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.
Expansion of Premium Processing Suspension for H-1B Petitions
On August 28, 2018, US Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) announced that it is expanding its temporary suspension of premium processing to include additional types of H-1B petitions, such as change of employer petitions and amendment petitions. Currently, the suspension impacts only cap-subject H-1B petitions, which continue to be adjudicated under regular processing. Effective September 11, 2018, all other H-1B petitions will be subject to the same suspension except for the following: (1) cap-exempt petitions filed exclusively with the California Service Center because the employer is cap exempt or because the beneficiary will be employed at a qualifying cap exempt institution, entity, or organization; or (2) petitions filed exclusively with the Nebraska Service Center requesting continuation of previously approved employment without change with the same employer and with a concurrent request for either a visa notification (consular notification) or extension of stay. This means that premium processing is suspended for H-1B change of employer petitions that would allow a foreign worker to transfer or “port” from one employer to another, as well as for H-1B amendments based on changes in employment such as job location changes. The suspension is expected to last until February 19, 2019.
New Labor Market Test Guidelines Imposed for TSS Visa Program
Effective immediately, employers seeking Subclass 482 visas will face more stringent labor market test requirements. To comply: 1) labor market testing must be completed no more than four months prior to filing a nomination application, 2) advertisements must be posted for at least 28 days on a national recruitment website or on the company website if the company is an accredited sponsor, 3) advertisements must be in English, and 4) advertisements must include specific information such as the job title, education and skills requirements, employer name, and annual pay unless it is more than AUD 96,400. Certain positions are exempt from the labor market test requirement, including those for intra-corporate transferees, employees earning at least AUD 250,000, or requiring internationally recognized skills in academia, sports, or cuisine. Failure to meet these requirements may result in the denial of a Subclass 482 application.
Work Pass Applicants Must Pass Housing Requirement Checks
Starting September 14, 2018, the Ministry of Manpower (“MOM”) will conduct residential housing requirement checks for all foreign nationals seeking a work pass to verify that their housing arrangements are in compliance with housing regulations. For example, a foreign national living in a private residence such as a condo or house may not reside with more than six people per unit, regardless of the size of the residence. An individual residing in a Housing Development Board (“HDB”) flat must be registered as a tenant with the HDB in order for the work pass to be issued. One- or two-bedroom HDB flats may have no more than four occupants. To comply, property owners must complete the Occupants Declaration Form and an IRAS Property Tax statement and submit both to the MOM. Requests for work permits will not be approved if the applicant’s housing arrangement does not meet the requirements. This new prerequisite is an attempt by the government to curb overcrowding and to curb foreign nationals from staying in commercial buildings not intended for residential use.
Poland Exempts 200 Occupations from Labor Market Test Requirements
On July 1, 2018, the Polish Ministry of Family, Labor and Social Policy published its list of shortage occupations, which included approximately 200 occupations. Due to the high demand for these positions, employers seeking work permits, single permits, or EU Blue Cards are exempt from labor market test requirements. The list of occupations considered to be in shortage include positions in information technology, healthcare, and transportation. With no labor market test required, these applications will be processed 21 days faster than other applications. The labor market test exemption for intra-corporate transfers remains in effect.
Bahrain Halts the Issuance of Visas to Qatari Nationals
On August 21, 2018, the Bahraini government announced that it would stop issuing new visas to Qatari nationals. The only exceptions are for Qatari students studying in Bahrain and individuals who are already in possession of a valid visa to Bahrain. The move came in response to “hostile acts” by Qatari officials, however the Bahraini government did not elaborate. The Bahraini government is now stating that it will require Qatari nationals to apply for and obtain entry visas prior to traveling to Bahrain.
Ban on Hiring Foreign Nationals in Certain Fields Extended
The Omani government recently announced that it will extend its ban on foreign nationals working in 87 positions across various industries for an additional six months, through January 31, 2019. The ban covers both new work permit applications as well as applications for renewals. The ban affects employers in industries such as information technology, engineering, accounting and finance, marketing and sales, medical, aviation, administration and human resources, media, and insurance. Exemptions may be available to certain companies working on government contracts as well as international consulting companies. The ban was imposed in an effort protect Oman’s local workforce and boost local hiring.