Immigration Updates – 21st of July

Contributor(s): Daniel King
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    Canada

    Effective 23 October 2023, Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) will introduce a new permanent residence pathway for Ukrainian nationals.

    To qualify, Ukrainian nationals must be in Canada with temporary resident status and have one or more family members in Canada. Those who are eligible include Ukrainian spouses, common-law partners, parents, grandparents, siblings and children or grandchildren of a Canadian citizen or permanent resident.

    Ukrainians holding a Canada-Ukraine Authorization for Emergency Travel (CUAET) visa will have until 31 March 2024, to travel to Canada under the temporary special measures. Following the end of overseas applications under CUAET on July 15, 2023, Ukrainians and their family members can still apply for a temporary resident visa to come to Canada, under pre-existing immigration measures. 

    Once in Canada, temporary residents will be eligible to apply for an extended stay of up to three years through study permits and open work permits, all of which will be prioritized. They will also have access to settlement services, such as language training and employment services.

    Denmark

    The Danish Agency for International Recruitment and Integration (SIRI) has published updated income statistics which will take effect 1 August 2023.

    Most immigration applications

    When processing most immigration applications, SIRI assesses whether the salary corresponds to Danish standards with reference to income statistics produced by the Confederation of Danish Employers (DA). This applies to the Pay Limit Scheme, and the Fast Track Scheme, among other routes. 

    SIRI will usually assume that the salary corresponds to Danish standards, and will not make further assessment, if it is stated in the application form and employment contract that:

    • The employer is covered by a collective agreement though a membership of an employers’ association.
    • The employment is covered by a collective agreement in the relevant sector.
    • The salary is at least DKK 67,812.50 per month (2023 level). 

    If the above-mentioned terms are not documented in the employment contract, SIRI will assess whether the salary offered corresponds to Danish standards, using the income statistics from the DA as a guideline.

    All the applications that SIRI receives before 1 August 2023 will be evaluated by the previous income statistics from fourth quarter of 2022.

    SIRI will use the updated income statistics on all applications submitted from 1 August 2023.

    The statistics made by The Confederation of Danish Employers (DA) will be updated every quarter, approximately two months after the end of the latest quarter.

    Positive List for Skilled Work

    For the Positive List for Skilled Work, salary correspondence with Danish standards is never automatically accepted. An assessment is always made using Danmarks Statistik’s wage register as a guideline.

    All applications that SIRI receives before 1 August 2023 will be evaluated by the previous wage statistics from third quarter of 2021.

    SIRI will use the updated wage statistics from the first quarter of 2023 for all applications submitted from 1 August 2023.

    Hungary

    On 13 June 2023, the Hungarian parliament approved legislation establishing a new category of residence for work (“guest worker”) for foreign nationals, effective 1 November 2023.

    The new guest worker application will be streamlined as, unlike the existing single work and residence permit route, it will not require an official opinion from the labour authority.

    However, there are several disadvantages: guest worker residence can only be issued for up to two years with a single one-year renewal (the single permit can be renewed indefinitely); guest workers cannot sponsor dependents; guest worker residence does not count towards permanent residence; and guest workers will not be able to change status to a different residence category within Hungary, but will have to return to their country of origin and apply from there.

    Only certain employers can apply for guest worker status for their employees, namely:

    • Employers of record (EOR) or temporary work agencies which have passed a special government certification process;
    • Privileged employers, including those with a strategic government partnership agreement, those operating a strategically important investment in the national interest and those with a partnership agreement under the Priority Exporter Partnership Programme.

    The new category applies to third-country nationals from certain countries outside the EEA and from non-neighbouring countries.

    In the coming months, the government is expected to clarify the qualifying nationalities, occupations and employers and the number of places available in this residence category.

    Ireland

    The government has extended the suspension of visa-free entry for people with refugee status for at least another 12 months.

    The suspension of the European Agreement on the Abolition of Visas for Refugees (Council of Europe) means that refugees currently require a visa to travel to Ireland, rather than only a Convention Travel Document.

    The suspension, introduced for an initial 12 months in July 2022, will next be reviewed by the Department of Justice and Department of Foreign Affairs in July 2024.

    Signatory countries to the European Agreement issue Convention Travel Documents to refugees, which allows the holders of these documents to travel to other signatory countries without the need of a visa or prior clearance for the purpose of visiting that country for up to three months.

    The visa exemption applies to holders of a Convention Travel Document issued by Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovak Republic, Spain, Sweden, or Switzerland.

    The visa-waiver arrangements for people fleeing the war in Ukraine remains unaffected.

    Poland

    On 1 July 2023, the government cancelled the state of epidemic emergency and, as a result, the following COVID-related immigration extensions and other concessions under the so-called “COVID-19 Act” will expire at the end of 31 July 2023.  

