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

FRANCE - NEW IMMIGRATION BILL ANNOUNCED

A new immigration bill has recently been signed by the French Parliament, implementing wide-ranging changes to immigration law in France. The Conseil d'État will complete a legal review of the new law over the next few weeks, and it is expected that the law will be enacted in mid-September. In summary, the changes are as follows:

  • Minor children – the process for obtaining and issuing travel documents for minor children will be simplified;
  • Expansion of Talent Passport policy - non-EU nationals working in research or higher education in another EU member state will be eligible to apply for the new Talent Passport category. This will allow permit holders to carry out some of their work in France. The Talent Passport category for innovative companies will also be expanded to include foreign nationals who could significantly participate in the French economy.
  • Work permit pre-authorisation system – certain companies will be able to obtain work permits for non-EEA nationals, with fewer documents and expedited processing times.
  • Intra-corporate transfers - applicants for seconded employee ICT cards must have at least six months experience before coming to France. This is a change from the previous system, which required only three months of experience. A six-month cooling off period has also been introduced, meaning that foreign nationals must leave France when their ICT card expires.
  • Students and researchers – On the basis of EU Directive 2016/801, a new residence permit will be created to enable recent graduates and researchers to look for employment or start a business in France.  Further, a new ‘student mobility’ category will allow students to study both in France and in another EU member state.

GERMANY – CLARIFICATION OF LEGAL STATUS FOR UK NATIONALS DURING BREXIT TRANSITION PERIOD

Germany has published a draft law clarifying the legal status of UK nationals after Brexit, the result of which would secure the rights of UK nationals in Germany during the transition period between 30 March 2019 and 31 December 2020. The draft law states that any reference to ‘EU countries’ contained in German laws will be taken to include the UK, meaning that UK nationals would not need a visa to enter, stay or work in Germany during this period.  

UK nationals who apply for naturalization in Germany prior to December 31, 2020 can continue to obtain dual UK and German citizenship, however, after December 31, 2020 they would be treated as non-EU nationals and would need to renounce their UK citizenship.

IRELAND – ONLINE RE-ENTRY VISA PROCESS TO BE REPLACED BY POSTAL SYSTEM

Effective, 3rd September, the online appointment system for re-entry visa applications will no longer be available.  After this date, re-entry visas can only be obtained by way of submitting a postal application. In-person appointments will only be available in circumstances deemed to be an emergency (for example, death of a family member; a letter from a hospital or GP; or the need to visit an unwell family member abroad).

It is expected that as a result of this change, processing times will increase beyond the current timeline of 5-6 weeks.

Africa

KENYA – CHANGES TO WORK PERMIT PROCESS ANNOUNCED

Between May and July 2018, Kenya ran a work permit verification programme which required foreign workers to attend the Department of Immigration Services in person. Following this, Kenya has announced the introduction of various changes, including a requirement for work permit applicants to wait for approval before entering the country. Factoring in the approval processing time, applicants should apply for work permit renewal at least three months prior to their permit expiring. Further changes include:

  • The issuance of strict guidelines for issuing work permits and the introduction of severe penalties for companies who employ workers without authorisation.  This includes fines for non-compliant employees;
  • A new telephone line has been set up for reporting cases of foreign workers working without permits with the purpose of aiding with compliance monitoring; and
  • Enforcement of the five-year duration of permits, particularly Entry Class D (Employment) permits.

Asia

CHINA - WORK PERMIT REQUIREMENTS WAIVED FOR HONG KONG, TAIWAN AND MACAO RESIDENTS

China’s State Council has announced that residents of Hong Kong, Taiwan and Macao will no longer require permits to work in mainland China. It is expected that this new policy will be implemented nationwide over the next few months.  Cities including Guangzhou, Wuhan and Jiangmen have already stopped issuing work permits to these residents. The change will make it easier for employers to employ residents of Hong Kong, Taiwan and Macao and will enable employers to assign workers to third-party employers. At present, employees are limited to working for the company sponsoring their work permit.  A mandatory registration process is expected to be implemented in place of the work permit requirement, further details on this are expected to be confirmed in due course.

INDONESIA – DELAYS TO INTRODUCTION OF NEW ONLINE SYSTEM

In July 2018, the Ministry of Manpower announced that it would be switching to a new online application process. The Ministry has now confirmed that the implementation of the new system will now be delayed until November 2018. Until 31 October 2018, applicants will therefore need to continue submitting applications via the current online system. In the meantime, applicants have also been warned to expect delays while authorities prepare for the switch to the new system.

THAILAND – SINGLE WINDOW SYSTEM INTRODUCED FOR WORK PERMITS

Board of Investment promoted companies applying for work permits or for long-term visas at the Bangkok One-Stop Service Centre must now submit applications via the new ‘Single Window’ online system. This new system has been in place since 31 July 2018 and replaces the previous ‘e-Expert’ platform. Before the Single Window process was introduced, hardcopy permit booklets were issued to workers. Under the new system, however, Thailand Digital Work Permits will be available via an app, and the application process will require fewer documents to be provided in hardcopy.

Middle East

UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - VISA AMNESTY PROGRAMME ANNOUNCED

An amnesty programme has been introduced for those who have violated immigration law in the UAE. The amnesty only covers infractions prior to 1st August 2018 and will run until 31st October 2018. During this period, individuals who live in the UAE without documentation will be allowed to either regularise their status or leave the country without any penalties. Those who overstay their visa and would like to seek a job can obtain a six-month temporary visa and can register with the virtual job market available on the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation website. Individuals who entered the country illegally will be allowed to leave the country and only have a two-year entry ban against them. Nationals of countries suffering from wars and disasters can access a residence visa for one year. Finally, widows or divorced women will have their visas extended for one year without a need for a sponsor. Individuals who are blacklisted or are in the midst of legal proceedings against them are not eligible for amnesty.

Those wishing to apply for the amnesty program can do so through General Directorate of Residency and Foreign Affairs (‘GDRFA’) offices across the country. Individuals who want to exit the country can get an exit permit for AED 220 at their nearest GDRFA office. To get this exit permit individuals must provide their original passport and a plane ticket to their new destination. Those without passports may also apply using a medical report or letter from their country’s embassy.  Those who wish to stay in the country and regularise their status can approach the nearest GDRFA office to request such a change and must pay a fee of AED 500.