KN Global immigration update - September 2017

11 September 2017

September 2017

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.


European union - update on proposed changes to eu blue card

A number of proposals have been put forward by the European Parliament Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs in relation to the new EU Blue Card Directive. The aim of these amendments is to attract and retain highly skilled workers within the EU, whilst promoting mobility. 

The major changes involve:
  • All similar national schemes that are parallel to the EU Blue Card Directive will be abolished to create certainty. 
  • Qualifying criteria will include formal educational qualification as well as a valid employment contract or binding job offer for at least 9 months.
  • The salary threshold should be between 1.0 and 1.4 times higher than the average gross annual salary in the member state concerned.
  • The Blue Card should be valid for at least 36 months (renewable for 36 months). If the employment contract is shorter, its validity should mirror the length of the contract, plus an additional 3 months.
  • After notifying the Commission, member states can conduct labour market tests only when there is a high level of unemployment in a given sector.
  • A decision on approval of the application shall be notified within 30 days after submission.
  • Short term mobility will be authorised on the basis of the Blue Card issued (business activities in one or several member states for up to 90 days in any 180 days period).
  • Long term mobility can be authorised after 12 months of residence in the state that has issued the Blue Card.


cyprus - eu posted worker directive implemented

Cyprus has implemented the 2014 EU Directive (2014/67) on the posting of workers. Employers sponsoring posted workers in Cyprus must now notify the Ministry of Labour with the following details:
  • Name and address of the host entity in Cyprus;
  • Name of the person responsible for the posted worker(s) in Cyprus;
  • Address where the posted worker will offer their services;
  • Name and address of the entity where services will be provided; 
  • Start and end date of the employment; 
  • Nature of work to be carried out by the individual; and
  • Whether there are other employees in Cyprus with the same terms and conditions of employment.
Employers must notify the Ministry one month before the work contract terminates if they are looking to renew their contract, as prior consent must be obtained.


switzerland - l AND b permits quota filled for the third quarter of 2017

The quota for L and B Permits for EU nationals for the third quarter of 2017 has now been exhausted. EU nationals, who intend to go on assignment to Switzerland, must wait until 1st October 2017 when the new set of quotas for the fourth quarter is released. 
Permit types, including the 120 day permit and the 4 month short term permit, are not affected by this quota system. Quotas for non-EU/EFTA nationals also remain unaffected.
Below is an update from key cantons regarding how the quotas are being dealt with:
Authorities will grant permit approvals for the remainer of the month (if the applicant has not already used 4 months in the past 12 months). From mid-September 2017, an applicant can ask for a quota-based permit for the duration after expiration of that month. Their application should then join the applications which fall under the next quarter from 1st October 2017.
The authorities will establish a preliminary decision which will allow assignees to start work. The quota will be issued on 1st October 2017.
The authorities will establish a preliminary decision which will allow assignees to start work. The quota will be issued on 1st October 2017.
Please contact Kingsley Napley for updates if you wish to send an employee to a canton in Switzerland that's not mentioned in the above list.


austria - eu ict permit to be implemented in October 2017

The Austrian immigration authorities have confirmed that short term intra-EU mobility under the EU Intracompany Transferee Directive 2014/66 (EU ICT Permit) will be enforceable in Austria from 1st October 2017.   The ICT directive will allow non-EU/EEA individuals who are qualified managers, specialists and graduate trainees to work in Austria or any of the EU countries implementing the directive on a temporary basis, provided that salary and work requirements are complied with.

Managers and specialists who have worked at the sending entity for at least 9 months (and at least 6 months for graduate trainees) will be suitable for the EU ICT permit, should the host company send them to a linked corporate entity. 

Applicants must meet the minimum salary and employment/social insurance conditions in Austria.

The EU ICT permits can be issued for an initial duration of up to 3 years for managers and specialists and up to 1 year for trainees. After this period, foreign nationals must leave Austria and can only apply for another ICT permit from their own country after a 4 month cooling off period. 


Asia Pacific

new zealand - essential skills visa changes

Immigration authorities in New Zealand have implemented changes under the ‘Kiwi First’ campaign. These changes will amend the Essential Skills work visa programme. 
The following changes are scheduled to occur:

1) Introducing a remuneration band to align with salary thresholds: 

  • Applicants earning less than NZ$41,538 per year will be considered lower skilled 
  • Applicants who earn between NZ$41,538 and NZ$73,299 per year will be considered to be mid-skilled (as long as they are in an occupation that is classified as ANZSCO Level 1-3).
  • Applicants earning more than NZ$73,299 per year will be considered higher skilled
2) Lower skilled visa holders will only be allowed to remain in New Zealand for a maximum of 3 years before they have to spend 12 months outside of the country. After this, the individual can apply again for another lower skilled position under the Essential Skills visa.
3) Lower skilled visa holders will be prohibited from bringing their family members as dependants. However, family members can apply for short stay visitor visas. 


Malaysia - reclassification of employment pass categories confirmed and e-Visa Program Expanded to Include Work Visas 

Reclassification of Employment Pass categories confirmed

The salary threshold to qualify for various Employment Pass categories has now been amended.

Effective from 1st September 2017, the minimum salary level to qualify for the Category 1 Employment Pass (‘EP’) has increased from MYR 5,000 to MYR 10,000 per month.  Applicants can now apply for an EP for a maximum duration of 5 years.

The minimum salary level to qualify for the Category 2 EP remains at MYR 5,000 per month.  Applicant can apply for an EP for a maximum duration of 2 years.
eVisa Program Expanded to Include Work Visas 
The eVisa facility introduced by the government-appointed agency, Window Malaysia, has been expanded to include an eVisa for Expatriate function for employees sent to Malaysia on work assignments. Window Malaysia is a visa agency which aims to process and approve eVisas within 2 working days.
The new eVisa for Expatriate is an online version of the Visa with Reference (VDR) which is generally required to allow applicants to enter Malaysia for work purposes. The online application must be backed by a Visa Approval Letter from the Malaysian immigration department. This approval letter gives the applicant permission to work with an Employment Pass or Professional Visit Pass.
Once approved, the eVisa must be presented with the visa approval letter when entering Malaysia. The eVisa is valid for 3 months from its issue date and is suitable for stays of up to 30 days. Within this time the eVisa holder must have their pre-approved Employment Pass.


Japan - permanent residence requirements simplified for highly skilled workers

Shorter residency requirements have been introduced in Japan for highly-skilled foreign workers who apply for permanent residence (‘PR’).  The aim of this is to attract highly skilled talent from abroad. Foreign workers who score over 70 points in the points based eligibility system will be able to apply for PR after 3 years of residency in Japan. Additionally those who score 80 points or more will be eligible for PR in 1 year. 

Applicants must be foreign qualified nationals who hold any visa category and meet the required points criteria in order to be eligible. These requirements only apply to the main applicant and not their dependant families. Applicants that can benefit from these shortened requirements must hold the necessary documents, which includes evidence of their academic qualifications and evidence of their annual salary.


Singapore - virtual work pass to be introduced


The Ministry of Manpower has announced proposed changes to the format of work pass cards. Quick Response (‘QR’) codes will be introduced and incorporated into a free SGWorkPass mobile application that can be downloaded.  The purpose of this is to allow employees to check their work status on smartphones. Users without smartphones will still be able to access work passes and Employment Passes online.

The Ministry of Manpower is expected to implement the virtual work pass in three stages on different dates depending on employment sector.  Both employer and employee will be able to access virtual work pass information.  The new format is expected to be fully integrated by Spring 2018. 

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