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.


Regional: Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Announces Extension of Business Travel Card Validity

  • Effective September 1, 2015, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Business Travel Card will be valid for a period of five years. Previously, APEC Business Travel Cards were valid for a period of three years.
  • The APEC Business Travel Card is available to all citizens of the APEC member countries and grants such benefits as shorts stays in member countries, the right of multiple entry and priority lane access at immigration checkpoints in member countries’ airports.

Australia: Visa Stamps No Longer Issued in Favor of Electronic Visas

  • Effective September 1, 2015, visa stamps (also referred to as visa labels) will no longer be issued in the passports of visa applicants. All visa records will be issued and stored electronically, with records accessible free of charge on the Australian government’s Visa Entitlement Verification Online website.

China: Improved Visa Processing Time in Beijing

  • In August 2015, the Beijing municipal Public Security Bureau reduced the processing time for a Residence Permit application in Beijing from 15 to 10 days.


Ireland: Changes to Occupations Eligible for Employment Permits and Other Procedural Updates

  • Effective September 1, 2015, the following occupations have been added to the Highly Skilled Eligible Occupations List: radiation therapists, orthotists and prosthetists.  Meanwhile, healthcare practice managers and senior social services managers and directors have been removed from the Eligible List.
  • Based on skills deemed in short supply in the Irish labor market, the following occupations have been removed from the list of Ineligible Categories of Employment: telecommunications engineers, IT engineers, chiropractors, mobility instructors for the visually impaired and meat boners. Conversely, betting shop managers, graphic design managers, library managers, plant hire managers, production managers and property, housing and estate mangers have been added to the Ineligible List; these occupations are now not eligible for employment permits.
  • Several procedural changes also went into effect on September 1, 2015.
  • Applicants renewing their employment permits need a passport that is valid for three months instead of 12 months. First-time applicants still need to present a passport with at least 12 months of validity as part of their application.
  • Occupational therapists, speech and language therapists and dieticians must register with Health and Social Care Professionals (CORU) before they will granted an employment permit.
  • Effective August 31, 2015, new application forms were issued for new and renewal employment permits, dismissal notification due to redundancy or change of name and requests for the review of a decision.

Middle East

Israel: Visa Waiver Agreement Reached with Belarus

  • Effective September 1, 2015, citizens of Belarus may enter Israel for tourism or business without a visa as part of the implementation of a September 2014 agreement abolishing the need for visas for citizens of Belarus and Israel.
  • Under this new visa waiver program, Israeli citizens may enter Belarus without a visa for tourism or business beginning November 26, 2015.

Saudi Arabia: List of Job Positions Denied to Foreign Workers Repeated

  • In August 2015, the Saudi Arabian Labor Ministry identified a list of 19 job positions that may not held by foreign nationals. These are substantively the same 19 positions identified by the Labor Ministry in 2013 as being reserved for Saudi nationals.
  • The list of positions includes chief administrator of human resources, director of labor affairs, director of personnel relations and a number of less-senior jobs.
  • Because this is the same list of job positions published in 2013, employers are not expected to experience any material change in visa sponsorship for foreign workers.

United Arab Emirates: New Online Portal for Visa Applications for Gulf Cooperation Council Citizens

  • The Ministry of Interior announced in August 2015 that residents of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) may now apply for entry visas to the UAE through a new online portal called “Fawri.” This new portal is designed to expedite traveler movement across the UAE’s entry points and streamline the visa process for travelers before arrival in the UAE.
  • The GCC is comprised of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE.