October Global Immigration Update

Oct 5, 2023 | Global

WR Immigration’s October global immigration updates include the latest developments in Brazil’s visa requirements for US citizens, India’s visa suspension for Canadians, and the UK’s increased civil penalties for employers who hire foreign nationals without appropriate visas. Plus we review answers to frequently asked questions about rules around business travel to the Schengen area of Europe.

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Brazil

The Brazilian government has delayed the implementation of the new requirement that US citizens hold visas to travel to Brazil for tourism or business from October to at least January 2024. US citizens continue to be able to travel on a visa waiver basis until the new rule is implemented and visa processing is opened.

India

India has suspended visa issuance to Canadian citizens due to a diplomatic row between the two countries. At the time of writing, Indian visas already issued to Canadians remained valid, and Canada has not announced any reciprocal measures against Indian citizens.

UK

In addition to the recent increase in government fees for certain visa types, the UK has also announced that they will significantly increase civil penalties for employers who employ foreign nationals without appropriate visas. Specifically, fine for employers will be raised from up to £15,000 to up to £45,000 per illegal worker for a first breach. For repeat breaches, fines will be raised from up to £20,000 to up to £60,000.  The change will not be implemented until the start of 2024; the precise date of implementation has not yet been set.

WReview: Travel to the Schengen Area

The Schengen area consists of the 27 countries in continental Europe who have agreed to the elimination of internal borders between them, as well as issuance of a uniform Schengen short stay visa that allows travel to all countries on a single visa for purposes of tourism or business. The region is one of the most popular business travel destinations in the world, yet we find that companies and employees alike are often confused regarding the rules associated with the region. Below we answer some of the most frequently asked questions about business travel to the region.

If an employee does not require a visa to travel to the Schengen area (i.e. US citizens), how long are they allowed to stay? What happens if they overstay?

Visa waiver nationals may stay up to 90 days within a rolling 180 day period. They must never stay longer than 90 days or they can be subject to fines and/or a one- or three-year ban on returning to any country in the Schengen area.

If an employee holds a citizenship that requires a visa to visit the Schengen region, how far in advance should they apply for their visa?

We recommend that most travelers apply at least two months in advance. In summer months it may even be prudent to begin the application process three months in advance as it can be quite difficult to secure the necessary appointment with the consulate. Once the employee attends the visa appointment, the visa is typically issued within three weeks. There is no premium processing or expedite service for Schengen visas.

If an employee is traveling to multiple Schengen countries in one trip, which country should they apply with for their visa?

They must apply with the consulate of the country in which they will spend the longest period of time. If they will spend exactly the same amount of time in two countries, then the must apply with the consulate of the country they will enter first.

Can an employee jurisdiction shop, applying for their visa with the consulate that is most conveniently located for them or has visa appointments available?

No, if the employee applies with the consulate of a country other than the one they will travel to their application will be rejected. Consulates will only process visas for those who are traveling to their country.

Does an employee have to go to the consulate in person to apply for the visa?

In most instances, yes, as biometrics (fingerprints) are taken at the time of application. However, the consulates of some (but not all!) Schengen countries will allow a traveler to send in their application remotely (via courier or with an agent) if they have already given biometrics for another Schengen visa within the past 59 months.

Can an employee use a Schengen visa to work?

No, Schengen visas are issued for the purpose of tourism or business visitor activities, such as brief meetings. They do not allow the holder to perform any productive work in the Schengen area. To work it is necessary to obtain a national visa from the individual country where the employee will be working; the Schengen countries do not have a shared “European work permit” allowing work throughout the region. Rather each country still issues its own work visas.

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