2 March 2016
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.
Additional Countries Ineligible to Participate in Visa Waiver Program
- On February 18, 2016, the US Department of Homeland Security further limited the Visa Waiver Program for individuals who have traveled to a restricted country. Libya, Somalia and Yemen join Iraq, Iran, Syria and Sudan on the list of restricted countries first announced in December 2015.
- Specifically, foreign nationals who have traveled to these countries within the past five years are ineligible to participate in the Visa Waiver Program. However, those who traveled to these countries on behalf of international or regional organizations and sub-national governments on official duty, on behalf of a humanitarian NGO on official duty, or as journalists may be eligible for waivers of this ineligibility as determined by the Secretary of Homeland Security.
Participation in the Global Entry Program Expanded to German Nationals
- On February 16, 2016, the US Department of Homeland Security expanded participation in the Global Entry Program to German nationals. The program is open to all German nationals and provides a five-year membership in the program.
- A pilot program for German nationals was introduced in August 2013. Participants in the pilot program will be rolled over into the Global Entry Program.
Streamlined Pathway to Citizenship for New Zealanders
- Beginning July 1, 2017, New Zealanders holding Special Category Visas who have lived in Australia for at least five years at the time of filing, and who meet the conditions below, may apply for Australian citizenship.
- Filed tax returns that show assessable income at least equivalent to the Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold (TSMIT) for the qualifying period; and
- Passage of mandatory health, character and security checks.
Work and Holiday Arrangement Concluded with Hungary
- Australia and Hungary have concluded a work and holiday exchange agreement that will allow nationals from each country between the ages of 18 and 30 to travel to each other’s countries for one year to engage in short-term work or study. Two hundred visas will be available each year. A start date for the program has not been announced.
Japan: Longer-Term Visas Available to Indian and Vietnamese Nationals
- Initially announced in December 2015 and made effective on February 15, 2016, business visitors and tourists to Japan from India and Vietnam are now eligible for multiple-entry visas with a validity period of 10 years. Previously, multi-entry visas were issued for a period of only five years.
Work and Visit Exchange Agreement Implemented with Australia
- On February 17, 2016, the Vietnamese Ministry of Labor signed and implemented a March 2015 agreement with Australia creating 200 multiple-entry visas per year for Australian nationals to enter Vietnam for work or travel purposes. However, while the visas will be valid for two years, Australian nationals may only reside in Vietnam for a total of 12 months during the two-year period.
New Decree Exempts Certain Foreign Nationals from Work Permit Requirements
- Approved on February 17, 2016, and set to become effective on April 1, 2016, a new decree will exempt certain foreign nationals from needing to obtain a work permit before entering Vietnam. In particular, foreign nationals holding a bachelor’s degree and having at least three years of experience in a relevant field will no longer need to obtain a work permit if they are entering Vietnam to work for fewer than 30 consecutive days and fewer than 90 days within a one-year period.
Russia: Passport Validity Requirement for Highly Qualified Specialists
- Effective February 19, 2016, Highly Qualified Specialists (HQS) will no longer be required to have three years of validity remaining on their passports when applying for an initial HQS work permit or an extension of a current HQS work permit. The three-year requirement has been replaced with a one-year passport validity requirement.
Electronic Visa Waiver System Launched for Nationals of Kuwait
- On February 22, 2016, the United Kingdom launched an electronic visa waiver system for nationals of Kuwait. The system allows travel to the United Kingdom for up to six months for business or tourism purposes. In order to participate, nationals of Kuwait must complete an online form at least 48 hours prior to traveling to the United Kingdom.
- The new system will remove the need for travelers to provide biometrics and to visit a visa application center abroad prior to traveling. The system will also replace the pilot program, which was launched in 2015.
Super-Priority Visa Processing Available to Indian Nationals
- Beginning March 1, 2016, Indian nationals applying for work or visit visas will be eligible for the same day, super-priority visa service. In addition, Indian nationals applying for study, work or visit visas will also be eligible for three- to five-day priority visas.