Immigration Updates – 24th of February

Contributor(s): Daniel King
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    General Updates

    Finland

    Effective 23 February 2023, amendments to chapter 5 of the Aliens Act entered into force. These changes affect applications for residence permits on the basis of work.

    • Online applications are encouraged, with the aim of reducing processing times to one month on average. Paper applications are still available.
    • The validity period of the applicant’s passport at the time the application decision is taken no longer affects the duration of the permit.
    • Once the applicant has completed an online application in the Enter Finland service, the employer must provide additional information about the terms of employment via Enter Finland for Employers before processing can begin.
    • The employer will also be able to apply for a certification for their business. The certification includes an assessment of the employer’s ability to act as an employer, which means that this will no longer be checked when lodging a residence permit application for an employed person. The first certification is issued for two years. A certified employer will not need to report the information of their business separately in each employee’s application. The price of certification is EUR 140 for online applications and EUR 195 for paper applications.
    • A person who has completed a qualification or research in Finland can now apply for a new kind of residence permit that takes a broad view of the required means of support.
    • Specialists will also receive a separate residence permit, which requires an income equal to the average wage-earner’s gross earnings in Finland.
    • The minimum salary for a specialist residence permit is now EUR 3472 per month.
    • The minimum salary for an EU Blue Card is now EUR 5209 per month. Potential employee benefits and daily allowances do not count as salary.

    Iceland

    Effective 15 February 2023, the minimum financial requirement for granting of a residence permit or for Icelandic citizenship to an individual has increased from 212,694 ISK to 217,799 ISK per month.

    The amount for married couples has increased from 340,320 ISK to 348,476 ISK per month. The amounts refer to pre-tax income.

    Ireland / Portugal

    Effective 15 February 2023, Ireland closed its Immigrant Investor Programme (IIP) scheme.

    • Applications submitted before that date will still be processed.
    • Projects with applications that have not been formally submitted but which have been significantly developed following contact with the IIP Unit of the Department of Justice are given a period of three months for finalization and submission.

    On 17 February 2023, Portugal announced that it too would close its “golden visa” scheme this year.

    Portugal

    Portugal has automatically extended, until 31 December 2023, residence permits that have expired or are due to expire in 2023.

    Russia

    Russia has announced that it plans to introduce visa-free entry for nationals of up to eleven countries and ease entry requirements for nationals of around six others. The lists of applicable countries have not been announced.

    Russia’s foreign ministry also said that it intends to reopen its e-visa scheme for certain friendly countries. This scheme was launched in 2020 for and almost immediately suspended due to COVID-19.

    United Kingdom

    Effective 20 February 2023, the priority visa service has resumed for new applications for marriage and family visas from outside the UK.

    Standard processing time for priority applications is 30 working days, and processing time for standard applications in this category is reduced from 120 working days to 60 working days.

    Applicants with pending applications as of 20 February 2023 will be contacted with an offer to upgrade to the priority service with a 15-day processing time.

    The additional fee for priority processing is £573 per person. Priority processing is also available for new study and sponsored visas. Availability of the priority service for visit visas is being reduced, although Super Priority services are not being reduced.

    Priority services for many visa categories were suspended in 2022 due to the prioritization of the Ukraine visa schemes.

    COVID-19 Updates

    European Union

    On 16 February 2023, EU Member States agreed, in light of recent epidemiological developments:

    • to phase out the requirement for a negative pre-departure COVID-19 test for travellers from China to Member States by the end of February 2023; and
    • to phase out random testing of travellers arriving from China to Member States by the middle of March. 

    On 4 January 2023, Member States agreed on a coordinate precautionary approach in light of COVID-19 developments in China, along the following lines:

    • To recommend to all passengers on flights to and from China to wear a medical mask, or FFP2/N95/KN95 respirators.
    • To issue advice to incoming and outgoing international travellers coming from or destined for China, as well as to aircraft and airport personnel, regarding personal hygiene and health measures.
    • To introduce, for all passengers departing from China to Member States, the requirement for a negative COVID-19 test taken not more than 48 hours prior to departure from China.
    • To complement these measures with:
      • Random testing of passengers arriving from China on arrival in the Member States, as appropriate, and the sequencing of all positive results to strengthen surveillance of the epidemiological situation.
      • Testing and sequencing of wastewater from airports with international flights and aircraft arriving from China.
      • Continuing to promote vaccine sharing and the uptake of vaccines, including booster doses, particularly among vulnerable groups.

    In response to this decision:

    • Effective 16 February 2023, travellers from China to France are no longer required to present a negative result of a PCR test and are no longer subject to random screenings on arrival.
    • Effective 18 February 2023, travellers from China to Sweden are no longer required to present a negative pre-departure test.
    • Effective 22 February 2023, travellers from China to Germany are no longer required to present a negative pre-departure test, and random testing on arrival has been discontinued for these travellers.
    • Effective 27 February 2023, travellers from China to Malta are no longer required to present a negative pre-departure test.
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