The Forum for Expatriate Management http://totallyexpat.com Global Mobility Dedicated Fri, 27 Feb 2015 12:53:05 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Bermuda: New Work Permit Policies Bring Faster Processing and New Programs http://totallyexpat.com/bermuda-work-permit-policies-bring-faster-processing-programs/ http://totallyexpat.com/bermuda-work-permit-policies-bring-faster-processing-programs/#comments Fri, 27 Feb 2015 06:27:35 +0000 http://totallyexpat.com/?p=17283 Continue reading ]]> Bermuda: New Work Permit Policies Bring Faster Processing and New ProgramsBermuda has adopted new work permit policies that will take effect March 1, 2015. Key changes include a more streamlined and faster work permit application process for long- and short-term work, new short-term work permit and investor programs and a work permit category for new businesses.

Shorter Processing Times for Standard and Global Work Permit Programs

The Standard Work Permit for long-term work is currently processed in eight to twelve weeks, but will be subject to adjudication guidelines of 21 business days.

Global Work Permit holders should also see faster processing times. The program allows for intracompany transfers of senior personnel without the need for a labor market test.

New Short-Term Work Program

The three-month Temporary Permit will be replaced by the Short-Term Work Permit, which will have three-, four-, five- and six-month validity periods and will be processed within ten business days, as opposed to the previous 15 business days for the Temporary Permit. In-country extensions will not be available.

Labor Market Testing Rule Changes

Employers who offer Bermudians, their spouses and/or permanent residents training opportunities abroad for up to three years will be eligible for a waiver of the requirement to advertise vacancies as part of labor market testing.

Advertising requirements for both the Short-Term and Standard Work Permits will expand to include a mandatory posting on the Bermuda Jobs Board for a minimum of eight consecutive days. Current requirements, which will remain in effect, include three advertisements in a local newspaper for at least eight consecutive days.

Employers seeking to promote a foreign worker under a Global, New Business or Standard Work Permit must advertise the position internally before the promotion. This policy currently exists but will now be stated in the law.

New Group of Business Visitors

The new policy also allows a new group of foreign employees to perform business activities in Bermuda without obtaining work authorization.  This group includes certified equipment or software installers entering Bermuda to deploy or troubleshoot and/or enhance their products for a Bermuda company whose purchase agreement includes installation and maintenance.

Clearer Maximum Stays for Periodic Work Permit Holders

Periodic Work Permit holders will see clearer guidelines regarding maximum periods of stay. Periodic Work Permits will be granted for periods of one, two, three, four or five years, and will still allow multiple-entry stays up to 30 days per visit, with a cumulative maximum of 180 days per calendar year. This length of stay policy is currently in place, but is not explicitly stated in the law.

Benefits for Dependents

Same-sex partners and unmarried opposite-sex partners — not currently eligible to apply for dependent residence permits — are expected to become eligible for dependent status.

Foreign nationals’ dependents will be able to apply for work authorization, provided that they have a job offer in place, and the principal work permit holder meets minimum annual income amounts of $60,000 for a two-person household; $100,000 for a three-person household; and $125,000 for a household of four or more.

New Business Work Permit

Certain companies that are new to Bermuda will be able to obtain work permits within the first six months of their New Business Work Permit without conducting a labor market test.

New Business Work Permit holders may be employed in any non-restricted position as long as it is not entry-level, graduate-level or trainee-level. The permit will grant stays from one year up to five years.

New Global Entrepreneur Program

The policy will also introduce a one-year Global Entrepreneur permit for start-up activities, allowing investors to raise capital, seek government regulatory approval and conduct compliance-related activities.

What This Means for Employers and Foreign Nationals

Foreign employees in Bermuda should benefit from the faster processing times and the new short-term work program. New businesses and investors in Bermuda should also benefit from the new programs designed specifically to encourage foreign investment. Interested foreign nationals should contact their immigration professional to discuss available options.

Fragomen worked closely with Expertise Ltd. (Bermuda) to prepare this alert. It is for informational purposes only. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact the global immigration professional with whom you work at Fragomen Worldwide or send an email to lar@fragomen.com.

