Immigration Updates – 1st of March

Contributor(s): Daniel King
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    Austria / United States

    New working holiday program established

    On 20 February 2024, Austria and the United States signed a Professional Development and Cultural Exchange Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to establish a Working Holiday Program (WHP).

    The exchange program promotes mutual understanding by offering young Austrian and U.S. citizens the opportunity to get to know the culture, everyday life and working world in the other country. Young people between the ages of 18 and 30 can (co-)finance their stay of up to 12 months by taking up paid employment and using the educational facilities in the partner country.

    Austrian citizens, between 18 and 30 years of age who are enrolled in or recently graduated from an Austrian-accredited post-secondary or a dual/vocational education program will be eligible to participate. Similarly, United States citizens aged 18 to 30 years of age who have recently graduated from a United States degree, diploma, or certificate granting educational institution will be eligible. The United States is expanding educational exchange opportunities, enabling post-secondary or vocational education students to participate alongside students from colleges and universities.


    Increased flexibility for certified companies

    The government has proposed a bill introducing more flexible rules for foreign workers in Denmark. The government has put the bill out for consultation and proposes that it come into force on 1 July 2024.

    With the bill, the government will exempt certain foreign workers from the requirement that wages be paid to a Danish bank account. The exception will include the researcher scheme and the fast-track scheme’s pay limit track, researcher track, educational track and short-term track.

    In order for foreign nationals to be granted residence through the fast-track scheme, it is a requirement that the company in which they are employed is certified. In order to be certified, a company must, among other things, have at least 10 full-time employees in Denmark, pay and employment conditions must be customary according to Danish conditions, and the company must not have outstanding claims with the Norwegian Working Environment Authority.

    For companies that are still subject to the bank account requirement, it is proposed that the time limit for setting up a Danish bank account be extended from 90 days to 180 days.

    At the same time, the government will extend the job change rule so that foreign nationals who change their residence without changing jobs are also covered. For example, a foreign national who is currently in Denmark on a one-year residence permit and who would like to switch to the pay limit scheme, which is granted for four years at a time. Would be able to do this without interrupting their current employment while the case is being processed.

    The government also proposes to make it possible to extend a stay on the fast-track scheme’s short-term track, as long as the stay in Denmark does not exceed a total of 90 days per year. It is not currently possible to extend a short-term stay. Instead, the foreign national must apply for a new first-time residence permit, and may only continue their work once they have obtained a new provisional work permit.

    Working holiday quotas for nationals of Argentina and Chile

    A new quota period for working holiday residence permits for nationals of Argentina and Chile begins on 1 March 2024.

    On that day, the VFS visa application centres in Buenos Aires, Argentina and Santiago, Chile open for appointments at 9 am local time (UTC-3).

    For the period 1 March 2024 until 31 August 2024, up to 75 residence permits for citizens of Argentina and up to 75 residence permits for citizens of Chile can be granted under the Working Holiday Scheme. Permits are granted on a first come, first served principle.

    When the quota of 75 residence permits under the Working Holiday Scheme for both Chilean and Argentinian citizens has been fully used, no more residence permits will be issued until 1 September 2024 when the next quota period begins. Any remaining applications will be rejected and the case processing fee paid to SIRI will be refunded. Any fee paid to the representation in Chile or Argentina will not be refunded if the application is rejected.

    Working holidays in Denmark are also available to nationals of Australia, Canada, New Zealand and South Korea; and Japan


    New immigration law takes effect

    On 26 January 2024, the new law “controlling immigration while improving integration” was enacted by the President.  

    This law aims to strengthen the integration of foreign citizens in three ways: learning and mastering French, respecting the principles of the Republic, and integration through work. 

    The changes include: 

    • The modification of the designation of the residence permit “talent passport” to “talent residence permit” in order to limit the confusion caused by the use of the word “passport”;  
    • The merger of residence permits issued for the purposes of new business, innovative business projects, and business investor into a single residence permit called “innovative business project”.   
    • The merger of residence permits issued to young, qualified graduates, employees of an innovative new company and employees on assignment into a single residence permit called “talent-qualified employee”;   
    • The creation of a new residence permit for medical professionals called “medical and pharmacy professional talent”; 
    • Enhancement of French language learning. Proficiency levels in French are specified for different types of residence permits. Companies are encouraged to contribute to the linguistic training of their foreign employees; 
    • A new regularization pathway is introduced for illegal immigrant workers in sectors facing labour shortages; 
    • Improvements for issuing residence permits will be based on a comprehensive experimentation of applications. Three regional platforms will be launched for pre-instruction of residence permits and renewal will be simplified through the Digital Administration for Foreign nationals in France by 2025;
    • Sanctions for the employment of foreign workers without proper work permits are increased.


