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.

Asia

China

Nationwide Platform for Sharing and Searching Entry/Exit Information Considered

China announced plans to explore development of a unified entry/exit platform to strengthen the coordination of governmental departments across the country. A report submitted by the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, China’s top legislative body, highlights the improvements in efficiency created by development of a unified platform.

Currently, Chinese nationals must seek approvals from multiple departments to submit documents if they seek to travel abroad, which creates asymmetric information sharing among entry/exit authorities. The report also stipulates that entry/exit services for foreigners will be improved.

Europe

France

New Work Permit Procedures Announced

France has published decrees implementing the revised work permit procedures first announced on March 8, 2016. The decrees provide further detail on the minimum requirements and permissible activities of the new procedures, including the following:

  • Creation of the “Talent Passport” residence permit with one-year or multi-year duration, with a maximum of four years, for intra-company transferees on local contracts, EU Blue Card holders, investors, scientists and other workers. The minimum annual salary for the Talent Passport residence permit is €53,837. The Talent Passport residence permit provides work authorization.
  • Work permit exemptions for workers coming to France for a stay of less than 90 days to perform work related to the following activities:
    • Sport, scientific, artistic and cultural events;
    • Conferences, seminars or trade shows;
    • Film or audio-visual, recording or performing directly related to production or distribution;
    • Modeling and photo shooting;
    • Domestic work or services provided to an individual employer during the employer’s stay in France;
    • Investigation, evaluation, audit or control by auditors and workers with expertise in IT, accounting management, finance, insurance, architecture or engineering who are seconded to France by a foreign company; and
    • Lectures conducted by visiting professors.
  • Exemption of residence permits for seconded employees working in a regular and usual manner for employers established in the European Union, EEE or Switzerland.
  • Requirement that foreigners submitting applications for a 10-year residence permit have a full knowledge of the French language.


Italy

EU Posted Worker Directive Procedures Announced

Starting December 26, 2016, employers are obligated to comply with the EU Posted Worker Directive. The new provisions apply to EU companies posting workers to a company in Italy (including a company of the same group), EU placement agencies posting workers in Italy and non-EU companies posting workers in Italy.

Any foreign employer who wishes to post employees to Italy must submit a compulsory electronic notification through the Labour and Social Policy portal the day preceding the start date of posting. Any future variation to the posting conditions must be communicated through the same system within five days. The information provided on the form includes number of employees involved, start/end date of the posting, place of work and host entity. The procedure requires the posting employer to register and create an account on the online dedicated system.

The other obligations introduced are:

  • Document storage: During the posting and up to two years after its termination, the posting company is obliged to keep on file documentation related to the assignment.
  • Appointment of a representative domiciled in Italy: During the posting and up to two years after its termination, a legal representative based in Italy must be appointed in charge of receiving/sending any official documents.
  • Appointment of a labor representative: A labor representative must also be appointed to deal with any negotiations before the relevant labor authorities.


Switzerland

Work Permit Quotas for 2017 Announced

The Swiss Federal Council recently announced that the total number of work permits available under its quota for 2017 will be slightly higher than the quota for 2016. The decision follows discussions that took place at a political level and are aimed to allow Switzerland to hire sufficient qualified workers and specialists from the EU/EFTA and non-EU/EFTA markets.
The number of available work permits for 2017 will be 7,500 for non-EU/EFTA nationals (increased from 6,500 in both 2015 and 2016) and 2,250 for EU/EFTA service providers (the same as in both 2015 and 2016).
The quotas for non-EU/EFTA nationals will be divided as follows: 3,000 B permits and 4,500 L permits. For EU/EFTA nationals, the split will be the same as in 2016: 2,000 L permits and 250 B permits.
In order to be eligible for these permits, a foreign worker must seek to provide services in Switzerland for more than 90 days in the calendar year and remain on the payroll of the foreign employer.

United Kingdom

Changes to Immigration Rules Announced

The home secretary has laid before Parliament multiple changes to immigration rules due to come into effect on November 24, 2016. Many of these changes reflect recommendations made earlier in the year by the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC).