Source: Fragomen

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SINGAPORE (Feb. 26, 2015) – Government to defer increases in S Pass and Work Permit levies in all sectors http://totallyexpat.com/singapore-feb-26-2015-government-defer-increases-pass-work-permit-levies-sectors/ http://totallyexpat.com/singapore-feb-26-2015-government-defer-increases-pass-work-permit-levies-sectors/#comments Fri, 27 Feb 2015 06:23:47 +0000 http://totallyexpat.com/?p=17281 Continue reading ]]> IMPACT – LOW

SINGAPORE (Feb. 26, 2015) – Government to defer increases in S Pass and Work Permit levies in all sectorsWhat is the change? The Singaporean government announced in its 2015 budget that it will defer proposed hikes in the monthly levies for Work Permits and S Passes until 2016 for all sectors and until 2017 for Work Permit holders in the manufacturing sector.

What does the change mean? Companies will not see increases in the levies in July as originally planned and can continue to pay the current levies for S Pass holders until next year.

  • Implementation timeframe: 
  • Visas/permits affected: S Passes and Work Permits.
  • Who is affected: Businesses employing foreign workers on S Passes and Work Permits.
  • Business impact: Businesses will have more time to plan for the anticipated levy increases and control labor costs.

Background: The delay in raising the levies is designed to give companies, especially small and medium-size enterprises, more time to adjust to the realities of tight labor market conditions.

According to finance minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam’s budget address on Feb. 23, the measures to control foreign workforce growth beginning in 2010 have successfully slowed the inflow of foreign workers from 60,000 in 2011 to just over 16,000 in 2014 (excluding construction and foreign domestic workers).

“The significant slowdown we have seen in the last year gives us space to adjust the pace of our tightening measures,” Tharman said. However, he added “unequivocally” that the government was merely adjusting the pace of tightening foreign worker measures – not changing direction.

“It remains crucial for Singapore that we restructure towards reducing our reliance on manpower, and find new and more innovative ways to do business,” he said.

BAL Analysis: Businesses are encouraged to consider retraining staff to improve skill levels and retaining staff that are more highly skilled and productive. The deferment gives businesses more time to accomplish these staff improvements.

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group and our regional office in Singapore. For additional information, please contact singapore@balglobal.com.

Follow us on Twitter: @BAL_Immigration

About Berry Appleman & Leiden LLP
Founded in 1980, Berry Appleman & Leiden (BAL) provides comprehensive global immigration services from six offices across the U.S. and from offices in Geneva, London, Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, Shanghai, Singapore and Sydney. BAL manages global visa matters and customized application approaches for work permits, business visas, and residence permits in more than 100 countries. With a single cost center for worldwide operations, BAL offers centralized management with regional and local support for the complete spectrum of global immigration matters.

Source: Berry Appleman & Leiden LLP

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AUSTRALIA (26 February 2015) – More seasonal worker visas to become available http://totallyexpat.com/australia-26-february-2015-seasonal-worker-visas/ http://totallyexpat.com/australia-26-february-2015-seasonal-worker-visas/#comments Fri, 27 Feb 2015 06:18:51 +0000 http://totallyexpat.com/?p=17279 Continue reading ]]> AUSTRALIA (26 February 2015) – More seasonal worker visas to become availableIMPACT – LOW

What is the change? Australia will increase the number of Seasonal Worker Program visas it makes available in the 2015-16 fiscal year. The number will increase from 3,250 to 4,250.

What does the change mean? Farmers and other employers will be able to employ more foreign workers from the Pacific and Timor-Leste.

  • Implementation timeframe: 1 
  • Visas/permits affected: Special Program visa (subclass 416).
  • Who is affected: Farmers and others employing workers through the Seasonal Worker Program.
  • Business impact: The changes will allow farmers and other employers to hire more foreign nationals.
  • Next Steps: The additional permits will be available 1July, the beginning of the Australian fiscal year.

Background: The Seasonal Worker Program allows guest workers to come to Australia from the Pacific or Timor-Leste for up to six months for seasonal jobs in agriculture and a limited number of other industries. In the past, the program was hindered by labour market testing requirements and labour caps on specific areas of agriculture, such as horticulture, sugarcane and cotton farming. The sector-specific caps have been lifted, however, and now the overall cap is set to increase as well. The program is available to nationals of Kiribati, Nauru, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, the Solomon Islands, Timor-Leste, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.