    • These permitted grounds for legal residence of foreign nationals staying in Poland with a short-term residence permit on 14 March 2020:
      • the visa-free regime;  
      • a Schengen visa issued by Polish authorities; 
      • a Schengen visa or long-stay visa issued by another Schengen state;
      • a residence permit issued by another Schengen state;
      • a qualifying long-stay visa or residence permit issued by a European Union Member States that is not a Schengen area country.
    • Extension of the period of stay and validity of national visas;
    • Extension of the period of stay and validity of temporary residence permits, including:
      • the time limit for leaving Poland;
      • the time limit for voluntary return;
      • the time limit for applying for a temporary residence permit, a permanent residence permit, a long-term resident’s EU residence permit, a visa extension or an extension of stay under visa waiver;
      • the periods of validity of residence cards;
      • the periods of validity of temporary identity certificates;
      • the periods of validity of documents confirming the right of permanent residence, residence cards of an EU citizen’s family member and cards of permanent residence of a family member of an EU citizen;
      • the periods of validity of Polish identity documents for foreign nationals;
      • the periods of validity of ‘permit for tolerated stay’ documents.
    • Extension of the periods of validity of work permits and extensions of work permits;
    • Extension of the period of permissible work on the basis of a statement on entrusting work to a foreigner;
    • the legal basis for the foreigner to perform work under other conditions;
    • Temporary access to seasonal work.

    The equivalent extensions for Ukrainian citizens will remain in force until 4 March 2024.

    The extension of the validity of a Pole’s Card and of the time limit for applying for the renewal of a Pole’s Card will continue until 2 October 2023.

    Russia

    According to a new law dated 10 July 2023, the expected change to the minimum salary level for highly qualified specialists (HQS) will take effect on 1 March 2024. From that date HQS employees must. Be paid at least 750,000 rubles per calendar quarter (up from 510,000 rubles currently).

    In addition, the following changes took effect on 10 July 2023:

    • Family members of HQS employees are now exempt from repeated medical check if staying in Russia beyond one year after their previous medical check.
    • HQS employees and their dependents must pass a new medical check and submit proof within 30 days after the date of the authority’s decision to renew the work permit (or, if they are outside Russia on that date, within 30 days from the date of their arrival in Russia).
    • Medical certificates in connection with a decision to issue a new work permit must be submitted specifically to the issuing migration office.

    The following changes will take effect on 7 January 2024:

    • HQS employees and their family will be allowed to apply for unlimited permanent residence permits (PRP) if they meet the following two conditions:
      • the HQS has been employed in Russia for at least 2 years;
      • the applicant has firstly obtained an HQS PRP.
    • If a terminated HQS employee has not concluded a new HQS employment contract within 30 business days from the date of employment termination, this employee and dependents will be obliged to leave Russia within 30 calendar days (previously 30 business days).
    • Multiple Russian regions may be listed on the work permit only in the case of working in separate divisions of the employer company or interdependent entities located in the respective regions.
    • If a work permit is requested for multiple regions, the company must apply to the migration office responsible for their primary location in Russia.
    • When applying for an initial or renewal HQS work permit, the employer may present either an original employment contract or a copy certified by a company representative.  Furthermore, migration registration has been removed from the list of documents required for the work permit renewal application.
    • HQS employees are obliged to collect work permits within 30 calendar days from the date of the authority’s decision to issue or renew one. If there is a good reason, the employer may petition the authority to extend this period by 30 calendar days from the date of the request. If the employee fails to collect the work permit on time, the decision to issue it will be cancelled and the employee and dependents will be required to leave Russia within 15 calendar days after the collection deadline.
    • In addition to already existing grounds, the employer may be subject to a ban on the employment of HQS for two years if they fail to report the amounts of withdrawn taxes on HQS salary payments within six months following the reported tax period or if the employer reports fake amounts.

    United Kingdom

    On 17 July 2023, the Home Office published a statement of changes to the immigration rules. According to the accompanying explanatory memorandum,

    The changes being made primarily concern changes to the EU Settlement Scheme, extension of the Ukraine Extension Scheme, changes to the Student route, Asylum – pausing the differentiation policy to support SAP (streamlined asylum processing) for flow cases, improving clarity regarding withdrawing asylum claims, and changes to the Skilled Worker route…

    The changes also include updates to the Shortage Occupation List following an interim review by the independent Migration Advisory Committee (MAC). They also make additional provision for General Practitioner (GP) trainees…

    Below are highlights of the changes – further details are available in the explanatory memorandum and in the written statement by the Immigration Minister.

    EU Settlement Scheme

    According to a separate press release, from September 2023 people with pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS) will automatically have their status extended by two years before it expires if they have not obtained settled status. They will be notified of the extension directly.

    The change ensures that nobody loses their immigration status if they do not apply to switch from pre-settled to settled status. The High Court last year ruled that the EUSS breaches the UK/EU Withdrawal Agreement by allowing holders of pre-settled status to become unlawfully resident if they do not make a further application for settled status.

    The statement of changes introduces a corresponding new bullet point into Appendix EU confirming that the Secretary of State “may extend… limited leave, regardless of whether the person has made a valid application under this Appendix for such an extension”.

    The Home Office also intends to take steps to automatically convert as many eligible pre-settled status holders as possible to settled status once they are eligible for it, without them needing to make an application. During 2024, automated checks of pre-settled status will establish their ongoing continuous residence in the UK.

