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.
New Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, Now in Place
United States Citizenship & Immigration Services (“USCIS”) implemented a new version of the Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, which went into effect on November 14, 2016. Starting January 22, 2017, all employers in the United States are required to use the new form; USCIS will no longer accept prior versions of the form after this date. The latest version of the Form I-9 has several changes to Sections 1 and 2, including enhanced features making the form more user-friendly and automated to ensure forms are completed in compliance with federal requirements. The new form can be completed online at https://www.uscis.gov/i-9 or printed and completed in paper format. The following enhancements have been made to the online form:
- “Instructions,” “start over,” “print” and “click to finish” buttons are on each page.
- Each field contains an information icon. If selected, a text box appears with detailed instructions for completing that field.
- In fields where a date must be provided, a drop-down calendar appears.
- Employee name and citizenship/immigration status from Section 1 auto-populates in the “Employee Info” field in Section 2.
- A field has been added to enter additional information, such as an E-Verify confirmation number, termination date or correction notes.
Automatic Extension of Certain Employment Authorization Documents
New rules published by USCIS automatically extend the employment authorization and validity of certain existing Employment Authorization Documents (“EADs”) for up to 180 days from the date of expiration, as long as the renewal is filed on the same basis as the original EAD, the individual’s employment authorization eligibility remains valid and the renewal application is timely filed prior to the expiration of the EAD. However, the new provision for automatic EAD extensions does not apply to extensions filed by L-2, F-1 (non-STEM) OPT, and H-4 nonimmigrants.
President Trump Signs Executive Order with Travel Ban
On January 27, 2017, President Donald Trump signed an executive order (“EO”) titled “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States.” The EO includes, among other things, a travel ban on foreign nationals from seven countries. (Read Mayer Brown’s FAQs published on January 28 and January 30 regarding the travel ban and legal actions taken as a result of the EO.)
Since the issuance of the EO, various federal agencies have clarified certain provisions of it and the scope of the travel ban. For example, the Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) has stated that legal permanent residents (also referred to as “green card” holders) are presumptively exempt from the travel ban, absent significant “derogatory” information indicative of a threat to security. DHS has also indicated that dual nationals will be assessed based on the passport presented at arrival, suggesting that a dual national of a restricted and unrestricted country may be admitted if the passport of the unrestricted country is presented. Along these same lines, the Department of State has advised that it will continue to issue visas to otherwise eligible visa applicants who apply with a passport from an unrestricted country, even if they hold dual nationality from one of the restricted countries.
Passenger Name Record Act, “Newcomers’ Statement” for Third County Nationals Instituted
On January 25, 2017, the Belgian government published the Passenger Name Record (“PNR”) Act, requiring all passenger carriers (air and sea, trains and road transportation) to provide passenger data to the Passenger Information Unit of the Belgian Ministry of Interior Affairs (“MIA”). The MIA will maintain and analyze the data for security purposes, including the prevention, detection, investigation and prosecution of serious crimes, including charges relating to terrorism. Belgian authorities await a Royal Decree that will determine the date the PNR Act will become law.
The Belgian government has also published a new law imposing integration efforts on certain foreign nationals. Such efforts include requiring that a “newcomers’ statement” be signed by certain third country (non-EU/EEA) nationals (including dependent family members) seeking to reside in Belgium for more than three months. By signing the statement, the foreign national acknowledges that he or she understands the fundamental values and standards of Belgian society and will conform to these values. The government will audit integration efforts and use the results to re-evaluate each individual’s eligibility for residence in Belgium. The “newcomers’ statement” is not yet in effect, as it requires further government review.
Immigration Workers Go on Strike
Immigration officials for the Portuguese Borders Services (“SEF”) started a series of strikes that are expected to continue over the next six months. Delays and slower processing times are anticipated, impacting the issuance of visas, residence permits and residence permit renewals and the scheduling of appointments with SEF.
Driver’s License Requirements Adjusted for Foreign Nationals
Foreign nationals applying for a driver’s license in Qatar may no longer convert from their home country’s driving license. Applicants must now complete a written test and a road test. Depending on the foreign worker’s country of nationality, a series of driving lessons may be required as well. The tests and driving lessons must be completed at an approved driving school and are subject to appointment availability.
Business Visas for Foreign Investors Expedited
In an effort to bolster business activity, the Saudi Arabian Foreign Ministry recently announced that it will begin issuing business visas to foreign investors within a 24-hour processing time. A new streamlined application system to grant visas for companies working in the kingdom also will be rolled-out in the coming weeks.
These new measures are part of the Saudi Council of Economic and Development Affairs’ efforts to attract needed investment in Saudi Arabia. The Saudi government has been making a concerted effort, especially over the last year with its Saudi Vision 2030, to open and diversify its market and create a more attractive environment for international business.
United Arab Emirates
Pilot Program Tests Local Labor Market to Increase Emirati Presence in Private Sector
In an attempt to increase the Emirati presence in the private sector workforce, the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (“MOHRE”) recently implemented a new labor market test known as the National Program for Emiratization or the “Tawteen Program.” Currently, 250 UAE-based companies have been selected to participate in a pilot program to enhance the participation of UAE nationals in highly qualified professions in the private sector. Any new job opportunities should be posted in a portal (the “Tasheel System”) made accessible to UAE national candidates. For open employment positions flagged for Emiratization by the MOHRE, employers must demonstrate that the job opportunity was advertised to UAE nationals, document recruitment efforts and enter feedback explaining why any local workers were rejected. Only once the local labor market has been exhausted can a company proceed with hiring a foreign worker to fill the vacancy. Failure to recruit through the new system will negatively impact a company’s ability to sponsor foreign workers for work permits.
Companies that use the Tasheel System are rated and receive certain incentives based on their level of activity. Companies that earn the highest ratings receive silver, gold or platinum classification as well as certain privileges, including fast track facilitation of translations, a MOHRE account manager dedicated exclusively to the company, accelerated issuance of work permit renewals, exemption from automatic suspension and a reduction of visa application fees.