The Forum for Expatriate Management http://totallyexpat.com Dedicated Exculsively to Global Mobility and International Assignee Management Fri, 01 Aug 2014 09:21:44 +0000 en-US hourly 1 UNITED STATES: New USCIS director sets agenda to digitize records, reduce delays http://totallyexpat.com/united-states-uscis-director-sets-agenda-digitize-records-reduce-delays/ http://totallyexpat.com/united-states-uscis-director-sets-agenda-digitize-records-reduce-delays/#comments Fri, 01 Aug 2014 08:53:20 +0000 http://totallyexpat.com/?p=15365 Continue reading ]]> July 31, 2014 – Digital immigration records and greater efficiency are key priorities set out by the new USCIS director Leon Rodriguez in his first remarks to Congress.

“One of my top challenges and top priorities is tackling our agency’s information systems,” Rodriguez said to the House Judiciary Committee on July 29, testifying on a range of immigration topics.

He noted that the agency still operates on paper systems or legacy electronic systems that prevent optimal efficiency.united states

“We could be operating even better if we had modern information systems,” said Rodriguez, who was sworn in on July 9.

Short-term goals include the addition of new technology that would use Department of Homeland Security cloud services by the end of this year. Rodriguez said that web-based features will be rolled out beginning in September and the agency will continue to introduce new user functions every four to six months.

The long-range digital overhaul of records, known as the Transformation Program, is currently in progress and was originally planned to be unveiled in 2013. However, it is now expected to be completed in fiscal year 2018 or 2019.

“For me, making sure that, at a minimum before I conclude my tenure, we can see the light at the end of the tunnel for those challenges, will be a top priority,” Rodiguez said.

BAL Analysis: The move to digital files is intended to streamline processing, reduce delays, and increase capacity. The proposed introduction of new user functions as early as this year is a promising sign; however, the estimated six-year delay in the agency’s completion of its digital Transformation Program means these benefits may not be seen for some time.

 

- 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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The Americas Global Mobility Summit seminar program announced! http://totallyexpat.com/americas-global-mobility-summit-seminar-program-announced/ http://totallyexpat.com/americas-global-mobility-summit-seminar-program-announced/#comments Thu, 31 Jul 2014 13:02:09 +0000 http://totallyexpat.com/?p=15360 Over 25 inspiring sessions from top international employers announced including Mcdonalds, The Coca-Cola Company, Air Energi and more…

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VIETNAM: New Immigration Law to be Implemented January 1, 2015 http://totallyexpat.com/vietnam-immigration-law-implemented-january-1-2015/ http://totallyexpat.com/vietnam-immigration-law-implemented-january-1-2015/#comments Thu, 31 Jul 2014 10:31:14 +0000 http://totallyexpat.com/?p=15357 Continue reading ]]> The new law will restructure Vietnam’s visa classification system, introduce new entry and exit restrictions and eliminate in-country change of status options.

A new Vietnamese immigration law will take effect in Vietnam on January 1, 2015 to expand the number of immigration categories, introduce new entry and exit restrictions and eliminate in-country change of status procedures. 
vietnam
New Visa Classification Structure 

Under the upcoming system, foreign nationals will apply for a visa based on their occupation or intended travel purpose, with distinct visa categories for occupations such as investors, lawyers, or journalists. Each visa classification will have its own maximum duration period ranging from 30 days to five years. The new structure will increase the number of immigration categories from four general groups to twenty specific visa classifications. 

The full impact of the new visa structure will not be known until implementation details are released by the Vietnamese government. The change is intended to give visa applicants and sponsors greater clarity regarding permissible activities and maximum duration. 

New Entry and Exit Restrictions 

There will be greater restrictions on entry for individuals with adverse criminal or immigration records from any country. Foreign nationals deported from Vietnam will be banned from entry for three years. Minors under the age of fourteen will not be permitted to enter Vietnam unless traveling with a parent or legal guardian. 

Foreign nationals will not be permitted to exit Vietnam if they have not fulfilled all tax obligations, are facing criminal charges or administrative sanctions, are serving a criminal sentence, or are a party to any civil, economic, labor, administrative or marriage litigation in Vietnam. Foreign nationals whose exit is prohibited by these circumstances will be barred from leaving Vietnam for up to three years. 

