EU Settlement Scheme and Immigration Impact

Companies with European Union (EU) citizen employees in the United Kingdom (UK) and/or with UK citizen employees in the EU need to be aware of the impact of the potential deal reached between the UK government and the EU, the EU Settlement Scheme.

If the EU Settlement Scheme is approved by the UK Parliament (set to take place by Dec 21, 2018), after the UK leaves the EU on March 29, 2019, then EU citizens residing in the UK and UK citizens residing in the EU would be able to continue to be residents in the UK or EU, respectively, without material impediment.

The approval or non-approval of the EU Settlement Scheme could result in varying scenarios. 

Scenario One: EU Settlement Scheme Approved

For those EU citizens who entered the UK prior to Dec 31, 2020 (and have no serious criminal convictions), such persons would be eligible to obtain pre-/settled status. The EU Settlement Scheme is slated to become operational from March 30, 2019, and would likely give EU citizens (and their family members) a grace period to apply for pre-/settled status until June 30, 2021.  

Scenario Two: EU Settlement Scheme Not Approved

If there is not a deal reached, EU citizens residing in the UK by March 29, 2019 would still have their rights fully protected by the UK government. For EU citizens, however, there would not be an implementation period and EU citizens would only have until Dec 2020 to complete an application. 

Close Family Members of EU Citizens

Spouses and children of EU citizens with settled status can be joined in the UK until March 29, 2022, only if the relationship existed by March 29, 2019 (and continued to exist up to the time of application).  

To join EU citizen family members after March 29, 2022, the spouses and children will need to apply under UK Immigration Rules.  

Benefits and services will still be accessible for those EU citizens and family members lawfully residing in the UK by March 29, 2019. 

EU Identity Cards & UK Entry

Although EU identity cards will remain valid after January 1, 2021, after the UK government introduces its new immigration system, it is uncertain that EU citizens will still be able to use their national ID cards for UK entry. 

For further information on how this may affect your business, please consult with our attorneys. For more frequent updates, please follow us on Twitter (@GrahamAdairLaw).

Changes to Singapore S Pass Qualifying Salaries

Singapore’s Ministry of Manpower (MOM) has provided new minimum qualifying salary requirements for S Pass eligibility. Companies sponsoring foreign workers with S Passes in Singapore should note the following changes and their effective dates:

  • Effective January 1, 2019, the minimum qualifying salary for an S Pass will increase from SGD 2,200 to SGD 2,300 per month.
  • Effective January 1, 2020, the minimum qualifying salary for an S Pass will increase from SGD 2,300 to SGD 2,400 per month.

Companies should also note the following S Pass renewal requirements:

  • S Passes set to expire between January 1 and June 30, 2019 may be renewed for up to one year.
  • S Passes set to expire between July 1 and December 21, 2019 may be renewed if they meet the new minimum qualifying salary of SGD 2,300 per month.

Companies can use the MOM’s Self-Assessment Tool to check employee S Pass eligibility. For further information on how this may affect your business, please consult with our attorneys. For more frequent updates, please follow us on Twitter (@GrahamAdairLaw).

Residence Permits for Hong Kong, Macao, and Taiwan Employees in Mainland China

On September 1, 2018, the State Council set forth rules governing how HMT Residents apply for residence permits. HMT Residents may apply at local public security authorities for residence permits if they meet two requirements:

  1. They have resided on mainland China for more than 6 months.
  2. They meet one of three conditions: having employment, a stable residence, or continuously studying at a school.

Required documentation includes: an employment agreement or a certificate from the employer which can be used to prove the HMT Resident’s employment in the mainland; a housing lease or purchasing contract as proof of the resident’s stable residential address; and a student card or certificate from the school demonstrates the resident’s continuous study. An unexpired work permit may still serve as documentation of employment in the mainland until December 31, 2018.

Importantly, HMT Residents employed in the mainland can now use residence permits or their mainland travel permits to enroll in social insurance and housing fund programs. In accordance with Social Insurance Law, HMT Resident’s employed in the mainland should be enrolled in social insurance programs (except currently in Shanghai, as it has yet to implement the requirement). Housing fund enrollment is still on a voluntary basis.

It should be noted that HMT Resident’s do not include Chinese nationals who reside in Taiwan, Hong Kong, or Macao who possess a hukou (household registration in mainland China.)

Switzerland: New Quotas for Work Permit Applications in 2019

The Federal Council of Switzerland announced that new quotas for work permit applications submitted during the 2019 calendar year will be released on January 1, 2019.

