Please note: while we address some country-specific updates related to the COVID-19 pandemic , this Alert contains information regarding global restrictions and closures as they stand today. Given the constantly changing nature of this situation, we highly recommend reviewing any global mobility inquiries on a case-by-case basis, including any consulate-specific or immigration authority resources, in “real-time” before traveling internationally. Please reach out to our Global Mobility Team in advance of any international travel.
Australia – Increase of Government Filing Fees
Government filing fees in Australia will increase between 6% to 40% as of July 1, 2023.
Please see the following visa subclasses:
Canada – Announcement of Execution of Canada-Finland Youth Mobility Agreement, Changes to Agreement with South Korea and Strengthening of Family Reunification
On May 19, 2023, the Canadian government announced the signing of the Canada-Finland Youth Mobility Agreement. This new agreement will allow Canadian and Finnish youth, aged 18 to 35, to work and travel in each other’s country under International Experience Canada (IEC) or the Finnish equivalent. There are three categories under IEC: (1) Working Holiday, (2) International Co-op (internship), and (3) Young Professionals. Youth will be able to participate in the program for up to 12 months per category. The agreement is expected to come into force in 2024.
On May 23, 2023, the Canadian government made a similar announcement to strengthen ties with South Korea under the IEC program by updating the existing requirement to be more inclusive: the eligibility age range will expand from 18 to 30 to 18 to 35. Two new streams—(1) International Co-op (Internship) and (2) Young Professionals—will be added to complement the existing Working Holiday category and most youth will also have the option to participate twice in the program—each time for up to 24 months. The Government of Canada anticipates implementing the new arrangement in 2024.
On May 26th, 2023, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) announced new measures to strengthen family reunification in Canada by including:
- Faster temporary resident visa (TRV) processing times for spousal applicants
- New and dedicated processing tools for spousal TRV applicants
- A new open work permit for spousal and family class applicants
- Open work permit extensions for open work permit holders expiring between August 1stand December 31, 2023
Going forward, most of these applications will be processed within 30 days, and applicants will benefit from processing measures specific to their circumstances as spouses and dependents. Spouses, partners, and dependents are now able to apply for and receive an open work permit as soon as they submit a complete permanent residence application under the spouse or common-law partner in Canada class (SPCLC) or other family class programs. Finally, IRCC announced that spousal applicants, along with other open work permit holders, whose open work permits expire between August 1stand December 31st, 2023, will be able to extend their work permits for an additional 18 months. A similar option was recently offered to many with expiring post-graduation work permits.
Germany – Processing of Visa Applications in Russia
The German Embassy in Moscow announced that as of June 1, 2023 visa applications will only be processed in Moscow. Effective this date, the Consulates in St. Petersburg, Kaliningrad, Yekaterinburg, and Novosibirsk will no longer issue visas.
Russian nationals are asked to submit their visa applications to one of the five VisaMetric visa service centers in St. Petersburg, Kaliningrad, Yekaterinburg, Novosibirsk or Moscow. It is important to note that different procedures apply for booking of appointments for national visa or Schengen visa applications:
Appointments for national visa applications are booked at the German Consulate in Moscow, and applications are submitted to VisaMetric.
Appointments for Schengen visa applications and the submission of visa applications take place directly at one of the five VisaMetric offices.
Further details please see here.
Singapore – Delayed Processing Times and Overview of the COMPASS Framework
During the past week we have seen an increase in processing times. While the Ministry of Manpower (MoM) did not make a formal announcement, experience shows that all applications take longer than usual; this may be caused by the merger of the EPOL and MyMOM portals. For these reasons, we can expect more than three weeks of processing time for processing of the very popular employment (EP) applications.
The COMPASS Framework will be implemented on September 1, 2023 for all new Employment Pass (EP) applications.
The new COMPASS framework will come in addition to the qualifying salary, and will consist of a point-based system to assess eligibility to the Employment Pass. Based on 6 criteria, the scoring system awards 0, 10, and 20 points per criterion, respectively corresponding to “Does not meet expectations,” “Meet expectations,” and “Exceeds expectations.”
An EP applicant would need a total of 40 points or more to be eligible for the work pass.