  • Tier 2 changes: The most significant changes will impact employers under Tier 2 sponsorship, including the following:
    • The salary threshold for experienced workers will be increased to £25,000 from £20,800 for the majority of new applicants.
    • As a transitional arrangement, the £25,000 threshold will not apply to workers sponsored under Tier 2 (General) before November 24, 2016, if they apply to extend their stay in the category.
    • The government intends to increase the threshold to £30,000 in April 2017, and there will be no transitional arrangements for workers sponsored under Tier 2 (General) between November 24, 2016 and April 2017.
    • A change is being made to facilitate changes of occupation for applicants sponsored in graduate training programs. This enables them to change occupation within the program or at the end of the program without their sponsor needing to carry out a further resident labor market test.
    • Beginning in April 2017, a change to the rules around advertising via a milkround will be introduced to close a loophole in which a sponsor can offer a job to a migrant four years after carrying out a milkround without the need for a further recruitment search.
  • Tier 2 changes on Intra-company Transfer: Further changes to the Intra-company Transfer route are made following the MAC review of Tier 2. These include:
    • The salary threshold for a short-term ICT applicant has been increased to £30,000 for new applicants. A transitional arrangement applies for those already in the United Kingdom under the short-term route.
    • The skills transfer subcategory will close.
    • The salary threshold for the graduate trainees subcategory has been reduced from £24,800 to £23,000, and the number of places a sponsor can use has been increased from five to 20 per year.
  • Tier 5 changes: The following changes are being made to Tier 5:
    • The immigration rules will be amended to specify new allocations of places to participating countries for 2017 in the Tier 5 (Youth Mobility Scheme) category.
    • The rules are amended to provide for the operation of arrangements to manage the allocation of places under the Tier 5 (Youth Mobility Scheme) allocation for Japan, where demand is expected to exceed supply.

The Americas

Canada

Visa-Free Travel to Be Implemented for Citizens of Mexico, Brazil, Romania, Bulgaria

Canada will implement visa-free travel and require an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) for citizens of Mexico, Brazil, Romania and Bulgaria in the next several months. Citizens of these four countries will no longer require visas to travel to Canada as follows:

  • Mexico. Effective December 1, 2016, Mexican citizens will no longer require a visa to travel to Canada and may instead apply for an eTA online in advance of air travel.
  • Brazil. Effective May 1, 2017, Brazilian citizens who have held a Canadian visa in the past 10 years or who hold a valid US nonimmigrant visa will no longer require a visa to travel to Canada and may instead apply for an eTA online in advance of air travel.
  • Romania and Bulgaria. Effective May 1, 2017, citizens of these countries who have held a Canadian visa in the past 10 years, or who hold a valid US nonimmigrant visa will no longer require a visa to travel to Canada and may instead apply for an eTA online in advance of air travel.

    Effective December 1, 2017, citizens of Romania and Bulgaria will no longer be required to obtain a Canadian visa and may instead apply for an eTA online in advance of air travel.

The eTA is an entry requirement for most foreign travelers from visa-exempt countries who fly to or transit through Canada. US citizens are exempted from this requirement. An approved eTA is valid for up to five years or until the passport used to apply for the eTA expires.

United States

Preflight Clearance May Expand to 11 Additional Foreign Airports

On November 4, 2016, the Department of Homeland Security announced that 11 new foreign airports located in nine countries were selected for possible preclearance expansion.

The 11 airports identified as possible preclearance locations are:

  • Bogota, Colombia (BOG);
  • Buenos Aires, Argentina (EZE);
  • Edinburgh, United Kingdom (EDI);
  • Mexico City, Mexico (MEX);
  • Milan, Italy (MXP);
  • Osaka, Japan (KIX);
  • Reykjavik, Iceland (KEF);
  • Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (GIG);
  • Rome, Italy (FCO);
  • Sao Paulo, Brazil (GRU); and
  • Saint Maarten (SXM).

No timetable for approval of these proposed preclearance locations has been announced. Preclearance allows travelers to undergo immigration, customs and agriculture inspection by US Customs and Border Protection before boarding a flight to the United States rather than upon arrival.