In these global immigration updates, we provide brief updates 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.
France - tech visa available for start-up companies
Start-up founders, investors and employees are able to apply for a fast track Tech Visa which enables qualifying talent to obtain a ‘Passeport Talent’ residence permit in France. This residence permit allows the individual and their immediate family to reside in France for up to four years without the need for an additional work permit document.
The criteria for the Tech Visa are:
The start-up founder will qualify for the Tech Visa if:
- They have financial resources at least equal to the French minimum wage of €17,763.20 as of 1 January 2017;
- They plan to develop the start-up project in France; and
- The project has been approved by a French Public organisation (Direccte).
For an applicant to qualify as a business investor, the applicant must be recruited by a venture capital firm in France, or:
- Invest at least €300,000 in either fixed or tangible assets;
- Be investing either directly or through a company where they have at least a 30% shareholding;
- Own at least 10% of the company which they are investing in; and
- Create or protect jobs within the four years after their investment.
The employee must:
- Have graduated with a master’s degree or higher;
- Have a work contract for a minimum of three months with a French company which is eligible to recruit via the Tech Visa; and
- Have a annual salary of at least €35,526.40
Italy - New measures introduced to expedite visas for investors and start-up companies
The Italian authorities have introduced new measures to benefit foreign investors and start-up companies seeking to establish a presence in Italy. The new rules grant applicants direct access to immigration officers and include a priority service. They are intended to benefit individuals who:
- Enter and reside in Italy with the intention to benefit from the flat tax regime recently introduced; and
- Intend to establish an innovative start-up business in Italy.
Residence permit applications will also be reviewed with the option for an expedited process.
Netherlands - Work permit exemption for projects related to delivery of services and goods
Non-EU nationals may be eligible to apply for a work permit exemption which has been implemented for employees sent to the Netherlands to undertake specific projects involving collaboration between Dutch and foreign companies. This work authorisation will be valid for up to three years with the opportunity for renewal if the project requires ongoing work.
The following requirements are essential for the work permit waiver to apply:
- There must be a partnership or agreement between a Dutch and foreign company for a collaborative project concerning the delivery of goods, services or training;
- This project must have been approved by the Employee Insurance Agency (UWV);
- The foreign national must be undertaking specialised work that an EU, EEA or Swiss national cannot do due to lacking relevant experience or qualifications etc; and
- The foreign national will be paid no less than the Dutch minimum wage.
If eligible, non-EU nationals can undertake work on the project within two days of notification by the Dutch company to the UWV, without applying for a work permit. The exemption will not apply to foreign nationals staying over 90 days who qualify for the EU ICT Residence Permit.
Romania - EU Posted Worker Directive Implemented
Romania has implemented the 2014 EU directive (2014/67) on the posting of workers. Posted workers that have been sponsored by Romanian employers must now notify the Regional Labour Inspectorate (RLI).
EU/EEA based employers who post workers for assignments in Romania must inform the RLI at least one business day prior to the assignment start date.
The following information must be provided by the employer, in Romanian language:
- Details of the recipient institution, including confirmation of the district in which the institution is located;
- Details of the sending company, including their name, address and fiscal identification number;
- The name of the legal representative of the foreign company in Romania;
- Details of the representative in the Romanian company who will be the liaison with the labour authorities;
- The purpose and timescale of the assignment;
- Details of the posted worker, including name, date of birth, job title and Romanian ID number; and
- Non-EU assignees require a second declaration including details of the assignee.
Documents that must be retained by the employer in Romania
For at least three years after the employee’s posting, the Romanian company must keep certain documents. The Romanian company has an obligation to present these documents within 20 days should they be requested. These documents include hard/soft copies of:
- Original registered notification of the worker;
- Document that confirms the details of the liaison with the labour inspectorate authorities;
- Details of the worker’s work schedule; and
- Secondment letter for each posted worker (the Romanian notarised translation of the document must also be retained).
Belgium - Short-Term EU ICT provisions enforceable
The Belgian immigration authorities have confirmed that short term intra-EU mobility under the EU Intracompany Transferee Directive 2014/66 (EU ICT Permit) are now enforceable in Belgium.
Foreign nationals who hold an EU ICT Permit from another EU Member State are permitted to stay and work in Belgium for up to 90 days in any 180 day period.
The EU ICT Permit also allows the transferee to work for entities of the same organisation in other EU member states, for up to 90 days within a six-month period. If the transferee will exceed 90 days whilst completing intra-company work in an EU Member State they will be required to apply for a separate EU ICT Mobile Permit.
Czech Republic - New immigration laws to be implemented
New immigration laws will take effect on 15 August 2017 in the Czech Republic. These will include new work permit categories for intra-company transferees, foreign investors and seasonal workers. Additionally, the new laws will provide clarification on existing processes.
The following visas/permits will be affected:
- ICT permits;
- Employee cards;
- Investment based visas;
- Permanent residence cards;
- Temporary residence; and
- Long term visas
Included in the new immigration laws, the following are expected to take place:
- Czech Republic will implement the EU’s ICT directive. Applications for the EU ICT permit should be processed in 60-90 days.
- Investor visas are to be introduced for those who invest at least 75 million koruny and create at least 20 jobs.
- Certain in-country procedures will be permitted for visa and residence card applications. The existing law only allows first time visa or residence card applications to be made abroad at Czech embassies or consulates.
- Long term visa permits are to be created for seasonal workers, who come to the Czech Republic for up to six months. However, these workers who want to change jobs will then have to apply for an employment card or residence permit.
Greece - EU Posted Worker Directive implemented
Greece has implemented the 2014 EU Directive (2014/67) on the posting of workers. This directive will impose requirements on companies that send or receive temporary workers to Greece.
Employers must now notify the appropriate labour inspectorate’s office on or before the worker’s first day working in Greece. The notification must include the worker’s identification details, information regarding the sending and host companies as well as confirmation of the local representative who will act as a liaison between the authorities. The host company must retain certain documents on their files such as employment contracts, proof of salary payment and timesheets.
Notifications must be submitted in writing by the employer or the authorised representative at the Labour Inspectorate’s office. The information that must be included on this notification includes the employee's:
- Passport number
- Related work experience
- Tax number
- Telephone number
- General commercial registry number
Details about the sending company’s legal representative must also be included.
Israel - New Innovation Visa
Foreign entrepreneurs can now utilise the recently implemented Innovation Visa in Israel which will be trialled for a 3 year period. This new visa category will allow entrepreneurs to remain in Israel for up to 2 years with the support of a local incubator programme to help develop their innovative business plan. Applications can be submitted to one of 12 organisations, through the Innovation Authority Website.
Those who are able to successfully launch their company in Israel may be eligible to obtain an extended work authorisation once their initial authorisation is over. If the project is successful, there will be the possibility for applicants to obtain expert visas valid for up to five years.
South Africa - Immigration system to be overhauled
The South African government has released a White Paper that provides a policy framework that will significantly overhaul and review the country’s existing immigration system.
Planned changes are expected to take place within the next two years.
These will include:
- A points based system – The White Paper proposed the work permit system to be points based, combined with a critical skills list or quotas. The scoring criteria will be based on various factors, including work experience, business sector and qualifications of workers;
- Permanent residency will be replaced with long term resident visas – long term resident visas are to be fast tracked for foreign nationals with in-demand skills, business or investment funds;
- Introduction of student residence visas – International students can be granted resident permits upon graduation to encourage them to stay and therefore contribute to the economy; and
- Visa free travel for African nationals – This visa free regime is to allow African nationals to visit South Africa for up to 90 days. This visa free travel will be conditional on return agreements and security and information sharing agreements are in place.