The United States and Turkey have resumed full visa services to each other’s citizens, after a diplomatic dispute prompted a visa suspension in October.

Brazil has released clarifications concerning its new immigration law, including information on changes to visa types, change of status and employer applications, and document legalization requirements.

Portugal and Denmark increased the minimum monthly salary for foreign workers effective January 1.

Kazakhstan has set its 2018 annual quota for foreign employees at 4.2%, the same as the 2017 quota. Ukraine introduced a biometric control system at all border checkpoints for all foreign nationals as part of increased security efforts.

Iraq has reinstated exit visa issuance at international airports for holders of entry visas and multi-entry-exit visas that expired before November 27.

These items and other news from Chile, Egypt, European Union, France, Italy, Panama, Tunisia, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates and the United States follow in this edition of the Fragomen Immigration Update.

Important Updates in Immigration This Week

United States/Turkey, January 2, 2018 Full Visa Services Resume in Both Countries

The Turkish Embassy in Washington and the U.S. Embassy in Ankara have announced that the two countries have resumed full visa services for each other’s citizens.

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Brazil, January 4, 2018 Further Details Released on New Immigration Law

The Brazilian government has published additional normative resolutions that provide clarifying details on the new immigration law, including information on changes to visa types, change of status and employer applications, and document legalization requirements.

To view entire article, click here.

Denmark, January 4, 2018 Minimum Salary Level Slightly Increased

Effective January 1, 2018, the minimum salary for foreign workers under the Pay Limit Scheme in Denmark has increased to DKK 417,793.60 gross per year, up 2.2 percent from last year.

To view entire article, click here.

Panama, January 3, 2018 Ministry of Labor Appearance to Be Required for Most Applicants

Effective December 27, 2017, foreign nationals in Panama (except Multinational Companies Visa - SEM visa holders) need to apply at the Ministry of Labor to submit biometrics and register their passport prior to obtaining or renewing a work permit. This process will apply once the registration system is open, which is expected to be on or after January 15, 2018. This extra step can take up to one day to complete.

To view entire article, click here.

Iraq, January 3, 2018 Faster Exit Visa Process Reinstated for Select Foreign Nationals

The Ministry of Interior has reinstated the process allowing holders of entry visas and multi-entry-exit visas that expired before November 27, 2017 to obtain an exit visa at an immigration counter at international airports in Federal Iraq.

To view entire article, click here.

Portugal, January 2, 2018 Minimum Salary Level Increased

Effective January 1, 2018, the minimum monthly salary for foreign workers in Portugal has increased to EUR 580, up 4 percent from last year.

To view entire article, click here.

Kazakhstan, January 2, 2018 National Quota Numbers for 2018 Released

The 2018 annual quota for foreign employees in Kazakhstan has been set at 4.2%, the same as the 2017 quota. Employers should apply for work permits in advance while the quota is still available, particularly for spots in activities with limited availability.

To view entire article, click here.

Ukraine, January 2, 2018 New Biometric Process to Delay Border Crossings

The Ukrainian State Border Service has introduced a biometric control system at all border checkpoints for all foreign nationals as part of increased security efforts. The extra steps may result in delays upon entry.

To view entire article, click here.

Weekly News Briefs

United States: Latest PERM and PWD Processing Times – As of December 31, 2017, the Department of Labor (DOL) was conducting analyst review for PERM applications filed in August 2017 or earlier, and processing audited cases filed in May 2017 or earlier. DOL is working on standard reconsideration requests submitted in December 2017 or earlier. There is no update on the government error queue, though these appear to be current.

DOL is issuing prevailing wage determinations for PERM and H-1B requests filed in October 2017. The agency has been processing PERM redeterminations requested in November 2017 and H-1B redeterminations requested in December 2017, and PERM and H-1B center director reviews requested in November 2017.

These reports are available on the iCERT home page.

Egypt: Longer Processing Times; Residence Permit Appearance May be Required

  • All applications: increased scrutiny. Foreign nationals will experience longer processing times for immigration applications in Egypt, following the observed more stringent security screening measures by the National Security Agency. Foreign nationals and their employers must account for additional time that is required to complete the immigration process in Egypt.
    • Background. Security screening for all nationalities can be conducted at various stages of the immigration process, including new work permit applications, final work permit issuance and residence permit endorsement.
  • Residence permit appearance.

