The Forum for Expatriate Management http://totallyexpat.com Dedicated Exculsively to Global Mobility and International Assignee Management Tue, 22 Jul 2014 16:01:27 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Agility, Flexibility keys to successful talent deployment according to Weichert survey of US relocation managers http://totallyexpat.com/agility-flexibility-keys-successful-talent-deployment-weichert-survey-relocation-managers/ http://totallyexpat.com/agility-flexibility-keys-successful-talent-deployment-weichert-survey-relocation-managers/#comments Tue, 22 Jul 2014 16:00:50 +0000 http://totallyexpat.com/?p=15266 Continue reading ]]> MORRIS PLAINS, NJ, July 9, 2014  –  Companies intent on post-recession growth need a mobile workforce agile enough to respond quickly to new opportunities and fill talent gaps across their organizations, according to the results of Weichert Workforce Mobility’s latest survey.

Now in its eighth year, the Workforce Mobility Survey has become the definitive guide to emerging relocation trends and best practices. This year’s results reflect the input of approximately 220 corporate relocation managers and HR professionals at North American companies across all major industries.weichert

The majority of survey participants acknowledge that workforce mobility remains critical to achieving business and talent development goals, with one-third expecting their mobility volume to increase over the next twelve months. Mobility is even more important among high growth companies, which, the study showed, not only relocate more employees (an average of 432 annual moves versus 280 for other companies) but are also more effective at leveraging mobility as a strategic tool to recruit, develop and retain key talent.

But as volumes rise, the methods employers use to deploy talent are changing in response to a more volatile business environment and the added challenge of managing four distinct generations in the mobile workforce. Half of the companies participating in our survey have embraced such flexible measures as partial lump sums (71 percent), multiple tiered policies (44 percent), granting more exceptions (22 percent) and core/flex programs (21 percent).

Results also showed companies adopting programs to facilitate nimbler workforce deployment, essential for meeting the quickening pace of business and filling skills gaps. The most commonly used programs include long- and short-term domestic assignments, rotational assignments, extended business travel and commuter assignments.

“Looking at our results, it’s good to see that employers are no longer viewing workforce mobility as solely a benefit but as a critical component of a successful talent management strategy, and that they’re recognizing the need to embrace flexibility to keep talent mobile,” said Jennifer Connell, Director of Weichert Workforce Mobility’s Americas Consulting Practice.

“But the move to flexibility is bringing a host of other challenges. For example, we see organizations struggle to balance flexibility and cost control, which has led to increased interest in capped programs. Also, an alarmingly high number of companies address flexible moves on a case-by-case basis. As our survey revealed, while ninety-six percent of respondents expect their temporary assignment volumes to increase or hold steady over the next year, only thirty-seven percent claim to have formal policies in place for these moves—something that could increase their risk of tax compliance issues.”

Among other key findings of Weichert’s 2014 Employee Mobility Survey:

  • “Talent shortage” was ranked among the highest factors driving the need for a more agile workforce
  • Home sale benefits remain a critical component of any workforce mobility program
  • Renters are eclipsing home owners in some markets, although companies are leveraging innovative services and paid rental assistance to help employees find and overcome tight competition for suitable properties
  • Extended relocation time frames continue to prove challenging for companies

“Overall, our results show workforce mobility professionals attempting to develop a broader matrix of solutions to accommodate a more chaotic business environment,” said Connell. “This is echoed in the uptick of requests my team is fielding for our Optimization Lab, a unique combination of consulting and advisory services designed to help companies define their vision of effective workforce mobility, avoid risks and align mobility with talent management goals.

“With tighter deployment timeframes, fast-evolving business goals and broader employee demographics becoming formidable relocation challenges, HR managers are realizing that the workforce mobility models they relied on in more predictable times won’t serve them well today.”

Download the survey results here

Copies of the complete survey results can be obtained by emailing solutions@weichertwm.com.