BAL Analysis: The changes to the Seasonal Worker Program, including eliminating caps on specific areas of farming and increasing the overall cap, should help farmers and other Australian employers meet their business needs.

This alert has been provided by BAL Australia. For additional information, please contact australia@balglobal.com.

MARN: 9683856

Follow us on Twitter: @BAL_Immigration

About Berry Appleman & Leiden LLP
Founded in 1980, Berry Appleman & Leiden (BAL) provides comprehensive global immigration services from six offices across the U.S. and from offices in Geneva, London, Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, Shanghai, Singapore and Sydney. BAL manages global visa matters and customized application approaches for work permits, business visas, and residence permits in more than 100 countries. With a single cost center for worldwide operations, BAL offers centralized management with regional and local support for the complete spectrum of global immigration matters.

Source: Berry Appleman & Leiden LLP

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AUSTRALIA (26 February 2015) – Australia allowing clearance from select FBI-approved channelers http://totallyexpat.com/australia-26-february-2015-australia-allowing-clearance-select-fbiapproved-channelers/ http://totallyexpat.com/australia-26-february-2015-australia-allowing-clearance-select-fbiapproved-channelers/#comments Fri, 27 Feb 2015 06:12:36 +0000 http://totallyexpat.com/?p=17277 Continue reading ]]> AUSTRALIA (26 February 2015) – Australia allowing clearance from select FBI-approved channelersIMPACT – MEDIUM

What is the change? U.S. citizens and permanent residents needing an FBI clearance for an Australian visa can now use select FBI-approved channelers to obtain clearance.

What does the change mean? The change could save significant time in the visa-application process.

  • Implementation timeframe: Immediate and ongoing. 
  • Visas/permits affected: Any visas for which FBI clearance is required. 
  • Who is affected: U.S. citizen and permanent residents who require FBI clearance to obtain an Australian visa.
  • Impact on processing times: The FBI’s current processing time for issuance of clearance is approximately 12 to 14 weeks. FBI-approved channelers are able to issue clearance significantly faster.
  • Next Steps: U.S. citizens and permanent residents can now use the following FBI-approved channelers when obtaining FBI clearance for purposes of visa processing: National Background Check, IncNational Credit Reporting and Telos Identity Management Solutions, LLC.

Background: Foreign nationals often need police clearances in order to obtain certain subclasses of Australian visas. When police clearances are required as part of the visa application process, foreign nationals need to obtain the relevant clearances for those countries they have lived in for at least 12 months in the past 10 years.

Australia’s Department of Immigration and Border Protection recently began accepting clearances from the three FBI-approved channelers, who are able to expedite the process by submitting the applicant’s information to the FBI and obtaining the clearance from the FBI. In some cases non-U.S. nationals who have lived in the U.S. will require FBI clearance for an Australian visa. However, FBI-approved channelers are only permitted to process requests from U.S. citizens and permanent residents.

BAL Analysis: Using an FBI-approved channeler could significantly reduce the time it takes to receive necessary FBI clearance when applying for a visa. Visa applicants should contact their local BAL attorney if they have any questions about the process.

This alert has been provided by BAL Australia. For additional information, please contact australia@balglobal.com.

MARN: 9683856

Follow us on Twitter: @BAL_Immigration

About Berry Appleman & Leiden LLP
Founded in 1980, Berry Appleman & Leiden (BAL) provides comprehensive global immigration services from six offices across the U.S. and from offices in Geneva, London, Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, Shanghai, Singapore and Sydney. BAL manages global visa matters and customized application approaches for work permits, business visas, and residence permits in more than 100 countries. With a single cost center for worldwide operations, BAL offers centralized management with regional and local support for the complete spectrum of global immigration matters.

