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.
Brazil to Revamp Immigration Laws
The Brazilian government is in the process of approving new legislation governing the entry and immigration of foreign nationals. The Senate passed the New Law on Migration (“Nova Lei das Migrações”) on April 18; the law is now pending approval by President Michel Temer. The new immigration law guarantees the same rights to foreign nationals as to Brazilian citizens, including access to jobs, social security and property ownership. In addition, the proposed law provides amnesty for an estimated one million foreign nationals residing unlawfully in the country. The new immigration law would replace laws implemented from 1964–1985 during Brazil’s military regime. Once approved by the president, the new law would be enacted within a matter of days.
Trump Administration Announces “Putting American Workers First” Initiative
In an effort to curb and detect H-1B visa fraud and abuse, US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced new measures aimed at protecting US workers. Specifically, the agency will make more targeted, random and unannounced site visits to identify employers who are abusing the H-1B visa program. The purpose of the site visits includes:
- Validating an employer’s basic business information when USCIS is unable to do so through commercially available data
- For H-1B dependent employers, via targeted site visits: determining whether these employers are evading their obligation to make a good faith effort to recruit US workers
- Verifying employer-employee relationships when an H-1B worker works offsite at a third party worksite
In addition to its new approach to detecting H-1B visa fraud and abuse, the agency has established an email address to allow individuals to report tips, alleged violations and other information about potential H-1B fraud or abuse. The aim of the Putting American Workers First initiative is not to penalize nonimmigrant employees but to identify employers violating the terms of the H-1B visa program. (For more information on this topic, please see our detailed Legal Update.)
Australian Government to End Subclass 457 Visa Program, Add New Temporary Skill Shortage Visa Category
The Australia Government announced that in March 2018 it will stop issuing Subclass 457 temporary work (skilled) visas and begin issuing visas in a new visa category, the Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) visa, which will offer a short-term stream (up to two years) and medium-term stream (up to four years).
As the Australian government begins to phase out the Subclass 457 visa category, it will gradually condense the occupation list for which Subclass 457 visas can be obtained. Occupations that have been assessed as being of high value to the Australian economy and aligning with the government’s long-term training and workforce strategies will remain on a Short-term Skilled Occupations List (STSOL), which is replacing the Consolidated Sponsored Occupation List (CSOL). The Skilled Occupations List (SOL) will be renamed the “Medium and Long-term Strategic Skills List” (MLTSSL). Occupations on the STSOL will be issued for a maximum duration of two years; occupations on the MLTSSL will continue to be issued for a maximum duration of four years. Both the STSOL and MLTSSL will be reviewed and revised periodically based on guidance from the Department of Education. Additional eligibility requirements will be introduced over time. Starting March 2018, the Department of Immigration and Border Protection will cease issuing Subclass 457 visas and replace them with TSS visas.
New Requirements Implemented for Foreign Nationals Residing in India for 182 Days or More
Effective immediately, any foreign national who has resided in India for 182 days or more in the past 12 months will be required to obtain a national biometric identity card (“Aadhaar card”) and pay income tax. Those who have already exceeded or will exceed the 182-day threshold must file income tax returns before July 1, 2017. The new rules apply to foreign nationals who have already left the country but had resided in India for at least 182 days in the past 12 months. To obtain an Aadhaar card, an individual must appear at an Aadhaar card center and follow application procedures, which include having biometrics taken. There is no charge for the card.
Changes Coming to Employment Pass Categories in Malaysia
The Ministry of Home Affairs recently announced changes to the Employment Pass categories. Effective September 1, 2017, new minimum salary requirements and validity periods will take effect for Categories I, II and III. The changes are summarized below:
- Current Duration: Up to two years
- Duration as of September 1, 2017: Up to five years
- Current Minimum Salary Requirement: RM 5,000
- Minimum Salary Requirement as of September 1, 2017: RM 10,000
- Current Duration: Less than two years
- Duration as of September 1, 2017: Up to two years
- Current Minimum Salary Requirement: RM 5,000
- Minimum Salary Requirement as of September 1, 2017: RM 5,000 – RM 9,999
- Current Duration: 12 months (can be renewed twice)
- Duration as of September 1, 2017: No change—12 months (can be renewed twice)
- Current Minimum Salary Requirement: RM 2,500 – RM 4,999
- Minimum Salary Requirement as of September 1, 2017: RM 3,000 – RM 4,999
In addition, companies must obtain an approval letter from the relevant agency connected to their respective industry sectors as a prerequisite for approval of each Employment Pass application.
Dutch Government Eases Rules to Allow Self-Employment for Certain Foreign Nationals
Foreign students, scientific researchers and highly skilled migrants are now authorized to seek entrepreneurial opportunities while residing in the Netherlands. Previously these groups of foreign nationals were not afforded self-employment opportunities. Under the new rules, they may create their own businesses, but they must also continue to meet the conditions of their residence permit.
In addition, scientific researchers working in the Netherlands pursuant to Directive 2005/71 now have free access to the labor market. They must, however, continue to concurrently maintain their employment as a scientific researcher in accordance with the terms and conditions of their residence permit.