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

Pre-arrival Online Registration Required for Indian National Visitors

Starting January 23, 2017, Indian nationals seeking to travel to Hong Kong as visitors must complete pre-arrival registration through the online “Pre-arrival Registration for Indian Nationals.” Indian nationals must complete this pre-arrival registration before visiting Hong Kong visa-free or traveling through Hong Kong. The registration result will be provided to the traveler at the time of registration. There is no fee to complete the registration. Pre-arrival registration is valid for six months or until the passport expiration date, whichever is earlier. During the validity of the registration, the Indian national may make multiple entries into Hong Kong and stay for a period of 14 days for each entry.

New Zealand

Changes to Skilled Migrant Category Proposed

New Zealand’s Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment has proposed changes to its Skilled Migrant Category (“SMC”) in an effort to ensure that foreign nationals with the highest skill levels are given priority for permanent residency. In doing so, the following changes have been proposed:

  • A minimum wage would be established and wage levels would be defined to assess skilled employment. A proposed minimum salary range from NZD 46,000 to NZD 57,000 would be introduced.
  • A new requirement for a minimum of three years work experience in a field relevant to the job offered would be introduced. Formal qualifications/training would not be considered to meet this requirement.
  • The points system would be realigned to favor highly skilled workers by removing bonus points that are not closely aligned with migrant labor market outcomes. Points available for work experience gained in New Zealand would also be reduced.

These changes will negatively impact tens of thousands of lower-skilled workers who do not meet the minimum salary threshold and recent graduates who do not have the required work experience. For these populations, obtaining permanent residency will be more difficult.

Europe

Denmark

Minimum Salary for Foreign Nationals Increased

Effective January 1, 2017, the Danish government will increase the minimum salary for foreign nationals working in Denmark under the Pay Limit scheme. The minimum salary will increase from 400,000 kroner to 408,000 kroner (approximately USD 59,000) per year. Foreign nationals whose work permit applications are filed under the Pay Limit scheme on/after January 1, 2017, must meet this salary requirement. Extension applications may continue to use the salary listed in the original work permit application.

Germany

Minimums for Hourly Wage and Annual Salary Increased

Starting January 1, 2017, the minimum hourly wage in Germany will increase from EUR 8.50 to EUR 8.84 (or EUR 1,532.00 per month based on a 40-hour work week). In addition, the mandatory minimum annual salary for Blue Card holders will increase from EUR 49,600 to EUR 50,800. For foreign nationals working in certain shortage occupations, the new minimum annual salary will be EUR 39,624 rather than EUR 38,688. The new salary thresholds will only apply to foreign nationals who are applying for new or renewal Blue Card applications filed on/after January 1, 2017.

Italy

Foreign Nationals in Same-Sex Civil Unions With Italians Citizens Now Eligible for Citizenship

Foreign nationals who have entered into a same-sex civil union with an Italian citizen are now eligible to apply for Italian citizenship. While the decree has not yet been published, consulates and local immigration offices in Italy have started to process citizenship applications from foreign nationals who are legally married to Italian citizens who meet the filing criteria. To be eligible for Italian citizenship, the requirement is the same as for any married couple: the foreign spouse must be married for at least two years if living in Italy or three years if living abroad. Legally recognized civil unions/marriages that take place outside Italy can be registered with Italian authorities and will be considered valid.

Middle East

Israel

Changes Expected to Immigration Benefits for Same-Sex Married Couples

The Israeli government is expected to amend its laws to afford same-sex married couples the same immigration benefits as heterosexual couples. Historically, same-sex married couples have been able to obtain Israeli residency based on their marital status but have been unable to obtain Israeli citizenship. The new directive will allow the foreign same-sex married spouse to become an Israeli resident after six months and an Israeli citizen after 4.5 years. Evidence of a bona fide marriage, including cohabitation, as well as evidence that Israel is the “center of life” for the couple, will need to be presented on an annual basis in order to maintain residency until citizenship is granted. In addition to obtaining Israeli citizenship, the foreign spouse will be eligible to participate in the nationalized health plan, obtain an Israeli ID and have the right to vote in national and local elections. However, at this time, same-sex marriages cannot be legally performed in Israel.