Swiss-based Employers intending to hire British Citizen Workers could face Quota Restrictions from March 20, 2019

If the UK opts for a disorderly withdrawal from the EU in respect of BREXIT and no agreement is reached on immigration arrangements between Switzerland and the UK, then the current practice of Swiss-based employers hiring British citizen workers without quota restrictions in Switzerland will be disrupted.

To prepare for the above scenario in respect of BREXIT, the Swiss Federal Council intends to allocate separate work permit quotas to British citizens from March 30, 2019. The quotas, to be released quarterly, are slated to include 2100 B long-term permits and 1400 L short-term permits, which would be applicable from March 30 to December 31, 2019.

British citizens who relocate to Switzerland for work for the first time would be subject to the above quota restrictions as well as the Act on Foreign Nationals and Integration (similar to Non-EU/EFTA nationals). Swiss-based employers would thus need to take into consideration the work permit quota contingency for British citizen work-arrangements in Switzerland (and also determine alternatives where work permit quotas are not available).

On a positive note, British citizens already legally residing in Switzerland would remain protected under the Agreement on Free Movement of Persons (AFMP), and thus, the quota would not necessarily apply to them.

Where a withdrawal agreement on immigration arrangements is reached between the UK and Switzerland, a transitional period would ensure that the AFMP would continue to apply for an extended time, such as until the end of 2020. During this transitional period, Swiss-based employers would be able to continue hiring British citizens without the above noted quota-restrictions as new bilateral agreements are formed between Switzerland and the UK.

For the present time being it is uncertain whether or not there will be a BREXIT deal and whether a withdrawal agreement will be reached between the UK and Switzerland in respect of immigration arrangements. Swiss-based employers should plan accordingly and stay apprised of developments in this regard.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact your Graham Adair representative. For more frequent updates, please follow us on Twitter (@GrahamAdairLaw).

Finland Immigration Strongly Recommends EU Registration for British Citizens

As Brexit negotiations continue, the Finnish Immigration Service has advised that British citizens currently residing in Finland complete the process of EU Registration as soon as possible in order to retain their right of residence in Finland. This registration is required for British citizens who stay in Finland for longer than three months.

British citizens who have resided legally in Finland for a minimum of five consecutive, uninterrupted years may apply for a Certificate of Permanent Residence as an EU citizen.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact your Graham Adair representative. For more frequent updates, please follow us on Twitter (@GrahamAdairLaw).

Status of EU Citizens in Event of a “No Deal” Brexit

The UK government has released details on the status of EU citizens after March 29, 2019 in the event of a “No Deal” Brexit. EU citizens and their family members who are already UK residents by March 29, 2019 will be able to apply for Settled or Pre-Settled status, and will need to register by December 31, 2020. Switzerland, Lichtenstein, Iceland, and Norway citizens will also need to apply for Settled or Pre-Settled status after March 29, 2019.

EU citizens entering the UK after March 29, 2019 will be able to enter, but will need to apply for a Leave to Remain through the Home Office for European Temporary Leave to Remain if they intend to stay longer than 3 months. This temporary leave will be valid for up to 36 months, and will cover both work and study, however it will not be extendable, and will not lead to settlement. After these 36 months, EU citizens who intend to stay in the UK to work or study will need to qualify under the new immigration scheme.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact your Graham Adair representative. For more frequent updates, please follow us on Twitter (@GrahamAdairLaw).

France’s New Immigration Law Increases Restrictions on Intra-Company Transfers

Employers of foreign workers in France should take note of increased restrictions placed on Intra-Company Transfer (ICT) Work Permits (Secondment) pursuant to the implementation of France’s 2018 Asylum and Immigration Law, which will go into effect on March 1, 2019.

The ICT Work Permit (Secondment) provides an avenue of mobility for an employee from a company outside of France to be transferred to a company in France that belongs to the same corporate group.

Under the 2018 Asylum and Immigration Law, restrictions on the ICT Work Permit (Secondment) will be increased as follows:

  • Assignee must have at least six (6) months of seniority within the group companies outside of France (comparison: changed from at least three (3) months);
  • The maximum time period for the corresponding residence permit is three (3) years and such residence permit is nonrenewable (comparison: previously the nonrenewable aspect for residence permits was not clearly stated); and
  • For an assignee to undertake a follow-up secondment, there must be a cool-off period of at least six (6) months where the assignee has resided outside of France (comparison: previously there was no cool-off period requirement).