Non-EU (European Union)/EFTA (Europeans Free Trade Area) Nation or Foreigners Seconded from an Employer Based Outside the EU/EFTA

  • 4,000 authorizations for “L” short-term permits (a decrease of 500 permits)
  • 4,500 authorizations for “B” long-term permits (an increase of 1,000 permits)

EU/EFTA Nationals or Foreigners Seconded from an Employer Based Inside the EU/EFTA

  • 3,000 authorizations for “L” short-term permits (no change)
  • 500 authorizations for “B” long-term permits (no change)

The above permit quotas apply to assignments of more than four (4) months or 120 days. Companies who are planning on potentially hiring or transferring non-EU-EFTA nationals and EU-EFTA nationals seconded to Switzerland in the 2019 calendar year will be affected.

Applicants representing the most important economic interest for Switzerland will be given preference, including executives, companies operating in the innovation sector which develop new mandates for the Swiss economy, sectors of activity with a severe lack of resources, and cases involving a high level of political implications. It is important to plan well in advance. Plan on submitting important applications well in advance of the end of the calendar year and of each quarter.

Please contact a Graham Adair attorney for further details.

United Kingdom: Update on Brexit

As of March 2019, European Union (EU) citizens and their family members will be able to apply for settled or pre-settled status to continue residing in the United Kingdom after the December 31, 2020 deadline. EU citizens, and family members of EU citizens, must apply for settled status if:

  1. The individual resided in the UK continuously for five years.
  2. The individual resided in the UK prior to 31st December 2020.
  3. The individual who is a non-EU citizen is married to a British citizen.

After December 31, 2020, eligible individuals residing overseas will be able to join EU citizen family members residing in the UK with specific limitations: They must be a close family member (spouse, civil partner, unmarried partner, dependent child/ grandchild / parent / grandparent).

Additionally, the qualifying relationship must have commenced prior to December 31, 2020 and expected to continue after arrival in the UK. In general, if an individual has resided in the UK for less than five (5) years, they will be eligible to apply for pre-settled status. Only those with no prior criminal convictions, proof of identity, and residence in the UK will be eligible to apply for settled or pre-settled status. For citizens residing outside the EU to be eligible for either settled or pre-settled status, the individual must be in a relationship with the EU citizen as a spouse, civil partner, or unmarried partner with a residence card.

Irish citizens and individuals who have indefinite leave to enter or remain in the UK are exempted from applying for settled status. Individuals who have indefinite leave to reside in the UK may choose whether they wish to remain in the UK without applying for settled status or change their status.

We will provide an update as soon as it becomes available. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact an attorney at Graham Adair.

China Abolishes Work Permit Requirements For Hong Kong, Taiwan & Macao Residents

What’s new?

The Chinese government announced that Hong Kong, Taiwan and Macao residents will no longer require a work permit to work for companies in mainland China.

Past laws

Residents of Hong Kong, Taiwan and Macao (THKM) had to undergo a time-consuming process in the past in order to prove that they were uniquely qualified for open job positions in mainland China. Additionally, the work permit system meant that THKM residents were required to apply for a new permit when switching employers and would be subject to the permit’s two-year renewal period. They will now no longer be subject to the same restrictions and requirements.

What’s next?

The Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security is expected to issue the regulations at the end of the month. This new rule is being implemented at the city-level and may differ in different regions.

For further information on how this may affect your business, please consult with our attorneys. For more frequent updates, please follow us on Twitter (@GrahamAdairLaw).

European Union Settlement Scheme Updates

United Kingdom (UK) Immigration Minister Caroline Noakes announced on June 22, 2018 that changes to the EU Settlement Scheme will begin to take effect later this year, with full implementation expected by March 30, 2019. Affected EU citizens and their family members are eligible to apply for settled status after 5 years of residence in the UK.

Pre-Settled Status

Those who do not qualify for settled status will need to apply for “pre-settled status,” which allows EU citizens and their family members to stay in the UK for an additional 5 years under existing restrictions. Under this scheme, family members include: a spouse, civil partner, unmarried partner, dependent children or grandchildren, and dependent parents or grandparents. Any UK-born children of settled EU citizens are automatically UK citizens.

Permanent Residents

UK permanent residents will be required to switch to settled status, as EU law will cease to apply in the UK as of December 31, 2020.

Application

Applicants for settled status need only provide the following: (i) proof of identity (passport/identity card); (ii) proof of UK residence; and (iii) declaration of lack of serious criminal convictions. Those who do not automatically qualify for settled status will be considered pre-settled and allowed to re-apply after 5 years of residency. The deadline for applications is June 30, 2021.

Permanent residents or persons with indefinite leave to remain can exchange their status for settled status at no cost. Application fees for settled or pre-settled status are £65 for adults and £32.50 for children under 16. As of April 2019, re-application will be free.

Applicants will only be denied if: (i) they are not UK residents by December 31, 2020; (ii) they have serious criminal convictions; (iii) they have committed fraud; or (iv) they pose serious security concerns.

For more frequent updates, please follow us on Twitter (@GrahamAdairLaw).

