In the United Kingdom, the EU Settlement Scheme continues to run despite a Brexit deal uncertainty. Meanwhile, Japan has introduced a new online visa application system, Brazil has lifted some visa requirements, and South Korea has relaxed the D-8 visa quota. Here are some of the latest immigration updates from around the world.
The European Union (EU) has granted the United Kingdom (UK) an extension to Brexit until 31 October 2019. UK Prime Minister Theresa May has now resigned, and the Conservative party leadership election is open. The new prime minister’s appointment will likely impact the ongoing negotiations with the EU regarding Brexit and commentators are speculating that this could end in a no-deal Brexit scenario, despite previous votes in the House of Commons that did not support a no-deal. If, however, the UK parliament ratifies the Withdrawal Agreement before 31 October 2019, then the UK would exit the EU on the first day of the following month.
In the meantime, the EU Settlement Scheme continues to run for European Economic Area (EEA) nationals and their family members, and over 400,000 applications have already been submitted under the scheme. Processing times have started to extend in recent weeks and may extend further in the coming months. Employers should therefore encourage employees to apply under the scheme now.
The Common Travel Area
The British and Irish governments entered into a memorandum of understanding in May 2019 to consolidate reciprocal rights in the Common Travel Area.
The Common Travel Area currently enables UK nationals travelling to Ireland and Irish nationals travelling to the UK to
The memorandum of understanding confirms these existing rights and provides that irrespective of a deal or a no-deal Brexit, there will be no impact on the Common Travel Area. It has also been accepted by the EU that Ireland and the UK may seek their own arrangements for free movement between the two countries.
New Online Visa Application System
Japanese immigration authorities have created a new online visa application system that will be available starting July 25, 2019, and will offer a platform for individuals to access a range of application types. These application types will include visa renewals for Business Manager Visas, Intracompany Transfer visas, Engineer/Specialist/International Services visas, Highly-Skilled Professional visas and Skilled Labor visas; Re-entry permits which are filed together with renewal applications for designated visa types; part-time work permits filed together with renewal applications for designated visa types; and Dependent visa renewals. Applicants may access the new online system 24 hours per day, but must be physically present in Japan to use the site.
The online application system will only be open to employees of companies that have registered to participate, and lawyers certified by the Immigration Services Agency or Regional Immigration Services Bureau in Japan. Participating companies must also have sponsored foreign employees over the last three years.
Use of the online application system will be free of charge, and the processing time for online applications will be the same as current processing times for manual or paper applications.
Introducing a New Category for Olympics Workers
In anticipation of the upcoming 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japan has created a new “Designated Activities” visa category for foreign workers coming to the country to work on certain Olympics-related projects for periods of more than 90 days. The particular eligibility requirements for this visa have not yet been published, but requirements will not include educational background or work experience.
This new visa category should become available in late June 2019, and is expected to streamline immigration processes for employers in need of workers to help prepare for the 2020 Summer Olympic games.
New Higher Salary Required for Blue Card Applicants
A new minimum salary requirement for Blue Card applications was introduced earlier this year. Up from the previous threshold of 6,407.27 Polish złoty (about £1,340 or $1,700), applicants are now required to earn at least 6,877.55 Polish złoty (about £1,440 or $1,825) gross per month in order to qualify.
This new salary requirement applies to all applications submitted from February 2019 onwards, as well as to any applications which were pending on that date. The requirement is not retroactive and therefore does not affect current Blue Card holders or employers of Blue Card holding employees who make less than the new minimum salary per month.
New Electronic Travel Authority System
Beginning on October 1, 2019, nationals of 60 visa-waived countries will need to obtain an Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) before travelling to New Zealand. These visitors to New Zealand, as well as those transiting through New Zealand, will need to obtain this electronic visa waiver by completing a short online application form and paying a fee. Australian citizens will be exempt from this new requirement.
New Criminal Record Certificate Requirement for Temporary Residence Applicants
Argentinian immigration authorities recently introduced a new documentary requirement for temporary residence applications. All applicants must now provide an apostilled certificate indicating a clean criminal record, issued by the national authorities of any country where the applicant has lived for more than 12 months. Each certificate must detail the applicant’s complete personal data, and state clearly that there is no criminal record over the last 10 years.
D-8 Visa Quota Relaxed
As of May 2019, the Korea Immigration Service has relaxed the D-8 visa quota, thereby increasing the number of D-8 visas a foreign-invested company may sponsor. Historically, the number of visas a company could sponsor was strictly tied to the amount of foreign investment capital it had received. Now, a company’s D-8 visa quota may be increased based on noninvestment capital factors, including amount of taxes paid, amount of revenue, and number of Korean employees.
This change will allow multinational corporations more flexibility in their ability to transfer foreign employees to their Korean offices.
Relaxation of Visit Visa Requirements
Effective June 17, 2019, the Brazilian government will lift visa requirements for citizens of Australia, Canada, Japan, and the United States. Travelers with passports issued by the aforementioned countries will be exempted from visa requirements for tourism, business, transit, artistic, or sports visits only. This means that they will be allowed to travel to Brazil for stays of up to 90 days, renewable for an equal period, provided that it does not exceed 180 days every 12 months from the date of the first entry into Brazil.
The visa waiver does not apply to citizens of the above-mentioned countries who seek residence in Brazil and/or require work authorization in Brazil.
Additional Requirements for Permanent Residence Applications
As of May 8, 2019, the Immigration Department of the Ministry of Interior of Chile requires that all permanent residence applications include a police record certificate from the country of origin. Police record certificates are now required for the main applicant, as well as for any dependent who is over 18 years of age. The certificates are valid for no more than 90 days from the date of issuance. If issued abroad, the certificates must be apostilled or legalized for use in Chile. For any certificates not in English, French, Portuguese, or Italian, an official translation must also accompany each certificate.