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

Featured Update

UNITED ARAB EMIRATES | New Restrictions Imposed on Employer’s Exceeding Employment Quotas-Dubai
In a move not yet seen by any of the UAE’s renown “Free-Zones” in Dubai, it was recently announced that as of February 15, 2016, employers doing business in the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) “Free-Zone,” will become subject to harsh penalties for exceeding employment quotas as contractually agreed to with the Free Zone Authority (FZA). Penalties include, but are not limited to, non-compliant sponsoring companies being banned from renewing any current foreign employee employment visas. While the new rules apply to all DIFC sponsored employees, they have been extended to include Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) employees, Dependents working on temporary work permits and employees assigned by means of secondment.

While the rules have been announced in the last few days, there remains a level of uncertainty as to the application of the rule to employees based on hiring date. For example, as a result of exceeding one’s employment quota, the rules require the employer to cancel the Residence Permits for all employees exceeding the quota. What has not been determined yet is whether the cancellation process is required to follow a chronological order (based on hiring date) or whether employers are permitted to cancel permits based upon their own preferences (regardless of hire date).

While the changes appear to affect only those working in the DIFC “Free-Zone” at this time, it is recommended that all employers conducting business in any of the numerous “Free-Zones,” revisit their quota limits and ascertain an ongoing hiring strategy accordingly. Pro-Link Global continues to monitor the amendments and will provide updates as needed.

Immigration Changes from Around the World

GLOBAL | Countries Continue to Announce Changes to 2016 Minimum Salary Requirements

In 2016 several changes to the minimum salary thresholds for local and foreign employees have been implemented world-wide. The following minimum salary changes have been made and are in effect:

Austria

• Red-White-Red (RWR) Card for under 30-year-olds – must earn at least EUR €2,430 monthly (previously €2,325);
• Red-White-Red (RWR) Card for over 30-year-olds – must earn at least EUR €2,916 monthly (previously €2,790);
• Red-White-Red (RWR) Card for graduates of a university in Austria – must earn at least EUR €2,187 monthly (previously €2,092.50); and
• EU Blue Card Holders – must earn at least EUR €4,174 monthly (previously €4,100).

Czech Republic

• The Czech Republic’s annual adjustment has increased the minimum monthly salary to CZK 9,900 (previously CZK 9,200). The increase applies to foreign workers hired on local contracts and intracompany transferees (ICTs); and
• EU Blue Card Holders – must earn at least EUR €1,425.90 per month (1.5 times the average gross salary in the Czech Republic).

Finland

• EU Blue Card (New and Renewal) – must earn a minimum monthly salary of EUR €4,524 (previously €4,926).


ITALY | 2016 Work Permit Quotas Remain Consistent, Conversion Categories Restructured
Italian authorities have confirmed that the 2016 work permit quotas for non-EU nationals will remain the same as the 2015 levels at 17,850 quota positions open for subordinate, self-employed/autonomous, and change-of-status applicants. While the number of quota spots remains the same, the authorities have made amendments to the change-of-status categories that seek to provide additional flexibility for Italian sponsoring companies.

The breakdown of quota positions for 2016 are as follows:

• Subordinate, Autonomous, and Miscellaneous Employees – 3,600 positions in total, divided among several subcategories.

• Change-of-Status Employees – 14,250 positions in total, divided among several subcategories. Most notable for our clients include:

· Change-of-Status from Study/Training Permits to Italian Subordinate Work Permit – 6,500 quota spots for 2016; and
· Conversion of Long-Term Residence Permit-EC (issued by another EU country) to Italian Subordinate Work Permit – 1,300 quota spots for 2016.

• Seasonal Work – an additional 13,000 work permits will be made available for this category.


MADAGASCAR | Ministry of Interior Implements Significant Changes in Resident Visa Process

Effective immediately, the Malagasy Ministry of Interior has initiated significant changes to their resident visa and permit application process. Aimed at modernizing the application procedures in order to eventually issue sticker visas and biometric residence permits, a new online application system was recently rolled out:

• In most cases, applicants will now be required to submit the residence visa and permit applications themselves. Only ministry-approved agencies will be permitted to continue filing these applications on behalf of applicants.
• As part of the government’s efforts to digitize their immigration procedures, residents living in the capital must go to the Ministry of Interior to submit their biometric data and electronic signature for residence visa and permit applications. These new practices will soon be rolled out in the other provinces.
• Once the Ministry has approved an application, the applicant will be required to submit his/her passport for visa stamping. Upon cash payment of the visa and resident card fees, the residence visa will be stamped in the applicant’s passport and a residence permit card will be issued within 72 hours of receipt of the passport.

Please note that while this process has officially been rolled out, implementation of these new practices will vary from location to location.


SOUTH AFRICA | Long Term Visitor Visa Now Available and Certain Visa Applicants Eligible to Apply via Mail

Long-Term Visitor Visa Now Available for Visa Nationals

South Africa is now offering two to three year multiple-entry business visas to applicants who are known, frequent visitors to South Africa for business, tourism and academic activities. Note that visa validity may be shorter per the discretion of the South African Mission abroad and applicants from visa waiver or visa exempt countries and first-time applicants do not qualify for this visa.

These visa holders can stay in South Africa for up to 90 consecutive days (at the discretion of the South African Mission) per visit. Short-term work events are not allowed under this visa and a formal work authorization is still required.

Visa Applications Now Accepted by Post in Certain Circumstances

In addition, visa applicants in countries where South Africa has no diplomatic mission will now be able to submit visa applications by mail or courier rather than in person. This will save eligible foreign nationals significant time and efforts by removing the requirement to visit the nearest South African Mission abroad.

However, please note that eligibility to file via mail or courier must be made on a case-by-case basis. Please contact your Pro-Link GLOBAL Immigration Specialist to confirm the appropriate filing procedures for you or your employees.


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. We worked with our PLG | KGNM Italy Offices “LCA Legal Colucci & Associates” and “Professional Relo,” our PLG | KGNM Madagascar Office “HK Log Services,” our PLG | KGNM South Africa Offices “Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr, Inc.” and “IBN Consulting (Pty) Ltd.,” and our PLG | KGNM UAE Office “Move One, Inc.” to provide you this update.

Information contained in this Weekly Update is prepared using information obtained from various media outlets, government publications and our KGM network of immigration professionals. Written permission from the copyright owner and any other rights holders must be obtained for any reuse of any content posted or published by Pro-Link GLOBAL that extends beyond fair use or other statutory exemptions. Furthermore, responsibility for the determination of the copyright status and securing permission rests with those persons wishing to reuse the materials. Interested parties are welcome to contact the Knowledge Management Department (km@pro-linkglobal.com) with any additional requests for information or to request reproduction of this material.