Immigration Updates – 16th of December

Contributor(s): Daniel King
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    General Updates

    European Union

    The European Council has decided to extend the Schengen Area to Croatia, but not yet to Bulgaria and Romania.

    From 1 January 2023, checks on persons at internal land and sea borders between Croatia and the other countries in the Schengen area will be lifted. Checks at internal air borders will be lifted from 26 March 2023, given the need for this to coincide with the dates of IATA summer/winter time schedule.

    From 1 January 2023 Croatia will also start to issue Schengen visas and will be able to make full use of the Schengen Information System.

    Since its accession to the EU, Croatia has applied parts of the Schengen acquis, including those related to the external border controls, police cooperation and the use of the Schengen Information System.

    Ireland

    The government has agreed in principal to develop a single application procedure for employment permits and immigration permissions. An interdepartmental working group will be established to develop an implementation plan and associate timeframes.

    Currently to work in Ireland, a person from outside the European Economic Area has to first make an application to the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment for a work permit, and then make a second application to the Department of Justice for an immigration permission.

    Eight weeks is the average processing time cited by the Department of Justice for employment and study visas. The processing time can vary across the visa office and embassy network depending on local circumstances.

    All Employment Permit applications are currently being processed in between 3 and 5 business days by the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment.

    Ireland

    The Immigration Services Registration Office Burgh Quay Dublin is currently experiencing a very large volume of applications with a current processing time to renew an IRP card of 5-6 weeks. Following the completion of the renewal of Registration it may take a further two weeks to receive the new IRP card via post.

    To facilitate Non-EEA Nationals legally resident in the State who are required to renew their current permission and who wish to travel internationally during the Christmas period, the Minister is issuing a Travel Confirmation Notice requesting carriers to allow individuals to travel on their recently expired IRP card where an application to renew their IRP card was submitted in advance of the expiry date of their IRP card.

    Non-EEA Nationals in the State who are required to apply for a renewal of their IRP card may use their current recently expired IRP card to enable them to travel in confidence from 9 December 2022 to 31 January 2023, provided an application to renew their registration permission was submitted in advance of the expiry date of their IRP Card.

    This Travel Confirmation Notice is valid from 09 December 2022 to 31 January 2023 only.

    • Customers should download and print this notice and present it, along with their expired IRP card, and proof of renewal application (email confirmation which details the date of application and OREG number) to immigration authorities and airlines if requested to do so.
    • The Department will continue to process applications for online renewals.

    Lithuania

    From 2 January 2023, foreign nationals will be able to apply for temporary residence permits in 34 different countries via VFS Global offices.

    Currently, applications for a temporary residence permit can only be submitted after legally arriving in Lithuania and booking a visit at the customer service department of the Migration Department.

    Citizens of all foreign countries will be able to apply to VFS Global offices, regardless of whether they reside in the country where such services are provided.

    Countries where VFS Global will have offices include Albania, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Azerbaijan, Brazil, Canada, Georgia, India, Israel, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Libya, Malaysia, Moldova, Nepal, New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore, Republic of South Africa, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Tajikistan, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States of America, Uzbekistan, Venezuela.

    VFS Global will be authorized to provide customers with information on the procedure for issuing temporary residence permits, accept applications and mandatory documents, collect personal and biometric data, and transfer them to the Migration Department.

    In all cases, decisions on the issuance or non-issuance of a temporary residence permit will be made by the Migration Department in 1 to 3 months.

    VFS Global will also be obliged to collect Lithuanian state fees for the services. Acceptance, examination, decision-making and document issuance of an application for a temporary residence permit are generally charged at 120 euros. 

    After the Migration Department makes a decision to issue a temporary residence permit in Lithuania, the produced card will be sent to the applicant, who will be able to enter Lithuania with a valid residence permit and will not need to obtain an additional visa. 

    If a foreign national has a visa that entitles him to enter Lithuania, or uses the visa-free regime, they will be able to pick up an already-issued temporary residence permit card in Lithuania. 

    In addition, from 2 January 2023, amendments to the Law “On the Legal Status of Foreigners” enter into force, according to which the deadlines for examining applications for temporary residence permits are shortened by 1 month.

