Seyfarth Global Immigration Update: August 2020

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[co-author: Ryann Stout]

Please note: while we address some country-specific updates related to the COVID-19 outbreak, the below 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 “realtime” before traveling internationally. Please reach out to our Global Mobility Team in advance of any international travel.

China - COVID Testing Requirements for Entry

The Chinese Civil Aviation Administration will now require all travelers entering China, regardless of nationality,  to comply with testing requirements prior to arrival.  Travelers must provide a negative nucleic acid COVID-19 test report issued within 5 days of departure for China.  The test report must be issued by a recognized medical facility as designated by the relevant Chinese embassy or consulate.  Foreign nationals are also required to obtain a Health Declaration Form from the appropriate Chinese consulate or embassy prior to travel by showing the negative test results.  Chinese citizens are required to upload the negative test result report to the health code portal in order to obtain the required health code for entry.

EU - Updated Travel Restrictions and Recommendations

The EU commission continues to evaluate and monitor the COVID-19 case numbers worldwide to make recommendations to member states regarding entry requirements and travel restrictions.   The most recent list of third countries from which travel to the EU is permitted was updated on July 16, 2020.  Serbia and Montenegro were recommended to be removed from the list of exempted countries based on current epidemiological conditions.  Some EU member states and Schengen area countries have also implemented regulations requiring negative COVID-19 tests as part of entry requirements for third country nationals.  Please see the EU Commission’s official website for a complete list and updated information. 

Ireland (Republic of Ireland) - Online Registration Renewal Process Available

The online Registration Renewal system put in place for immigration registration is now also available to all Dublin-based non-EEA nationals.  The online Registration Renewal process will involve completing an online form, uploading copies of supporting documents, and paying filing fees online.  The process will then require applicants to submit their original passports and current Irish Residence Permit (IRP) Cards to the Immigration Service Delivery (ISD) center in Burgh Quay.  In-person appointments at the Burgh Quay center are no longer required for renewals, which is anticipated to increase the ease and efficiency of the process.

As of July 20, 2020 the Registration Office in Burgh Quay will reopen for initial registrations for first time applicants.   Appointment times will be given in order of priority, starting with non-EEA nationals whose registrations were initially cancelled due to COVID-19 related closures.  Garda National Immigration Bureau (GNIB) are currently considering how they can reopen registration offices countrywide while adhering to public health guidelines.

New Zealand - ANZSCO No Longer Used for Skill Level Assessments

Starting on July 27, 2020, the Australia and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO) will no longer be used to assess the skill level of jobs for essential skills work visas.  The New Zealand immigration authorities (INZ) will use a remuneration threshold to assess the level for such applications moving forward.  The assessment will be based on “high” or “low” paid workers rather than the previously used skill levels.  Work visa applications for positions paid below the median wage will now be required to include a Skills Match Report ( SMR) from the Ministry of Social Improvement.

ANZSCO will continue to be used to assess Skilled Migrant residence visa applications, and to assess whether applicants are suitably qualified for the proffered position.   It will also continue to be used to ensure that the rate of pay for a position held by a foreign national employee meets or exceeds the required market rate.

Sweden - New EU Posted Worker Declaration Regulations

The Swedish Work Environment Authority (SWEA) has announced changes to posted worker declaration rules which will become effective as of July 30, 2020.  Under the new regulations, the SWEA must be notified of all posted workers regardless of the length of the posting (previously, a declaration was only required for postings longer than five days).  Additionally, posted workers working at a client site in Sweden must provide a copy of the SWEA posted worker declaration to the client company within three days of the posting period. Clients are obligated to report failure to provide the declaration to the SWEA and may be subject to fines for neglecting to do so.  Employers are also now required to file posted worker declarations for workers replacing other posted workers, even if performing the same service or work in the same locations.  Under the new regulations, posted employees may also be entitled to compensation for travel and accommodation expenses while posted in Sweden.  Employee-representative organizations are expected to negotiate special collective agreements with terms for long-term postings (more than 12 months) in alignment with efforts to secure the rights of long-term posted workers in Sweden.

The United Kingdom - Brexit Update, New Visa Categories, Expedited Visa Process for EU Citizens and Implementation of ETAs

As the end of the Brexit transitional period approaches, the UK Government has outlined further details of the new Points Based Immigration system, which will come into effect on January 1, 2021.  The intention of the new policy is to treat EU citizens and non-EU citizens equally, with a focus on attracting those who can make economic contributions to the UK.  Citizens of the Republic of Ireland will continue to enjoy full rights of residence in the UK under longstanding rules and will therefore be unaffected by these changes.

The Tier 2 visa route will be replaced by the Skilled Worker and Intra-Company Worker categories.  Current Tier 2 sponsor license holders will have their licenses automatically converted to the new system.  Employers who do not have a license currently are being encouraged to obtain one.

The Skilled Worker visa will make the process of recruitment easier - the Resident Labor Market Test and Restricted Certificate of Sponsorship process will be removed.  The skill level for sponsored roles will fall from RQF Level 6 to RQF Level 3.  Minimum salary thresholds will be retained, but there will be greater flexibility on these depending upon the role, such as Shortage Occupations.  It appears that the 12 month cooling off period for workers will remain in place, but it will be adjusted for Intra-Company visas to permit multiple shorter-term assignments.

A new Graduate route will also be launched in Summer 2021, which will allow recent UK graduates the opportunity to stay in the country for an additional period to look for work (similar to the Post Study Work visa which was abolished in 2012).  The Government also intends to bring in a new Highly Skilled Worker route in the future, although the proposals for this route are still being discussed  and will not come into effect in January 2021.

Although EU citizens will need to qualify for visas in the same way as non-EU citizens, they will benefit from an expedited application process. Most EU citizens will not need to enroll biometrics at a visa center, and will instead provide facial images using a smartphone (similar to the EU Settlement Scheme process).  They will not receive a physical visa, but instead hold an electronic document linked to their passport number.

Finally, the Government has also announced an intention to introduce Electronic Travel Authorizations (ETAs) for visitors and passengers transiting through the UK.  This will be the start of a phased program, lasting several years,  which looks to replace all paper/plastic visas with digital documents.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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