KN Global Immigration Update – February and March 2021

19 March 2021


Coronavirus Outbreak Restrictions

Coronavirus related travel restrictions and quarantine measures continue to affect immigration around the world. Many jurisdictions have implemented extension policies and concessions and almost all jurisdictions have implemented restrictions on travel or entry for people who are travelling from places where the virus has been widespread. Health officials for many countries have advised against non-essential international travel generally or to specific places where the outbreak is said to be severe. Individuals are advised to check the respective government websites for the latest official information on closures of visa application centres as well as entry restrictions ahead of their travel.




Permission for UK business visitors to engage in some activities without a work permit
UK national business visitors are allowed to conduct activities in Belgium based on the EU-UK Free Trade Agreement. The range of activities they can engage in is greater than what is generally permitted for business visitors. British business visitors are permitted to engage in technical, scientific and statistical research; receive training in techniques and work practices; and attend trade fairs, amongst other activities without needing to acquire a work permit.



Suspension of entry visa processing
Entry visa processing has been suspended for those hoping to travel to Ireland, subject to some exceptions. Whilst online applications can be submitted, they will not be completed until further notice.



New temporary stay permit without the need for sponsorship
Croatia has introduced a temporary stay permit where foreign nationals can apply for a one year visa without the need for sponsorship by a local company. This will enable foreign nationals to reside and work remotely from Croatia. 


Asia - Pacific



Tightening of requirements for working Dependant’s Pass holders
From 1 May 2021, Dependant’s Pass holders will need to apply for a Work Pass in order to work in Singapore. Dependant’s Pass holders who are business owners and create local employment will be exempt from this requirement. Those who have permission to work under the current system will be able to rely on their Letter of Consent until it expires however they will then need to apply for a Work Pass as per the new system. Employers will need to be conscious of various conditions attached to the new Work Passes such as qualifying salaries, employee quotas and levies.



Shanghai relaxes eligibility requirements for Work Permits
Eligibility requirements for Shanghai Work Permit applications have been relaxed with a focus on attracting foreign nationals who work in scientific, technological, and innovative/entrepreneurial occupations.

Strengthening enforcement for Work Permit applications
China is planning increased enforcement measures for Work Permit applications under the Employment Trust Program.

Updated portal for Work Permit applications
A new portal has been launched under the Ministry of Science and Technology’s Service Platform in order to integrate Work Permit applications for foreign nationals with other government services. The new portal will be used by companies registering and submitting Work Permit applications for foreign nationals.


North America



Border crossings restrictions extended
Crossings of the US/Canada and US/Mexico borders will continue to be restricted to essential only travel until 21 March 2021.

Trump’s travel bans lifted by President Biden
On election, President Biden lifted two nationality based travel bans that had been issued by the Trump administration. Restrictions on visa issuance to nationals of Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Venezuela and Yemen have been lifted, as have immigrant visa restrictions imposed on nationals of Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, Myanmar, Nigeria, Sudan, and Tanzania.

President Biden presents immigration reform to Congress
In Mid-February President Biden introduced his immigration reform bill to Congress. Its prospects of success remain unclear. Plans are being made for the reconsideration of visas denied under the travel ban and how past denials under the ban will not prejudice future applications.



High numbers of permanent residence invitations issued
An unprecedented number of candidates from the Canadian Experience Class pool have been invited to apply for permanent residence by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada.


Middle East

Saudi Arabia


New examination requirement for foreign workers in numerous occupations
In July 2021, an initiative is being launched in Saudi Arabia which will require foreign workers in over 1,000 professions to undertake an examination to show that they are qualified to undertake their role. It is anticipated that this will limit the number of unskilled workers in the labour market and discourage the employment of foreign nationals as a result of the increased administrative burden it brings.





Revision of Gainful Occupation Permit framework to open labour market
The Gainful Occupation Permit framework has been revised by the Seychelles government to encourage access to the labour market for local workers, whilst the country embraces economic recovery.

South Africa


Potential widening of Critical Skills Visa eligibility
A public consultation is under way in response to the possibility of additional professions being added to a list of ‘critical skills’, which will widen the pool from which people who can apply for a Critical Skills Visa to work in South Africa. The Critical Skills Visa is a work permit which is valid for up to 5 years.



Please note that all immigration rules are subject to change and while correct at the time of publication, they should not be relied on as legal advice or a statement of accuracy at a later date.

For more information please do not hesitate to contact a member of the immigration team.

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