August 17, 2015
Start your week off right by staying up to date with these key changes in immigration.
UNITED KINGDOM | August Tier 2 Restricted Certificate of Sponsorship quota update
After June and July saw unprecedented oversubscriptions to the Tier 2 Restricted Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) quota (see our previous alerts here and here), the August minimum application thresholds appear to be much more manageable for employers and applicants.
A combination of fewer CoS allocations and increased application numbers in June and July of this year meant that the Home Office limited approvals to those applicants scoring top points and earning much higher salaries than normal: applicants were required to earn at least 50 points and a £46,000 salary in June, and at least 45 points and a £32,000 salary in July. August, on the other hand, has shown significant improvement with the Home Office reporting that applicants must earn a minimum of 36 points and hold salaries of at least £24,000 (only £3,200 over the “standard” minimum wage requirements for this CoS category) for approval.
However, UK employers should note that in order to bring down these minimum point and salary thresholds, the Home Office “borrowed” allocations from the September quota. It remains to be seen whether this strategy will allow the application levels to remain at a manageable level for the remainder of the allocation year (through March 2016), or whether the relief is only temporary.
Immigration Changes from Around the World
ANGOLA/FRANCE | Bilateral treaty ratified providing streamlined application procedures
As of July 2, 2015, the Angolan and French governments have ratified a bilateral treaty which seeks to provide nationals of each country with streamlined immigration benefits. Now that the agreement is in effect, mandatory expedited visa processing for both short-term and long-stay visas must be implemented. Accordingly, nationals of each country can expect processing times of approximately 8 business days for short-term visas and up to 30 business days for long-stay type visas.
The treaty further provides for longer periods of short-term and long-stay visa validities, in an attempt to foster direct foreign investment and business development in each nation respectively. Nationals of both Angola and France are now eligible for expedited multiple-entry business visas (valid for a period of 90 days within a 180 day period) and longer duration stays ranging from 12-36 months (at the discretion of the visa officer). The treaty also includes added immigration benefits for accompanying family members, but both countries have agreed to allow additional time to implement these benefits.
ISRAEL | Jewish high holidays and Rosh Hashana: September 13 – October 6
In anticipation of the fast-approaching Jewish High Holidays and particularly Rosh Hashana, Israeli employers and foreign companies sending employees on assignment to the nation should expect delays this fall. The holiday season kicks off on September 13, 2015 and runs until October 6, 2015. Many government offices will be closed during this time and any assignments needing to take place quickly should be planned immediately ahead of the September commencement.
SOUTH KOREA | Validity of some visas extended due to MERS outbreak
As a result of the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome this spring in South Korea, the government recently announced that it would extend the validity of visas that were granted, but unused during months of March, April, May and June 2015. For those single-entry visa holders who chose not to enter due to the outbreak, the validity period for the single-entry status has automatically been extended for 3 months. Hence, previous visa holders are not required to secure new authorizations if they held valid single-entry status during those months and did not enter the country. The extension applies equally to single-entry business visa and work visa holders but specifically excludes foreigners already residing in-country. The South Korean government has now officially declared an end to the outbreak.
THE NETHERLANDS | Validity of business activities expanded
The Dutch government has extended the validity period for which work permit exempt business activities can take place in the country. Visa waiver nationals are now eligible to partake in business meetings (which include contract negotiations) for up to 13 weeks cumulatively in a 52 week period. Under the old rules, those eligible were only permitted to carry out these work permit exempt type activities for up to 4 weeks in a 13 week period.
In an attempt to foster foreign investment and encourage international business development, those eligible are now allowed multiple entries for up to 13 weeks in the one year period. This also coincides with the 90 day permissible stay pursuant to the Schengen Agreement. Hence, while the government has expanded the validity period for in-country activities, those business travelers who frequent the Schengen Area are still required to observe the 90 day rule.
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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