Elimination of In-Country Changes of Status

Foreign nationals will no longer be permitted to change from business visitor to work authorized status from within Vietnam. Currently, work permit applicants commonly enter Vietnam on a multiple-entry business visa and extend the same for the duration of their work permit, or obtain a Temporary Residence Card. It is unclear at this time how this new policy will impact the work authorization process. Fragomen is seeking clarification from government officials. 

What This Means for Employers

The new immigration law is evidence of Vietnam’s efforts to establish entry and exit policies that provide more clarity to employers and foreign nationals. The full impact of the new law will depend on how it is ultimately implemented. The government is expected to release a circular with implementation details later this year. 

For companies sponsoring foreign nationals into Vietnam, it will be important to monitor updates on how the Vietnamese government intends to implement the new law as it relates to business visits, work permits and work permit exemptions. Fragomen is monitoring developments in Vietnam and will issue updates as they arise. 

Fragomen worked closely with Resident Vietnam 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 toAPCCInitiations@fragomen.com

Source: Fragomen

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RUSSIA: Visa-waived nationals can obtain work permits http://totallyexpat.com/russia-visawaived-nationals-obtain-work-permits/ http://totallyexpat.com/russia-visawaived-nationals-obtain-work-permits/#comments Wed, 30 Jul 2014 08:54:09 +0000 http://totallyexpat.com/?p=15354 Continue reading ]]> IMPACT – MEDIUM

What is the change? Russia has implemented a law that provides visa-waived nationals more flexibility in obtaining work permits.

What does the change mean? Foreign nationals who are visa-waived may obtain a work permit after entry if they indicate that the purpose of their visit is for work.russia

  • Implementation timeframe: Immediate.
  • Visas/permits affected: Work permits.
  • Who is affected: Foreign nationals who do not require a visa to visit the Russian Federation and who are entering for work.
  • Impact on processing times: None.

Background: The new law is part of a package of changes to immigration rules taking place in Russia under the Legal Status of Foreign Citizens in the Russian Federation.

BAL Analysis: Note that the foreign national must state on his or her migration card that the purpose of the visit is for work. If another purpose is stated on the card, a work permit will not be issued.

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group and our network provider located in Russia. For additional information, please contact your BAL attorney.

 

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: Visa delays continue as State Department works to correct glitch http://totallyexpat.com/united-states-visa-delays-continue-state-department-works-correct-glitch/ http://totallyexpat.com/united-states-visa-delays-continue-state-department-works-correct-glitch/#comments Wed, 30 Jul 2014 08:50:43 +0000 http://totallyexpat.com/?p=15351 Continue reading ]]> July 29, 2014 – Travelers worldwide continue to experience delays in obtaining U.S. visas due to a computer crash in the State Department’s database that records and prints visas. The Bureau of Consular Affairs has said that it is making progress in restoring its nonimmigrant visa database and had made changes over the weekend to try to restore performance. united states

However, the system is not functioning at full capacity and an extensive backlog that developed during outages over the past 10 days has further slowed operations. The State Department has cautioned travelers that the system will not be operating normally until the backlog is cleared.

U.S. embassies and consulates may limit or reschedule nonimmigrant visa interviews until the system is up to speed. Visa applicants should track their applications, keep copies of documents submitted with their applications and carefully review visas and other travel documents once they are issued to make sure the information contained in them is accurate.

The performance problems began July 19 with the U.S. State Department’s Consular Consolidated Database. The database houses consular records and is used to approve and print visas, passports and other travel documents. As a security measure, consular officers are prevented from printing or issuing visas until approved by the database.

BAL Analysis: Travelers are urged to plan well in advance when possible. The Bureau of Consular Affairs is placing a high priority on processing nonimmigrant visas. Foreign assignees, students and other travelers awaiting U.S. visas should contact their employers or sponsoring entities regarding the possibility of such delay.

 

- 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: State Department Consular System Back Online, But Visa Issuance Delays Persist http://totallyexpat.com/united-states-state-department-consular-system-online-visa-issuance-delays-persist/ http://totallyexpat.com/united-states-state-department-consular-system-online-visa-issuance-delays-persist/#comments Tue, 29 Jul 2014 09:21:57 +0000 http://totallyexpat.com/?p=15344 Continue reading ]]> The State Department’s consular database has resumed limited operations after technical problems reported late last week. Foreign nationals awaiting nonimmigrant visa issuance are experiencing delays as the agency works through backlogs.united states

The State Department’s consular database has resumed operations with limited capacity after last week’s outage. U.S. consulates are once again able to print visa stamps, but are giving priority to immigrant visa and adoption cases. Foreign nationals awaiting nonimmigrant visa (NIV) issuance are experiencing continued delays as the agency works through backlogs. 

