WR Immigration’s January global immigration updates include the latest developments in the Workforce Australia site, China business and tourist visas, Brazil’s e-visa platform, Ukrainian TPS, and much more!
The Australian government has announced that employers conducting labor market testing for relevant immigration applications will no longer have to advertise on the Workforce Australia site. This is a very positive change as dealing with the Workforce Australia site could be quite time consuming. Employers will now only have to place two advertisements, instead of three, for the required 28 day period.
China continues to relax and streamline its requirements for business and tourist visas with a view to attracting more travelers. The visa application form now requires less information regarding prior employment and travel history, and tourists are no longer required to provide their airline tickets and hotel bookings. There is also word that the visa waiver scheme introduced for several European countries and Malaysia in late 2023 may be expanded to include more countries, including Thailand.
Brazil has decided to postpone implementation of the new requirement that U.S., Canadian, and Australian citizens to hold e-visas to travel for tourism or business until April 10, 2024. The new online e-visa platform has launched and is available, however, it is not necessary for citizens of those countries to obtain a visa if traveling prior to April. Notably, the new e-visa platform has experienced a number of technical glitches since launch, so we recommend that those traveling in or after April to apply for their visas well in advance.
Bulgaria and Romania
As of March 31, 2024, Bulgaria and Romania will join the Schengen common travel area for air and sea travel. Border checkpoints for those traveling from other Schengen member countries will be eliminated. However, a decision regarding elimination of any land border checkpoints remains pending.
The Irish government has announced significant changes to employment-based immigration rules to take effect from January 2024. Many of these changes are positive: including addition of 11 roles to the Critical Skills Occupations List and 32 roles to the General Employment Permit eligible list. However, minimum salary requirements will also be increased for multiple categories as follows:
- Critical Skills Employment Permit with a degree – EUR 38,000
- General Employment Permit – EUR 34,000
- Intra-company Transfer Employment Permit – EUR 46,000
- Contract for Services Permit – EUR 46,000
Employers should ensure that any roles for which they are seeking permits meet the relevant threshold wage. It is important to be particularly careful that any advertising already completed for a labor market needs test contains a compliant salary level, or it will need to be repeated.
With the start of a new year, companies in Singapore are reminded to update their value of turnover (revenue) information for FY 2023 in the EP eService on MyMOMPortal. Companies should update the turnover information for FY 2023 as soon as possible in January of each year to avoid any possible delays in the processing of their employment passes in the new year. Companies should also be sure to update past years’ turnovers if they had previously indicated this as unavailable or zero, as we have noticed that the MOM is also considering company turnover in the past when adjudicating applications.
Temporary Protected Status for Ukrainians in the EU
As the war in Ukraine continues and we approach the initial expiration date of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) permits for Ukrainians in many EU member states, we are beginning to see countries extending TPS permits. For example, Italy has recently announced that TPS permits will remain valid until December 31, 2024. Spain has announced that TPS permit holders may apply to extend their status through March 4, 2025. However, countries differ on whether the extension is automatic or requires action on the part of the permit holder, and further extensions are not guaranteed in future years. Thus, Ukrainian nationals may want to consider changing their TPS status for a regular work authorized status to avoid future uncertainty and accrue time towards obtaining permanent residence should they choose to do so.
The General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs has stopped processing transfer and release sign-out requests for visas for employees, students, and spouses. Thus, going forward, anyone seeking to transfer their residence visa will first have to apply for cancellation and then proceed with an application for a new visa under the new system.
The UK continues to announce changes to its immigration program with the overarching goal of reducing immigration, despite ongoing business demand for workers. The most significant change for employers In the latest round of announcements, there is a significant increase in general minimum salary for skilled workers from GBP 26,200 to GBP 38,700; which is more than the national median wage in the UK. The exact date for the change to take effect has not yet been announced, but the end of April 2024 seems likely.
Given this, coupled with the previously announced IHS surcharge increase, we strongly recommend that employers planning to sponsor foreign workers in the UK to file their applications as soon as possible and to consider sponsoring foreign workers for the maximum duration allowed.