4 May 2015
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.
United States: Employment Authorization for Certain H-4 Dependent Spouses
- Beginning May 26, 2015, H-4 dependent spouses of H-1B visa holders may apply for employment authorization under certain conditions.
- Specifically, H-4 dependent spouses may apply for an Employment Authorization Document if their H-1B spouse has an approved I‑140 Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker or has been granted an extension of H-1B status under the American Competitiveness in the Twenty-first Century Act. The latter allows H-1B visa holders to apply for an extension of their status beyond the six-year limit if their labor certification application has been pending for at least 365 days.
Australia: Relaxing of Subclass 457 Visa Requirements
- Following an independent panel review of the Temporary Work (Skilled) visa (subclass 457) category used by employers sponsoring skilled foreign nationals, the Australian government has introduced changes to improve flexibility of the visa category.
- If an employer’s offered wage to a subclass 457 visa applicant falls below the market salary rate threshold, the employer must prove that the wage and employment conditions are at least equal to those offered to similarly situated Australian workers in the same location. Effective April 18, 2015, that market rate salary threshold has been lowered to AU$180,000 (approx. US$144,326), down from AU$250,000 (approx. US$199,908).
- English proficiency test standards have also been eased for subclass 457 visa applications, effective April 18, 2015. An average test score of 5.0, with a score of no less than 4.5 in any section of the test, is now acceptable. Previously, applicants were required to achieve a minimum test score of 5.0 in each section of the exam. Those who studied English in a secondary or higher education program for five cumulative years (rather than five consecutive years) are now exempt from the test. Applicants with a passport from the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, New Zealand or Ireland remain exempt from the English proficiency requirement altogether.
New Zealand: Labor Market Testing Waived for Some Visa Renewals
- Labor market testing requirements have been waived for companies whose foreign workers are renewing a temporary work visa and who originally applied for the temporary work visa under the Essential Skills policy.
- The Essential Skills policy allows foreign workers to apply for a temporary work visa that, if granted, is specific to a job, employer and location. The duration of the work visa depends on the job offer and labor market conditions.
- Where labor market testing is required, the employer may satisfy the requirement by either listing the position on one of Immigration New Zealand’s “Essential Skills Lists”—i.e., Long-Term Skill Shortage List, Short-Term Skill Shortage List or Canterbury Skill Storage List—or by providing evidence that no New Zealander is qualified to fill the offered position.
Portugal: Translation Required for Application Documents
- New administrative procedures require all documents submitted to Portuguese government agencies to be translated into Portuguese.
- This translation requirement applies to applications for visas, work permits and residence permits for all foreign workers and their families.
Russia: Clarifying Guidance for Employers of Highly Qualified Specialists
- An employer seeking to hire a foreign national may make use of the highly qualified specialist (HQS) work permit category if the employee meets minimum salary and experience requirements. HQS employees are exempt from work permit quotas and certification of their credentials.
- An employer may be prohibited from filing an HQS application for failure to comply with the category’s requirements or for certain violations, including failing to meet legal or contractual employment-related obligations and submitting fraudulent documents to the migration authority.
- HQS salary requirements have also been updated, with different minimum monthly thresholds depending on the foreign nationals’ job position and employer location, among other factors.
United Arab Emirates: Online Portal for DIFC Free Zone
- Beginning May 3, 2015, all companies based in the Dubai International Financial Center (DIFC) Free Zone will be required to use a new online portal to submit visa applications and make payments for all services offered by the DIFC authority.
- The online portal will replace the current system of submitting documents in person to the DIFC. Further, documents will no longer need to be signed by authorized signatories.