    New Zealand

    Several changes to immigration settings were announced on 12 December 2022.

    Straight to Residence Green List pathway

    From 15 December 2022, registered nurses and midwives will move from the Work to Residence to the Straight to Residence Green List pathway. All medical doctors will also be included on the Straight to Residence pathway.

    From March 2023, auditors will also be added to the Straight to Residence Green List pathway.

    Work to Residence Green List pathway

    It was also announced that the following professions will be added to the Work to Residence Green List pathway from March 2023:

    • Civil construction supervisors
    • Gasfitters
    • Drainlayers
    • Skilled crane operators
    • Skilled civil machine operators
    • Halal slaughterers
    • Skilled motor mechanics
    • Skilled telecommunications technicians
    • All secondary school teachers (in addition to the specialisations already on the Green List)
    • Primary school teachers

    The Green List will next be reviewed in mid-2023

    Open Work Visa for people unable to use Post Study Visas in 2020–2021

    People who held a Post Study Work Visa but were unable to use it due to the border closing in March 2020 will be eligible for a 12-month Open Work Visa if they’re not already in New Zealand on another visa.

    Pathway for Critical Purpose Visitor Visa holders staying in same role

    The government is introducing a streamlined Specific Purpose Work Visa that long-term critical workers can apply for to allow them to continue to work in their current role for up to three years.

    The process will be streamlined, so the only employment-related information an applicant needs to provide is a letter from their employer confirming that they remain employed in the same role and on the same (or better) conditions as those that were approved in the Critical Purpose Visitor Visa application.

    Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV) employer accreditation extension

    Employer accreditations under the Accredited Employer Work Visa will automatically be extended by 12 months if their first accreditation is applied for by 4 July 2023.

    This one-off extension will provide employers with certainty as we head into 2023 that they will continue to have access to skilled labour without the additional cost and administrative burden of reapplying for accreditation.

    Expansion of the accreditation system to cover all migrants, including those with open work rights will be deferred until 2024. The delay will allow Government to progress other priorities like the review of the Skilled Migrant Category and family and partnership immigration settings.

    Sector Agreement for bus and truck drivers

    Bus and truck drivers will have a time limited residence pathway through a sector agreement. Officials will consult with transport sector representatives in the development of the agreement.

    Singapore

    The Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI), together with the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) and participating economic agencies, has launched the Manpower for Strategic Economic Priorities (M-SEP) scheme.

    The scheme gives qualifying firms the flexibility to temporarily hire S Pass and Work Permit holders above the prevailing Dependency Ratio Ceiling (DRC) and S Pass sub-DRC. To qualify, firms must also commit to employ and/or train locals. Eligible firms can obtain additional S Pass and Work Permit quotas of up to 5% above their base workforce headcount, subject to a cap of 50 workers per firm. Such additional flexibilities accorded under the M-SEP scheme will last for 2 years upon enrolment, and may be renewed thereafter, subject to meeting renewal conditions.

    To qualify for the scheme, firms must both participate in programmes or activities in line with one of the key economic priorities and commit to hiring and/or training locals.

    The key economic priorities are
    a. Investments which support Singapore’s hub strategy
    b. Innovation or Research & Development (R&D)
    c. Internationalisation

    To be eligible for M-SEP renewal, firms will also have to show that they have met both commitments by the end of the M-SEP support period. Firms will also have to maintain their local workforce share during this period. Those that fail to do so will be suspended from M-SEP for 2 years.

    Switzerland

    Effective 15 December 2022, third-country nationals in the pilot canton of Turgau can apply for work permits via the EasyGov portal.

    Employers who intend to employ or deploy foreign workers in Switzerland must apply for authorisation or notify the authorities. EasyGov supports companies in this process and can be used to submit documents directly to the authorities responsible. As part of a pilot project, Thurgau is the first canton to make applications for work permits for non-EU/EFTA nationals (i.e. third-country nationals) available on EasyGov. This new service is geared towards SMEs and cantonal authorities. The latter have the option to request additional information or documents from the applicants.