Points per criterion and their actual assessment under COMPASS framework
COMPASS Framework Criteria Overview
None of the criteria can lead to disqualification, but a total number of points below 40 will not be sufficient to be eligible to the EP. Each criterion has been designed to ensure fairness and non-discrimination towards local applicants:
1. Salary criterion: The applicant’s salary will be compared to the pool of current employees of the same sector and similar age. Salary benchmarks per sector are available on the MOM website to better guide employers on their applicant’s ranking. Please find the attached document which shares the benchmark.
2. Qualification criterion: The applicant’s academic qualifications will be measured based on: the world Top 100 ranking universities, Singaporean Universities, and highly recognized vocational institutions. In terms of degree-equivalent qualifications, the standard comparison will be a United Kingdom academic system Bachelor’s degree. Qualifications will also have to be verified by the employer. We attach the list of Universities the MOM has published.
Please note that qualifications declared to MOM in new EP applications will have to be supported with verification proof from one of the background screening companies listed on MOM’s website. The processing time may vary, but on average may take 6 to 8 weeks. Hence, recruitment and start dates of candidates may be impacted.
3. Diversity criterion: The percentage of total current employees from the nationality of the applicant relative to the total number of employees will be required to assess this criterion. For example, if the number of employees of the same nationality than the applicant in the company is high, then the applicant is less likely to score points on the diversity criterion.
Support of local employment: The percentage of local employees will be compared to other companies within the same subsector. Employers with a higher share of local employees than other peer companies from the same subsector will score points on this criterion.
4. Shortage Occupation List: Talents on shortage on the local job market might be reflected within the Shortage Occupation List, as such, applications to fill a job listed will score extra points. The MoM is expected to publish an up to date list during the next months. Current information is available here.
5. Strategic Economic Priorities: Applications from companies undertaking innovative and international activities in partnership with the Singaporean government will score extra points.
Some exemptions will also be possible from the COMPASS framework for applicants fulfilling at least one of the following conditions to be eligible for Employment Pass in Singapore. Please note that the COMPASS framework points calculation will not apply if the candidate meets one of the below criteria. So far, it is not clear how it would bypass the system, and we expect to receive more information around August 2023.
- Applicant’s fixed monthly salary will be at least SGD 22,500. The role will be exempt from job posting and COMPASS points calculation
- Applicant is an overseas intra-corporate transferee under the WTO General Agreement on Trade in Services or an applicable Free Trade Agreement with Singapore. ICT Employment Pass applications are exempt from the job posting and COMPASS points calculation. However, we see most of the clients do not intend to use this option as the main pass holder cannot sponsor dependents to Singapore. Hence, the most popular pass is the “General Employment Pass”
- Applicant’s role is for 1 month or less.
Please note that an assessment tool will be available for companies to check eligibility of the candidates by August/September this year. Please see information published by the MoM here.
United Kingdom – Reporting Requirements regarding Hybrid Working and Changes to Student Visa Conditions
U-turn on hybrid working reporting for sponsors
Last month the Home Office announced a new requirement for employers sponsoring overseas workers to report their usual working locations, including hybrid work. They have now reversed that policy. Following enquiries from Seyfarth UK legal team, the Home Office has communicated that it will no longer require such reports, recognising that hybrid working patterns are the “new normal.” The guidance is yet to be updated to reflect this.
Companies sponsoring overseas workers must still keep an internal record of working patterns, including those of sponsored workers, and any policies relating to absences from work.
Changes to Student visa conditions
On 23 May 2023, the Home Secretary has announced changes to the UK student visa route as part of the government's attempt to reduce net migration figures. These were published by the Office of National Statistics ONS report days later showing an increase in the net migration numbers to 606,000 for 2022.
The ability for international students to switch out of the student route into work routes before their studies have been completed is being removed. Currently, students are permitted to apply for a work visa up to three months prior to the date of their course completion.
The changes also include removing the right for all international students to bring their dependant spouse and children, unless they are on postgraduate courses currently designated as research programmes (PhD and research Master courses). Under the current Immigration Rules, all students who are enrolled on full-time, postgraduate courses lasting nine months or longer can bring family members with them to the UK.
The government is currently consulting with the higher education sector and hopes to introduce these changes to come into force from January 2024.
In reality, focusing on students to reduce net migration figures may have limited effects. In terms of the net migration figures, international Master’s students and their dependents may not show up on the Office for National Statistics’s overall net migration figures due to the fact that many of their courses are less than a year in length. Furthermore, international students are also temporary migrants who are not major contributors to overall net migration.