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: Department of Homeland Security Granted Extension to Issue Final Rule Affecting Student Visa Holders

  • On January 23, 2016, the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was granted an additional 90 days from February 12, 2016, by the US District Court for the District of Columbia, to revise the proposed rule allowing F-1 students in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) to work under Optional Practical Training (OPT).
  • DHS now has until May 10, 2016, to issue a final rule for STEM OPT extensions.


China: Shanghai, Jiangsu, and Zhejiang Implement 144-Hour Visa-Free Transit Policy

  • The Ministry of Public Security announced that, effective January 30, 2016, Shanghai, Jiangsu province, and Zhejiang province will implement a 144-hour, or six-day, visa-free transit policy for foreign business travelers and tourists from 51 countries. Eligible travelers must have valid international travel documents and return flight tickets.
  • This expands a 2013 policy in two ways. First, it expands the length of a visa-free stay from 72 hours, or three days, to 144 hours or six days. Second, in addition to airport arrivals, it allows travelers to arrive at a port or railway station in any of the three locations.

Foreign Family Members of Chinese Nationals Granted Longer-Term Residence Permits

  • The Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau announced on January 26, 2016, that foreign family members of Chinese nationals are now eligible for a two-year residence permit. Previously, foreign family members were only granted one-year permits and were required to renew the permits on an annual basis. The two-year residence permits are renewable.

Philippines: Alien Certificate of Registration I-Card Holders Must Complete Annual Report by March 3, 2016

  • Foreign nationals in the Philippines who hold an Alien Certificate of Registration I-Card (ACR I-Card) are required to report to the Philippines Bureau of Immigration on an annual basis. The 2016 annual report must be completed by March 3, 2016.


Turkey: 2016 Minimum Wage Levels Announced for Foreign Employees

  • The Turkish Labor Ministry has announced the 2016 minimum wage levels for foreign employees who have received work permits under the sponsorship of Turkish employers. The gross minimum monthly wage has been set at TL1,647 (approx. US$557), while the net minimum monthly wage has been set at TL1,300.99 (approx. US$440).
  • Wage levels that exceed the minimum wage are also established for five categories of job positions.

United Kingdom: Migration Advisory Committee Releases Recommendations on Tier 2 Visas

  • The UK’s Migration Advisory Committee has released its recommendations on revising the Tier 2 visa category. Recommendations include:
    • Raising the minimum salary thresholds;
    • Introducing an immigration skills charge; and
    • Modifying the Intra-Company Transfer route by moving third-party contracting to a separate route and raising the minimum salary threshold.
  • The committee did not recommend restricting the Tier 2 (general) category to occupations on the expanded shortage occupation list or restricting the rights of dependents to work.

Middle East

United Arab Emirates: Visitors May Change to Residence Permit Status In-Country

  • Effective January 3, 2016, foreign visitors who are already in the UAE may change the status of their UAE entry permits to residence permits. This in-country change of status procedure replaces the prior model where visitors seeking to change their immigration status to become resident workers were required to exit and re-enter the UAE with residence permits obtained offshore.
  • The new rule also applies to the spouses of foreign visitors and other foreign nationals seeking to change the terms of their entry permits to that of a residence permit.