    With this update, the following notification and application processes can now be carried out on EasyGov:

    • Notification of gainful employment of temporarily admitted foreign nationals (F permit) or recognised refugees (B permit) in all 26 cantons.
    • Cross-border commuter permits for EU/EFTA nationals (G permit) in the pilot cantons of Thurgau and Zurich. The cantons of St Gallen and Aargau will follow in spring 2023.
    • Work permits for employment with Swiss employers for third-country nationals in the canton of Thurgau. (Short stay permit up to 4 months/120 days, L permit or B permit)

    Additional categories of work permits will be introduced in the next few years. The long-term objective is to simplify the processes for submitting reports and obtaining permits in all 26 cantons.

    United Arab Emirates

    Effective immediately, foreign nationals who obtain a residence visa for Dubai will not have a visa stamp endorsed in their passport.

    Instead, they will be issued an Emirates ID Card, which they can use as proof of residence in Dubai, and to re-enter the UAE.

    The immigration authorities in the other Emirates stopped issuing residence visa stickers in April 2022.

    United States

    Effective 12 December 2022, US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is updating the USCIS Policy Manual to allow USCIS to automatically extend the validity of Permanent Resident Cards (commonly called Green Cards) for lawful permanent residents(LPRs) who have applied for naturalization.

    LPRs who properly file Form N-400, Application for Naturalization, may receive this extension without regard to whether they filed Form I-90. USCIS will update the language on Form N-400 receipt notices to extend Green Cards for up to 24 months for these applicants. The receipt notice can be presented with the expired Green Card as evidence of continued status as well as identity and employment authorization under List A of Employment Eligibility Verification (Form I-9), if presented before the expiration of the 24-month extension period provided in the notice.

    LPRs who filed for naturalization prior to Dec. 12 will not receive a Form N-400 receipt notice with the extension. If their Green Card expires, they generally must still file Form I-90 or receive an ADIT stamp in their passport, in order to maintain valid evidence of their lawful permanent resident status. Lawful permanent residents who lose their Green Card generally must still file Form I-90, even if they have applied for naturalization and received the automatic extension under this updated policy. This is because noncitizens must carry within their personal possession proof of registration, such as the Green Card and any evidence of extensions or may be subject to criminal prosecution.

    COVID-19 Updates

    Hong Kong

    Effective 14 December 2022:

    • The amber code, that restricts people from entering public premises for three days will no longer be issued to inbound travellers on arrival.
      • A blue code will be issued instead, giving free access to public places.
    • Persons travelling to the Mainland or Macao are no longer required undergo an additional rapid PCR test at the control points. These travellers are still required to obtain a negative PCR test result within 48 hours prior to boarding (for travellers departing via the airport) or departure (for travellers departing via land boundary control points).
    • Inbound travellers from overseas places or Taiwan who comply with the relevant requirements for entering the mainland may travel directly to the Mainland or Macao via Hong Kong control points (i.e. Shenzhen Bay Port, Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge Hong Kong Port and the Hong Kong International Airport currently) without any waiting for conversion of the Amber Code to a Blue Code. They still need to obtain a negative PCR test result within 48 hours before boarding or departure, as above.

    IN addition, The Immigration Department has extended, until 30 June 2023, the measure that permits eligible non-permanent residents who are outside Hong Kong to apply for an extension of stay.

    This facilitation measure, initially introduced on 8 April 2022, was originally due to expire on 31 December 2022.

    Eligible non-permanent residents who enter Hong Kong under nine immigration schemes, whose limit of stay expires within four weeks but are currently outside Hong Kong, may apply for an extension of stay before 30 June 2023.

    Macau

    Effective 17 December 2022, inbound travellers from Hong Kong, Taiwan and foreign countries are subject to 5-day home isolation, rather than 5-day centralized quarantine. These travellers no longer need a hotel quarantine booking.

    They will still be tested on arrival, given a red health code for days 1, 2 and 3 and a yellow health code on days 4 and 5.

    They must conduct rapid antigen tests on days 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5, and a PCR test on day 3, and upload the results to the Macau Health Bureau platform. If all their tests are negative, they will receive a green health code from day 6. They may not leave Macau until the 9th day after arrival.

    Inbound travellers must present a negative result of a PCR test carried out no more than 48 hours before arrival.

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