Immigration updates – 14th of June

Contributor(s): Daniel King
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    Australia

    Closure of Business Innovation and Investment (Provisional) subclass 188 visa

    As part of the Migration Strategy, the government announced that it would not provide any new allocations for the Business Innovation and Investment program (BIIP) (provisional) subclass 188 visa while a new talent and innovation visa was considered. The new National Innovation visa will be available at the end of 2024.

    The BIIP will close permanently from July 2024. The Department of Home Affairs (DHA) will not accept any new applications for the BIIP (subclass 188) visa. The Migration Review found that the BIIP is delivering poor economic results for Australia. Studies including work by the Treasury and the Productivity Commission support this finding.

    DHA will process current BIIP (subclass 188) visa applications in line with government priorities and Migration Program planning levels. DHA will also tighten BIIP policy guidance so that all business migrants coming to Australia must have had a successful business career and will bring an economic benefit to Australia.

    Those who hold a subclass 188 visa and meet the criteria for the Business Innovation and Investment (Permanent) (subclass 888) visa can continue on this pathway after July 2024.

    Those who hold a subclass 188 visa in the Business Innovation stream or the Significant Investor stream can still apply for the extension stream of the visa. This will give more time to meet the requirements of the Business Innovation and Investment (Permanent) (subclass 888) visa.

    Refunds for the subclass 188 visa application charge (VAC) will be available from September 2024 if you want to withdraw your application. DHA will give more information on when to withdraw and how to ask for a refund when they are available.

    New restrictions on transferring to a Student visa

    From 1 July 2024, Temporary Graduate, Visitor and Maritime Crew visa holders will be unable to apply for a Student visa while in Australia.

    In addition to existing visas from which it is already not possible to apply for a Student visa onshore, the complete list of visa holders that will be unable to apply for a Student visa onshore are:

    The changes to Student visa eligibility were announced as part of the release of the Migration Strategy earlier in 2024.

    The Department of Home Affairs states:

    Visa hopping has contributed to a growing cohort of ‘permanently temporary’ former international students living in Australia. These changes, combined with other measures, will help to close this loophole and put an end to this practice.

    Temporary Graduate Visa holders should depart Australia, or find skilled jobs and/​​or other visa pathways, including those that may lead to becoming permanent residents of Australia. Visitor visa applicants who intend to study will be required to apply for their Student visa from offshore.​

    Student visa applicants genuinely intending to pursue studies in Australia can apply outside Australia. Those who meet the criteria will be granted a Student visa.

    Canada

    New visa application centres opened in Mexico

    Canada has opened three new visa application centres (VACs) in Mexico City, Monterrey and Guadalajara, Mexico.

    The new VACs will initially provide biometric collection services only, and then we will work to expand the range of services to include transmitting and tracking passports or other documents. In the meantime, applicants can continue to access the full range of services at the existing VAC in Mexico City.

    With these new centres, Mexico will have four VACs located in the country’s three largest metropolitan areas.

    Applicants can make appointments to give their biometrics at any of the four VAC locations as soon as they receive their biometric instruction letter.

    VACs are managed by private companies that have contracts with the Government of Canada. They don’t represent the Government of Canada. They don’t make decisions about applications and can’t provide any visa-related advice to applicants

    Updated minimum funds for Express Entry

    Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has posted updated minimum fund requirements for applicants for permanent residence through Express Entry. The numbers are updated annually.

    Proof of funds is how applicants demonstrate that they have enough money to settle in Canada. If invited you to apply, applicants must give written proof that they have this money.

    Proof of funds is required to meet the minimum requirements of the Federal Skilled Worker Program and the Federal Skilled Trades Program.

    Proof of funds is not required for those who are :

    • applying under the Canadian Experience Class; or
    • authorized to work in Canada and have a valid job offer, even if they apply under the Federal Skilled Worker Program or the Federal Skilled Trades Program.

    Those who do not require proof of funds must upload either a letter explaining that they have been invited to apply under the Canadian Experience Class, or a valid job offer.