About Weichert Workforce Mobility Inc.: Weichert Workforce Mobility is one of the world’s leading global workforce mobility companies, making it faster, easier and more cost-effective for clients to deploy key talent and transfer critical skills. As an independently-owned company, operating without silos or shareholder pressures, we offer flexibility and responsiveness to meet any workforce mobility need, anywhere in the world, whether your company moves 10 or 10,000 employees. We also provide our industry’s deepest global service scope, including global tax and compensation management. For more information, visit weichertworkforcemobility.com.

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UNITED KINGDOM: Amendment to Taxation of Share-Based Awards for Assignees http://totallyexpat.com/united-kingdom-amendment-taxation-sharebased-awards-assignees/ http://totallyexpat.com/united-kingdom-amendment-taxation-sharebased-awards-assignees/#comments Tue, 22 Jul 2014 13:52:47 +0000 http://totallyexpat.com/?p=15252 Continue reading ]]> A recent amendment to the new U.K. rules on how share-based awards held by internationally mobile employees (IMEs) are taxed, set to come into force on 6 April 2015, will potentially allow any amounts chargeable to U.K. income tax on the vesting of restricted shares to be reduced by any amounts that were charged to non-U.K. income tax on acquisition.

Why This Matters

With the U.K. tax treatment of certain share incentives of IMEs changing, effective from 6 April 2015, existing awards will be affected, so that the U.K. tax treatment may differ from that which the assignee expects.

Backgroundunited kingdom

As discussed in Flash International Executive Alert 2014-032 (20 March 2014) Finance Bill 2014 is set to enact sweeping changes to the way in which share-based awards held by IMEs are taxed in the United Kingdom.

The Finance Bill received Royal Assent on 17 July 2014, becoming Finance Act, 2014.

The recent amendment concerning restricted shares is discussed below.

Changes to How IMEs’ Share Awards Are Taxed in the U.K.

From 6 April 2015, IMEs will generally be charged to U.K. income tax on the proportion of the award that corresponds to the proportion of the ‘relevant period’ that the IME was working in the United Kingdom. For restricted shares, the ‘relevant period’ is generally the date of acquisition to the date of the chargeable event (e.g., when restrictions are removed).

KPMG Note

While it is expected that these changes will be broadly positive, they will result in some IMEs paying less U.K. income tax under the new rules and others paying more, depending on the type of award and the employee’s individual circumstances.

Potentially Adverse Outcome for U.K. Inbounds

For example, consider a U.K. inbound employee who acquired restricted shares before arriving in the United Kingdom. Since such an individual would not have had the opportunity to make an election to be chargeable to income tax only on acquisition, a charge to U.K. income tax would potentially arise on the vesting of restricted shares (i.e., when the restrictions lift) where such vesting occurs on or after 6 April 2015.

Under the original version of the legislation, although a foreign tax credit may have been available for foreign tax paid on acquisition under the treaty, U.K. tax would remain due on vesting under a number of scenarios including being due on a proportion of any growth in value, even if the employee was taxed on the full unrestricted market value of the shares at acquisition. Additionally, the U.K. tax rate may be greater than the foreign tax rate so that some U.K. tax may effectively be due on the amount taxed at acquisition.

New Amendment

Under a recent amendment to the legislation, when the individual is taxable overseas on the full unrestricted market value of shares at acquisition, U.K. tax will not be charged when the restrictions lift.

Please note that assignees from other countries that tax restricted shares on acquisition, but allow for a discount to be taken to reflect the restrictions attaching to the shares, will still be subject to some U.K. income tax on vesting.

A recent amendment to the new U.K. rules on how share-based awards held by internationally mobile employees (IMEs) are taxed, set to come into force on 6 April 2015, will potentially allow any amounts chargeable to U.K. income tax on the vesting of restricted shares to be reduced by any amounts that were charged to non-U.K. income tax on acquisition.