    Extension of stay for Ukrainian nationals

    The Minister of Justice has decided to extend, until 2 March 2025, the period of validity of humanitarian residence permits issued to Ukrainian nationals.

    To extend their permit, eligible Ukrainian nationals must have their photo taken for the purpose of obtaining a new plastic card, no earlier than four weeks before the expiration of the current permit and no later than four weeks after its expiration. Photo appointments in Reykjavik can be booked here, or the photos can be taken at the nearest sheriff’s office.

    United Kingdom

    Migration Advisory Committee publishes rapid review of the Immigration Salary List

    On 23 February 2024, the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) published a report on the upcoming new Immigration Salary List (ISL).

    On 4 December 2023, the Home Secretary announced several changes to the immigration system related to the Skilled Worker route. Subsequently on 17 January 2024 the government commissioned the MAC to carry out a rapid review of the ISL.


    The government announcement on 4 December 2023 (to be implemented from April 2024) includes:

    • Shortage Occupation List (SOL) to be replaced with the Immigration Salary List (ISL);
    • Abolishing the 20% ‘going rate’ discount, previously a benefit of placing an occupation on the SOL;
    • Skilled Worker route (except Health and Care Worker visa):
      • General threshold raised from £26,200 to £38,700.
      • Raising the occupation-specific thresholds from the 25th percentile to the 50th percentile (median) full-time salary of the occupation or the national pay scale where applicable; and,
      • For occupations on the ISL, a threshold of either £30,960 or their occupation-specific threshold, whichever is higher.
    • Exception for Health and Care Worker Visa:
      • General threshold of £29,000 rather than £38,700;
      • Occupation-specific thresholds set at the 25th percentile or the national pay scale where applicable; and,
      • For occupations on the ISL, a threshold of either £23,200 or their occupation-specific threshold, whichever is higher.

    The MAC states that it has considered only those occupations currently on the Shortage Occupation List (SOL) and those which the MAC recommended for inclusion in its 2023 SOL review. This is intended to be an interim measure for the implementation of the new rules announced on 4 December 2023, ahead of a full review of the ISL starting later in the year.


    The MAC has recommended 21 occupations be included on the ISL, which represents 8% of job roles eligible for the Skilled Worker route by employment. This means that the interim ISL is smaller than the current Shortage Occupation List (SOL) as, previously, approximately 30% of job roles eligible for the SW route were on the SOL. These 21 occupations consist of 18 recommendations for the UK-wide ISL and 3 recommendations for the Scotland-only ISL.

    Non-H&CW occupationsH&CW occupations not on a pay scale (including care workers and senior care workers)Pay scale occupations
    General threshold (not on SOL/ISL)Current£26,200£26,200£20,960
    From April 2024£38,700£29,000£23,200
    Threshold on SOL/ISLCurrent£20,960£20,960£20,960
    From April 2024£30,960£23,200£23,200
    Occupation-specific thresholdCurrent25th percentile25th percentileNational pay scales
    From April 202450th percentile25th percentileNational pay scales

    Placement on the ISL will give occupations a 20% discount on the general salary threshold, subject to not reducing salaries below the level of the occupation-specific threshold. This will mean that for many occupations even the ISL-reduced threshold will be above the salaries paid for the vast majority of workers in that occupation. The new general threshold in effect will mean that the Skilled Worker route becomes unavailable for many occupations.

    The government has announced that, for now, the new entrant discount available for those aged 26 and under will continue. In its current form, this discount provides a 30% discount on the occupation-specific threshold and a 20% discount on the general salary threshold, the higher of which must be paid. Employers may take advantage of the new entrant discount (more than they have historically done) as the increased salary thresholds will make this discount more attractive and for some occupations may be the only way to recruit migrant workers on the SW route.

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