Source: Berry Appleman & Leiden LLP

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UNITED STATES (Feb. 24, 2015) – Court reverses USCIS interpretation of H-1B ‘specialty occupation’ http://totallyexpat.com/united-states-feb-24-2015-court-reverses-uscis-interpretation-h1b-specialty-occupation/ http://totallyexpat.com/united-states-feb-24-2015-court-reverses-uscis-interpretation-h1b-specialty-occupation/#comments Wed, 25 Feb 2015 10:34:28 +0000 http://totallyexpat.com/?p=17260 Continue reading ]]> UNITED STATES (Feb. 24, 2015) – Court reverses USCIS interpretation of H-1B ‘specialty occupation’A federal court in Seattle has ruled that the position of “market research analyst” falls within the definition of “specialty occupation” for purposes of obtaining an H-1B visa.

In a rare move, the court found that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services abused its discretion in denying the visa petition and further ordered the agency to grant the H-1B petition.

USCIS “failed to articulate a satisfactory explanation for [its] denial based on the record it had before it,” wrote U.S. District Court Judge Ricardo S. Martinez in an 11-page ruling. “USCIS thus abused its discretion in reaching a decision that was not in accordance with its own interpretation of the statutory and regulatory framework, and its decision shall be reversed.”

The employer in the case, Raj & Company, based in Yakima, Wash., sought to sponsor Rashma Kajal, a citizen of Fiji, for the position of market research analyst to assess opportunities to expand its hotel and convenience store business. The company filed a petition for an H-1B visa on behalf of Kajal, who holds a bachelor of science degree and a certificate in business management and marketing from Brigham Young University–Hawaii. USCIS responded with a request for evidence, and the company submitted additional information about its business operations, need for the position, industry practices and the company’s history of employing a market research analyst.

Employers sponsoring foreign nationals for H-1B petitions must show that the positions meet legal definitions of “specialty occupations.” The immigration statute defines a specialty occupation as requiring “highly specialized knowledge” and at least a bachelor’s degree in the specified specialty or its equivalent as a minimum requirement for entry into the occupation.

USCIS denied the employer’s petition, finding that market research analyst did not qualify as a specialty occupation. The agency determined that even though a bachelor’s degree is typically needed for the position, the position does not require a degree in a specific specialty as a normal minimum for entry into the occupation.

The court, however, said the statute’s definition of specialty occupation “does not require a single, specifically tailored and titled degree,” evidenced by the fact that the statute allows an equivalent to be accepted where a specifically tailored degree is not available.

“While an agency has considerable leeway to interpret statutes and regulations it enforces, it is not at liberty to read plain language out of a statute,” the court said.

This is the second court to strike down a USCIS denial of an H-1B petition for a market research analyst based on the definition of specialty occupation. In 2012, a federal court in Ohio similarly found that USCIS wrongly denied an H-1B petition filed by a company that offered a market research analyst position to a 25-year-old foreign national who graduated from a U.S. university with a bachelor of science degree in marketing and finance, and completed coursework in financial and managerial accounting, spreadsheets, databases, statistical concepts, marketing behavior, marketing research, and money markets. That court also ordered USCIS to grant the H-1B petition.

“The knowledge and not the title of the degree is what is important,” U.S. District Court Judge Gregory L. Frost wrote in that ruling. “Diplomas rarely come bearing occupation-specific majors.”

BAL Analysis: The court cases are a direct result of a recent change in interpretation of “specialty occupation” by the Administrative Appeals Office. Since 2009, the AAO has repeatedly imposed a requirement of a single, specific academic degree in a tailored major – a departure from its long-held interpretation that specialized knowledge can be gained through coursework in various academic disciplines regardless of the label or title on the academic degree. Where agency interpretation improperly narrows the definition of visa criteria, employers may resort to federal courts to review visa denials. Two courts have now reinforced the AAO’s previous interpretation that the plain meaning of the immigration statute and regulations, as well as the Labor Department’s definitions of job qualifications in its Occupational Outlook Handbook, do not require a specially tailored academic degree to qualify as an H-1B specialty occupation.

– Berry Appleman & Leiden LLP

Follow us on Twitter: @BAL_Immigration

About Berry Appleman & Leiden LLP
Founded in 1980, Berry Appleman & Leiden (BAL) provides comprehensive global immigration services from six offices across the U.S. and from offices in Geneva, London, Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, Shanghai, Singapore and Sydney. BAL manages global visa matters and customized application approaches for work permits, business visas, and residence permits in more than 100 countries. With a single cost center for worldwide operations, BAL offers centralized management with regional and local support for the complete spectrum of global immigration matters.

