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.


United States: Proposed Enhancements to the Visa Waiver Program

  • On December 8, 2015, in response to President Obama’s call for changes to the Visa Waiver Program, the US House of Representatives passed the Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act of 2015. Among other things, the bill would:
    • Require all foreign nationals arriving in the United States on visa waiver to possess a machine-readable, tamper-proof electronic passport;
    • Prohibit entry into the United States through the visa waiver program by any foreign nationals who, during the past five years, have traveled to Iraq, Syria or any other country designated by the US Department of State as being a supporter of terrorism; and
    • Allow the Department of Homeland Security to suspend from the visa waiver program any country that the Department determines is failing to adhere to information sharing and other compliance requirements.


Malaysia: Expatriate Projections for 2016

  • On November 15, 2015, the Expatriate Services Division began accepting employer projections of expatriates for 2016. The projections are being processed within 5-10 business days and must be approved before employers may apply for individual Employment Passes for foreign national employees.
  • The yearly projections require employers to plan and estimate the number of foreign nationals, both new and existing, who will be required based on the company’s business plan and project requirements.

Taiwan: Work Permit Eligibility Requirements to be Eased for Certain Foreign Nationals

  • The Minister of Labor has announced that work permit eligibility requirements applied to foreign nationals in white-collar positions will be eased at the end of 2015. The eligibility requirements under review include prior work experience of two years, minimum salary and a paid-in capital for the sponsoring employer.


European Union Signs Visa Waiver Agreement with Colombia

  • On December 3, 2015, a short-stay visa waiver agreement between Colombia and the European Union (EU) went into effect on a provisional basis. The agreement allows visa-free travel between the EU and Colombia for a period of up to 90 days within any 180 day period.
  • Permanent implementation of the agreement is subject to the approval of the agreement by each member country’s national parliament. The United Kingdom and Ireland are not included in the agreement.

Council of the European Union Makes Recommendations on Border Controls

  • In the wake of the terrorist attacks in Paris, France, the Council of the European Union made several recommendations for strengthening border controls and enhancing overall security. The recommendations include the following:
    • The immediate implementation of systematic checks at all Schengen area borders, including on individuals who have the right of freedom of movement within the Schengen area.
    • The systematic registration, including biometrics, of all third-country nationals illegally entering the Schengen area either as migrants or as applicants for asylum, and performing security checks utilizing all relevant databases including Interpol, Europol and national police databases.

Spain: Expanded Definition of “Dependent”

  • Effective December 9, 2015, Spain expanded the definition of dependents for European Union/European Economic Area (EU/EEA) citizens as defined by Royal Decree 240/2007. The Decree defines dependents as a spouse, “spouse equivalent” or common law partner, children, and parents of the spouse.