Worldwide: Weekly Immigration Update: August 30-September 5, 2019

Last Updated: September 10 2019
Article by Fragomen  

In immigration news this week:

  • United States: The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced a plan that would require employers to pay a $10 fee for each beneficiary entered into the forthcoming H-1B cap lottery system. DHS also put forth a proposal that, if approved, would allow it to solicit social media information from certain applicants for immigration benefits, including Visa Waiver Program travelers, applicants for adjustment of status and naturalization applicants.
  • Belgium: Since September 1, the Single Permit rules are applicable to the EU Blue Card Scheme and a new scheme is available that allows employers to fulfill the need for seasonal workers in certain sectors of the economy
  • Angola: With the opening of a new online portal for Tourism Visas, business travelers and tourists to Angola no longer need to appear at an Angolan consular post to file their applications. 

In Brexit news this week:

  • European Union/United Kingdom: The European Commission has reiterated the need for all member states to create contingency plans in the event that the United Kingdom leaves the European Union without a Withdrawal Agreement on October 31.
  • United Kingdom: As part of its ongoing review of salary thresholds, the Home Secretary has asked the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) to review countries with similar immigration systems to determine best practices for a post-Brexit UK immigration system. The government has also confirmed that if there is a no-deal Brexit, it will honor a plan formed under the Theresa May government to introduce a European Temporary Leave to Remain Scheme.

These items and other news from Canada, Mexico, Netherlands, and Nigeria follow in this edition of the Fragomen Immigration Update.

Important Updates in Immigration This Week

European Union/United Kingdom, September 5, 2019

European Commission Publishes Statement on No-Deal Brexit Preparedness

  • The European Commission's statement reiterates the need for all parties to create contingency plans in case the United Kingdom leaves the European Union without a Withdrawal Agreement on October 31, 2019.
  • Political commitments have been made in the European Union, EEA and Switzerland that UK nationals will be able to continue living in the country where they currently reside. UK nationals should look out for any additional processes that may be required after Brexit.
  • Affected employers should continue to identify, reassure and assist any UK staff or their family members who will need to comply with national registration or residence requirements in case of a no-deal Brexit.
  • UK nationals in Ireland will not be impacted, as they are covered by separate UK-Ireland treaties.

To view entire article, click here.

United Kingdom, September 5, 2019

UK Government Asks Migration Advisory Committee to Review Australian Immigration System and Confirms No-Deal Immigration Plans

  • The Home Secretary has asked the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) to conduct a review of the Australian immigration system and similar immigration systems to determine best practices for the post-Brexit UK immigration system in order to strengthen the labor market. The review, which is due back by January 2020, is part of a larger ongoing salary threshold evaluation which the MAC is already reviewing.
  • The government has also confirmed that if the United Kingdom departs from the European Union without a deal on October 31, 2019, it will honor the previous government's plans to introduce a European Temporary Leave to Remain Scheme for European Economic Area (EEA) and Swiss nationals and their close family members.
  • In addition, the government has announced that new border controls will be introduced in the event of a no-deal Brexit which will make it more difficult for serious criminals to enter the United Kingdom.

To view entire article, click here.

Nigeria, September 5, 2019

Protests Cause South African Diplomatic Missions to Temporarily Close

  • Amid violent protests, South African diplomatic missions in the Nigerian cities of Abuja and Lagos have closed to ensure the safety of their personnel.
  • The diplomatic mission closures are creating processing delays for all immigration related applications and the missions are expected to re-open only after a security assessment is made, at a yet unknown date.
  • As a result, foreign nationals will not be able to submit applications and will not receive any adjudications on their applications until the offices reopen.

To view entire article, click here.

United States, September 4, 2019

DHS Proposes to Collect Social Media Information from Adjustment Applicants and Other Immigration Benefits Applicants

  • DHS is seeking to request social media information from some applicants for immigration benefits, including Visa Waiver Program travelers, applicants for adjustment of status and naturalization applicants.
  • Requested information will include social media platforms used, usernames and handles, similar to the information currently collected by the Department of State from visa applicants.
  • The public will have 60 days to comment on the proposal.

To view entire article, click here.

Mexico, September 4, 2019

Additional Government Officials Resign Causing Further Application Delays in Mexico City

  • The head immigration official and several directors of the National Immigration Institute in Mexico City, who adjudicate immigration applications for the Mexico City branch, have resigned. 
  • As a result, employers and foreign nationals should expect processing delays of several additional weeks for new temporary residence visas, permanent residence applications, renewals, post-arrival registrations and corporate registrations filed in Mexico City.

To view entire article, click here.

United States, September 3, 2019

DHS Proposes H-1B Cap Registration Fee

  • Employers would be required to pay a $10 fee per case to enter the H-1B cap lottery under the forthcoming online registration system, under a proposed rule published Wednesday.
  • According to DHS, the new online registration system could be in place as soon as the FY 2021 H-1B cap filing season, which begins April 2020, though it is not yet clear whether the system will be in place by that time.
  • Public comments on the proposed fee rule will be accepted for 30 days from publication.

To view entire article, click here.

Belgium, September 3, 2019

Single Permit and EU Directive Implementation Update

  • Following the implementation of the EU Single Permit Directive in Belgium in January 2019, the Belgian authorities are adopting legislation to implement other EU legal migration Directives. As of September 1, 2019, the Single Permit rules are applicable to the EU Blue Card scheme and a new scheme for seasonal workers is available. Current legislation does not include regulations for the implementation of the EU Students and Researchers Directive and the EU Intracompany Transfer Directive.
  • Additionally, the authorities are implementing regional related variations considering factors dealing with economic migration.
  • This alert covers the status of the implementation of EU Directives and the key regional differences in economic migration policies.

To view entire article, click here.

Angola, August 30, 2019

Online Portal for Tourism Visa Applications Now Open

  • The immigration authority in Angola has opened the online portal for foreign nationals to submit Tourism Visa applications, following the recent replacement of the Ordinary Visa with the Tourism Visa for business and tourist trips.
  • The online system is expected to streamline the visa application process by removing the need to apply at an Angolan consular post prior to travel. This is likely to reduce processing times significantly.

To view entire article, click here.

Weekly News Briefs

Canada: Student Direct Stream to Accept Applicants from Senegal and Morocco – Beginning September 9, 2019, international students from Senegal and Morocco will be able to utilize the Student Direct Stream (SDS) which allows eligible nationals to obtain a study permit within 20 calendar days, compared to a standard application which takes significantly longer. The SDS process was launched in 2018 to provide a streamlined application process for nationals from China, India, the Philippines and Vietnam to study in Canada; the expansion of the stream to Senegalese and Moroccan nationals aligns with the government's intention to attract French speaking nationals to Canada.

Netherlands: Relaxed Rules Regarding Work and Residence Permits – If recently-proposed rules are adopted, which is expected to occur in January 2020, foreign students would be allowed to participate in certain work activities without a work permit, including becoming a board member of a student organization of any size with full legal capacity; participating in a study program committee; and becoming a member of the university council, faculty council, participation council and the sub-council or student council. Previously, students were only authorised to work if the educational institution applied for a work permit on their behalf. Additionally, foreign students attending the six Academy of Architecture universities would be authorized to work 32 hours per week in professional activities related to their studies, which is more than the 20 hours currently allowed. This would enable students to complete the required hours of professional experience needed to register as an architect in the country. Furthermore, family members of foreign nationals holding residence permits for self-employed persons would be allowed to work in paid employment without a work permit for the duration of their dependent residence permit. Currently, such dependents can work as self-employed workers, making it more difficult for them to reside in the Netherlands with the principal family member.

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