Americas

USCIS Announces 201,011 H-1B Petitions Received in Annual Cap

On April 11, 2019, US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that it received a sufficient number of H-1B petitions to reach both the annual 65,000 regular cap and the 20,000 master’s cap.  USCIS received 201,011 H-1B petitions during the period of April 1-5, 2019, which is an increase of nearly 11,000 petitions compared to the previous year’s H-1B cap filing window. 

USCIS also announced that additional information related to H-1B cap-subject filings will be made publicly available via the USCIS H-1B Employer Data Hub starting in October 2020.  The Hub, which was launched on April 1, 2019, provides information related to H-1B petitions processed by the agency, including information about petitioners, such as employer name, city, state, zip code, and NAICS code; the number of petitions filed; cases approved; and denials issued.  USCIS says that it will provide cumulative quarterly updates and annual releases of H-1B petition data and anticipates updating the H-1B Employer Data Hub quarterly.

Europe

United Kingdom

New Policy for UK Nationals Sponsoring Foreign National Dependents After Brexit Announced

As the UK and EU governments try to negotiate the details of the UK’s departure from the European Union, the UK government recently published a policy paper establishing the right for UK nationals returning from the EU to the UK after Brexit to be joined by their foreign national family members.  The application deadline varies based on when the familial relationship commenced.  If the familial relationship with the UK national began:

  • Before or on the day of Brexit: Applications to the EU Settlement Scheme must be filed by the end of March 2022. (This would apply to a spouse, partner, parent, grandparent, or child). 
  • After Brexit: Applications to the EU Settlement Scheme must be filed by December 31, 2020.  Applications filed after this date must be made by following UK immigration rules. (This would apply to a spouse, partner, or other dependent immediate family member.)

Post-Brexit Right to Work Check Guidance Announced

On April 1, 2019, the UK government published guidance on the employment of EU, European Economic Area (EEA), and Swiss citizens and their family members after Brexit.  Regardless of whether the UK leaves the EU with or without a deal, there will be no changes to the way these individuals demonstrate their employment authorization until January 1, 2021.  After January 1, 2021, EU, EEA, and Swiss citizens and their family members must apply for a new immigration status under the future skills-based immigration system to remain in the UK.  Once the new status is obtained, employers will need to complete a new right to work check for any impacted employees.  Guidance for right to work checks completed on or after January 1, 2021 is forthcoming. 

EU, EEA, and Swiss citizens arriving for the first time in the UK before January 1, 2021 will be permitted to work for up to three months at a time without obtaining a work permit.  EU, EEA, and Swiss citizens who want to work in the UK for longer than three months must apply for European temporary leave to remain. They will then be able to live and work in the UK for 36 months from the date their leave is granted.  After their European temporary leave to remain has expired, EU, EEA, and Swiss citizens and their family members must apply for a new immigration status under the future skills-based immigration system to stay in the UK.

Irish citizens will continue to have the right to work in the UK under Common Travel Area arrangements.

Middle East

Israel

US Embassy to Start Accepting E-2 Visa Applications

Effective May 1, 2019, the US Embassy in Tel Aviv will begin accepting E-2 visa applications filed by Israeli citizens.  This long-awaited announcement comes close to seven years after President Obama signed legislation in 2012 implementing a bilateral investment treaty with Israel on the condition that Israel provide reciprocal immigration status for American investors.  The Israeli government did not approve the reciprocal agreement until 2014, and it took an additional four years for both the Israeli and US governments to agree to the reciprocal nature of the visas. 

A ceremony will be held on May 6, 2019, to commemorate this historic accomplishment. 

Kuwait

Civil Identification Card to Replace Residency Stickers

The Kuwaiti government recently announced that it will no longer issue residency stickers in the passports of residence permit holders.  Instead, it will begin to issue civil identification cards to foreign nationals lawfully residing in Kuwait.  Residency stickers issued before March 10, 2019, will continue to serve as valid evidence of residence status until their expiration.  Foreign nationals seeking to extend their stay in Kuwait will be required to obtain a civil identification card to serve as evidence of their status in Kuwait. 

UAE

Police Clearance Requirement Halted in UAE

Effective immediately, foreign nationals applying for work and mission visas in the United Arab Emirates will not be required to submit a police clearance certificate.  This news comes just two months after the UAE began requiring work and mission visa applicants to obtain a certificate of good conduct as a prerequisite to obtaining a work or mission visa. 

With the process to obtain a police clearance taking up to six weeks in some countries, the elimination of this requirement will speed up the time it takes to obtain a work or mission visa.

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