October 2018

In these global immigration updates, we provide brief details on key changes to immigration rules in global jurisdictions.

Please note that all immigration rules are subject to change and whilst correct at the time of publication, they should not be relied upon as legal advice or a statement of accuracy at a later date.

Europe

SWITZERLAND – 2019 WORK PERMIT QUOTAS CONFIRMED

The Swiss Federal Council has announced the work permit quotas for 2019. Switzerland applies a quota-based system for work permits applicable to non-EE nationals as well as EU assignees and service providers who work in Switzerland for more than four months (120 days) per year.

From 2019, the Swiss government will increase their non-EU quotas to 4,500 long term (B) permits, which is 1000 more than in 2018. The non-EU short-term (L) permit quotas will decrease to 4,000 (down by 500 compared to 2018). The permit allocation for EU/EFTA nationals will remain unchanged. The authorities will allocate 500 long term (B) permits and 3000 short term (L) permits.

ITALY – IMMIGRATION BILL TO ABOLISH VARIOUS PERMIT OPTIONS FOR MIGRANTS

The Italian government has adopted an immigration security bill that will end key forms of protection for migrants.  The law was passed by the coalition government on 24 September and is now under review by Italian Parliament.

The decree, drafted by Matteo Salvini, Minister of the Interior in Italy, abolishes the “humanitarian protection” permits and replaces them with “special permits”. These will now only be granted to people in limited circumstances: victims of serious exploitation, victims of domestic violence, people whose country of origin has been hit by disaster, people needing medical treatment and those who have performed acts of high civic value.

The decree has also introduced amendments to the citizenship law by extending the duration the State is allowed to process naturalization requests from 24 to 48 months.

Further, people who have acquired Italian citizenship through marriage or naturalization and who were convicted of offences related to terrorism or public security might see their citizenship revoked.

EUROPEAN UNION – SMART BORDERS SYSTEM PROPOSALS ANNOUNCED BY EUROPEAN COMMISSION

The European Commission has proposed a number of reforms aiming at moving further towards a “smart border” system. The key components of the proposed reforms are:

  • An entry-exit system for the Schengen area, where passports and fingerprints are scanned on arrival as well as on departure from the Schengen area. This will result in electronic tracking of days spent in Schengen and automated checks in the database;
  • A registered travellers program, whereby travellers enrolled are given a card which they swipe at the gates on arrival and on departure allowing for a fully automated entry and exit process;
  • Registration and pre-screening of visa waived nationals through the European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS). This allows the visa-waived traveller to log onto a website and provide basic information online, which will then be verified through database checks. The approval will be granted if no red flags are identified.

The European Parliament is in the process of clarifying their positions with respect to these proposals and we expect further announcement to be released in due course.

Asia

SINGAPORE – ELECTRONIC ARRIVAL CARDS INTRODUCED FOR FOREIGN VISITORS

 Effective from 4 October 2018, Singapore’s Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) has introduced new electronic arrival cards for foreign visitors to Singapore. The change is intended to only affect business visitors but will not have an impact on Singaporean citizens, permanent residents, work pass holders and other long-term pass holders who are already exempt from submitting disembarkation and embarkation cards.

The process will be trialled for 3 months and is intended to replace the paper-based disembarkation and embarkation cards. When the electronic arrival card is fully implemented, travellers can submit their personal information and travel details through the ICA website or via a mobile phone app.

Americas

UNITED STATES – NEW CANNABIS LEGALIZATION TO IMPACT ON TRAVEL TO THE UNITED STATES

On the 17 October 2018, the Cannabis Act and a number of regulations and ministerial orders came into force, legalizing sale, possession and production of cannabis in Canada.

The possession, sale, distribution and production of cannabis is also legal in some of the U.S states, but because it remains illegal under the U.S. federal law, any association with use of cannabis or any involvement in the cannabis industry might have adverse effects on the entry to the U.S. Foreign nationals, who previously used cannabis or other banned substance may be found inadmissible to the United States. It could also mean that that Canadians, who work in the cannabis industry or whose travel is related to that industry, may also be deemed inadmissible.