provide proof of vaccination;
  • undergo pre- or on-arrival testing;
  • carry out COVID-19-related quarantine or isolation;
  • monitor and report if they develop signs or symptoms of COVID-19 upon arriving to Canada.

Furthermore, masks will no longer be mandatory on flights or trains within Canada but are strongly recommended. Cruise measures are also being lifted, and travelers will no longer be required to have pre-board tests, be vaccinated, or use ArriveCAN.

New Employer Compliance Obligations

The Government of Canada recently passed legislation to amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations, effective on September 26, 2022. These amendments are made to enhance the protection of temporary foreign workers by setting new employer requirements and conditions and improving the ability to hold employers accountable for non-compliance. A summary of the new employer requirements and conditions applicable to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program ("TFWP") and International Mobility Program ("IMP") are below:

  1. Employment Agreement: Employers will be required to provide temporary foreign workers with a signed employment agreement that outlines the occupation, wages, and working conditions, on or before the first day of employment. This requirement also applies to the International Mobility Program.
  2. Employment Rights Information: Employers will be required to provide temporary foreign workers with the most recent information about their rights in Canada, on or before the first day of work. Employers will also be required to make this information available to the temporary foreign workers throughout their period of employment in Canada. You can fulfill the requirements by emailing the below links to the temporary foreign workers and explaining to them that they can obtain the most recent information about their employment rights information at the below websites. Further, the below links should be posted and available to the foreign workers at a common workplace like the lunchroom / breakroom or intracompany website:
  3. Charging/Recovering Fees: Employers will be prohibited from charging and recovering for the provision of services in relation to a LMIA application (currently $1,000), Employer Compliance fee (currently $230), and fees related to recruitment, and requires employers to ensure that any recruiters they use do not charge or recover the above mentioned fees. As such, global mobility teams need to be aware of the new requirements for their relocation expense clause.
  4. Health Care: Employers will be required to provide temporary foreign workers with reasonable access to health care services when they are injured or become ill at the workplace. For example, ensuring there is a phone available to the temporary foreign worker to call emergency services.
  5. Workplace Free of Abuse: Employers are required to make reasonable efforts to provide a workplace that is free of abuse. These amendments will add "reprisal" to the definition of abuse to respond to stakeholder concerns of temporary foreign workers fearing reprisal from employers, such as actual or threats of demotion, disciplinary measure or dismissal, if the temporary foreign workers report the employer's possible non-compliance with program conditions.
  6. Private Health Insurance: For the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, employers will be required to obtain and pay for private health insurance that covers emergency medical care for any period before the temporary foreign worker is eligible for provincial or territorial public health insurance.
  7. LMIA Application Process: For the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, the LMIA application process will be strengthened to ensure that all employers applying for a LMIA meets the program requirements in order to prevent temporary foreign workers from entering an abusive workplace. Accordingly, employers who have not used the Temporary Foreign Worker Program in the last six years will be assessed under additional requirements, including they are not an affiliate of an employer that is ineligible to participate in the program or in default of any amount payable for an administrative monetary penalty.
  8. Suspension of LMIA Applications: For the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, the processing of the LMIA applications may be suspended if there is reason to suspect that an employer is not complying with or has not complied with certain program conditions and that the employer's failure to comply with any of these conditions would put at serious risk the health or safety of the foreign national.
  9. Wage and Labour Dispute: For the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, wage and labor dispute compliance would become stand-alone requirements that an employer must meet to receive an approval on the LMIA application.
  10. Document Verification from Third Parties: ESDC and IRCC will have the authority to require documents from third parties, such as banks and payroll companies, to verify the employer's compliance with the regulatory conditions, such as those relating to a temporary foreign worker's wages.

Please note the above new requirements and conditions only apply to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program and International Mobility Program. As such, employers will not be bound by the new requirements and conditions when they hire temporary foreign workers on open work permits, such as foreign nationals with study permits or post-graduation work permits. If you have any questions regarding the above, please contact us.

Germany - Applications for National Visas for Blue Card Holders

The German Consulates in India issued a reminder that, in order to obtain a German Blue Card or to work as a professional with academic education, the applicant's degree must be equivalent to a German degree. Generally, this can be verified at the ANABIN database which can be found here. It is important to note that not only must the degree be equivalent, but the institution where it was obtained must be listed as "H+".

The Consulate confirms that most Indian degrees are in fact equivalent to a German degree.

Kindly note that the Indian "Bachelor of Science" degree is not entirely equivalent to the German university degree. Equivalency will depend on the subject combination, and thus each situation must be reviewed on a case by case basis. Therefore, the applicant will require a "Statement of Comparability for Foreign Higher Education Qualifications." Further information can be found here. The statement needs to be available when filing the national visa application material. Processing times are usually a few weeks, so applicants are encouraged to start the process early.

Qatar - Suspension of Visa on Arrival

The Ministry of Interior of Qatar announced that from November 1, 2022 to December 23, 2022 the "visa on arrival" program will be suspended due to the FIFA world cup tournament. As a result, visitors will require a Hayya Card. Please see further details here.

Visa-on-arrival services will be available again as of December 23, 2022.

