5 April 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.
Labor Market Testing Exemption for French-Speaking Foreign Nationals
- Effective June 1, 2016, certain French-speaking foreign nationals employed in a managerial, professional or technical/skilled position may be exempt from the labor market test typically required for a work permit. This is part of a government effort to encourage French-speakers to work in provinces besides Quebec.
H-1B Petition Filing Window Opens
- The filing period opened on April 1, 2016, for FY2017 H-1B specialty occupation visa petitions. In each year’s quota, 65,000 H-1B visas are available, with an additional 20,000 available to foreign nationals with a US master’s or higher degree. Last year, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) received over 233,000 petitions within the first five business days of the filing period. USCIS then conducted a lottery to randomly select the petitions required to fill the quota. The number of petitions received within the first five business days of this April will likely, once again, greatly exceed the quota, and petitions will again be subject to the lottery system for selection.
Expedited Visa Processing for Nationals of the People’s Republic of China
- Beginning March 15, 2016, Chinese nationals may expedite the processing of the Subclass 600 Visitor Visa for tourism or business as part of a trial program. For an additional fee to participate in this program, Chinese nationals can expect their visas to be processed within 10 days if their applications are submitted in China.
European Union and Peru Enter Reciprocal Visa Waiver Agreement
- A reciprocal agreement entered into force on March 15, 2016, allows visa-free travel for up to 90 days for Peruvian nationals visiting the European Union (EU) and EU citizens visiting Peru. However, the agreement does not apply to travel by citizens of Ireland and the United Kingdom to Peru.
Changes Announced to the Tier 2 Visa Category
- The UK Home Office has announced that it will implement many of the recommendations put forward in January 2016 by the Migration Advisory Committee. Some major reforms include the following:
- Raising the minimum salary threshold for experienced Tier 2 visa holders
- Requiring a Resident Labor Market Test for nurses from non-European Economic Area countries
- Exempting students in the Tier 4 category switching to the Tier 2 category from a numerical limit and their sponsors from having to conduct a Labor Market Test
- Consolidating intra-company transfers (ICT) into one visa category under Tier 2 with a minimum salary of £41,500 (USD$59,701)
- Graduate trainees are exempt from the minimum salary requirement.
- ICTs receiving a salary above £73,900 (USD$106,312) are exempt from the one-year experience requirement.
- Requiring all ICTs to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge beginning in the fall of 2016
- Introducing an Immigration Skills Charge to be levied per Tier 2 employee on all Tier 2 employers (PhD occupations, ICT graduate trainees and students switching from Tier 4 to Tier 2 will be exempt from this charge.)
Full implementation is expected by April 2017. The full report can be found here.
Visa-On-Arrival Available to Most African Nationals
- A new program set to begin in July 2016 will allow nationals of all African nations, except Morocco, to enter Ghana and apply for a 30-day visa upon their arrival. This will eliminate the need to obtain a visa from a Ghanaian consulate prior to arrival in the country.
Government Audit of Foreign National Employees
The Nigerian Immigration Service is conducting an audit of all Combined Expatriate Resident Permit and Aliens Card (CERPAC) holders to ensure compliance with employment regulations. The audit requires that all employers of CERPAC holders send a representative to a CERPAC Production Center with original employment verification documents for all CERPAC employees no later than March 31, 2016.