Why This Matters

With the U.K. tax treatment of certain share incentives of IMEs changing, effective from 6 April 2015, existing awards will be affected, so that the U.K. tax treatment may differ from that which the assignee expects.

Background

As discussed in Flash International Executive Alert 2014-032 (20 March 2014) Finance Bill 2014 is set to enact sweeping changes to the way in which share-based awards held by IMEs are taxed in the United Kingdom.

The Finance Bill received Royal Assent on 17 July 2014, becoming Finance Act, 2014.

The recent amendment concerning restricted shares is discussed below.

Changes to How IMEs’ Share Awards Are Taxed in the U.K.

From 6 April 2015, IMEs will generally be charged to U.K. income tax on the proportion of the award that corresponds to the proportion of the ‘relevant period’ that the IME was working in the United Kingdom. For restricted shares, the ‘relevant period’ is generally the date of acquisition to the date of the chargeable event (e.g., when restrictions are removed).

KPMG Note

While it is expected that these changes will be broadly positive, they will result in some IMEs paying less U.K. income tax under the new rules and others paying more, depending on the type of award and the employee’s individual circumstances.

Potentially Adverse Outcome for U.K. Inbounds

For example, consider a U.K. inbound employee who acquired restricted shares before arriving in the United Kingdom. Since such an individual would not have had the opportunity to make an election to be chargeable to income tax only on acquisition, a charge to U.K. income tax would potentially arise on the vesting of restricted shares (i.e., when the restrictions lift) where such vesting occurs on or after 6 April 2015.

Under the original version of the legislation, although a foreign tax credit may have been available for foreign tax paid on acquisition under the treaty, U.K. tax would remain due on vesting under a number of scenarios including being due on a proportion of any growth in value, even if the employee was taxed on the full unrestricted market value of the shares at acquisition. Additionally, the U.K. tax rate may be greater than the foreign tax rate so that some U.K. tax may effectively be due on the amount taxed at acquisition.

New Amendment

Under a recent amendment to the legislation, when the individual is taxable overseas on the full unrestricted market value of shares at acquisition, U.K. tax will not be charged when the restrictions lift.

Please note that assignees from other countries that tax restricted shares on acquisition, but allow for a discount to be taken to reflect the restrictions attaching to the shares, will still be subject to some U.K. income tax on vesting.

Source: KPMG

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VIETNAM: Government passes immigration law overhaul http://totallyexpat.com/vietnam-government-passes-immigration-law-overhaul/ http://totallyexpat.com/vietnam-government-passes-immigration-law-overhaul/#comments Tue, 22 Jul 2014 13:27:08 +0000 http://totallyexpat.com/?p=15249 Continue reading ]]> IMPACT – MEDIUM

What is the change? Vietnam’s National Assembly has passed a new immigration law that takes effect Jan. 1, 2015.

What does the change mean? The law overhauls visa categories and validity periods, prohibits conversion of one visa type to another, and sets new entry and exit bans.

  • Implementation timeframe: Jan. 1, 2015.vietnam
  • Visas/permits affected: All visas and permits.
  • Who is affected: All foreign nationals.
  • Impact on processing times: Delays are likely after implementation during the transition to the new rules.
  • Business impact: The new law contains significant changes that impact foreign assignees.

Background: The new immigration law will restructure visas into 20 categories. The redefined foreign worker visa is valid for up to two years with temporary resident cards for the same period. Examples of specific visa categories include those that have been created for heads of representative offices, investors and foreign attorneys, and foreign nationals working with Vietnamese authorities. Visas for head of representative offices and temporary resident cards are proposed to be granted for up to three years. Visas and temporary residence cards for investors/foreign attorneys and foreign nationals working with Vietnamese authorities are proposed to be granted for up to five years.

An important change is that the new law prohibits foreign nationals from converting from one visa category to another while in Vietnam. The new law also adds several reasons why a foreign national will be denied entry or exit. For example, a person who has presented false information to obtain a permit or who has been deported within the previous three years will be denied entry. A person who has not met tax obligations or administrative sanctions will be denied exit for up to three years.