    The amount of funds required is based on the size of applicant’s family, including the applicant, their spouse or common-law partner and their dependent children (even if the spouse, partner or children are Canadian citizens or permanent residents, and even if they are not accompanying the applicant to Canada.

    The new amounts are as follows:

    Number of family membersFunds
    (in Canadian dollars)
    1$14,690
    2$18,288
    3$22,483
    4$27,297
    5$30,690
    6$34,917
    7$38,875
    Each additional family member$3,958

    Further details are available here.

    Czechia

    Free access to the labour market for certain nationalities

    On 1 July 2024, a government regulation will enter into force, introducing free entry to the Czech labour market for citizens of the following nine countries: Australia, Canada, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, United Kingdom, United States.

    Citizens of these countries who wish to be employed in Czechia are no longer required to obtain a work permit, but only a residence permit. Employers of citizens of selected countries are no longer required to notify the Labour Office of vacancies for the purpose of including vacancies in the central register of vacancies.

    Those planning to work in Czechia for up to three months must obtain a Schengen visa for employment purposes. Visa-free entry does not permit work. If the work period is extended beyond three months, the visa holder must exit Czechia and apply for a long-term residence permit at a Czech embassy abroad.

    Those planning to work in Czechia for more than three months must apply for a so-called non-dual employee card at any Czech embassy. This type of employment card can be issued for a job that the employer has not reported to the Labour Office and is not included in the central register of vacant jobs that can be filled by holders of the employment card. The cardholder is then entitled to change jobs freely (and additionally notify the Ministry of the Interior of the change within three days).

    A highly qualified foreign national can apply for a blue card, which includes benefits for the purposes of mobility within the EU, family reunification or social security. However, this card can only be issued for a vacancy announced to the Labour Office and included in the relevant central records, and the rules for its issuance therefore do not change for citizens of the selected countries with free access to the labour market.

    A citizen of an eligible country who is to be temporarily transferred to Czechia as a manager, specialist or graduate-intern within the framework of a multinational business corporation for a period longer than three months should apply for an intra-company transfer employee card.

    Free access to the labour market, without a work permit, will also apply to eligible foreign nationals who are sent by their foreign employer to a Czech client to perform work on the basis of a contract. The same approach will be applied in the case of eligible foreign nationals who have so far been able to enter the Czech labour market within the framework of closed memoranda and work leave programs, but who nevertheless had to apply for a work permit for this purpose.

    Denmark

    Bill on increased flexibility for work schemes

    On 4 June 2024, the Danish Parliament (Folketinget) passed a bill that amends the rules in the Immigration Act concerning Danish bank account requirements, residence based on the Fast-Track scheme’s short-term track as well as an amendment to the job change rule. The purpose of the bill is to make it simpler for companies in Denmark to use the work schemes and to support companies in the effective recruitment of foreign labour and to ensure a higher degree of flexibility for foreign workers who apply for a residence permit in Denmark based on one of the work schemes.

    The changes will come into effect on 1 July 2024.

    Extension of stay

    The bill will make it possible for foreign workers to apply for an extension of their stay based on the Fast-Track scheme’s short-term track without having to appear in one of SIRI’s departments. This means that the foreign worker will be able to continue their work as soon as the application for an extension is submitted and the fee is paid. The application for an extension must be submitted before the original residence and work permit expires, and it is still a requirement that the work stay does not exceed 90 days in Denmark within the last 365 days.

    Job change rule

    In addition, the job change rule will be extended to also include foreign nationals who wish to change their residence and work scheme (their grounds for residence) during ongoing employment without changing their job or employer. The new rules mean that the foreign national can continue to work without interruption once the new application for a residence and work permit has been submitted. 

    Danish bank account rules

    Finally, foreign nationals with a residence and work permit based on the researcher scheme or the Fast-Track scheme’s pay limit track, researcher track, education track and short-term track will now be exempt from the requirement that their salary must be paid to a Danish bank account. In addition, the deadline for setting up a Danish bank account will be extended from 90 days to 180 days for the work schemes that are still obliged to fulfil the requirement. 

