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
Brazil Updates Its Immigration Law
For the first time in nearly 30 years, the Brazilian government published new laws amending the country’s immigration laws. On November 21, 2017, the Official Gazette set forth updated laws aimed at modernizing the country’s outdated immigration system. Most notably, the following changes were implemented:
- Visitor Visa – A new visa category for Brazil, the visitor visa will grant business travelers, tourists, artists, and athletes a visa with an initial authorized period of stay of 90 days, which may be extended for an additional period of 90 days (for a total cumulative period of stay not to exceed 180 days in a 12-month period).
- Temporary Visa – The temporary visa is for individuals, such as foreign workers, seeking to temporarily reside in Brazil for an extended period. Prior to applying for a temporary visa at the Brazilian consulate, foreign workers who require a temporary visa must obtain residency authorization with the Ministry of Labor
- E-Visa – The Ministry of Foreign Affairs will offer e-visa processing based on established reciprocity schedules.
- Electronic Immigrant ID Cards – Any temporary visa holder must register with the local federal police within 90 days of arrival in Brazil. Temporary residents residing in Brazil must complete the registration process within 30 days of the new law taking effect or 30 days after arrival in Brazil.
In addition to the changes highlighted above, penalties for visa fraud or misuse or illegal status will increase significantly. For individuals, the fine will be from R$100 to R$10,000 Brazilian (approximately US$30 and US$3,070) while companies may be subject to fines ranging from R$1,000 to R$1,000,000.
Authorities are provided 12 months to adopt and begin implementing the new laws, processes, and procedures.
US Supreme Court Order Allows Third Trump Travel Ban to Take Effect
On Monday, December 4, 2017, the Supreme Court lifted two lower court orders that had prevented the third in a series of presidential travel bans from taking effect. Issued on September 24, 2017, the “Presidential Proclamation Enhancing Vetting Capabilities and Processes for Detecting Attempted Entry Into the United States by Terrorists or Other Public-Safety Threats” imposes nationality-based travel restrictions as a result of the worldwide review conducted by the secretary of homeland security, in consultation with the secretary of state and the director of national security, as required by Section 2(b) of Executive Order 13780. The country-specific restrictions affect travel to the United States by nationals of Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen and certain employees of the Venezuelan government.
Implementation of the travel ban had been enjoined by order of federal district courts in Maryland and Hawaii in October. Litigation on the constitutionality of the travel ban remains ongoing.
Hong Kong Immigration Department Updates Authorized Activities for Visitors
On September 27, 2017, the Hong Kong Immigration Department (“HKID”) updated its website to include a new paragraph under conditions of stay for visitors, stating that visitors may now attend an event to deliver a speech or presentation subject to the following conditions:
- He or she will not be remunerated for speaking/presenting at the event (other than through the provision of accommodation, transportation, meals, etc., relating to the event, or the reimbursement of such expenses);
- The duration of the event should not exceed seven days; and
- He or she can only attend one such event to deliver speech(es)/presentation(s) during each period of permitted stay.
In addition to updating its website, the HKID has also amended its “Guidebook for Entry for Visit/Transit in Hong Kong.”
Program Implemented to Help Foreign Workers Adapt to Singaporean Life
Starting in 2018, foreign work permit holders will be required to participate in a mandatory “Settling-In Programme” aimed at helping foreign workers adjust to living and working in Singapore. The program will help newcomers understand Singaporean society, employment rights, and legal obligations. The program will be implemented on a rolling basis, initially targeting specific industries before expanding to all foreign workers. Employers will be responsible for registering their foreign workforce and paying the program registration fee.
Additional Visa Services Restored for US Citizens
The Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs (“MFA”) has begun issuing business and tourist visas to US citizens at its consular posts in the United States. Those seeking visas under “limited circumstances,” including those seeking visas for medical purposes, family emergencies, international conferences, or sporting events, can apply in person without an appointment. All other applicants must use the MFA online visa appointment system. Due to the lengthy interruption in visa processing in the preceding months, backlogs and longer processing times are anticipated.
Brexit Negotiators Issue Joint Report on Status of Negotiations
On December 8, 2017, European Union and United Kingdom negotiators released a joint report on the progress made during the first phase of negotiations under Article 50 on the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. The non-binding joint report indicates no change to the previously announced withdrawal date of March 29, 2019, and outlines the following:
- Rights of UK citizens in the EU and EU citizens in the UK.
- UK citizens in the EU and EU citizens in the UK, as well as certain dependent family members, will have a right to remain in the host state if they legally reside in the host state by the withdrawal date.
- Following the UK’s withdrawal, all UK and EU nationals and their dependent family members must submit an application to confirm their immigration status by March 29, 2021.
- Certain dependent family members of EU citizens or UK national right holders not residing in the host state by the withdrawal date will be able to join the citizen/right holder after the withdrawal date for the citizen’s/right holder’s lifetime.
- EU and UK nationals who lawfully reside in a host country for five continuous years before the withdrawal date will acquire permanent residency or settled status subject to background checks. Applicants who were residents for less than the qualifying five years will be given temporary status until they have five years of continuous residence. EU and UK nationals who acquire permanent residence rights in the host state can be absent from its territory for a period not exceeding five consecutive years without losing the right to residence.
- A framework for addressing Northern Ireland and its land border with Ireland.
- The Belfast Agreement reached on April 10, 1998, between the UK and Irish governments will remain in force. Irish citizens will be exempt from the registration and settlement provisions described above.
- The UK remains committed to avoiding a “hard [Irish] border.”
- UK-EU financial settlement.
- The report provides a framework for how the UK’s EU exit fees will be calculated. Initial estimates of the settlement range from £35 billion to £39 billion.
- The UK will continue to make financial contributions to the EU until the end of 2020. This includes the UK contributing its share of EU liabilities incurred before December 31, 2020. While not noted in the report, this time period reflects a transition period from March 2019 to December 2020.