BAL Analysis: Companies and foreign assignees in Vietnam should prepare for the coming changes and submit applications for permits as soon as possible under existing law, wherever possible.

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group and our network provider located in Vietnam. 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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THAILAND: New penalty form must be signed by foreign applicants http://totallyexpat.com/thailand-penalty-form-signed-foreign-applicants/ http://totallyexpat.com/thailand-penalty-form-signed-foreign-applicants/#comments Tue, 22 Jul 2014 13:25:06 +0000 http://totallyexpat.com/?p=15246 Continue reading ]]> IMPACT – MEDIUM

What is the change? Thailand has distributed a form, “Acknowledgment of Penalties for a Visa Overstay,” which visitors must sign when they obtain or extend visas.

What does the change mean? Thailand is cracking down on foreigners who overstay their visas.thailand

  • Implementation timeframe: Immediate. The form is now required; specific penalties for overstays are expected to be announced by the end of the month.
  • Visas/permits affected: All visas and permits.
  • Who is affected: All foreign nationals seeking Thai visas and permits, as well as current holders seeking extensions.
  • Impact on processing times: None.
  • Business impact: There is potential impact if employees are banned from re-entering Thailand due to overstaying.
  • Next steps: The Immigration Bureau has submitted its proposal, which lists specific recommended penalties, to the Ministry of Interior. Approval is anticipated by the end of the month.

Background: The Immigration Bureau has begun a campaign to strictly enforce the nation’s immigration rules. Foreigners who obtain visas, visa extensions (Board of Investment and non-Board of Investment visa-holders), or who are making 90-day reports are now required to sign the “Acknowledgment of Penalties for a Visa Overstay” form, which requires name, nationality, passport number and signature.

Foreigners who overstay their visas by up to 90 days face fines. The Immigration Bureau is proposing that overstays of more than 90 days be punishable by re-entry bans ranging from one year to life, depending on the length of the overstay.

BAL Analysis: The new acknowledgement form and proposed penalties are a compliance reminder to companies and foreign assignees.

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group and our network provider located in Thailand. 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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RUSSIA: Salary threshold to drop for specialist IT workers http://totallyexpat.com/russia-salary-threshold-drop-specialist-workers/ http://totallyexpat.com/russia-salary-threshold-drop-specialist-workers/#comments Tue, 22 Jul 2014 13:19:13 +0000 http://totallyexpat.com/?p=15243 Continue reading ]]> IMPACT – MEDIUM

What is the change? Russia will be dropping the minimum salary threshold for IT companies hiring workers in the quota-exempt Highly Qualified Specialist (HQS) work permit category.

What does the change mean? IT companies must be registered with the Ministry of Communications and Mass Media and then may sponsor foreign nationals on HQS permits for minimum annual salaries of one million rubles (about US $29,000), half of the standard salary threshold of two million rubles.russia

  • Implementation timeframe: The change came into force June 24, but work permit applications for HQSs will not be accepted until the Federal Migration Service finalizes the new process.
  • Visas/permits affected: HQS work permits.
  • Who is affected: Registered and accredited IT companies and prospective HQS work permit holders in the IT field.
  • Impact on processing times: There may be delays and a backlog as a result of the transition.
  • Business impact: This is a positive change for IT companies that may hire personnel at a lower cost.
  • Next steps: Companies in the information technology sector should register with the Ministry of Communications and Mass Media if they have not already done so.

Background: Russia created the HQS permit in 2010 as a way for Russian companies to hire skilled foreign workers without quota restrictions for up to three years. Registered companies in the IT field have recently been targeted to benefit from the lowered minimum salary threshold.

BAL Analysis: When implemented, registered companies can take advantage of this significant reduction in the minimum salary for foreign IT workers qualifying for HQS permits.

