Start your week off right by staying up to date with these key changes in immigration.

Featured Update

CHINA | Shanghai – Eligibility Details for New R (Talent) Visa Released
The Immigration Authorities in Shanghai have now released the specific qualifications needed for foreign workers to obtain visas under its R (Talent) Visa and work permits. After some long-awaited collaboration between the Shanghai Labor Bureau, Foreign Expert Affairs Bureau and the Public Security Bureau, the criteria have been established to include:

• Those individuals with distinguished talent corroborated by the receipt of a world-recognized award;
• Renown Researchers in the Sciences;
• Senior Level Executives;
• Highly Qualified (famous) experts;
• Distinguished Foreigners filling an urgent need in the local labor market.

R (Talent) Visa holders are entitled to several immigration benefits which weren’t available previously. These benefits include: (1) discretion for visa officer to grant visa for a 5 year validity period, (2) ability for foreign graduates in Shanghai to apply for work permits and residence permits immediately after graduation (as they were previously required to have 2 years of work experience prior to obtaining visa eligibility) and, (3) will be permitted to hire foreign housekeepers (not currently allowed for foreigners under the old law).

In addition to establishing the above criteria for eligibility, it was also announced last week that the Shanghai authorities will no longer “waive” the qualification requirements for those who represent the corporation as its “legal representative.” With immediate effect, “legal representatives” are now required to establish their eligibility for work visas by including copies of their educational certificates and work experience letters (establishing at least 2 years of work experience). Under the previous “waiver,” corporate legal representatives were granted visas by only providing passport copies, a CV/Resume and some additional supporting documentation. Employers should account for the additional processing time when assigning legal representatives to Shanghai.

Immigration Changes from Around the World

EUROPEAN UNION / RUSSIA | Russian Nationals to Submit Biometrics for Schengen Visas
Effective September 14, 2015, Russian nationals applying for visas to enter the Schengen Area will now be required to have their biometric data captured at Schengen member countries’ embassies and missions abroad prior to visa issuance. The EU’s visa information system is set to be implemented in Russia shortly and Russian applicants should plan to attend the appointment in conjunction with their visa applications. The information system aims to make the application process more efficient and consistent with other processes abroad.

KENYA | Work Permit Applications for Certain Regulated Industries now Subject to Additional Verifications
The Kenyan Immigration Authorities are now able to utilize additional verification procedures relative to an applicant’s support letter issued by a governmental agency. Those applicants now submitting work visa applications to work in specifically regulated industries are now subject to verification that the local regulatory body has in fact provided an authentic support letter on behalf of the employee. While all regulated industries are now affected, the new procedure will primarily affect those applicants heading on assignment to work in the Oil and Gas and Information and Media industries. As employers you should be sure to advise current assignees involved in the immigration process to expect delays which might ultimately affect his or her start date. Pro-Link Global continues to monitor the situation for its current impact on application processing.

SAUDI ARABIA | New Muqeem ID Card to Replace Current Iqama
The Saudi Arabian government is currently taking swift action to amend its current resident permit identification card, known as the Iqama. Riyadh announced last week that it will implement a machine-readable identity card newly-named as the “Muqeem.” The new ID cards will be issued from October 14, 2015 onwards and will completely replace the Iqama. The card features:

• 5 year validity of the card (yet, residency periods for non-high level expatriates will remain the same)
• Card will be read in airports, banks, etc.
• Card will contain holder’s photograph and other biometric details

To ensure the new rollout is done optimally (as the aim by the government with the new ID card emphasizes efficiency), Prince Mohammed bin Naif announced that a plan was being put into place to ensure a smooth transition. Nonetheless, there has been some indication that processing times for Iqama’s currently being issued are somewhat delayed due to the implementation of the new system. Accordingly, employers should prepare new assignees filing applications for residence permits to be prepared some longer processing until the Muqeem is fully implemented by the end of October.

SINGAPORE | 1 October: Pilot program to be launched for small- & medium-sized companies
Effective October 1, 2015, the Singaporean Ministry of Manpower will implement a two year pilot program aimed at small and medium-sized companies to increase their productivity and innovation while reducing the numbers of foreign workers. The program affects Singapore’s Employment passes and “S” passes equally. While companies are required to submit applications to even be included or eligible to participate, the scheme’s temporary adjustments will allow companies to reduce their work force without compromising their ability (due to quota restrictions) to apply for “S” passes. Under the scheme, companies are also permitted to recruit temporary foreign workers while training and restructuring takes place. Employers should be advised that the scheme does not change or amend the quota ratios for those employers looking to hire foreign talent.

Caveat Lector | Warning to Reader

This is provided as informational only and does not substitute for actual legal advice based on the specific circumstances of a matter. Readers are reminded that Immigration laws are fluid and can change a moment’s notice without any warning. Please reach out to your local Pro-Link GLOBAL specialist should you require any additional clarification. This alert was prepared by Pro-Link GLOBAL’s Counsel and Knowledge Management teams.

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