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.
Vietnamese Trainees Are Now Permitted in Hong Kong
The Hong Kong Immigration Department (HKID) recently amended its Guidebook for Entry for Training in Hong Kong to allow processing of visas for Vietnamese nationals entering Hong Kong for the purpose of completing training. This is a departure from HKID’s earlier refusal to adjudicate training visa applications on behalf of nationals of Vietnam. Under this policy change, it appears the HKID will apply the same requirements, including eligibility criteria and processing times, to Vietnamese national applicants as it does for other nationalities.
Italy Announces New Visa Program for Investors
The Italian government has introduced a new visa category for investors, which is pending confirmation by the Senate. The initial investor visa would be valid for two years and may be extended in three-year increments upon verification that the investment has been maintained. Eligibility criteria for an investor visa include:
- An investment of not less than two million euros in government bonds, which must be maintained for at least two years or
- An investment of at least one million euros in an Italian company, which must be maintained for at least two years or
- A donation of at least one million euros toward a public interest project in the field of culture, education, immigration management, scientific research, or protection of cultural or landscape heritage.
Individuals granted an investor visa may be accompanied by dependent family members.
Italy Implements the EU Posted Workers Directive
The Italian government has implemented the EU Posted Workers Directive, which regulates the posting of workers entering Italy for the purpose of the provision of services for a specific organization in Italy. A “posted worker” is an individual who normally works in one EU member state and is sent to work in another member state for a limited and predetermined period of time. While posted on assignment, the worker remains an employee of the sending company while temporarily providing a service to the receiving company.
The directive is applicable in any of the following contexts: the posting of a worker to another member state under a contract concluded with the party for whom the services are intended (customer or other company), the posting of a worker to an establishment or to a company owned by the group, and the posting of a worker by a placement agency established in an EU member state to a company operating in Italy.
Companies seeking to sponsor anyone as a “posted worker” are required to register with the Labour and Social Policy’s online portal and must, one day prior to the start of a posting, submit an electronic notification with complete details of the worker and assignment. Companies must also have an appointed representative domiciled in Italy who is authorized to receive and send official documents and deal with social parties involved in labor negotiations. During the posting and up to two years after its termination, the posting company is obliged to keep on file the documentation related to the assignment. Any variation to the posting conditions must be communicated through the same online portal within five days.
The Netherlands Signs on to the EU Intra-Company Transfer (ICT) Directive
The Netherlands is now the fifth EU state to implement provisions of the EU Intra-Company Transfer (ICT) Directive. For those eligible, the ICT work permit will take the place of the highly skilled “Knowledge Migrant” work permit. To be eligible for an ICT permit, an individual must be employed as a manager or specialist with a university degree or five years of experience or a trainee with a university degree. All applicants must have been employed by the sending company for at least three months and must be assigned to a company in the Netherlands within the same corporate group. In addition, the ICT work permit holder must remain a bona fide employee of the entity abroad. Should the employee transfer to the payroll of the Dutch entity, he or she would be required to obtain a work permit as a Knowledge Migrant. Managers and specialists may hold an ICT permit for a maximum period of up to three years, while trainees are limited to an ICT permit valid for up to one year. Should an extension be required, the foreign national must depart the Netherlands for a period of six months in order to obtain a new three-year ICT work permit. Time spent in the Netherlands as an intra-company transferee may not be considered toward obtaining permanent resident status.
The processing time for an ICT permit is estimated to be 90 days for regular processing or two weeks expediting processing for authorized sponsors.
Dependent spouses and children under 18 years of age are eligible for residence permits with unrestricted employment authorization for the duration of the assignment. All dependent family members are exempt from the civic integration exam.
Employees who have an ICT permit from another EU member state can enter the Netherlands more easily. Short-term mobility covers a period of at most 90 days within 180 days. The main residence remains in the member state that provided the permit. In the Netherlands, the Employee Insurance Agency (UWV) must be notified of this short-term stay, and work can be started right away. Long-term mobility covers a term of more than 90 days within 180 days. Although this type of mobility requires an alternative ICT permit, the applicant does not need an entry clearance permit (MVV) to enter the Netherlands. Certain labor contract requirements—length of employment, job requirements and trainee contract—are not evaluated again, and work can be started right away.
Israel Extends Expedited Processing of Short-Term Work Visa Applications for Certain Foreign Experts
Israel’s Population and Immigration Authority announced it is extending its pilot procedure for expedited processing of B/1 work licenses and permits for an additional 12 months. The pilot procedure applies to foreign experts who are ordinarily exempt from B/2 tourist visas and who are invited to work temporarily in Israel for a period not to exceed 45 days. Permissible work activities under this visa category include consulting, supervision, repair of equipment, lectures, training or any other temporary assignment requiring the expertise or skill of a foreign expert. Applications filed in accordance with this procedure are typically adjudicated within six business days. Upon approval, electronic notification is sent to the employer and the foreign expert may begin work immediately upon arrival in Israel. At the end of the 45 day period, the foreign expert must depart Israel. Should an employer seek to employ a foreign expert for a period exceeding 45 days, the foreign expert would be required to depart Israel prior to filing a new employment permit application.
Canada Introduces Changes to Its Express Entry System
Significant updates have been introduced to Canada’s Express Entry, the online system used to manage applications for permanent residence for specific skilled workers. Noteworthy changes include the following:
- Candidates with a valid job offer supported by a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) will receive 50 points, while candidates in senior managerial positions will receive 200 points.
- Candidates who earned a post-secondary degree in Canada will be awarded 15 points. Candidates who completed three or more years of post-secondary education in Canada, including a Master’s or doctorate degree, will be awarded 30 points.
- Candidates now have 90 days to submit an application for permanent residence upon receipt of an Invitation to Apply.
- Intracompany transferees and candidates holding work permits under the North American Free Trade Agreement, Mobilité Francophone, and Significant Benefit guidelines are now exempt from LMIA requirements.
The intent of these changes is to better attract highly skilled candidates to Canada.
DHS Selects 11 International Airports Tentatively for Preclearance Inspection
On November 4, 2016, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced the selection of 11 new airports located in nine countries as possible preclearance inspection sites. The 11 airports include: El Dorado International Airport (BOG) in Bogota, Colombia; Ministro Pistarini International Airport (EZE) in Buenos Aires, Argentina; Edinburgh Airport (EDI) in Edinburgh, United Kingdom; Keflavik International Airport (KEF) in Iceland; Mexico City International Airport (MEX) in Mexico City, Mexico; Milan-Malpensa Airport (MXP) in Milan, Italy; Kansai International Airport (KIX) in Osaka, Japan; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Leonardo da Vinci-Fiumicino Airport (FCO) in Rome, Italy; São Paulo-Guarulhos International Airport (GRU) in Sao Paulo, Brazil; and Princess Juliana International Airport (SXM) in St. Maarten.
If preclearance operations are expanded, travelers would undergo immigration and customs inspection by Customs and Border Protection before boarding a flight to the United States rather than upon arrival, thereby reducing wait times at US airports.The addition of new preclearance inspection sites supports the government’s efforts to bolster travel to the United States while enhancing security by preventing high-risk travelers from boarding aircraft bound for the United States/