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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INDONESIA: Provisional permits no longer available http://totallyexpat.com/indonesia-provisional-permits-longer/ http://totallyexpat.com/indonesia-provisional-permits-longer/#comments Tue, 22 Jul 2014 13:15:09 +0000 http://totallyexpat.com/?p=15240 Continue reading ]]> INDONESIA – Provisional permits no longer available

July 18, 2014

IMPACT – MEDIUM

What is the change? Indonesia has eliminated 30-day provisional temporary stay permits.

What does the change mean? Work permit holders can no longer use the provisional permits to cover their stay when their work permits expire while waiting for renewals.

  • Implementation timeframe: Immediate.indonesia
  • Visas/permits affected: Work permits.
  • Who is affected: Employers and foreign assignees holding work permits.
  • Impact on processing times: None.
  • Business impact: The change takes away flexibility for workers whose permits expire during pending renewal applications.
  • Next steps: Employers and foreign workers should track expiration dates of work permits and plan to file for renewals as early as possible.

Background: The elimination of the permit means that foreign workers no longer have an option to bridge their stay if there is a gap between the expiration of date of their current work permits and the approval of the renewed permits.

BAL Analysis: Companies and assignees must pay closer attention to expiration dates of work permits and allow enough lead time to complete the renewal process so that permits do not expire before the renewal is approved.

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: Draft PAYE Regulations Amend Tax Code Notification Requirements http://totallyexpat.com/united-kingdom-draft-paye-regulations-amend-tax-code-notification-requirements/ http://totallyexpat.com/united-kingdom-draft-paye-regulations-amend-tax-code-notification-requirements/#comments Fri, 18 Jul 2014 13:15:25 +0000 http://totallyexpat.com/?p=15235 Continue reading ]]> The requirements for issuing copies of tax codes to employees and timely notifying them of changes to those codes are being amended, according to the U.K. tax authority.

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has issued draft amendments to the existing Pay As You Earn (PAYE) regulations, amending the requirements for issuing copies of tax codes to employees and allowing for coding notices to be issued electronically. The amendments also extend the time limits by which copies of amended coding notices must be issued to the employee after they are issued to the employer.united kingdom

PAYE is the system of withholding income taxes from employment income in the U.K. and the tax code is the instruction given to employers so that they know how much tax should be withheld on a monthly basis.

Why This Matters

These changes mean that in certain circumstances employees will be notified of changes to their tax codes at a later date than that upon which their employers are instructed about the change. The circumstances in which this will happen are likely to affect many expatriate employees. This may lead to an increased burden on payroll departments if employees notice a change of tax code when operated by the employer before they have received notification of the change from HMRC.

The Regulations in Detail

Notification of Tax Codes

The current regulations require that notice of a new or amended tax code be given to both employer and employee at the same time. The draft regulations would amend these requirements such that there is no longer a requirement to notify the employee at the same time.

Under the new regulations, there would now be a requirement for HMRC to notify the employee no later than 30 days after the date on which notice of the amended code was issued to the employer.

Electronic Notification

Currently, employees are notified (in writing) of their tax code, and any amendments to that code, when HMRC issues a paper notice of coding. The amendments to the regulations would remove the requirement that notification must be made in writing, which will allow for future notification to be made electronically through digital tax accounts set up for individuals. Written notification will still be made where employees are unable to access a digital tax account.

HMRC has confirmed that the amendments do not have any effect on the employee’s right to question or appeal against the notice of coding issued. In addition, HMRC has confirmed that the changes will not delay the issuance of any repayments of tax due.

Next Steps

The draft regulations have been published on HMRC’s Web site. Comments are invited and responses should be sent to <paye.policy@hmrc.gsi.gov.uk> by no later than 3 August 2014. A draft explanatory note has also been published on the Web site.