Source: Berry Appleman & Leiden LLP

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UNITED STATES (Feb. 24, 2015) – Supreme Court hears arguments in visa-denial case http://totallyexpat.com/united-states-feb-24-2015-supreme-court-hears-arguments-visadenial-case/ http://totallyexpat.com/united-states-feb-24-2015-supreme-court-hears-arguments-visadenial-case/#comments Wed, 25 Feb 2015 10:24:34 +0000 http://totallyexpat.com/?p=17257 Continue reading ]]> UNITED STATES (Feb. 24, 2015) – Supreme Court hears arguments in visa-denial caseA divided Supreme Court Monday heard arguments in a closely watched case involving a California woman who argues that she has a right to know why her husband was denied a visa to come to the United States.

Fauzia Din, a U.S. citizen, married an Afghan man in 2006 and had hoped to bring him to the U.S. to live with her. The State Department rejected his visa application, however, citing a federal law that bars entry to foreigners involved in “terrorist activities.” The government has not elaborated further and has maintained that it does not have to do so.

“All we’re saying is, there’s a liberty interest in not being arbitrarily denied the opportunity to live with your spouse through the erroneous application or interpretation of law by an executive decision,” Mark Haddad, Din’s attorney, told the court.

The government said Supreme Court precedent is on its side.

“This court has repeatedly held that the power to exclude aliens is inherent in sovereignty and necessary to defending the nation against encroachments and dangers,” said Edwin Kneedler, the government’s attorney. “It is a power exercised by the political branches of government.”

The justices are weighing both whether visa denials can be subject to judicial review and whether a person can bring a lawsuit on behalf of a spouse when the spouse’s visa is denied. The case reached the Supreme Court after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit held that Din was entitled to a “facially legitimate reason” for her husband’s visa denial.

A number of justices expressed skepticism, but Din’s argument did seem to garner some sympathy from others. Justice Sonia Sotomayor pressed the government by asking whether a spouse should have judicial recourse in cases where “someone [is] caught up in an administrative nightmare” because of a mistake.

The court’s more conservative judges were less inclined to see things from Din’s point of view. When Justice Stephen Breyer suggested a visa could be rejected for merely offering the wrong people a place to stay, Justice Antonin Scalia jumped in and said, “Enough for me.”

Chief Justice John Roberts and Scalia both pushed Din’s attorney on whether courts could see a flood of claims from other relatives – or even fiancés – if the court sided with Din.

“In this case,” Haddad responded, “where … there’s no question at all about the validity of the marriage, we are in the heartland of what this court has recognized is an important constitutional right.”

The case, Kerry v. Din, has been widely followed. The American Immigration Lawyers Association and the National Immigrant Justice Center filed an amicus brief describing the importance of the case.

“Absent at least limited judicial review, manifest injustice inevitably will result,” the organizations wrote in their brief, “particularly in circumstances, like those in this case, where a consular official explains the denial of a visa application by offering only a bald citation to a broad and multi-faceted statutory provision.”

– Berry Appleman & Leiden LLP

Follow us on Twitter: @BAL_Immigration

About Berry Appleman & Leiden LLP
Founded in 1980, Berry Appleman & Leiden (BAL) provides comprehensive global immigration services from six offices across the U.S. and from offices in Geneva, London, Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, Shanghai, Singapore and Sydney. BAL manages global visa matters and customized application approaches for work permits, business visas, and residence permits in more than 100 countries. With a single cost center for worldwide operations, BAL offers centralized management with regional and local support for the complete spectrum of global immigration matters.

Source: Berry Appleman & Leiden LLP

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UNITED STATES (Feb. 24, 2015) – Employer liable in $14 million jury award to foreign temporary workers http://totallyexpat.com/united-states-feb-24-2015-employer-liable-14-million-jury-award-foreign-temporary-workers/ http://totallyexpat.com/united-states-feb-24-2015-employer-liable-14-million-jury-award-foreign-temporary-workers/#comments Wed, 25 Feb 2015 09:31:22 +0000 http://totallyexpat.com/?p=17255 Continue reading ]]> A federal jury has awarded $14 million to five Indian nationals working for a U.S. company under the temporary-worker visa program. The jury found the employer, along with a labor recruiter and an immigration attorney, liable for luring foreign workers to the U.S. with false promises of permanent residency in violation of labor trafficking, fraud, racketeering and discrimination laws.

