Start your week off right by staying up to date with these key changes in immigration.
SAUDI ARABIA | Visa Overstays Subject to Even Stricter Penalties
Notorious for imposing harsh penalties on foreigners who overstay their visas, Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) declared an amended campaign to deter those who overstay the allotted duration of their visas. While foreigners have always been subject to harsh fines, imprisonment and deportation, the recent announcement provided even harsher penalties then were seen before. For those who overstay their visa:
• 1st violation (visa holder is now subject to a fine of 15,000 SAR & deportation). At the discretion of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the visa holder will be banned from entering the Kingdom for between 3-5 years.
• 2nd violation (visa holder is now subject to a fine of 25,000 SAR & Imprisonment for 3 months, and followed by deportation). The deportation is likely to be followed by a ban from entering the Kingdom for up to 5 years.
• 3rd violations (visa holder is now subject to a fine of 50,000 SAR & Imprisonment for 6 months & deportation). As is the case with all visa violations, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has discretion to impose a permanent ban from entering the Kingdom.
Most notably, there is provision to impose monetary fines and potential imprisonment on those individuals or companies providing visa and immigration assistance to those employees who overstay or violate the terms of their visit visa. As a precaution, always be sure to ascertain the specific length of stay (as the visa officer granting the visa has discretion to lengthen or shorten visits at his discretion). For example, an employee may apply for a 90 day multiple-entry business visa only to be granted a single-entry 30 day stay. Accordingly, always confirm this with the consulate or embassy approving the visa, or alternatively, reach out to your Pro-Link GLOBAL immigration specialist for clarification.
Immigration Changes from Around the World
GERMANY | Local Pre-Approval Requirements for Foreign Employees and Family Members to be Eased Nationwide
In December 2015, the German government passed a nation-wide legal amendment no longer requiring applicants to request the approval of local immigration authorities before issuance of their Entry Visas. This amendment applies to Non-EU/EEA foreign nationals who previously resided in Germany and family members of foreign employees.
Implementing expedited permit processing for affected foreign employees and also eliminating the authorization step for families should reduce processing times by several weeks and allow applicants and family members to travel to Germany together. First implemented in 2015 within five German states (Baden-Württemberg, Berlin, Bremen, Hamburg and Lower Saxony), the amendment will eventually affect Germany nationwide. However, implementation of this amendment remains sparse throughout the country. In addition, many German Embassies and Consulate General throughout the world still require applicants to obtain approval from the Foreigner’s Office.
IRELAND | Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Updates Occupation Lists
Effective February 1, 2016 Ireland’s Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation (DJEI) announced several amendments to the Highly Skilled Eligible Occupations List (HSEOL) and the Ineligible Categories of Employment List (ICEL). These changes affect all categories the country’s Employment Permit scheme: occupations found on the HSEOL determine, in part, an applicant’s eligibility for the Critical Skills Employment Permit and occupations found on the ICEL are not eligible to receive any type of Employment Permit. The following highly-skilled occupations have been added to the HSEOL:
• Material scientists and industrial pharmacists;
• Perfusionists and gastro-intestinal technologists/physiologists;
• International marketing experts possessing domain knowledge specifically in product strategy development and management with technical and product or service knowledge in pharmaceutical, medical device, software B2B, and software as a service (SaaS) products; and
• Within the Standard Occupation Code 211 Natural and Science Professionals category, “analytical development” is now explicitly referenced.
The following occupations were removed from the ICEL, and are now open to Employment Permit applicants:
• Tourist guides with non-EEA languages;
• Aircraft maintenance and related trades;
• Metal Inert Gas (MIG) and Tungsten Inert Gas (TIG) welders;
• Computer numerical control operatives.
MEXICO | Increase in On-Site Immigration Audits by the National Migration Institute (INM) Immigration Authorities
Authorities in Mexico are increasing the number of on-site immigration audits for companies sponsoring foreign employees in Mexico, especially those with a high volume of expatriates. The possibility of an immigration inspection has long been the case in Mexico, but audits are being carried out on a more regular basis.
Inspections by the INM are completed for various reasons, including but not limited to:
• Confirming the corporate details of a company;
• Ensuring proper documentation is on file for foreign workers; and/or
• Gathering information regarding possible immigration non-compliance.
Visits can be done with no prior notice, but companies are most often notified in advance of an inspection. A legal representative for the company must be present at the inspection. If they are not available an employee in the Human Resources department must participate.
Employers should/must maintain the following on file:
• A complete list of foreign employees – must include full name, nationality, and specific immigration status;
• A copy of the company’s Employer Registration Certificate required to sponsor foreign employees;
• A copy of the Power of Attorney for the company legal representative; and
• Personnel files for all foreign employees – including copies of passport biography pages, visas, and temporary or permanent residence cards.
Companies must ensure their compliance policies are up-to-date and they have a legal representative available to meet with inspectors. Additional documents may be requested as the discretion of the auditor(s). The increase in visits is expected to be ongoing throughout the year.
Reminders: Recent and Upcoming Immigration Implementations
The following are reminders of recent or upcoming implementation dates that you should know:
• March 3, 2016: Deadline for Filipino Alien Certificate of Registration I-Card (ACR I-Card) holders to complete the requisite annual report. In-person registration required for holders who completed this report via third party in 2014 or 2015. ACR I-Card holders include, but are not limited to, foreign nationals working and residing in the Philippines under 9(g) Pre-Arranged Employment, 9(d) Treaty Trader, and Section 13 Immigration Visas.
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 Germany Offices “Cheryl Koenig Relocation Services Group” and “Palladium Mobility Group;” our PLG | KGNM Mexico Offices “Alvarez Dulche & Associates,” “LARM,” and “VisasMex;” and our PLG | KGNM Saudi Arabia Offices “HelpXpat,” and “PROVEN” 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 (firstname.lastname@example.org) with any additional requests for information or to request reproduction of this material.