Australia Updates: Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) Visa & Skilled Occupation List

As we are now well aware, the Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) visa is scheduled to replace the Subclass 457 visa in March 2018. There will be 3 streams available under TSS, and they are as follows:

(1) Short-term stream: this is for employers to source genuine temporary overseas skilled workers in occupations included on the Short-term Skilled Occupation List (STSOL) for a maximum of 2 years (or up to 4 years if an international trade obligation applies); OR

(2) Medium-term stream: this is for employers to source highly skilled overseas workers to fill medium-term critical skills in occupations included on the Medium and Long-term Strategic Skills List (MLTSSL) for up to 4 years, with eligibility to apply for permanent residence after three years; OR

(3) Labour Agreement stream: this is for employers to source overseas skilled workers in accordance with a labour agreement with the Commonwealth, on the basis of a demonstrated need that cannot be met in the Australian labour market and standard visa programs are not available, with the capacity to negotiate a permanent residence option.

NOTE: the Australian Department of Home Affairs (DHA) has confirmed that Labour Market Testing (LMT) exemptions based on occupation will NOT be available under the TSS visa.

However, LMT will not apply if it conflicts with Australia’s international trade obligations. For example, LMT exemptions will still apply if the worker nominated is a citizen/national of China, Japan or Thailand, or is a citizen/national/permanent resident of Chile, South Korea, New Zealand or Singapore.

In order to streamline processing of TSS and other temporary skilled work visas, measures are in place that include: a new standard 5-year sponsorship agreement period, a new streamlined renewal process for existing sponsors, and an automatic approval of lower-risk nomination applications lodged by accredited sponsors.

In addition, provisions are in place to assist with the transition to TSS visa. Notable provisions include:

  • All Subclass 457 nominations and visa applications lodged prior to TSS implementation will be processed under the current framework.
  • If a Subclass 457 nomination application is lodged without an associated 457 visa application being lodged before the commencement of TSS, it will effectively become “redundant” as Subclass 457 nominations cannot be linked to TSS visa applications. This applies even where the nomination has already been approved.
  • Employers who are already approved standard business sponsors for Subclass 457 will be immediately able to sponsor skilled overseas workers under the TSS visa program.
  • Subclass 457 visa holders who are to change occupations or need a new visa will be required to lodge a new TSS visa application and reference a new TSS nomination application.
  • Subclass 457 visa holders that will change employer after the implementation of TSS visa can have their new employer lodge a TSS nomination application and link it to the existing 457 visa.
  • Dependents will be able to lodge TSS visa dependent visa applications linked to pending 457 visa applications or linked to current 457 visa holders.

Skilled Occupation Lists 

Updates to the skilled occupation lists for both temporary and permanent skilled visas went into effect on January 17. These updates will only apply to applications lodged after January 17 and will not apply to pending applications. More details can be found directly at the DHA website at https://www.homeaffairs.gov.au/trav/work/work/2018-changes-of-eligible-skilled-occupations.

We can expect the next set of occupations lists to be published in March 2018. For more frequent updates, please follow us on twitter (@GrahamAdairLaw).

Temporary Suspension of Nonimmigrant Visa Operations in Russia

On August 21, 2017, the U.S. Embassy & Consulates in Russia announced a temporary suspension of all nonimmigrant visa (NIV) operations across Russia beginning August 23, 2017. The halt is a result of the Russian government’s personnel cap imposed on the U.S. Mission to Russia. Beginning September 1, nonimmigrant visa interviews will only be conducted at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow; NIV interviews at the U.S. Consulates in St. Petersburg, Yekaterinburg, and Vladivostok are suspended until further notice.

Because of the cap on staff numbers, visa operations will resume on a greatly reduced scale. The staffing changes will also affect the scheduling of some immigrant visa applicants. Affected applicants will be contacted if there is a change as to the time and date of their interview.

U.S. Ambassador to India Announces Simpler U.S. Visa Application Process

The U.S. Embassy in New Delhi and the Consulates General in Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, and Hyderabad will now accept visa applications from individuals whose home residence is in any other Indian jurisdiction.  This is being done in an ongoing effort by Mission India to facilitate legitimate travel to the United States. 

After the Consulate General in Hyderabad opened in 2008, the U.S. Mission has looked for ways to best capture the unique nature of India’s growth across the country.  This resulted in a re-designation of consular districts.  Effective immediately, the consular districts in India will be organized as follows: 

U.S. Embassy in Delhi: Bihar, Delhi, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bhutan; 

U.S. Consulate in Mumbai: Goa, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Diu and Daman, and Dadra and Nagar Haveli; 

U.S. Consulate in Hyderabad: Andhra Pradesh, Orissa; Consulate Chennai: Karnataka, Kerala, Puducherry, Lakshadweep, Tamil Nadu, Andaman and Nicobar Islands; 

U.S. Consulate in Kolkata: Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim, Tripura, and West Bengal. 

These changes will create a much more convenient and supportive process for U.S. visa applicants in India.

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