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.
Italy - NEW RULES FOR NON-EU/EEA STUDENTS AND RESEARCHERS
On 11 May 2018, Italy introduced new regulations regarding the entry and residence of third-country nationals for the purposes of research and study. The changes will come in to effect on 5 July 2018 and stem from EU Directive 2016/801, which require enhanced mobility rights for the purposes of research, study, training, voluntary service, exchange scheme, education projects and au pairing.
Specifically, the regulations permit researchers to remain in Italy for up to 12 months to find a job or set up a business once their research is complete. Students who hold valid permits covered by mobility agreements issued by other EU member states and who need to travel to Italy to carry out part of their studies are not required to apply for an Italian residence permit. Instead, they can stay in Italy for up to 360 days under the permit issued by the other EU member state. Similarly, researchers and their family members who hold a valid permit issued by another EU member state and who need to travel to Italy to carry out part of the research, can remain in Italy for up to 180 days in any 360-day period without applying for an Italian residence permit. The regulations also introduce shorter processing times for entry clearance, visas and permits for researchers.
Canada - CHANGES TO IMPAIRED DRIVING SENTENCES TO AFFECT ADMISSIBILITY TO CANADA
On 18 December 2018, Bill C-46 will come in to force in Canada. The effect of this bill will be to increase the sentencing provisions for the offence of driving while impaired. The current maximum sentence is a term of imprisonment of not more than five years. Bill C-46 will increase the maximum term to ten years. Consequently, those foreign nationals who are convicted of driving while impaired (either in Canada or abroad) will not be admitted to Canada on the grounds of ‘serious criminality’. Previously, the maximum possible sentence of five years’ imprisonment meant that the offence of driving while impaired fell under the ‘regular’ criminality threshold. This meant that those convicted of the offence either in Canada or abroad would be deemed rehabilitated 10 years after the sentence was completed, and could apply more easily for a Temporary Resident Permit (TRP) to overcome the regular criminality threshold in the short term.
However, when the offence of driving while impaired becomes a ‘serious’ criminal offence, applicants will no longer automatically be deemed rehabilitated 10 years after completing the sentence. For temporary residents, this will mean that they can only either apply for rehabilitation, or obtain a TRP. Permanent residents now risk losing their PR status and it is possible that this determination will be retrospectively applied.
Australia - GLOBAL TALENT SCHEME AVAILABLE FOR HIGH-SKILLED MIGRANTS
On 1 July 2018, Australia launched the Global Talent Scheme (GTS) pilot, which is intended to attract highly-skilled migrants and encourage innovation in Australia. The pilot scheme will run for 12 months. The GTS is a subclass of the Temporary Skills Shortage (TSS) visa, which was introduced in March 2018. The TSS was introduced to encourage foreign workers to fill temporary skills shortages on either a short or medium term basis, whilst the GTS specifically targets highly-skilled migrants.
The GTS comprises of two streams – the ‘start-up stream’ and ‘established business’ stream:
- Established businesses who are endorsed TSS sponsors or with an annual turnover of more than $4million AUD in the previous two years can sponsor highly skilled and experienced individuals for positions with earnings equivalent to the ‘Fair Work High Income Threshold’ ($145,400 AUD). Employers can sponsor up to 20 workers per year under the GTS.
- Start-ups in STEM (science, technology, engineering or mathematics) industries will need to be endorsed by the GTS advisory panel and must meet specified funding requirements. Start-ups can sponsor up to five workers per year under this scheme, and applicants must earn no less than $80,000 AUD per year.
Under both routes, employers will need to demonstrate that they prioritise the employment of Australians and that there will be skills to transfer to Australian workers as a result of the migrant being granted a visa. Applicants must have at least three years of relevant work experience.
Employers applying under the GTS will benefit from a simplified application procedure, faster processing times, and if successful, the applicant will be issued with a four year TSS visa. Applicants will be able to apply for permanent residence after three years.
Hong Kong - COURT OF FINAL APPEAL UPHOLDS RULING ON DEPENDENT STATUS FOR SAME-SEX SPOUSES
Further to our update from May 2018, Hong Kong’s Court of Final Appeal has dismissed an appeal from the Director of Immigration and upheld the Court of Appeal’s decision from September 2017, meaning that foreign national same-sex spouses of Hong Kong residents can now obtain visas equivalent to dependent visas. Importantly, the decision relates only to married spouses.
Hong Kong’s Immigration Department is now reviewing its policies, and is expected to announce changes to the rules to reflect this ruling.
India - E-VISA PROGRAMME EXPANDED WITH TWO NEW CATEGORIES
India is preparing for the introduction of two new e-visas for foreign nationals of over 160 countries. Already available in India are the e-Tourist, the e-Business and the e-Medical visas. The e-Conference and e-Medical Attendant visas would therefore be an extension to the existing e-visa programme, which was introduced in April 2017. The e-Conference visa covers foreign nationals who wish to visit India to attend government conferences, while the e-Medical Attendant visa is for foreign nationals accompanying other foreign nationals seeking medical treatment. It is proposed that the e-Conference visa will be valid for a single visit of up to 30 days, while the e-Medical Attendant visa will be valid for up to three entries in a 60-day period.
Taiwan - EXTENSION OF VISA-FREE TRAVEL FOR CERTAIN NATIONALITIES
Taiwan will be extending its visa free programme to nationals of Brunei, Thailand and the Philippines, who will be able to stay in Taiwan for up to 14 days for either business or tourism. The visa-free programme was initially set to expire on 31 July 2018, but has been extended until 31 July 2019. Under the previous scheme, nationals of Brunei and Thailand were eligible to stay for up to 30 days (with a visa). The visa-free scheme therefore sees a reduction in the number of days Brunei and Thai nationals can stay in Taiwan, but will facilitate business travel and tourism and it is also hoped that it will encourage investment and build relations with neighbouring countries in Asia.
United Arab Emirates - FREE ZONE BEGINS 24-HOUR VISA PROCESSING
The General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs has reached an agreement with the Jebel Ali Free Zone (JAFZA), whereby the Directorate will offer a 24-hour online processing service for work and residence visas. The streamlined processing system will apply to companies operating in JAFZA and the National Industries Park (NIP), with the aim of maintaining companies in, and attracting companies to, the free zone. The introduction of the 24-hour visa processing time is likely to lead to other free zone across Dubai and Abu Dhabi implementing similar measures to remain competitive in the region.