    New residence permit scheme for accompanying family members of expatriate Danish citizens

    Effective 1 July 2024, accompanying family members of returning expatriate Danish citizens with certain job-related qualifications may be granted a residence permit in Denmark.

    This means that Danish citizens that are established abroad and wish to return to Denmark in order to work can bring their foreign family members.

    The expatriate Danish citizen must be established abroad and must have entered into an employment agreement or received an offer for a job position in Denmark which, if the Danish citizen had been a foreign national, could result in a residence permit under one of the following work schemes:

    • The Positive Lists
    • The Pay Limit Schemes
    • Researcher
    • Special individual qualifications
    • Herdsmen and farm managers
    • The Fast Track Scheme’s pay limit track, supplementary pay limit track, researcher track, and educational track

    The expatriate Danish citizen may also have an innovative business plan with the intention of running or continuing to run a self-employment business or running a business through a Danish branch of a foreign self-employment business in Denmark, which could result in a residence permit under the Start-up Denmark scheme.

    Portugal

    New procedure for pending post-arrival residence applications

    A new procedure for speeding up pending post-arrival “expression of interest” residence cases has been published on the AIMA website. Foreign nationals with a pending expression of interest case, initiated on the old SAPA Portal up to 30 April 2023, will receive an email from AIMA to deal with their application. According to the document, in order to continue processing it is necessary to:

    1. Change the password on a new platform;
    2. Request a Single Collection Document (DUC) on the new platform to pay the fees, which must be paid within the next 10 working days;
    3. After payment, the applicant will receive an appointment proposal within the next 20 working days, indicating the date, time and place;
    4. A few days before the appointment, the applicant will receive instructions to update all the information and documents they sent at the beginning of the old process.


    From the beginning of 2024, fees must be paid when the application is submitted, rather than after the decision, for both new and pending cases.

    Background

    On 3 May 2024, the Council of Ministers approved an Action Plan for Migration which removes the “Expressions of Interest” procedure which allowed foreign nationals to apply for a residence permit while in Portugal as a visitor.

    The plan also includes an expansion of capacity at Portuguese consular posts abroad to cope with the expected consequent increase in consular residence applications, as well as the creation of a mission structure, with additional resources, to address the existing backlog of pending residence cases.

    Further details of the Action Plan can be found here in English and here in Portuguese.

    Saudi Arabia

    Wage Protection Service now obligatory for domestic workers

    The Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development (MHRSD) has announced the launch of a compulsory “Wage Protection Service” for domestic workers’ salaries, effective 1 July 2024.

    This service aims to ensure transparency in the salary payment process and facilitate it by using digital wallets and accredited banks through the Musaned platform. This service enhances security and reliability in salary transfers, thus safeguarding the rights of contractual parties.

    Implementation of this service will begin on 1 July 2024 for new domestic workers under new contracts. For existing contracts, the application will be gradual based on the number of domestic workers each employer has. For employers of more than four domestic workers, the service will apply from 1 January 2025. For those with three or more domestic workers it will apply from 1 July 2025. For employers with two or more domestic workers, the service will apply form 1 October 2025. The service is expected to include all domestic workers by 1 January 2026.

    The wages protection service for domestic workers has been optionally available through the Musaned platform since 1 April 2022, but will only now become compulsory.

    United States

    New visa appointment system for Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan

    The U.S. embassies in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan have announced the launch of a new visa appointment booking service, effective 10 June 2024.

    All visa applicants should use this website beginning June 10 to obtain visa information, pay any required nonimmigrant visa fees, schedule a nonimmigrant visa appointment, and receive document courier services.

    Through the new appointment system, applicants qualifying for interview waiver will be able to submit their visa application documents through a courier service and collect their documents following adjudication at designated pick-up locations.

    Please note that the visa application fee will not increase as a result of these process changes.

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