European Union/European Economic Area: Full Visa Reciprocity With Canada Achieved; U.S. In Progress – The European Commission has confirmed that full visa reciprocity with Canada was achieved in December 2017.

  • Full visa reciprocity with Canada: Since December 2017, nationals of Bulgaria and Romania can enter Canada without a visa as business visitors or tourists for short-term stays up to six months. Full visa reciprocity between Canada and the European Union has thus been achieved.
  • No full reciprocity with the United States. Nationals of Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Poland and Romania are not yet included in the U.S. Visa Waiver Program. Therefore, nationals of these EU countries require a visa to travel to the United States. However, U.S. citizens have visa-free access to the entire Schengen Area and those countries above which are not part of the Schengen Area (Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus and Romania) for short-term travel.
    • Next steps. The European Commission is not currently considering suspending visa-free access for U.S. citizens to the European Union, as this would be counterproductive to ongoing diplomatic efforts. The Commission plans to publish another report on future developments in autumn 2018.

European Union: Review of Visa-Free Access to European Union for Nationals of Western Balkans and Eastern Partnership Countries – The European Commission has confirmed that the Western Balkan countries (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia) and the Eastern Partnership countries (Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine) continue to fulfil the requirements for visa free access to the European Union. It did, however, specify areas of improvement, particularly in the field of corruption and organized crime, to ensure continued fulfilment of the requirements in the future. This review is part of a strengthened monitoring and reporting mechanism.

France: Posted Worker Tax Will Not Go Into Effect – The posted worker tax of EUR 40, which was expected to be implemented on January 1, 2018, will not go into effect as planned. The fee was retracted over concerns that it was not compatible with European law and was an unjustified protectionist measure. A decree removing the payment of the fee is expected to be published this month.

Italy: 2018 Quota Expected Mid-January – The Italian government has set the work authorization quota for 2018 at 30,850, unchanged from the 2017 quota. The quota will become available once the government decree is officially published, which is expected to happen mid-January. New immigration applications requiring quota numbers can only be processed once the decree is published. Intracompany transfers and EU Blue Card applicants are not subject to the quota.

United Arab Emirates: Grenadian Passport Holders Eligible for Long-Term Visitor Visa-on-Arrival – Effective immediately, Grenadian passport holders are eligible for a long-term multiple-entry visitor visa-on-arrival. Previously, Grenadian passport holders had to obtain a visa prior to travelling to the United Arab Emirates. Grenadian nationals can enter the United Arab Emirates with fewer preparative steps, since they will no longer need to obtain a visa in advance. The visa allows for a maximum stay of up to 90 days, and it is valid for six months from the date of issue. The visa is free of charge.

United Arab Emirates/Tunisia: Immigration Restrictions for Female Tunisian NationalsAs of December 24, 2017, UAE authorities imposed immigration restrictions on select female nationals of Tunisia, preventing them from entering and transiting through the United Arab Emirates unless they hold a diplomatic passport or a residence visa issued by the United Arab Emirates. These restrictions, caused by security concerns, triggered a suspension of flights from Emirates Airlines into Tunisia. Potentially impacted persons should contact their airline to confirm any additional requirements or restrictions prior to travel.

  • Impact.
    • Affected foreign national should expect significant delays upon entering the United Arab Emirates, even if they hold valid visit or residence visas.
    • New visit and residence visa applicants in the United Arab Emirates may not be able to lodge their applications for the foreseeable future, following verbal advice received from the immigration authorities in Dubai.
    • Residence permit renewal applicants in the United Arab Emirates should expect delays and may have to provide additional documentary requirements to complete their immigration process.

United Arab Emirates/Chile/Ukraine: Chilean and Ukrainian Nationals Eligible for Visa-on-Arrival - Effective immediately, holders of biometric passports issued by Ukraine are eligible for a free short-term, 30-day, multiple-entry visitor visa-on-arrival. Additionally, Chilean passport holders are eligible for a free short-term multiple-entry visitor visa-on-arrival. The visa allows for a maximum stay of up to 30 days with a possibility of a one-time in-country extension. Previously, nationals of both countries were required to obtain a UAE visa prior to traveling.

Global Immigration News Links

  • A bill aimed at reforming the H-1B visa program, sponsored by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), is expected to go before Congress.
  • Three former homeland security secretaries warned congressional leaders that the window for legislative action to protect undocumented immigrants under the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program will close by the middle of January.
  • UK Prime Minister Theresa May continues to hold firm on plans to include foreign students in official immigration figures.