Immigration Updates – 2nd of February

Contributor(s): Daniel King
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    New immigration law published

    On 27 January 2024, the new immigration law took effect.

    The principle changes affecting work immigration include:

    • A new residence permit for health care professionals;
    • French language proficiency requirements for certain residence categories;
    • Limited renewals in certain residence categories;
    • Stricter family reunification rules;
    • A temporary (until the end of 2026), new, one-year (renewable) residence permit category for foreign workers in France who are undocumented and have been resident in France for at least three years, and employed for at least 12 of the previous 24 months. This category regularizes certain undocumented workers and allows them to work in sectors and areas which are experiencing labour shortages.

    A clause providing British nationals owning a second-home in France with an automatic long-stay visa was rejected by the Constitutional Court on 25 January 2024, along with 31 other provisions of the new law.

    Nationality application now online

    Effective 6 February 2024, foreign nationals can apply directly for French nationality online.

    It is no longer necessary to travel to the prefectural office to submit an application, or to send the application by post.

    Applicants can track the progress of their application online and upload any additional documents supporting required. It will only be necessary to appear in person for an integration interview during processing, and for the welcome ceremony if the application is successful.


    New nationality law passed

    On 19 January 2024, the German parliament passed a law to modernise the German Nationality Act. The legislation is expected to come into force at the beginning of the second quarter of 2024.

    The key changes under the new law are as follows:

    • Multi-nationality is generally possible: Naturalization applicants no longer have to give up their previous nationality during naturalization, unless this is required under the nationality law of the country of origin. German nationals who acquire a different nationality can also easily retain their German nationality. A retention permit is no longer required.
    • Naturalization is accelerated: Instead of after eight years, people will be able to obtain German citizenship after five years.
    • Special performance is rewarded: With “special integration services” naturalization is possible after only three years.
    • Eased Ius-soli purchase: All children of foreign parents born in Germany will acquire German citizenship in the future and can retain the nationality of their parents if at least one parent has been legally living in Germany for more than five years and has a permanent right of residence. The option regulation is completely eliminated and the pre-stay period of the relevant parent is shortened from eight to five years.
    • Life performance of the guest worker generation is recognized: Proof of oral language skills is sufficient for naturalization and no naturalization test is necessary.


    Introduction of email application form for Reactivation Employment Permit Scheme

    From 1 February 2024, Domestic Residence will accept applications for Reactivation Employment Permit Scheme via

    Applicants should use this application form. It is important that applicants read the qualifying criteria before submitting an application


    The Reactivation Employment Permit scheme is operated by the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment (DETE). Reactivation Employment Permits are designed to provide a pathway to re-employment for non-EEA nationals who entered the State on a valid Employment Permit but who fell out of the system through no fault of their own or who has been badly treated or exploited in the workplace.

    Either the foreign national or the employer can apply for a Reactivation Employment Permit and the Employment Permit is issued to the foreign national, and a certified copy sent to the employer, which permits his or her employment in the State, by the employer, in the occupation and location/s specified on the permit.


    Foreign worker “click days” postponed

    On 29 January 2024, the government announced the postponement of the opening days (“click days”) for the submission of applications to hire foreign workers under the 151,000 quotas authorized by the government for 2024 through the flows decree (“decreto flussi”).

    A Decree of the President of the Council of Ministers has amended the calendar of click days(initially scheduled for 5, 7 and 12 February 2024) for the different types of workers as follows:

    • from 18 March 2024, applications can be sent for non-seasonal employees who are citizens of countries that have cooperation agreements with Italy;
    • from 9:00 am on 21 March 2024, applications can be sent for other non-seasonal employees (also in the family and social and social assistance sector);
    • from 9:00 am on 25 March 2024, applications for seasonal workers can be sent.

    For 2024, the 151,000 quotas are to be allocated as follows:

    • 89,050 quotas for seasonal work in agriculture, hospitality and tourism, reserved to certain nationalities;
    • 61,250 for non-seasonal work as an employee;
    • 700 quotas for self-employment.


    Visa-exempt nationals can stay for 90 days beyond their residence permit

    Effective 15 February 2024, visa-exempt nationals are permitted to remain in the Netherlands for up to 90 days immediately after the expiry of their residence permit. It will no longer be necessary to first leave the Schengen area.

    The foreign national does not have to submit an application for the 90-day visa-exempt period, but must meet all the requirements for a short-stay visa.

    This new benefit does not apply if the foreign national’s residence permit has been withdrawn or if a return decision has been issued.