Singapore - Improvement of Processing Times, Introduction of New Pass Category ONE Pass and Longer Validity of EP

During the past few weeks processing times for all employment pass (EP) applications have improved from three to four weeks to about two weeks.

Please also note that, effective September 1, 2022, the Fair Consideration Framework ("FCF") job advertising duration is now restored to the status quo ante-- from 28 days back to 14 days. The advertising duration was increased during the COVID-19 pandemic to give job seekers more time to respond to job openings.

Effective January 1, 2023, applicants who: (1) earn a fixed monthly salary of at least S$30,000 within the last one year; or (2) show that they will earn a fixed monthly salary of at least S$30,000 under their future employer based in Singapore may apply for the so-called "ONE Pass." Applicants with outstanding achievements in the arts and culture, sports, science and technology, and research and academia may apply even if they may not meet the salary criterion.

Applicants must demonstrate that they are working for an established company overseas (i.e. market capitalisation of at least US$500 million or an annual revenue of at least US$200 million), or will be working for an established company in Singapore.

The benefits of this pass category are that it is a personalised, five-year, work pass that allows the pass holder to concurrently start, operate, and work for multiple companies in Singapore at any one time. The ONE Pass holder's spouse is also authorized to work upon approval of a Letter of Consent.

Exemption: ONE Pass holders will not be subject to the FCF job advertising requirement and the upcoming Complementarity Assessment Framework ("COMPASS").

The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) will publish information about this category on their website soon.

Increased Validity of EP:EPs are typically valid for two to three years with the possibility to extend. The option of a five-year EP will now be offered to experienced professionals filling specific tech occupations on the COMPASS Shortage Occupation List. Applicants must earn a fixed monthly salary of at least $10,500 (increasing with age), pass COMPASS and score at least 10 points on the Diversity criterion.

The MOM publishes more information here.

United Kingdom - Important changes to the Right to Work Procedure starting on from 1 October 2022

British businesses and landlords must prepare for the changes to the "right to work' checks with the adjustments introduced on 30 March 2020 slated to come to an end on 30 September 2022. From 1 October 2022, the UK businesses and landlords will have to perform either a manual check or an online 'right to work' check only.

All UK employers must conduct checks confirming all their employees have the right to work in the UK. During the COVID-19 pandemic, when many business shifted to remote working, the Government relaxed the rules by introducing the adjusted "right to work" check, which allowed the employer to conduct the check remotely with a scanned copy of the documents. This was a temporary measure, and it ends on 30 September 2022.

From 1 October 2022, employers have the following options to carry out the "right to work" check:

  1. a manual right to work/rent check;
  2. a right to work/rent check using IDVT via the services of an identity service provider (IDSP); or
  3. a Home Office online right to work/rent check.

Failure to complete the "right to work" check in a prescribed manner at the time of the check will not grant an employer a statutory defence against charged of illegal working in the UK. There is no requirement to carry out retrospective checks on those who had a COVID-19 adjusted check between 30 March 2020 and 30 September 2022. The company will maintain a defence against a civil penalty, provided the check was undertaken between 30 March 2020 and 30 September 2022, was performed in the prescribed standard manner, or conducted as set forth in the COVID-19 adjusted checks guidance.

  • Option 1

Manual right to work check - this option requires the employer to check physical documents in the presence of the employee or have the applicant appear "live" via video link if it is not possible for the individual to appear at the office in person. In the case of remote working, the employee would need to post original documents to the employer who would then verify the identity of the document holder via video call with the employee.

  • Option 2

Use an approved Identification Document Validation Technology (IDVT) to conduct digital right to work checks. This option is a payable service conducted by a certified Identity Service Provider (IDPS). A list of certified IDSP providers can be found here. If employers are currently relying on adjusted remote right to work checks, they would need to prepare for the changes in the procedure, and if they wish to continue with remote checks they would need to make an agreement with an IDPS. Employers are not obliged to use a certified IDSP, but it is well worth doing so as an employer has to be satisfied that an uncertified IDSP is able to carry out the checks correctly.

IDSPs will charge a fee for the checks, and the amount will depend on the quantity of checks an employer uses. The fees for a check are expected to be in the region of £20 to £100 per check. The employer must still ensure the check has been conducted in a correct manner and address any discrepancies such as different names on documents.

  • Option 3

The Home Office online right to work check for EU nationals and BRP holders, and the Employer Checking Service where an employee has an outstanding application or pending appeal will require verification by the Home Office. To conduct the online right to work check, the employer needs the employee's date of birth and a 'share code,', which the employee can generate on the UKVI website. In the presence of the employee, the employer must verify that the photograph on the online right to work check is indeed the same employee who is present and who is to be employed. Checks using the Home Office online checking service do not require a check of physical documents and can be carried out by video call, as right to work information is provided in real time direct from Home Office systems.

The employer must retain copies of the relevant documents with a note of the date on which the check was conducted. Copies must be retained on the employee's file for the duration of their employment and an additional 2 years afterwards.

All employers are required to carry out the right to work checks to ensure their employees are permitted to work in the UK. Businesses employing illegal workers, as well as those failing to correctly conduct the right to work checks, can be liable for a civil penalty of up to £20,000 and might be committing a criminal offence. In addition, the penalty might include losing the company's sponsorship license and the company's ability to sponsor overseas workers.

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.