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

Featured Update

AUSTRALIA / CHINA | China-Australia Free Trade Agreement Brings Changes
Several changes to the Australian immigration regulations were announced by the government this week as they relate to the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement and subclass 457 visa regulations.

China-Australia Free Trade Agreement (or ChAFTA): Heralded as a monumental trade agreement, the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement (ChAFTA) was initially signed in June of this year. Since the signing, the agreement has undergone several amendments from both sides; most recently, Australian authorities have agreed to waive labor market testing (LMT) for Chinese nationals entering Australia under the following categories:

• Intra-Company Transferees filling job roles as Executives, Senior Managers, and Mangers;
• Intra-Company Transferees who qualify as specialists;
• Independent Executives; and
• Suppliers fulfilling a contract for services.

It is estimated that the regulations will take effect within 30 days after each country ratifies the agreement pursuant to their own domestic ratification procedures. The change is expected to provide eligible Chinese nationals with significantly faster immigration processing into Australia as they will no longer be required to undergo the lengthy LMT process.

Subclass 457: Resulting from the negotiations regarding the ChAFTA, the Australian Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) enacted several changes to the highly-utilized Subclass 457 visa. Effective as of December 1, 2015, the new regulations include:

• Licensing, Registration and Professional Memberships (required to be obtained within 90 days of arrival);
• Visas obtained pursuant to “work agreements” (labor market testing for low-skilled occupations);
• Those seeking visas pursuant to “enterprise agreements;” and
• Start dates for applicants (required within 90 days of arrival).

For questions or inquiries regarding these changes to the subclass 457 visa, please contact your Pro-Link GLOBAL immigration specialist for further details.

Immigration Changes from Around the World

RUSSIA / TURKEY | Political Tensions May Affect Immigration Between Russia & Turkey
In light of the recent increase in political tensions between Russia and Turkey, more stringent border checks, immigration requirements, and an end to visa-free travel between the two countries may be imminent. Visa-free travel between the countries was first established in 2010 and allowed Turkish and Russian citizens to stay in each other’s country for up to 30-days (90-days for Highly Qualified Specialists).

However, on November 27, 2015, the Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs publically announced Russia’s intentions of suspending visa-free travel for Turkish citizens as of January 1, 2016. While this temporary freeze has not yet been officially announced, it is strongly anticipated that Russia will implement the suspension should political relations not improve between the two countries in the upcoming weeks.

At the time of this writing, Turkey has not announced any similar plans to suspend visa-free travel in response to Russia’s plans.

UNITED KINGDOM | New Sponsor Requirements for Tier 2, Tier 4, and Tier 5 Immigration Streams
To further the feasibility of on-site document review, the UK Home Office announced new requirements for British employers sponsoring foreign employees under the Tier 2, Tier 4, and Tier 5 immigration streams. The new rule requires employers to retain documentation on file (albeit via paper documents or in electronic format) evidencing the foreign national’s qualifications and experience to undertake their sponsored position. Documentation must include a detailed and specific job description outlining the responsibilities and duties of the job positions held by foreign employees (which also includes details regarding skills needed, qualifications, and experience thresholds).

Companies must keep these records on file for no less than one (1) year. Penalties for non-compliance with the rule will include significant fines and the possibility of revocation of the employer’s sponsorship license. However, it is important to note that for those sponsors already housing documents on file associated with the resident labor market test process, there is no requirement to maintain duplicate documentation.

These new requirements are effective for all positions filled by foreign employees on or after November 19, 2015.

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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