Mayer Brown’s Global Directions is a summary of recent immigration and mobility trends arising in key jurisdictions around the globe. This high-level overview alerts recipients to select changes in law and practice that may affect their global mobility programs.

Americas

United States: Final Guidance Issued on Amendment Requirements for H-1B Jobsite Moves

  • Employers must file an amended H-1B petition whenever there is a material change in an H-1B foreign workers’ jobsite location, according to final guidance issued on July 21, 2015, by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) regarding the Matter of Simeio, LLC. Under this USCIS guidance, employers may choose to file H-1B amendments for jobsite changes that took place on or before April 9, 2015, while H-1B amendments are mandatory for jobsite changes that took place after this date.
  • The final guidance states that USCIS “will not generally pursue revocations or denials based solely on an employer’s failure to file” an amended H-1B petition for foreign workers who moved jobsites on or prior to April 9, 2015. Employers that will file H-1B amendment petitions on behalf of those foreign workers who changed jobsites prior to April 9, now have until January 15, 2016, to do so.
  • For a summary of the USCIS guidance, please see our legal update, “US Citizenship and Immigration Services Issues Final Guidance on H-1B Jobsite Moves, Leaves Pre-Simeio Obligations Opaque.”

Asia

China: Expanded Work Permit and Visa Eligibility in the Shanghai Free Trade Zone

  • Shanghai has introduced a number of measures to relax work permit and visa requirements for foreign nationals working in the Shanghai Free Trade Zone. The measures, which became effective July 2015, include extending the validity period of residency permits, expanding permanent residency eligibility and easing work visa application requirements.
  • Foreign employees of the 70,000 registered companies in the Shanghai Free Trade Zone who have lived in Shanghai for three consecutive years are eligible to apply for a two-year residence permit.
  • Foreign nationals employed by the 3,500 companies registered with the Shanghai Science and Technology Commission may apply for the newly created five-year residence permit. After working in Shanghai for an additional three years, these foreign nationals may apply for a permanent residence permit.
  • Foreign nationals are eligible to apply for permanent residency if they have worked in Shanghai for four consecutive years (residing in China for at least six months of each of those years), earned an annual salary of at least CNY 600,000 (approx. USD 97,000) and paid taxes of more than CNY 120,000 in each of those years. Previously, only senior executives and professors were eligible to apply for permanent residency.
  • Foreign nationals who enter China on a non-work visa are no longer required to exit China to apply for a work visa prior to re-entry. The application for a work visa may now be made at one of Shanghai’s two airports.

Singapore: Higher Salary Requirement for Workers Sponsoring Dependants

  • Effective September 1, 2015, the minimum salary threshold required for Employment Pass and S Pass holders to sponsor family members for Dependant Passes will go up from SGD 4,000 per month to at least SGD 5,000 (approx. USD 3,642) per month.

Europe

Netherlands: Changes to Maximum Length of Stay for Business Visitors

  • Effective July 18, 2015, business visitors traveling to the Netherlands for the purpose of attending business meetings may stay up to 13 cumulative weeks within a 52-week period (one year), without a work permit.
  • Legislation passed in January 2014 stated this time frame as 13 uninterrupted weeks, which effectively meant business travelers were allowed only a single trip to the Netherlands for business meetings.
  • The July 2015 amendment clarified the regulation by removing the word “interrupted.” This means business visitors may make multiple entries to the Netherlands for a maximum stay of 13 weeks for the purpose of attending business meetings.

United Kingdom: Proposed Changes to Permissible Activities for Tier 4 Foreign Students

  • In July 2015, UK Visas and Immigration (part of the UK Home Office) proposed changes to the Tier 4 foreign student visa category that will place limitations on work activities. The proposed changes include the following.
    • First, new foreign students at publicly funded colleges would no longer be eligible to work, which is a similar limitation place on foreign students at private institutions.
    • Second, foreign students would be proscribed from extending their Tier 4 status in the United Kingdom unless they would be studying at an “embedded college,” one with a formal, direct link to a university recognized by the Home Office.
    • Third, the ability to change from Tier 4 to Tier 2 (skilled professional) or Tier 5 (temporary worker) visa status while in the United Kingdom would be eliminated or at least greatly hindered. Tier 4 visa holders would be required to exit the United Kingdom to apply for a Tier 2 or Tier 5 visa.
    • Finally, while foreign students would be banned from employment in low or unskilled jobs, they would be eligible for employment in skilled work on a part-time or full-time basis.

Middle East

Israel: Flight Tickets No Longer Required for Short Employment Authorization Applications

  • The Israeli Ministry of Interior no longer requires that Short Employment Authorization (30-day) visa applications be accompanied by valid flight tickets as evidence of the dates of travel. However, a request to change the validity dates of this 30-day work authorization still requires submission of a new application including payment of government fees.