The verdict is part of a recent government focus on anti-trafficking. Last month, Congress introduced several bills aimed at preventing labor abuses of foreign workers.

According to the lawsuit, Signal International, a marine construction and repair company, began recruiting hundreds of workers from India in 2006 to work in welding, pipefitting and the repairing of oil rigs damaged by Hurricane Katrina the previous year. Each of the five plaintiffs paid the recruiter and lawyer $10,000 to $20,000 in exchange for promises of green cards for themselves and their families. The workers were actually brought to the U.S. on the H-2B visa program for temporary or seasonal workers whose maximum stay is three years. In addition, Signal charged each worker $1,050 per month to stay in tightly packed, guarded labor camps where they were required to live.

“This historic verdict puts American companies on notice that if they exploit the flaws in our temporary worker program, they will be held accountable and punished,” said Chandra Bhatnagar, one of the lawyers who represented the workers, in a statement. Bhatnager is a senior staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union Human Rights Program. The four-week trial concludes the first case in a series of cases that constitute one of the largest anti-labor-trafficking efforts in U.S. history, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, another legal organization that represented the plaintiffs.

Anti-trafficking has become a high-profile issue in recent years. Last month, the new Congress introduced more than a dozen bills targeting human trafficking. In 2012, President Barack Obama issued an executive order to tighten regulations to prevent human trafficking by employers engaged in federal government contracts. And Obama’s recent immigration executive actions include a proposal for federal agencies, including the Labor Department, Department of Homeland Security and the Justice Department, to form a working group to strengthen enforcement of labor and immigration laws and encourage workers to cooperate with investigations. A fact sheet posted on the Labor Department website says that the working group will create clearer rules and protections for workers regardless of immigration status, including strengthening processes to stay removal and provide work authorization to undocumented workers who complain about workplace conditions.

BAL Analysis: The jury verdict and flurry of legislative proposals on this issue is a compliance reminder to employers, especially those who rely on recruiters abroad. While the H-2B guest-worker program has been the focus of the litigation and policy initiatives, employers recruiting foreign workers in other programs, including high-skilled workers, should be cognizant of the increased activity in this area.

– Berry Appleman & Leiden LLP

Follow us on Twitter: @BAL_Immigration

About Berry Appleman & Leiden LLP
Founded in 1980, Berry Appleman & Leiden (BAL) provides comprehensive global immigration services from six offices across the U.S. and from offices in Geneva, London, Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, Shanghai, Singapore and Sydney. BAL manages global visa matters and customized application approaches for work permits, business visas, and residence permits in more than 100 countries. With a single cost center for worldwide operations, BAL offers centralized management with regional and local support for the complete spectrum of global immigration matters.

Source: Berry Appleman & Leiden LLP

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UNITED STATES (Feb. 24, 2015) – DHS issues final rule allowing H-4 dependent spouses to apply for work authorization http://totallyexpat.com/united-states-feb-24-2015-dhs-issues-final-rule-allowing-h4-dependent-spouses-apply-work-authorization/ http://totallyexpat.com/united-states-feb-24-2015-dhs-issues-final-rule-allowing-h4-dependent-spouses-apply-work-authorization/#comments Wed, 25 Feb 2015 09:10:48 +0000 http://totallyexpat.com/?p=17253 Continue reading ]]> UNITED STATES (Feb. 24, 2015) – DHS issues final rule allowing H-4 dependent spouses to apply for work authorizationUnder a final rule announced today, certain H-4 dependent spouses of H-1B visa holders will be able to apply for work authorization beginning May 26.

The new H-4 regulation extends work authorization to H-4 dependent spouses, as long as the primary H-1B worker is at a certain stage of the green card process. Under prior regulations, H-4 spouses were not allowed to work. The new rule will only apply to H-4 dependent spouses of principal H-1B holders who have an approved Form I-140 petition or have been granted extensions of stay beyond the normal six-year period under the American Competitiveness in the Twenty-first Century Act of 2000 (AC21).

