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.
H-1B Cap Exceeded
- For the fourth year in a row, the H-1B cap has been exceeded within the first five business days of the filing period. US Citizenship and Immigration Services received over 236,000 applications within those five days, significantly more than can be granted under the 65,000 regular cap and the 20,000 US Master’s cap.
- On April 9, 2016, USCIS conducted a random selection lottery to determine which of the 236,000 petitions will be adjudicated. Cases selected for adjudication and filed via premium processing will be processed beginning May 16, 2016.
For more information on this year’s H-1B Cap and alternative visas, please see our Legal Update.
Continued Government Protection of Local Labor
- Effective April 1, 2016, Singapore has amended the Employment Act (EA) as follows:
- Employers must issue itemized pay statements to all employees covered under the EA at least once per month and keep a record of all issued pay statements;
- Employers must memorialize Key Employment Terms in writing to all employees who have continuous employment with the employer of more than 14 days; and
- The Ministry of Manpower would treat minor infractions of the EA as civil infringements instead of criminal offenses.
EU Commission Recommends Eliminating Visa-Free Travel for US, Canadian and Brunei Citizens
- On April 12, 2016, the EU Commission recommended to the EU Parliament and the EU Council that visa-free travel for citizens of the United States, Canada and Brunei be suspended because these countries do not allow reciprocal visa-free travel by nationals of all 28 EU member states. For example, the United States does not allow visa-free travel to the United States by nationals of Poland, Cyprus, Croatia, Bulgaria and Romania. The EU Commission has requested that the Parliament and Council make a decision on the recommendation by July 12, 2016. If the Parliament and Council agree to the recommendation, it would be implemented within 90 days.
The Commission’s recommendation comes in response to a two-year deadline given to the United States to expand its visa waiver program to include the remaining EU nationals. The United States, however, has not expanded the program.
Experts agree, however, that is it unlikely that the European Union will move to eliminate visa-free travel for US citizens given the number of American visitors to the European Union and the tourism revenue that could be lost.
Changes to Sponsorship Withdrawal and New Documentary Requirements
- A recognized sponsor company that is eligible to sponsor highly skilled immigrants may now have its sponsorship status withdrawn if the company:
- Has not applied for any long-term entry visas or residence permits in the last three years and
- Is no longer sponsoring residence permits for foreign nationals.
Companies that have their sponsorship withdrawn may reapply for recognized sponsorship if they wish to sponsor highly skilled foreign nationals in the future.
- Requirements for submitting a business plan have changed and will likely add as much as six weeks to processing time. The Netherlands Enterprise Agency uses the plan to perform a points-based analysis on a company for solvability and continuity. Companies that have been established for less than 1.5 years may be exempt from submitting a business plan under certain circumstances.
Changes in Immigration Procedures Are Now in Effect
- Regulations previously announced by the Migration Directorate are now being enforced. Some of these regulations include the following:
- A visa that is not used within six months is invalid;
- Foreign nationals who overstay their visa but pay a penalty upon exiting Turkey should not be subject to a re-entry ban;
- Foreign nationals may apply for a Residence Permit up to 10 days after the expiration of a valid permit or visa; and
- A residence permit holder must now apply for a new permit upon relocation to another city. Previously, holders only needed to file an address amendment.
Free Movement of People Agreement Applied to Bulgaria and Romania
- Effective June 1, 2016, Bulgarian and Romanian nationals seeking to enter Switzerland and join the labor market will have the right to do so unrestricted, because the transitional period of the Free Movement of Persons Agreement expires on May 31, 2016. This means that the work permit quota for Bulgarian and Romanian nationals will be eliminated and companies may recruit Bulgarians and Romanians without first verifying that no person already in the Swiss labor market is available and qualified for the position. Under the safety clause, a work permit quota may be reintroduced for Bulgarian and Romanian nationals until May 31, 2019.
Revised Medical Requirements for Foreign Nationals
- All foreign nationals applying for new residence permits and renewals are now subject to a pulmonary tuberculosis test. Applicants who test positive will be required to undergo treatment as specified by the UAE health authorities. In addition, health authorities have expanded the categories of foreign nationals who will be required to undergo viral hepatitis testing to include foreign nationals working at health care facilities.
- Foreign nationals who test positive for HIV, viral hepatitis, pulmonary tuberculosis and leprosy will be denied residency except in certain cases.