In this inaugural edition, find the latest global news on China easing travel restrictions as other countries impose COVID testing on travelers from China, a reminder that Canada now requires employment contracts and notification of rights for foreign workers, an expansion of the Schengen area, and more.
China Finally Easing Travel Restrictions as Other Countries Impose COVID Testing on Travelers from China
China has finally done away with the requirement that travelers have a PU letter approval from China before being able to request a visa, and has also removed the quarantine requirement for incoming travelers from 9 January 2023. However, as COVID cases in China surge, many countries including the US, UK, Spain, France, Italy, Japan and South Korea, are now temporarily requiring negative COVID tests for travelers from China.
Reminder: Canada Now Requiring Employment Contracts and Notification of Rights for Foreign Workers
Significant amendments to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act have impacted ongoing compliance requirements for companies in Canada that employ foreign workers. Although these amendments entered into force in September 2022, we have found that many employers are not aware of the new requirements, so it is important to highlight them as companies gear up for a new year of sponsoring foreign workers.
Companies employing foreign workers under either the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (Labor Market Impact Assessment (“LMIA”) based work permits) or the International Mobility Program (LMIA exempt work permits) are now required to provide workers with an employment agreement signed by both parties prior to commencing employment. The agreement must include the terms and conditions of employment as indicated in the approved LMIA or Offer of Employment form submitted to the government.
Companies are also required to provide foreign workers with notice of their rights prior to commencing employment. For compliance purposes, companies should ensure that this website is available in English and in French (add hyperlink to https://www.canada.ca/fr/emploi-developpement-social/services/travailleurs-etrangers/droits-proteges.html) on the company intranet to all employees, or is otherwise distributed to all employees.
The amendments also changed requirements around providing access to health care services and added a required attestation that the employer has not charged the foreign worker any fees or costs (including government processing fees, compliance fees and/or recruitment fees) related to procuring the LMIA or Offer of Employment.
Schengen Area Expands to Include Croatia – Count Your Days of Stay Carefully in 2023 to Avoid Penalties!
The Schengen area recently expanded to include Croatia. The Schengen area is a common, border-free travel area consisting of 27 countries in Europe. Foreign travelers are allowed to spend a limited number of days in the Schengen area for purposes of tourism or business. US citizens and most other visa-waiver nationals are allowed 90 days of stay in a rolling 180-day period. This means that time spent in Croatia now counts against the total time allowed in the Schengen area. Please remember to track your employees’ time in the Schengen area carefully as exceeding the allowed time is punishable by a fine and a multi-year bar from returning to any country in the Schengen area.
Singapore: ONE Pass Now Available, Reminder to Update Annual Turnover to Avoid Delays or Denials on Employment Pass Applications
Singapore has launched the new Overseas Networks & Expertise (“ONE”) Pass, available from 1 January 2023. This pass allows high earners (defined as those who earn a monthly salary of at least S$30,000) and select individuals with outstanding achievement in arts, sports, science and academia to seek a pass to work in Singapore without the need for employer sponsorship. Significantly it permits them to start up, operate and/or work for multiple companies in Singapore. It is exempt from the advertising requirements and also allows their spouse to work on a dependent Letter of Consent.
Please also remember to enter your company’s 2022 turnover in the MyMOMPortal (and 2021, if you previously listed that as “unavailable”) as soon as you have it in the new year, as the Ministry of Manpower may issue requests for evidence or deny Employment Pass applications from companies without up-to-date turnover information verified in the system.
WReview: International Remote Work – Strategic Options for Maximizing Compliance and Minimizing Cost
Many in our industry have celebrated the last of the pandemic related travel restrictions falling away. However, along with this many of the COVID-era immigration concessions, such as automatic forgiveness of overstays, automatic visa extensions, and exemptions from having to appear for registration appointments in person, have also or will shortly be ending.
The end of concessions poses an issue for employers who are still dealing with employee demands to continue allowing international remote work. Adding to this is the increased pressure on HR and global mobility professionals to ensure their companies are compliant with immigration (and tax and employment) laws. It is no longer the early days of the pandemic when we were all learning how to cope in a world turned upside down; three years on compliance expectations are back to where they were pre-pandemic. But, despite the potential looming recession, the labor market remains tight. How are employers to balance the competing demands for compliance and international remote work flexibility? One solution is to offer an international remote work policy with a limited menu of options. In contrast to “work from anywhere” policies, a menu of options approach allows employers to select “friendly” destination countries where the immigration process is not too onerous or costly either in terms of dollars or risk. By limiting the options, the employer remains in control and in compliance, while still offering a very desirable perk to attract and retain top talent. Curious about how to make this work for your company? Get in touch with us!
Did you know that WR Immigration has a dedicated team that can assist with document procurement, apostille and legalization? We not only handle the immigration piece of the international relocation puzzle, but are able to assist your employees with procuring and authenticating their marriage certificates, birth certificates, diplomas, transcripts, and much more. Contact us now for more information.