In United States immigration news this week, USCIS is extending its premium processing suspension for FY 2019 H-1B cap petitions until February 19, 2019 and expanding the suspension to include H-1B changes of employer, amendments and other non-cap subject H-1B petitions. Effective September 30, the agency is also increasing the Form I-907 premium processing fee to $1,410, from $1,225.

Also in the United States, USCIS has opened the re-registration period for nationals of Somalia to extend their Temporary Protected Status (TPS) through March 17, 2020.

In Argentina, a new electronic system is expected to simplify many immigration processes, beginning with Mercosur visa applications on September 1, 2018.

Singapore's Ministry of Manpower (MOM) requires employers of work pass applicants to notify MOM of residential address changes within a required time frame, among other requirements, or face fines and/or imprisonment.

In Kenya, a new immigration directive emphasizes the prohibition against foreign nationals entering the country under a business visa and then later acquiring a work permit.

These items and other news from Azerbaijan, Brazil, Canada, Ecuador, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Hungary, Ireland, Japan, Saudi Arabia, and Singapore follow in this edition of the Fragomen Immigration Update.

Important Updates in Immigration This Week

United States, August 30, 2018 DHS Increases Premium Processing Fee Starting September 30

Effective September 30, the Form I-907 premium processing fee will increase to $1,410, from $1,225.

To view entire article, click here.

United States, August 28, 2018 USCIS Extends and Expands H-1B Premium Processing Suspension Through February 2019

  • Premium processing for FY 2019 H-1B cap petitions is further suspended until February 19, 2019.
  • Employers have through September 10, 2018 to file premium processing requests for a change of H-1B employer, an amendment or a non-cap subject change of status to H-1B. Premium service will be suspended for these case types from September 11, 2018 through February 19, 2019.
  • Premium processing remains available for extensions of H-1B status with the same employer without changes in circumstances, as well as other non-H-1B case types ordinarily eligible for premium service.

To view entire article, click here.

United States, August 27, 2018 Somalia TPS Re-Registration Period Opens

  • Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Somalia is extended for 18 months, from September 18, 2018, through March 17, 2020.
  • Current Somali TPS beneficiaries have until October 26, 2018 to re-register to maintain status through March 17, 2020.
  • Current Somali TPS employment authorization documents with an expiration date of September 17, 2018 will automatically be extended through March 16, 2019.

To view entire article, click here.

Argentina, August 30, 2018 New User Code for Electronic Filings and Notifications

The Financial Information Unit in Argentina has created an electronic system that will allow foreign nationals to receive electronic notifications and file immigration applications, simplifying these processes and reducing processing times. On September 1, 2018, the Argentine Immigration Authority plans to launch a pilot program using this electronic system that is expected to significantly streamline the Mercosur visa application process.

To view entire article, click here.

Kenya, August 30, 2018 Increased Enforcement of Work Permit Application Process

A new Kenyan Department of Immigration directive emphasizes the prohibition against foreign nationals entering Kenya under a business visa and then later acquiring a work permit. Employers and employees are reminded that this practice is not advisable since foreign nationals identified in Kenya as not having completed processing of their work permit or renewal application following expiry may face a fine or deportation.

To view entire article, click here.

Ireland, August 30, 2018 Employment Permit Processing Times Increase Again

Government processing times for employment permits in Ireland have increased again, with processing times for Trusted Partner Initiative applications at seven weeks and standard applications at 14 weeks, up from five and 12 weeks, respectively.

To view entire article, click here.

Germany, August 29, 2018 New Form for Many Foreign Workers Requires More Extensive Employer Information

Employers applying for many work permit types that involve a pre-approval process in Germany must use a new form that requires more extensive employment information than previously sought, including salary and benefit details. This may increase the document gathering time during the work permit application process.

To view entire article, click here.

Singapore, August 27, 2018 Further Information on Housing Requirements for Work Pass Applications

Following the Ministry of Manpower (MOM)'s announcement regarding work pass applicants needing to meet housing requirements, there are also strict requirements for employers to notify MOM of any change of residential address within a required time frame, among other requirements. Failure to comply with these rules can result in a fine of up to SGD 10,000 and/or imprisonment of up to 12 months for each offence.