Consular online status systems are also back online. NIV applicants checking the status of their cases may receive a message that their applications are in administrative processing. In most cases, this refers to the final processing and stamping of the applicant’s passport, though, as always, some applicants may be flagged for additional security clearances. 

Fragomen is closely monitoring visa issuance at U.S. consulates worldwide. We will provide further updates as we receive new information about nonimmigrant visa processing in the wake of the system outage.

Source: Fragomen

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UNITED KINGDOM: Short-Term Business Visitor Agreement to Be Updated http://totallyexpat.com/united-kingdom-shortterm-business-visitor-agreement-updated/ http://totallyexpat.com/united-kingdom-shortterm-business-visitor-agreement-updated/#comments Tue, 29 Jul 2014 08:58:13 +0000 http://totallyexpat.com/?p=15341 Continue reading ]]> Based on recent discussions between professional bodies and HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), it is understood that there are plans for an updated Appendix 4 (short-term business visitor) agreement to be published in the U.K. at the end of August 2014. The update will help clarify the position for employees who spend up to 60 days in the U.K., but where costs are recharged to the U.K. entity so that treaty relief would not normally apply.

We have reported widely on the arrangements that employers can enter into with HMRC in the U.K. in respect of employees who spend short periods working in the United Kingdom. The arrangements are known as short-term business visitor or Appendix agreements. They reduce the burdens of payroll withholding and reporting in respect of short-term business travellers to the U.K. who benefit from relief under double taxation treaties.

Why This Mattersunited kingdom

When considering whether an individual can claim relief under a double taxation treaty, HMRC looks at who the economic employer of that individual is rather than his legal employer. This can restrict the circumstances in which treaty relief is available, even where the individual meets the day count conditions in the treaty. This leads to uncertainty as to whether the treaty applies and whether individuals fall under the agreement with HMRC.

The changes mean it is now clear that where an individual is legally employed outside the U.K. and spends less than 60 days in the U.K., treaty relief will always apply. This should bring welcome clarity for employers operating these schemes.

Changes in Detail

The “60-day” Rule

Additional wording will be included in a new agreement whereby employees working in the U.K. for less than 60 days can be covered under the agreement, providing it can be shown that they were paid via a nonresident employer’s payroll. It should be noted that the changes, however, do not apply where an individual is employed by a U.K. entity or overseas branch of a U.K. entity, unless the individual is seconded to work for a separate nonresident entity and is in the U.K. performing duties for that nonresident entity.

It is important to note that the 60 days cannot form part of a greater period spent in the U.K. (for example, an individual who spends 59 days in the U.K. at the end of the 2013/14 tax year but also spends 59 days in the U.K. at the start of 2014/15 has spent more than 60 days in the U.K.). In other words, the test is not a “per tax year” test. A day is considered to be a U.K. day if any part of the day is spent in the country unless the individual is solely transiting through on the way from one location to another destination. If an individual falls within these conditions, at the end of the year, HMRC will require confirmation that there is no U.K. contract of employment and that the 59 days do not form part of a more substantial period of time in the United Kingdom.

OECD Commentary on Double Taxation Treaties

The OECD model tax convention includes commentary on each article of the treaty. The commentary for article 15 of the model convention (the article which provides relief for employment income) outlines situations where, if applied in the U.K., the U.K. would not be regarded as an individual’s economic employer and treaty relief would, therefore, be available.

There are situations outlined in the OECD commentary where treaty relief is still applicable even when there are recharges to a U.K. entity. These situations are not covered by the short-term business visitors agreement and a claim for treaty relief would generally need to be made on a U.K. tax return after U.K. withholding had been operated. The changes to the short-term business visitor agreement will invite employers to seek HMRC’s agreement in respect of specific circumstances or groups of employees where the agreement could be extended to cover them. This will be for a trial period and is subject to withdrawal.

Employers with existing agreements will not need to sign new agreements. Any new agreements will contain the new wording once it has been published.

KPMG Note

The inclusion of these added clauses in the short-term business visitors agreement is a welcome move and reflects the discussions that have been taking place within the HMRC Expat Forum for some time. Employers now have far more clarity around who can and cannot be included in an agreement and the ability to seek specific clearance from HMRC is also appreciated.