According to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services director Leon Rodriguez, it “makes perfect sense” to allow spouses of this category of visa holders to legally work in the U.S.

“It helps U.S. businesses keep their highly skilled workers by increasing the chances these workers will choose to stay in this country during the transition from temporary workers to permanent residents,” he said. ” It also provides more economic stability and better quality of life for the affected families.” USCIS prioritized finalizing the regulation after President Barack Obama announced several initiatives to modernize visa programs with his other immigration executive actions last November.

Starting May 26, eligible H-4 spouses may apply for work authorization using the existing procedures by filing a Form I-765 application for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) with supporting evidence and a $380 fee. Once the application is approved, the H-4 dependent spouse will receive an EAD card from USCIS and may begin working. Currently, it is taking USCIS three months to process I-765 applications, meaning that the earliest time when new H-4 EAD applicants could expect to receive their cards would likely be toward the end of August.

DHS now estimates that as many as 179,600 H-4 visa holders will be eligible to apply for work authorization during the first year of the rule’s implementation and that 55,000 more will be eligible annually in subsequent years. The new rule consolidates policy on spousal work authorization by allowing spouses of H-1B nonimmigrants to apply for work permits, which is in line with current policy for spouses in the L, E-1, and E-2 visa categories.

For additional information or questions, please contact:

Lynden Melmed, Partner
Washington D.C.
Direct 202.842.5830
lmelmed@balglobal.com

Christiana Kern, Legislative Analyst
Direct 202.842.5831
ckern@balglobal.com

– Berry Appleman & Leiden LLP

Follow us on Twitter: @BAL_Immigration

About Berry Appleman & Leiden LLP
Founded in 1980, Berry Appleman & Leiden (BAL) provides comprehensive global immigration services from six offices across the U.S. and from offices in Geneva, London, Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, Shanghai, Singapore and Sydney. BAL manages global visa matters and customized application approaches for work permits, business visas, and residence permits in more than 100 countries. With a single cost center for worldwide operations, BAL offers centralized management with regional and local support for the complete spectrum of global immigration matters.

Source: Berry Appleman & Leiden LLP

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INDIA/UNITED KINGDOM (Feb. 23, 2015) – Biometrics, online appointments to be required for visas, consular services http://totallyexpat.com/indiaunited-kingdom-feb-23-2015-biometrics-online-appointments-required-visas-consular-services/ http://totallyexpat.com/indiaunited-kingdom-feb-23-2015-biometrics-online-appointments-required-visas-consular-services/#comments Tue, 24 Feb 2015 21:22:17 +0000 http://totallyexpat.com/?p=17246 Continue reading ]]> INDIA/UNITED KINGDOM (Feb. 23, 2015) – Biometrics, online appointments to be required for visas, consular servicesIMPACT – MEDIUM

What is the change? The High Commission of India in London has announced that it will require biometric data capture for visas and other consular services beginning in March.

What does the change mean? Anyone applying for Indian visas or other consular services in the U.K. will be required to book appointments online before submitting applications and appearing in person to have biometrics taken. Once the change is implemented, applicants showing up at visa centers without an appointment may be turned away.

  • Implementation timeframe: The changes will be implemented in March. Exact dates are not yet confirmed.
  • Visas/permits affected: Indian visas, passports, OCI cards and other consular services.
  • Who is affected: Anyone needing any of the above services.
  • Impact on processing times: Indian authorities are hoping that the online appointment system will save time in the application process. However, it is possible that applicants will experience delays as the program is implemented.
  • Next Steps: BAL will continue to monitor the rollout of the biometrics program and will provide updates accordingly.

Background: The changes are part of India’s Immigration, Visa and Foreigners’ Registration and Tracking (IVFRT) program. As part of the program, India will make biometric data collection (fingerprint data and facial imagery) mandatory for all visa applicants. Mandatory biometrics have already been implemented in Australia, Malaysia and the Netherlands, among other countries.