KPMG LLP (U.K.) Note

The move to expand the deadline by which tax codes must be notified to employees seems surprising. The introduction of the reporting of PAYE in Real Time – which we have reported on extensively – was supposed to increase the accuracy and transparency of PAYE. Delaying the issuance of code numbers may increase the calls received by payroll departments if employers have to implement any changes before the employees receives their notification from HMRC.

While we find it preferable that HMRC issue code numbers to the employer and employee at the same time, we welcome the proposals for electronic notification – this is especially efficacious for employees working overseas in areas where mail can take a long time to be delivered. Notwithstanding the 30-day delay in notification, the employee may actually find that the electronic notification is quicker than waiting for written notification (by mail) issued on the day the change is made.

Source: KPMG

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UNITED STATES: Amid Sustained High RFE and Denial Rates, USCIS Ombudsman Exposes Flaws in Adjudication Procedures http://totallyexpat.com/united-states-sustained-high-rfe-denial-rates-uscis-ombudsman-exposes-flaws-adjudication-procedures/ http://totallyexpat.com/united-states-sustained-high-rfe-denial-rates-uscis-ombudsman-exposes-flaws-adjudication-procedures/#comments Fri, 18 Jul 2014 13:10:06 +0000 http://totallyexpat.com/?p=15232 Continue reading ]]> The USCIS Ombudsman’s 2014 Annual Report targeted USCIS’s continued close scrutiny of high-skilled visa classifications. During the first half of fiscal year 2014, RFEs were issued in nearly 50% of L-1B petitions, nearly 43% of L-1A petitions, and approximately 30% of H-1B petitions. Yet despite high RFE rates during fiscal year 2013, the majority of L-1B, L-1A, and H-1B petitions were ultimately approved, indicating the inefficiency of “unnecessary RFEs.”

The 2014 Annual Report from the USCIS Ombudsman affirmed the experiences of the business immigration community: high rates of Requests for Further Evidence (RFEs) and denials of high-skilled immigration petitions have worsened in recent years. Petitioners face uncertainty and disruptions from lengthy and redundant RFEs and from discrepancies in case decisions. united states

USCIS Adjudication Statistics Reveal Considerable Inefficiencies 

The independent review confirmed that sustained close scrutiny by USCIS frustrates business immigration needs. In fiscal year (FY) 2014, RFE rates surged to nearly 50% for L-1Bs, nearly 43% for L-1As, and approximately 30% for H-1Bs. L-1B denial rates continued to soar and reached over 40% in FY 2014. 

The Ombudsman also indicated that high RFE rates combined with high rates of ultimate petition approval underscore the inefficiency of the adjudication process, especially since in many cases, the petitioner has already submitted probative and credible evidence with the initial filing. 

In FY 2013, nearly 50% of L-1B petitions received RFEs but 67% of petitions were ultimately approved; nearly 40% of L-1A petitions received RFEs but 83% were approved; and over 20% of H-1B petitions received RFEs but over 94% were approved. According to the Ombudsman, refresher training and quality assurance protocols would help USCIS adjudicators adhere to current guidance and policy when reviewing petitions. 

Approval rates from the Administrative Appeals Office (AAO) continued to drop in recent years: 1% for H-1Bs, 7% for L-1Bs, and 4% for EB-1 immigrant petitions in FY 2013. Although the data reported by USCIS does not include rejections, withdrawals, and remands, the miniscule likelihood of a successful appeal pinpoints the challenges faced by the business immigration community. 

Burdensome RFEs Squander Resources for Both USCIS Adjudicators and Petitioners 

Onerous RFEs often request documents previously submitted or even confidential or proprietary company documents, according to the report. In addition to disrupting petitioners’ business operations, the RFEs also drain USCIS resources, by requiring adjudicators to review petitions more than once, interrupting USCIS’s normal processing flows, and imposing additional administrative costs for file storage, retrieval, and matching. 

But “despite the enormous costs for the agency in preparing RFEs and reviewing responses in tens of thousands of cases,” USCIS declined to adopt the Ombudsman’s proposal to conduct supervisory review of all RFEs for quality control, citing resource-concerns. With the majority of petitions ultimately approved, however, the RFEs are impractical and compound the burden on petitioners. 

