Please note, while we address some country-specific updates related to the COVID-19 pandemic, this Alert 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.

Belgium – Increase of Salary Threshold Effective January 1, 2024

Two of the three regions in Belgium, the Flanders and Brussels regions, have announced an upcoming increase for required salary thresholds as of January 1, 2024. The salary for a highly skilled applicant will need to increase to at least €46,632 in Flanders and €50,310 in Brussels. The European blue card will require a salary threshold of €55,181 in the Flanders region and €65,053 in Brussels.

China – Ease of Legalization Process as of November 7, 2023

China will participate in the Hague Convention of October 5, 1961 Abolishing the Requirement of Legalization of Foreign Public Documents – 1961 Apostille Convention as of November 7, 2023 so that it will be sufficient to apply for an Apostille instead of having to legalize documents such as diplomas and birth and marriage certificates in a multi-step process. Please also see here.

Costa Rica – Registration Required

Effective October 16, 2023, applicants for a Costa Rica residence permit are now required to register with their home country's Consulate in Costa Rica before being eligible to apply for their residence identity card for Costa Rica (DIMX). This requirement had been waived during the Covid pandemic.

Germany – New Regulations

Germany is in the process of implementing new regulations that will give highly skilled applicants easier access to the German labor market. One of the measures is to lower the salary threshold and to include work experience in the eligibility criteria for IT professionals. The list of shortage occupations will be increased significantly so these professionals will be required to meet an even lower salary threshold. Please see further details here.

Schengen – Online Calculator Tool

Non-EU Nationals are required to follow the 90-day rule within a 180-day period when visiting the Schengen Area. This means that a Non-EU National may stay in member states of the Schengen Area for a maximum of 90 days within any 180-day period. The rule applies to cumulative stays within the Schengen Area, and is calculated "backwards" from the date of entry.

The European Commission developed an online calculator tool which helps frequent travelers to track and plan business travel to the Schengen area. See here. This does not only allow each traveler to calculate how many days are left of the allowed 90 days, but it serves as a planning tool. One may enter the "intended future arrival date" in the top left corner, and the tool will inform the traveler as to how many days the individual may visit the Schengen Area effective from that arrival date. Here you can also see how the allowed 90 days within a rolling 180-day period are calculated. On the day of arrival in the Schengen Area, the immigration officer will look back 180 days to determine how much of the allowed 90 days are left. Please also see instructions published by the EU Commission here.

The 90-day clock stops when leaving the Schengen Area, for example by traveling to the United Kingdom or if the traveler enters a Schengen country where he/she holds a work/residence permit.

United Kingdom – Immigration Health Surcharge Increase

Effective January 16, 2024 or subsequent dates, the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) rates will undergo a substantial increase. The IHS is applicable to most UK visa applications and entitles migrants to use the UK's National Health Service (NHS) if the visitor becomes unwell or has an accident while in the UK. Every applicant has to pay this, and this applies even if the applicant does not use the NHS or even if the applicant has his/her own private health insurance.

  • The rate for children, students, their dependents, and Youth Mobility workers will increase from £470 per year to £776 per year
  • The rate for all other applicants will increase from £624 per year to £1,035 per year

The implementation date is contingent upon the official enactment of the Immigration (Health Charge) (Amendment) Order 2023. The change will come into force on January 16, 2024 OR three weeks after the order becomes law- -\, whichever is later. The Order still needs to be approved by both Houses of Parliament.

The impending changes will significantly affect applicants and companies looking to apply for a UK visa. As the implementation date approaches, companies and individuals would need to consider filing an application sooner rather than later in order to benefit from a lower fee. Together with the UK visas and immigration fees< a href="" target="_blank">increase on October 4, 2023, companies will need to budget carefully for their upcoming immigration costs.

The original announcement of the fee increase explained that additional funds would be used to fund public sector pay increases. However, this reason appears to have been dropped after raised concerns about its legality.

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.