To view entire article, click here.

Weekly News Briefs

Azerbaijan: State Migration Service Enforcing Work Permit Rules – Starting September 1, 2018, existing Work Permit/Temporary Residence Permit rules will be more strictly enforced, according to a State Migration Service announcement. For example, renewal applications must be filed at least 30 days prior to the current document expiration date. Applications filed after this deadline will not be accepted by the State Migration Service. Additionally, employers must pay the approved Work Permit and Temporary Residence Permit state duties and foreign nationals' dependents who file renewal Temporary Residence Permit applications must pay the state duties within 30 days of filing such applications. Those that miss this deadline may face a fine between AZN 400-500 per document.

Brazil: Online Visa and Residence Permit Application System is Operable – The Brazilian Ministry of Labor’s online system, Migranteweb, has been restored and is fully operable. Foreign nationals may still experience some delays since the system was not functional for approximately one week. Foreign nationals who had a deadline to present additional documents or information while the system was inoperable have been automatically granted additional time to submit their documents.

Ecuador: Health Insurance no Longer Required for Tourists – Effective August 21, 2018, foreign nationals traveling to Ecuador strictly for tourism are no longer required to present proof of health insurance upon arrival in Ecuador. This requirement was implemented this summer but has been retracted by another law. Foreign nationals traveling to Ecuador to apply for a work or residence visa are still, however, required to present proof of health insurance as part of their immigration process.

France/Canada: Consular Processing Delayed in Canada – French consulates in Canada recently confirmed that processing times for long stay visas have increased. Processing times for categories such as the Intra-Company Transfer or Talent Passport are now at four weeks, up from two weeks. The increase in processing times is expected to delay work start dates for applications for all nationalities filed via Canada, since all foreign nationals are required to obtain a visa abroad before travel. Fragomen will contact affected applicants to alleviate delays and discuss applicable strategies.

Hong Kong/Hungary: Bilateral Working Holiday Scheme with Hungary – Starting September 1, 2018, a reciprocal working holiday scheme with Hungary will become available to eligible foreign nationals ages 18-30 to travel to and from both countries. The scheme will allow eligible travelers to stay in the host country for up to 12 months and work and take up a short-term study course during that period. Other requirements, such as providing proof of sufficient funds for their stay, and a return flight ticket, may also apply. Since 2001, Hong Kong has established Working Holiday Schemes with New Zealand, Australia, Ireland, Germany, Japan, Canada, Korea, France, the United Kingdom, Austria, Hungary and Sweden. A scheme with the Netherlands is scheduled to come into effect on January 1, 2019.

Japan: Expanded Visa Rules for Philippine Nationals – Japan has relaxed the visa requirements for Philippine nationals on short-term business travel to Japan. The following changes took effect this month:

  • The scope of applicants eligible for multiple-entry visas for short-term stays with business purposes was expanded; and
  • The validity period of such visas was extended from five to 10 years maximum.​

Saudi Arabia: Delays with Block Visa Approvals Due to Technical Issues – Employers in Saudi Arabia are facing significant delays in obtaining approvals for block visa requests due to technical issues with the Taqat electronic labor market testing platform. Due to the technical issues, in many cases, job advertisements will remain available to potential job seekers for much longer than is normally required. The authorities managing the portal are currently working on resolving the issues.

Singapore: Mandatory Switch to CorpPass Set to September 1, 2018 – The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) has set the deadline for employers to switch to a Singapore Corporate Access (CorpPass) account on September 1, 2018. The CorpPass will replace the SingPass when transacting with MOM's online portals, specifically, the Employment Pass Online (EPOL) and Work Permit Online (WPOL). The mandatory switch to CorpPass was announced last October 2017 but the deadline was pushed back in January 2018 to the third quarter of this year. Companies without a CorpPass will need to register to be able to continue to access the EPOL and WPOL portals. Registration is free and takes one to five business days to complete.

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