Ombudsman Recommends Issuance of USCIS Policy Guidance 

The Ombudsman’s recommendations to USCIS focus on standardizing petition adjudications and resolving case processing delays: issuing guidance on the definition of L-1B “specialized knowledge,” which USCIS has drafted but not yet released; publishing precedent AAO decisions; publishing an AAO policy manual; more clearly articulating evidentiary requirements; implementing supervisory review of all RFEs for quality control; requiring refresher training on how to apply the “more likely than not” standard of review; and evaluating alternate ways to calculate USCIS processing times. 

What This Means for Employers 

The USCIS Ombudsman’s report confirms what petitioners already know: operational inefficiencies negatively impact businesses and the American economy, and clear policy guidelines would improve both petition filings by employers and petition processing by USCIS. 

This alert is for informational purposes only. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact your designated Fragomen professional. 

Source: Fragomen

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AUSTRALIA: Legislative maneuver reverses vote on foreign oil worker visas http://totallyexpat.com/australia-legislative-maneuver-reverses-vote-foreign-oil-worker-visas/ http://totallyexpat.com/australia-legislative-maneuver-reverses-vote-foreign-oil-worker-visas/#comments Fri, 18 Jul 2014 09:19:38 +0000 http://totallyexpat.com/?p=15227 Continue reading ]]> IMPACT – HIGH

What is the change? In response to a Senate vote Wednesday night that blocked several visa categories for foreign oil and gas industry workers, Australia’s Immigration Minister issued a Legislative Instrument on Thursday to override the vote.

What does the change mean? The Legislative Instrument clarifies the visa status of foreign workers in offshore resources activities.australia

  • Implementation timeframe: Immediate and ongoing.
  • Visas/permits affected: Subclass 457 (Temporary Work – Skilled) visa, Subclass 400 (Temporary Work – Short Stay) visas, Subclass 988 (Maritime Crew) visa.
  • Who is affected: Companies and foreign workers participating in or supporting offshore resources activities.
  • Impact on processing times: Unknown at this time.
  • Business impact: The Instrument provides clarity for the moment, but is part of an ongoing controversy over changes to visa requirements for foreign oil rig workers that is likely to continue.

Background: On Wednesday night, the Australian Senate voted to disallow a regulation that put foreign workers into three visa categories. That regulation, Migration Amendment (Offshore Resources Activity) Regulation 2014, was intended to quash a more restrictive law put in place by the previous government that would have required a new “offshore resources” visa for those workers. Both measures had effective dates of 30 June.

Following the disallowance vote, Assistant Minister for Immigration and Border Protection Michaelia Cash quickly issued Legislative Instrument IMMI 14/077 – Determination Subsection A(6) Migration Act 1958 to override the vote.

In a statement, she said the Legislative Instrument has the following effects:

  • For offshore resources activities involving an Australian resources installation fixed to the Australian sea bed – such as a traditional oil rig – a non-citizen will be required to hold an appropriate work visa, such as a Subclass 457 visa. A Maritime Crew Visa is only valid for work as the crew of a ship.
  • Other offshore resources activity falls outside the migration zone and, as such, is not subject to visa requirements.

“The Legislative Instrument effectively restores the situation that existed prior to 29 June 2014 – which was in place for the entire duration of the former Labor Governments,” Cash said.

The Legislative Instrument is to take effect immediately and sunsets on 1 October 2024. The instrument states that it is exempt from disallowance and that due to its urgency, it does not require consultation.

BAL Analysis: The new law restores short-term certainty for the immigration status of foreign workers in Australia’s $200 billion oil and gas industry.

