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: Taiwanese Travel Permission Eased; Availability of Permanent Residency Expanded

  • Lifting of the entry permit requirement for Taiwan residents visiting mainland China has been announced, but an effective date has not been provided. Taiwan residents are currently required to apply for an entry permit (issued in the form of a booklet, similar to a passport). As part of the announced change, the entry permit will be replaced by a card that will allow automatic entry.
  • In early June, the Ministry of Public Security announced that more organizations were added to the list of employers whose foreign employees may be eligible for permanent residency in China. Foreign employees of these organizations may apply for permanent residency subject to their meeting certain eligibility criteria, which include job position, employment duration and time spent residing in China.

Vietnam: Visa Exemption Extended to Additional Countries

  • Vietnam has expanded the list of countries whose citizens may visit Vietnam visa free. Effective July 1, 2015 through June 30, 2016, citizens of Germany, France, Italy, the United Kingdom and Spain may enter Vietnam for up to 15 days without a visa. They join citizens of Denmark, Finland, Sweden, Japan, South Korea and Russia who were granted visa-exempt status beginning January 1, 2015 through December 31, 2019.
  • Travelers who are allowed to enter Vietnam without a visa based on these visa exemptions must spend a minimum of 30 days outside of Vietnam between each visa-exempt visit.

Central Asia

Afghanistan: Transition Period for Defense Contractors Extended to September 1, 2015

  • By Presidential decree, US and NATO contractors now have until September 1, 2015 to obtain a valid business license to continue operating in Afghanistan and to obtain visas for their employees (who were previously visa-exempt).
  • The extension of the transition period to September 1, 2015 is due to the volume of applications for licenses and visas filed shortly before the previous transition deadline of June 1, 2015.

Europe

Regional: Colombia and Peru Admitted to Schengen Visa-Waiver Program

  • Beginning January 2016, citizens of Colombia and Peru will be able to travel to the Schengen area for business and tourism purposes without a visa, as part of an agreement between the European Union and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States.
  • A full list of countries participating in the Schengen visa waiver program can be found at Schengen Visa Information.

Middle East

Qatar: Ministry of the Interior Issuing ID Cards for All Foreign Nationals

  • The Ministry of the Interior will now issue ID cards to all foreign nationals, including children under the age of 17. Under this new requirement, photographs of, and certain biographical information about, the child may be required.

Africa

Nigeria: Newly Enacted Immigration Law Imposes Stiffer Penalties

  • Nigeria’s outgoing President signed new immigration legislation that will replace the 1963 Immigration Act. Among other items, the new law imposes stricter penalties for non-compliance on employers and foreign nationals, and it establishes a new immigration court.
  • In general, any violation of the new law will result in one year in prison and/or a fine that typically ranges from NGN 50,000 (~USD 251) to NGN 2 million (~USD 10,053). Specifically, companies that fail to file their expatriate quota monthly returns will be fined USD 5,000 while a company’s failure to renew its expatriate quota before expiry will result in a fine of USD 15,000.

The new law also establishes new immigration courts at recognized ports of entry in order to provide swift resolution to immigration matters. Foreign nationals may now be held for up to 90 days, an increase from the 1963 law, which stipulated a maximum holding period of 60 days.