In the U.K., the program will be launched at 14 visa centers, including three in London, in March. Once the program is operating, walk-in appointments will not be accepted. Exceptions will be made for medical emergencies, however. Diplomatic and official passport holders traveling on official business are also exempt and should submit their applications directly at the High Commission of India in London or the Consulates General of India in Birmingham and Edinburgh.

BAL Analysis: Once the mandatory biometrics program is implemented, applicants will be required first to apply online and then appear in person, by appointment, at a visa center. Walk-ins may be turned away. BAL will provide more information about the rollout when dates can be confirmed. Contact your BAL representative if you have questions about the program.

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group in the United Kingdom. For additional information, please contact uk@balglobal.com.

Follow us on Twitter: @BAL_Immigration

About Berry Appleman & Leiden LLP
Founded in 1980, Berry Appleman & Leiden (BAL) provides comprehensive global immigration services from six offices across the U.S. and from offices in Geneva, London, Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, Shanghai, Singapore and Sydney. BAL manages global visa matters and customized application approaches for work permits, business visas, and residence permits in more than 100 countries. With a single cost center for worldwide operations, BAL offers centralized management with regional and local support for the complete spectrum of global immigration matters.

Source: Berry Appleman & Leiden LLP

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BRAZIL (Feb. 23, 2015) – New rule improves visa conversion process http://totallyexpat.com/brazil-feb-23-2015-rule-improves-visa-conversion-process/ http://totallyexpat.com/brazil-feb-23-2015-rule-improves-visa-conversion-process/#comments Tue, 24 Feb 2015 21:10:36 +0000 http://totallyexpat.com/?p=17244 Continue reading ]]> BRAZIL (Feb. 23, 2015) – New rule improves visa conversion processIMPACT – HIGH

What is the change? A new decree simplifies the process for foreign nationals who are converting from a temporary work visa to a permanent visa.

What does the change mean? Foreign nationals may now submit their application to convert from a temporary work visa to a permanent work visa directly to the Ministry of Justice, as long as it is submitted at least 30 days before the expiration date on their temporary work visa.

In another provision of the decree, Brazilian passports (regular, official and diplomatic) will now be valid for 10 years instead of five, requiring less frequent renewals. This extended expiration for regular passports will be available after some modifications to the passports and digital certification.

  • Implementation timeframe:The decree has been approved and is in effect.
  • Who is affected:Foreign employees applying for conversion of their temporary work visas (issued under Normative Resolution #99) into permanent visas.
  • Impact on processing times: The new procedures should improve overall times.
  • Business impact: The change removes a step in the process and makes it more convenient for foreigners seeking to convert to permanent visas.
  • Next steps: The conversion application now can be submitted directly at the Ministry of Justice, until 30 days prior to the visa’s expiration.

Background: In the past, foreign nationals were required to submit their conversion application along with their passport at the appropriate Federal Police office. The police stamped the passport and forwarded the application to the Ministry of Justice for final approval.

Under the new decree, the application can now be submitted directly to the ministry at least 30 days before expiration of the temporary work visa. In addition, foreign nationals do not need to submit their passport and can submit a current, notarized copy instead. The ministry will immediately issue a document confirming that the application was timely submitted. Foreign employees must keep this document affixed to their passport along with their expired RNE identification card, as proof of their timely conversion application. After the ministry approves the conversion application, applicants must visit the Federal Police office with jurisdiction over their residence in order to officially update their registration as a permanent-visa holder.

BAL Analysis: The changes should streamline the overall process to convert to permanent visas, which previously could take more than one year from submission of the application until final approval. BAL will keep monitoring the processing time frames with the Brazilian authorities and update clients on further developments.

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group in Brazil. For additional information, please contact brazil@balglobal.com.

Follow us on Twitter: @BAL_Immigration

About Berry Appleman & Leiden LLP
Founded in 1980, Berry Appleman & Leiden (BAL) provides comprehensive global immigration services from six offices across the U.S. and from offices in Geneva, London, Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, Shanghai, Singapore and Sydney. BAL manages global visa matters and customized application approaches for work permits, business visas, and residence permits in more than 100 countries. With a single cost center for worldwide operations, BAL offers centralized management with regional and local support for the complete spectrum of global immigration matters.

Source: Berry Appleman & Leiden LLP

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