    The sponsor (i.e., employer, spouse, parent) of the holder of the expired residence permit is responsible for any costs of returning to the country of origin for up to one year after expiry or cancellation.

    Termination of temporary protection for third-country nationals from Ukraine

    The Dutch immigration authorities (IND) have announced that non-Ukrainians with a temporary Ukrainian residence permit will receive a letter from the Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND). In this letter the IND informs the third-country nationals about the consequences of stopping temporary protection for this group after 4 March 2024.

    The IND will send three different letters to three different groups. These letters include more information about appeal and other court proceedings, reception, assistance with return and the residence document. 

    Return decision

    The largest group of third-country nationals have no other permit to reside in the Netherlands, nor do they have an asylum or regular residence permit process in progress. The letter they will receive tells them, among other things, that temporary protection will end for them on 4 March 2024. Until that time they can make use of assistance with leaving the Netherlands by the Repatriation and Departure Service (DT&V). After 4 March 2024, they will no longer be allowed to work and they will have a time of 28 days to depart. This means that they will be allowed to stay in the municipal reception centre up to and including 1 April 2024. 

    The IND will also inform these third-country nationals that the former return decision dated 4 September 2023 will be withdrawn. Anyone who has appealed against this will have their legal costs reimbursed. They will receive a new return decision before 4 March. 

    Going through the asylum process

    Third-country nationals with a current asylum process will not receive a return decision. They are allowed to wait for the decision on their asylum application in the Netherlands. The IND will inform them in early February 2024 that the Service will continue processing their asylum applications after 4 March 2024. They are allowed to work under the normal requirements belonging to an asylum process. 

    Regular residence

    A small number of third-country nationals have a different right of residency, for example a regular residence permit. At the beginning of February 2024, they will receive a letter from the IND about the consequences of the termination. They will be allowed to reside in the Netherlands under the conditions of their permit, as long as it is valid. 

    Residence documents

    The residence pass (Type O) of all third country nationals for whom the TPD will end will no longer be valid after 4 March 2024. Anyone who has applied and still does not have a Foreign Nationals Identity Document (Type W) can pick this up at an IND desk. They can also surrender their old Type O passes there. 


    Business Harbour Programme suspended

    The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) has suspended its participation in the Poland.Business Harbour Programme until solutions are in place that guarantee proper verification of its beneficiary companies and foreigners.

    The programme was launched in 2020 to encourage IT professionals and companies from Belarus to work in Poland, and was later extended to include Armenia, Georgia, Moldova, Russia and Ukraine. As of September 2022, it included a Business Path designed for strategic sector companies from across the world.

    According to the MFA, the programme has failed to achieve its goals, and there have been concerns about the misuse of visas issued under the programme.

    Foreign national IT specialists can still apply for a work visa. The MFA says that it will start work on streamlined visa procedures for applicants from high-demand industries.

    United Kingdom

    Changes to visitor rules take effect

    Changes to the rules for business visitors took effect on 31 January 2024.

    The following amendments, published in a statement of changes on 7 December 2023, expand the range of business activities visitors can undertake without requiring sponsorship or obtaining another category of immigration permission.

    • The scope of activities permitted for intra-corporate transferees (those employed abroad but working in the UK for a branch or entity within the same corporate group) is expanded to remove the prohibition on working directly with clients. However, client-facing activity must now be incidental to the visitor’s employment abroad and must not amount to the offshoring of a project or service to their overseas employer.
    • Permission for flight crew to enter the UK as part of a Civil Aviation Authority approved wet lease agreement between the months of March and October is now part of the standard Visitor rules, rather than a concession outside the rules.
    • Visitors are now permitted to work remotely while in the UK, although remote work must not be the primary purpose of their visit.

    Scientists, researchers and academics can now conduct research in the UK as part of their visit. Previously, scientists and researchers could only conduct independent research, and academics could only conduct research for their own purposes if they are on sabbatical leave from their home institution. This change does not apply to academics applying for a 12-month visit visa or to those applying to extend their permission within the UK.

    • The activities permitted for legal professionals has been expanded to include advice (no longer limited to a UK-based client), providing advocacy for a court or hearing, appearing in arbitrations or courts, acting as an arbitrator, mediator or expert witness, participating in conferences and teaching, litigation and transactional legal services (including drafting contracts).
    • Speaking at conferences is now included in the list of Permitted Paid Engagements (PPE), and can now be paid.
    • Permitted Paid Engagements (PPE) are now part of the Standard Visitor Visa, meaning that those entering for PPE can in principle be issued permission for up to six months, rather than one month. However, the PPE must be completed within 30 days of entry.