    Additional changes to the EUSS mean that:

    • Late applications can be rejected if there are no reasonable grounds for applying after the deadline, with no right to appeal or review;
    • Illegal entrants can no longer make a valid application as a “joining family member”, i.e., a family member of an EU national who was not resident in the UK on that basis before the end of the transition period;
    • The adult child of a durable partner is now counted as a dependent relative under Appendix EU if they were granted pre-settled status before turning 18;
    • From 8 August 2023, the EUSS will be closed to new applicants under the so-called Surinder Singh and Zambrano routes.

    Ukraine Extension Scheme

    The eligibility period for the Ukraine Extension Scheme is extended to allow Ukrainian nationals who obtain permission to enter or stay in the UK for any period between 18 March 2022 and 16 November 2023 to apply to the Ukraine Extension Scheme and obtain 36 months’ permission to stay in the UK. Previously the eligibility period covered Ukrainian nationals who held permission to enter or stay in the UK on 18 March 2022 (or who held permission which expired on or after 1 January 2022).

    The application deadline for the Ukraine Extension Scheme is also extended, to 16 May 2024.

    Student and work routes

    International students on courses starting after 1 January 2024 will no longer be permitted to bring dependents unless they are on postgraduate courses currently designed as research programmes.

    Dependents already in the UK are able to extend their stay, and international students on taught postgraduate courses beginning before 1 January 2024 are able to bring dependents. Existing exemptions for dependents of government-sponsored students and dependent children who are born in the UK are preserved.

    International students are no longer permitted to switch out of the student route into work routes before their studies have been completed. Students on courses at degree level or above will be able to apply before course completion to switch to sponsored work routes, as long as their employment start date is not before their course completion. Those studying towards PhDs will be able to switch after 24 months’ study.

    Asylum

    The changes give the Home Office more grounds to treat an asylum claim as withdrawn.

    The Home Office also “pauses” its policy of differentiation between Group 1 refugees (those who entered lawfully) who could be given the standard five years followed by indefinite leave to remain, and Group 2 refugees (those who entered unlawfully and those granted humanitarian protection) who were previously given only 30 months’ leave to remain.  Those already granted 30 months’ leave would have their conditions and leave upgraded to match those of Group 1 Refugees, although this is not provided for in the statement of changes.

    Work routes

    The government is adding several jobs to the Shortage Occupation List – bricklayers and masons, roofers, roof tilers and slaters, carpenters and joiners, plasterers (now including dryliners), and construction and building trades not elsewhere classified, as well as agriculture and fishing trades.

    Applicants sponsored for GP specialty training are to be granted permission to remain in the UK until 14 months after the end date of their certificate of sponsorship, rather than the usual 14 days, to allow them additional time to find employment (they cannot benefit from the graduate route). They will be allowed to work during this period.

    United Kingdom

    On 19 July 2023, the Home Office published a statement of changes to the immigration rules. 

    The changes impose a visa regime on nationals of Dominica, Honduras, Namibia, Timor-Leste, and Vanuatu, effective 3pm on 19 July 2023.  Nationals of these five countries will now require a visa on to travel to or transit through the United Kingdom.

    The imposition of these visa regimes will include a four-week transition period for any nationals of these countries who are already travelling to the UK without a visa. During this period, those nationals who hold a confirmed booking to the UK made before the exact time of the rule change, and who will arrive in the UK is no later than four weeks after the change, will be exempt from the visa requirement. Those booking on or after the rule change, or due to arrive in the UK more than four weeks after the change, will require a visa.

    The government states that this change of visa regime is necessary due to a “Sustained and significant increase in the number of UK asylum applications being made by nationals of Honduras and Namibia who arrived in the UK visa-free; the risks of citizenship by investment schemes operated by Dominica and Vanuatu; and an increase in the numbers of Timorese nationals arriving with the intention to fraudulently claim EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS) status as dependents or to illegally work in the UK.

    The EU similarly suspended its visa waiver agreement with Vanuatu effective 4 February 2023, also due to the risks posed by its investor citizenship schemes.

    United Kingdom/Canada

    The governments of Canada and the United Kingdom have announced the signing of a new Canada–United Kingdom (UK) Youth Mobility Arrangement.

    Under this arrangement, which will be implemented in 2024, more Canadian and British youth will benefit from reciprocal work opportunities in each other’s country for a longer period of time through International Experience Canada (IEC) and the UK’s Youth Mobility Scheme.

    According to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), the new arrangement builds on an existing youth mobility partnership that began in 2008 and includes a number of improvements:

    • The eligibility age will expand from 18 to 30 to 18 to 35;
    • Two new streams—International Co-op (Internship) and Young Professionals—will be added to complement the existing Working Holiday category for UK nationals visiting Canada;
    • The total period that participants will be able to stay will increase from two to three years. 

    International Experience Canada (IEC) is a reciprocal program that allows Canadian and international youth to work and travel in each other’s country. The program has three categories:

    • Working Holiday participants receive an open work permit that allows them to work anywhere in the host country to support their travels.
    • International Co-op (internship) participants receive an employer-specific work permit that allows students to gain targeted experience in their field of study.
    • Young Professional participants receive an employer-specific work permit to gain targeted, professional work experience that is within their field of study or career path.
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