Should you require guidance on seeking approval from HMRC for specific groups of employees where it is felt that the OECD guidelines will apply, please contact a qualified tax professional.

Source: KPMG

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INDONESIA: Government increases fees for visas-on-arrival http://totallyexpat.com/indonesia-government-increases-fees-visasonarrival/ http://totallyexpat.com/indonesia-government-increases-fees-visasonarrival/#comments Mon, 28 Jul 2014 15:48:21 +0000 http://totallyexpat.com/?p=15333 Continue reading ]]> IMPACT – LOW

What is the change? Indonesia’s Immigration Office has increased the fees on 30-day and seven-day visas-on-arrival (VOAs).

What does the change mean? This is a small increase, but an opportunity to remind foreign assignees and business travelers that VOAs do not substitute for work permits or business visas.indonesia

  • Implementation timeframe: Immediate and ongoing.
  • Visas/permits affected: 30-day and seven-day VOAs.
  • Who is affected: All foreign nationals eligible for VOAs.
  • Impact on processing times: None.
  • Business impact: Minimal—VOAs are primarily used for tourism and visits with friends and family.

Background: The VOA fees have increased from US $25 to $35 for 30-day VOAs and from US $10 to $15 for seven-day VOAs. The hikes are among several increased fees, including higher passport application fees for Indonesians, which have been announced by the Immigration Office.

BAL Analysis: Companies should be aware that VOAs should not be used for work or business in Indonesia. Foreign nationals must have Business Visas for business visits or Temporary Stay Visas (VITAS) when entering for work. Despite statements on Indonesian embassy and consular websites about the use of VOAs for business visits, business travelers who do so risk being stopped at entry and returned to their last port of call at the absolute discretion of Indonesian border authorities.

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group and our network provider located in Indonesia. For additional information, please contact your BAL attorney.

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 KINGDOM: New biometrics rule set for young children http://totallyexpat.com/united-kingdom-biometrics-rule-set-young-children/ http://totallyexpat.com/united-kingdom-biometrics-rule-set-young-children/#comments Fri, 25 Jul 2014 09:00:26 +0000 http://totallyexpat.com/?p=15326 Continue reading ]]> IMPACT – MEDIUM

What is the change? The U.K. is rolling out a new biometrics requirement for visa applicants under 5 years old.

What does the change mean? Children under 5 must attend a biometrics appointment to have digital photos taken as part of the entry clearance application.united kingdom

  • Implementation timeframe: The U.K. will implement the rule for U.S. applicants later this year. It was implemented July 7, 2014 for applicants in Canada and several countries in Asia and the Middle East.
  • Visas/permits affected: All U.K. visas.
  • Who is affected: Children under 5 applying for entry clearance to the U.K.
  • Impact on processing times: This adds another step for those applying for children under 5 years old, but the time required will be minimal because the procedure is to occur during adult appointments.

Background: In the past, children under 5 years old were exempt from the requirement to provide biometrics (a digital photograph and fingerprints) at the visa application centre prior to making an entry clearance application–for example as a PBS (points-based system) dependent. Under the new requirement, all applicants for entry clearance, including adults and children regardless of their age, must make an appointment at a visa application centre to provide biometrics. Children under 5 years old will sit for a photo only but will not be required to give their fingerprints. The Consulate General of the U.K. in New York has confirmed that the rule will be introduced later this year in the U.S. when the biometrics equipment is in place.

BAL Analysis: Parents applying for U.K. visas should be aware of this change and ensure that they make appointments to bring their children, regardless of age, to provide biometrics.

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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UNITED STATES: State Department glitch delays visas globally http://totallyexpat.com/united-states-state-department-glitch-delays-visas-globally/ http://totallyexpat.com/united-states-state-department-glitch-delays-visas-globally/#comments Fri, 25 Jul 2014 08:55:53 +0000 http://totallyexpat.com/?p=15323 Continue reading ]]> An outage in the U.S. Department of State’s database that processes visas and other immigration documents is causing delays for travelers seeking U.S. visas around the world.united states

The glitch in the Consular Consolidated Database began on Saturday and has stalled the processing of visas for foreign nationals at U.S. embassies and consular posts abroad. It has also delayed applications by Americans for U.S. passports and r Aecords of births abroad.

Travelers should expect delays in obtaining visas as well as a backlog of applications that may further lengthen wait times.

 

- 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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