Start your week off right by staying up to date with these key changes in immigration.
SCHENGEN ZONE | Biometrics Soon to be Required for Schengen Visa Applicants in South & East Asia
Several European consulates in South and East Asia will soon begin requiring that visa applicants to any of the Schengen Zone nations attend biometric appointments. Appointments are to begin as soon as October 12, 2015 but will not be rolled out in some Asian nations until November 2, 2015. As these changes now require that affected applicants appear in person to provide fingerprint scans and digital photos, applicants should now account for this extra step in the approval process. The captured biometrics will remain valid for 5 years and will have to be resubmitted upon expiration. The requirement will affect applicants from China, Japan, Mongolia, North Korea and South Korea soonest, to be followed by further implementation in Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
Immigration Changes from Around the World
CHINA | Taiwan Citizens’ Taibaozheng Booklets to be Transitioned into Electronic Exit Entry Permits (e-EEP)
The People’s Republic of China is currently transitioning the entry and exit requirements for Taiwanese citizens. Prior to the transition, Taiwanese citizens were required to provide the Taibaozheng booklet in order to enter mainland China. In attempt to provide additional security and streamline the entrance and departure process, the Chinese government is replacing the booklets with a new “Electronic Exit Entry Permit” abbreviated as “e-EEP” which is to be issued as a travel card. As a result of the change, Taibaozheng booklets will no longer be issued to applicants applying from within Taiwan. Please note, current and valid Taibaozheng booklets will still be recognized by the Chinese authorities until their expiration date, whereby the holder will be required to obtain the new e-EEP during the renewal process.
While most cities throughout mainland China have not yet implemented the new e-EEP travel cards, Shanghai has started issuing cards effective immediately. Thus, when renewing a Taibaozheng booklet at the authorities in Shanghai, an e-EEP will be issued instead of a new Taibaozheng booklet.
EUROPE | Ongoing Refugee Crisis Strains Immigration Processes throughout Europe
The European Union and the Schengen Area are experiencing an influx of migration of massive proportion. The conflicts in Africa, Syria and other parts of the Middle East have driven hundreds of thousands of people from their homes to seek asylum throughout the continent of Europe. Particularly, Germany, Austria, Hungary and Slovakia have seen some of the largest numbers (aside from Turkey, Greece and Italy). As a result of the ongoing refugee crisis, immigration processing throughout these nations is experiencing delays ranging from minor to significant. In Germany alone, the volume of new asylum seekers has necessitated that the German authorities reallocate their resources causing delays for those seeking work permits and other temporary non-immigrant statuses. Pro-Link GLOBAL is monitoring the situation closely and will look to provide real-time processing updates where possible.
MEXICO | New Online Entry Program Introduced for Visa Waiver Nationals entering through U.S. Border
In order to facilitate faster clearance processing into Mexico, visa-exempt nationals entering the country from the United States by land are now able to file their Multiple Migratory Form (FMM) and pay the $20.00 fee online prior to traveling. Previously, these FMM forms were only processed at the border upon entry. Travelers should note that the Mexican government still requires that applicants have six months of validity remaining on their passports. The availability to now complete the process pre-departure is certain to benefit business travelers and tourists living close to the border as they will now be able to enter much faster.
UNITED KINGDOM | Migration Advisory Committee Invites Public Comments on Possible Changes to Skilled Migration Policies
The British Government – via its appointed Migration Advisory Committee (or MAC) – is allowing UK employers to provide public commentary on yet additional proposed changes to the nation’s immigration system relative to skilled workers. The proposed changes range from raising salary thresholds and adding additional limits on what skills are “genuinely” in shortage, to other recommendations such as restricting the automatic right to work for dependents of Tier 2 visa holders. The window to provide comments will close on September 25, 2015.
At the conclusion of the commentary period, MAC announced that it will look to issue its findings sometime during the month of December. While the committee previously published a report on August 13, 2015 with its analysis and factual justification for previously raising salary thresholds, the report’s findings could result in tighter restrictions on Intra-Company Transfers. If you’re a UK employer and would like to provide commentary, please notify your Pro-Link GLOBAL immigration specialist as we would be happy to assist you.
Reminders: Recent and Upcoming Immigration Implementations
The following are reminders of recent or upcoming implementation dates that you should know:
• September 22, 2015: Kenya and the U.S. will begin issuing reciprocal 5-year, multiple-entry business visas without amending the visa eligibility criteria. Previously, U.S. nationals could only obtain a 1-year, multiple entry business visa.
• September 27 – October 7, 2015: Several Asia Pacific countries will celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival from late September through early October. The holiday, celebrating the autumn full-moon harvest, will be marked by both government and private office closures:
· China: Holiday will be observed during the “Golden Week” from October 1-7;
· Hong Kong: September 28;
· Japan: September 21-23;
· South Korea: September 26-29;
· Taiwan: September 26-28.
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.
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 (email@example.com) with any additional requests for information or to request reproduction of this material.