This alert has been provided by BAL Australia. For additional information, please contact australia@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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SINGAPORE: As Employers Prepare for Upcoming Job Posting Requirements, New Exemptions Announced http://totallyexpat.com/singapore-employers-prepare-upcoming-job-posting-requirements-exemptions-announced/ http://totallyexpat.com/singapore-employers-prepare-upcoming-job-posting-requirements-exemptions-announced/#comments Thu, 17 Jul 2014 15:14:50 +0000 http://totallyexpat.com/?p=15224 Continue reading ]]> When new advertising requirements for employment passes take effect this August, companies sponsoring foreign nationals for intracompany assignments or for assignments of one month or less will be exempt.

The Ministry of Manpower has announced that when new advertising requirements take effect August 1, 2014 under the Fair Consideration Framework (FCF), intracompany transferees (ICTs) and individuals on assignments of one month or less will be exempt. The Ministry also recently announced special requirements for employers with graduate recruitment programs. singapore

Under the FCF, employers must advertise job vacancies on an official job bank administered by the Singapore Workforce Development Agency for at least 14 days before they can file an employment pass application. The Ministry recently clarified that the following information should be included in the job advertisement: job title, closing date, skills, qualifications, experience, and salary range. Employers are also encouraged to provide a good indication of the salary range that they are prepared to offer. 

If the employer does not select a Singapore national for the position, the employer may hire a foreign national but must ensure that the employment pass application is filed within the three months following the job posting’s closing date. 

Exemption for ICTs 

The job posting requirement will not apply to jobs to be filled by foreign nationals who meet the definition of intra-corporate transferees under free trade agreements to which Singapore is a party, such as the World Trade Organization (WTO)’s General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS). 

In practice, this means a candidate must: 

• Hold a senior position (manager or executive) in the organization or have an advanced level of expertise (specialist); 

• Have worked for the company outside Singapore for a period of not less than one year before being posted to the branch, affiliate or subsidiary in Singapore; and 

• Plan on being issued an initial employment pass for three years, which may be extended for up to two years, for a total term not exceeding five years. 

In the employment pass application, sponsoring companies must declare that the applicant has met the one-year foreign employment requirement before being posted to the branch, affiliate or subsidiary in Singapore. Sponsors must also submit documents to establish that the applicant meets the definition of an ICT, such as the organizational chart of the company in Singapore and the applicant’s position in it. Where the applicant is a specialist, the job description should show that the applicant possesses knowledge at an advanced level of expertise. 

Exemption for Assignments of Up to One Month 

Companies sponsoring foreign staff for temporary deployments or to address short-term contingencies may also apply for employment passes without having to meet the advertising requirement. The duration of the assignment must not be more than one month. Employment passes obtained under this exemption are not renewable, and the holder may not apply for a new employment pass for a period of three months after the expiry of the previous pass. 

Special Requirements for Graduate Recruitment Programs 

Employers who recruit undergraduates at local and overseas universities prior to graduation will be allowed to use job advertisements on the official job bank up to two years before the date of the employment pass application. Job postings are generally only valid for up three months. To do so, employers will be required to: 

• State clearly in the job posting that the search is for suitable candidates to fill future positions; 
• Submit the employment pass application for a new graduate within six months from the date of completion of degree; and 
• Take part in recruitment exercises at one of the local autonomous universities in the same year the job advertisement is posted, by either participating in campus career fairs or posting on the university’s job portal. 

These employers are also required to keep records for the foreign employee’s first two years of employment and furnish these to the Ministry on request. 

More information on the new exemptions, as well as other updates on the FCF may be found on the Ministry’s website

What This Means for Employers 

From August 1, employers submitting employment pass applications (including for employment pass holders who are changing employers) are required to show that they have advertised for the position on the official job bank. Applications submitted before the close of the 14-day advertising period will not be allowed to proceed. 

Employers seeking an exemption from the advertising requirement must be mindful of the conditions attached to each exemption. Companies with graduate recruitment programs should be mindful of the special requirements for these candidates. 

This alert 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 SGInitiations@fragomen.com

Source: Fragomen

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