Employers of foreign workers in France should identify which current and potential employees may be affected by the increased restrictions in respect of ICT Work Permits (Secondment) and plan accordingly.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact your Graham Adair representative. For more frequent updates, please follow us on Twitter (@GrahamAdairLaw).

UK: Public Test Phase of EU Settlement Scheme Goes Live and Fee Removed

The first public test phase for the EU Settlement Scheme went live on January 21, 2019.

At present, eligible applicants only include (i) EU citizens who have a passport embedded with a biometric chip; and (ii) non-EU family members who have UK residence cards embedded with biometric chips.
Irish citizens may apply during the current phase, but are not required to do so. Citizens of Norway, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, and Iceland (and family members) cannot apply until a later stage.

Eligible applicants must use the EU Exit: ID Document Check App on an Android smart device to check their biometric chip embedded passport or UK residence card. If the biometric chip is damaged or defective, the respective applicant may send identity documents to the Home Office for inspection. Upon the EU Settlement Scheme being fully rolled out, the EU Exit: Document Check App will then become optional and applicants can choose to post identity documents to the Home Office instead of using the app.

In respect of applications, the Home Office will work to verify eligibility for settled or pre-settled status by cross-checking residency in the UK according to National Insurance numbers, HMRC, and/or DWP records. Where documentation is insufficient to confirm eligibility, uploading of additional supporting documentation may be permitted within limits.

In related news, in a recent speech at the House of Commons, Prime Minister Theresa May stated that when the EU Settlement Scheme is rolled out in full on March 30, 2019, the UK government will waive the application fee. Further, for EU citizens who have already applied during the pilot phase, fees paid will be reimbursed. The intent of these changes is to remove financial barriers for EU citizens seeking to stay in the UK.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact your Graham Adair representative.

Brexit Deal or No Deal – Transition Period in Netherlands may Soften Impact on Resident British Nationals under No Deal Scenario

Current and future employers of British nationals in the Netherlands will likely be impacted by the Brexit deal or no deal scenarios between the EU and UK.

At present, British nationals and their non-EU family members are not required to obtain residence permits in the Netherlands, although EU citizens are required to register as EU citizens. However, this arrangement would likely change if no deal is reached regarding Brexit between the EU and UK.

If a Brexit deal is not reached, British nationals (and their non-EU family members) residing and working in the Netherlands will be required to obtain residence permits. Accordingly, under this scenario, the Netherlands Immigration and Naturalization Service (IND) would commence a transition period for British nationals and their non-EU family members, starting from Brexit Day, March 29, 2019, and lasting until July 1, 2020.

During the transition period, British nationals and their non-EU family members would be allowed to maintain residency, employment, and study rights in the Netherlands. Prior to March 29, 2019, Dutch authorities intend to send out official letters, which would serve as proof of temporary residence. These official letters would remain valid until July 1, 2020. However, after July 1, 2020, British nationals would be required to have obtained Dutch residence permits in order to work in the Netherlands. The application process for such residence permits would mean that British nationals would be required to meet the same eligibility requirements as EU citizens (including sufficient income, health insurance, payment of applicable fees, and so on).

To facilitate the application for residence permits under the no deal scenario, Dutch authorities intend to send out a notice letter by April 1, 2020, notifying individuals to apply for residence permits. Non-EU family members of British nationals who are also living in the Netherlands would also likely be required to obtain residence permits.

Employers of British nationals in the Netherlands must stay abreast of developments in any Brexit agreement, and ensure proper measures are timely taken so that British national employees and their non-EU family members maintain proper immigration status in light of the Brexit situation.

Regarding EU citizens in the UK, pursuant to a UK government policy paper dated December 6, 2018, EU citizens residing in the UK by March 29, 2019 will remain eligible to participate in the EU Settlement Scheme even under a “no deal” scenario. Accordingly, those EU citizens residing in the UK by March 29, 2019 will have until December 31, 2020 to apply and register for “Settled” (if they have lived in the UK for more than five years) or “Pre-Settled” status (if they have lived in the UK for less than five years). Other EU citizens who enter the UK after March 29, 2019 will be treated differently in that only British laws will apply to them in respect of their immigration status.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact your Graham Adair representative.

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.

1 2 3