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

Hong Kong: Extended Visa Validity Implemented for Certain Visa Types

  • Effective May 4, 2015, foreign nationals applying for visas under the General Employment Policy (GEP), Admission Scheme for Mainland Talent Professionals (ASMTP), and Qualified Migration Admission Scheme (QMAS) now receive an initial period of stay of two years, as long as their offer of employment is for at least two years. Two three-year visa extensions are available.
  • High-earning applicants receive more favorable treatment. After an initial stay of two years, the Hong Kong Immigration Department will grant a six-year visa extension if the applicant earned a salary exceeding HK$2 million (approx. US$256,410), before tax, within the visa’s first two-year period.
  • Previously, applicants (regardless of salary level) seeking visas under these programs were granted an initial stay of one year, followed by two extensions of two years each and then a three-year extension.

Singapore: Ministry of Manpower Only Accepting Online Applications Beginning June 1, 2015

  • Beginning June 1, 2015, the Ministry of Manpower will only accept online applications for the Employment Pass, S Pass, Work Permit and Training Employment Pass. Manually submitted applications will no longer be accepted.
  • Employers sponsoring applications for foreign workers and their dependents must first complete a registration process and create a work pass account with the Ministry of Manpower before submitting any applications. This registration process may take several weeks.

Central Asia

Afghanistan: Defense Contractor Applications Now Being Accepted

  • The Afghanistan Investment Support Agency (AISA) is now accepting US and NATO defense contractors’ applications for new, three-year business licenses.
  • Defense contractors must have a valid business license by June 1, 2015, in order to continue operating in Afghanistan. Defense contractor employees (who were previously visa-exempt) must obtain visas by the same deadline of June 1, 2015.
  • Contractors that possess a valid business license do not need to apply for a new license until the current one expires.

Europe

Ireland: Trusted Partner Initiative Launched

  • As of May 12, 2015, employers may apply for Trusted Partner status: this includes employers sponsoring intra-company transfer employment permits under the Critical Skills Scheme. Trusted Partner status, which will be valid for two years, is intended to reduce employers’ administrative burdens and reduce processing time of their applications.
  • Trusted Partner status reduces the documentation required for all eligible employment permits applications. In addition, applications submitted by employers with Trusted Partner status will be processed in 5-10 business days.

Turkey: Residence Permit Appointments Suspended

  • As of May 6, 2015, the Ministry of the Interior has suspended residence permit appointments at all Istanbul locations except Vatan. The suspension applies to both initial and renewal appointments.
  • The suspension may be related to a forthcoming implementation of new residence permit filing requirements under the April 2014 Residence Permit law. However, no official announcement has been made by the government at this time.

United Kingdom:

Introduction of National Health Service Surcharge

  • Effective April 6, 2015, all non-European Economic Area (EEA) nationals entering the United Kingdom for longer than six months will be required to pay a health surcharge at the time of their immigration application. The surcharge is payable at the time of the visa application.
  • Non-EEA nationals already in the United Kingdom who apply for an extension of status will also be required to pay the health surcharge.
  • Tier 2 intra-company transfer work permit applicants are exempt from paying the health surcharge, as are nationals of Australia and New Zealand.

Biometric Residence Permit Requirement to Apply to US Citizens

  • By the end of May 2015, Biometric Residence Permits will be required for US citizens applying to work in the United Kingdom for more than six months. The Biometric Residence Permit requirement for non-EEA nationals is being rolled out in phases, with the United States slated for implementation by May 31, 2015.
  • Under the new requirements, the British Consulate will issue a 30-day visa during which the US citizen must enter the United Kingdom. Failure to enter the United Kingdom within the 30-day visa validity will trigger the need for a new visa application.
  • Upon arrival in the United Kingdom, the US citizen will have 10 days to collect the Biometric Residence Permit from the designated post office. Failure to collect within this period may result in a financial penalty.

Africa

South Africa: New Documentation Rules for Children Traveling to South Africa

  • Effective June 1, 2015, an unabridged birth certificate must be carried by all children under the age of 18 who are traveling into or from South Africa. This requirement applies whether the child is traveling alone or with a parent, and it covers both South African citizens and permanent residents. The birth certificate must be either the original or a certified copy.
  • If only one parent is traveling with the child, the parent must additionally carry an affidavit from the other parent authorizing the child to enter or depart South Africa. The affidavit may not be more than three months old at the time of travel. In the case of separation or divorce, the parent traveling with the child must carry legal documents attesting to that parent’s full custody of the child.
  • A child traveling alone must carry contact information for the child’s parents and a letter or affidavit from one or both parents as proof of consent to travel. The child must also carry a letter from the individual with whom the child will stay and a copy of that person’s passport or identity document.