- U.S. Bans Many Electronic Devices on Flights to the U.S. from 10 MENA Airports
- Stricter Visa Screening Expected to Result in Longer Visa Processing for All
- Follow Up: Changes to UK’s Tier 2 Take Effect April 6
U.S. Bans Many Electronic Devices on Flights to U.S. from 10 MENA Airports
On March 21, 2017, a restriction on carry-on electronic devices on flights coming directly to the U.S. from 10 airports in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) took effect. This measure by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security comes in response to “evaluated intelligence” that terrorist groups continue to use innovative methods to target commercial flights and the possibility that bombs can be hidden in these large electronic devices.
The electronic device ban does not impact domestic flights within the U.S., nor does it affect flights departing the U.S.
The ban of electronic devices applies to passengers traveling to the U.S. from the following airports:
- AMM – Jordan’s Queen Alia International Airport,
- AUH – Abu Dhabi International Airport,
- CAI – Egypt’s Cairo International Airport,
- CMN – Casablanca, Morocco’s Mohammed V Airport,
- DOH – Doha, Qatar’s Hamad International Airport,
- DXB – Dubai International Airport (DXB),
- IST – Istanbul, Turkey’s Ataturk International Airport,
- JED – Jeddah, Saudi Arabia’s King Abdul-Aziz International Airport,
- KWI – Kuwait International Airport, and
- RUH – Riyadh, Saudi Arabia’s King Khalid International Airport.
Electronic devices larger than a cell phone or a smart phone (including laptops, tablets, e-readers, cameras, and other similarly sized devices) will not be allowed to be carried on-board a flight from the above listed airports. Electronic devices that exceed this size limit must be transported in checked luggage. Exceptions apply for necessary medical devices.
A similar ban has been announced by the UK. The UK measure bars passengers traveling to the UK from six countries from bringing laptops, tablets and other large portable electronic devices on flights in their carry-on bags. The British ban also includes some cellphones, and is expected to apply to all airports in the following countries: Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Tunisia and Saudi Arabia.
Stricter Visa Screening Expected to Result in Longer Visa Processing
The U.S. Secretary of State has directed U.S. Consulates worldwide to immediately implement heightened screening and vetting procedures for visa applications, including a mandatory review of social media for all visa applicants suspected to have any ties to terrorist organizations.
As a result, visa applicants should expect increased delays in visa appointment scheduling and processing as consular officials work with law enforcement and intelligence community partners to implement additional screening procedures. U.S. Consulates were also instructed to limit the number of visa interview slots available each day in order to allocate additional time to each application. The reduction in interviews will result in longer wait times to schedule visa interview appointments.
Additional details about these directives are available on EIG’s website. EIG will continue to provide updates as additional information on the impact of these directives becomes available.
Follow Up: Changes to UK’s Tier 2 Take Effect April 6
As previously discussed in Dispatch, effective April 6, 2017, there will be changes to the UK Tier 2 Visa category. These changes are not related to Brexit, but have been part of the proposed reforms discussed by the Home Office over the last year. The objective of the Immigration Skills Charge is to incentivize companies to hire UK resident workers rather than sponsoring foreign nationals on a Tier 2 visa. The most notable changes are below:
1. New Immigration Skills Charge
- A £1,000 per year Skills Charge for medium or large sponsors will be required for most Tier 2 applications. The fee is payable up front for the total duration of the visa when assigning the Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) to an employee.
- Smaller businesses and charities will be charged a lower fee and some applications will be exempt, including applications filed for:
- Tier 2 extensions where companies seek Tier 2 status for an employee who was sponsored in Tier 2 status before April 6, 2017 and is applying from within the UK to extend their Tier 2 status with either the same or different sponsor
- Tier 4 Student Visa holders in the UK switching to Tier 2 General
- Dependent family members
- PhD level roles
- Tier 2 ICT (Graduate Trainees) visa category
- Tier 2 General and “High Earner” Base Salary Increases
- Minimum base salary for an experienced worker under the Tier 2 General visa category will rise from £25,000 to £30,000.
- Minimum base salary for “high earners” will increase from £155,300 to £159,600.
- Tier 2 Intra-company Transfer (ICT) Changes
- Tier 2 ICT (Short Term) visa category will close to all new applications. The Tier 2 ICT visa for long term transfers remains available.
- Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) of £200 per year per person will apply to all Tier 2 ICT applicants and their dependents.
- Applicants earning £73,900 or more base salary will no longer be required to have one year employment experience with the company abroad before applying for a Tier 2 ICT visa.
- Tier 2 ICT visa applicants that wish to extend their status up to 9 years will be required to have a minimum base salary of £120,000.
- Limits on Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) Start Date Modifications
- Start date on the CoS must be the date the employee starts working in the UK. A Tier 2 General visa holder may delay his/her start date up to four weeks from the original start date on the CoS. Tier 2 ICT visa holder may delay start date past four weeks if the employee is continued to be paid by the overseas entity. The Home Office should be notified within 10 days of the change of any start date.
TAKEAWAY: It’s important companies take the additional costs of the Skills Charge and the Health Surcharge into consideration when budgeting for transfers and new hires. In addition, the start date in the UK should be planned strategically for Tier 2 General applicants.
For further clarification or assessment of eligibility please contact EIG’s Global Team at firstname.lastname@example.org