    Government announces details of upcoming immigration changes

    On 30 January 2024, the immigration minister made a written statement announcing further details of the changes to the immigration rules which were announced on 4 December 2024. A statement of changes to the Immigration Rules will be laid on 19 February 2024 for the care worker changes and on 14 March 2024 for the skilled worker and family/spouse visa changes.

    • On 19 February 2024, the government intends to lay Immigration Rules which will remove the right for care workers and senior care workers to bring dependants, which will come into force on 11 March 2024. The rules will ensure that care providers in England will only be able to sponsor migrant workers if they are undertaking activities regulated by the Care Quality Commission (CQC).
    • On 14 March 2024, the government intends to lay Immigration Rules to increase the earnings thresholds for those arriving on the Skilled Worker route, with the minimum threshold rising by 48% from £26,200 to £38,700. These changes will come into force from 4 April 2024. Those coming on the Health and Care Visa route will be exempted from this specific threshold. Workers on national pay scale occupations are also exempted.
    • The minimum income for Family visas will be raised incrementally, in stages. The Immigration Rules the government intends to lay on 14 March 2024 will set out that from 11 April 2024 the threshold will be raised to £29,000 – that is the 25th percentile of earnings for jobs which are eligible for Skilled Worker visas. The government will incrementally increase the threshold to the 40th percentile (currently £34,500), and finally to the 50th percentile (currently £38,700, and the level at which the General Skilled Worker threshold is set) by early 2025.
    • On 17 January 2024 the government commissioned the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) to carry out a rapid review of the Shortage Occupation List to inform which occupations should be temporarily added to an Immigration Salary List from early April. The Immigration Rules the government intends to lay on 14 March 2024 will remove the 20% going rate discount for occupations on the Shortage Occupation List, as well as temporarily add any occupations as recommended by the MAC to the new Immigration Salary List.

    Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) now required for nationals of Gulf Cooperation Council and Jordan

    On 1 February 2024, the Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) scheme opened for nationals of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Jordan, who will require an ETA to travel to the UK from 22 February 2024. Qatari nationals already need an ETA. Other nationalities cannot and do not need to apply yet.

    The ETA scheme is broadly for visitors who do not need a visa for short stays to the UK, or who do not already have a UK immigration status prior to travelling.

    An ETA costs £10, permits multiple journeys and is valid for two years or until the holder’s passport expires – whichever is sooner.

    Previously, Gulf nationals paid £30 through the electronic visa waiver scheme and Jordanians paid £115 for a single-use visitor visa.

    Expanded Youth Mobility schemes

    Changes to the UK’s Youth Mobility schemes (YMS) came into effect on 31 January 2024.

    Enhancements to the existing Youth Mobility schemes with Australia, Canada, Japan and South Korea have come into force.

    • The age range for the Australia, Canada, and South Korea schemes has been expanded to 18-35.
    • Australian and Canadian nationals in the UK on a Youth Mobility visa can also now apply for a one-year extension, taking the total amount of time they can be in Britain to three years.
    • The reciprocal quota with Japan is being increased to 6000, while the quota with South Korea is rising to 5000. Citizens from both countries will now no longer be required to enter a ballot before applying.

    New schemes with Andorra and Uruguay have also taken effect for individuals aged between 18 to 30, with 100 and 500 places available for Andorran and Uruguayan youth respectively to come to the UK for a maximum stay of up to two years. 

    The UK now has YMS agreements in place with Andorra, Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Iceland, Japan, Monaco, New Zealand, San Marino, South Korea, Taiwan and Uruguay.

    Government announces date of increase to civil penalty fines for employers and landlords

    The government has published updates to its Code of Practices for the Right to Work Scheme and the Right to Rent Scheme which come into force on 13 February 2024. The new rules include the previously announced increase to civil penalty fines for employers and landlords who employ or let property to foreign nationals who do not have the right to work or rent in the UK.

    From 13 February 2024:

    • The civil penalty for employers will increase from £15,000 to a maximum £45,000 per illegal worker for a first breach of the Scheme, and from £20,000 to a maximum £60,000 per illegal worker for repeat breaches.
    • For landlords, the civil penalty for a first breach will increase from £80 per lodger and £1,000 per occupier, to up to £5,000 per lodger and £10,000 per occupier. Repeat breaches will increase from £500 per lodger and £3,000 per occupier to £10,000 and £20,000 respectively.
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