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EIG Week in Review (Apr 25, 2014)

April 25, 2014

Highlights

  • EU Immigration Reform Coming Soon
  • UK to Eliminate Tier 1 (General) Visa, Among Other Immigration Changes
  • China Strictly Enforcing Registration Requirements
  • Italian Court Allows Registration for Same-Sex Couples

EU Immigration Reform Coming Soon

As an update to our previous report that EU immigration reform was forthcoming, European lawmakers are expected to adopt an immigration directive in the coming weeks that will harmonize immigration rules for intracompany transferees in most EU member states.

Although the directive is expected to be signed and entered into force soon, EU member states will most likely be given until the end of 2016 to implement the directive.  In addition, Denmark, Ireland, and the United Kingdom will not be required to implement the new directive.  Pursuant to the new directive, EU states will create a new permit, which specifically denotes intra-corporate transferee (ICT) status.

ICT permits will be valid for a maximum stay of three years for managers and specialists and one year for graduate trainees. Permit holders may also work in other EU states for the same multinational company for up to 90 days within a six month period. ICT permit holders will furthermore be able to work at third-party client sites of the multinational host company.  In addition, accompanying family members of ICT permit holders will also benefit from easier access to local labor markets and the directive’s intra-EU mobility provisions.

Individual EU states will have the option to implement differing prior qualifying employment requirements, but the requirement must be within three to twelve months for managers and specialists and three to six months for graduate specialists. There will be no specific education requirements for managers or specialists, but graduate trainees will be required to hold a university degree.  ICT permit applications will be exempt from labor market testing requirements, but transferees must earn a salary at least equal to that of local workers in similar positions.  The directive also allows for member states to establish expedited procedures.

EIG will continue to monitor developments regarding the EU directive and provide updates as necessary.

UK to Eliminate Tier 1 (General) Visa, Among Other Immigration Changes

The UK recently announced several changes to its immigration regulations, notably including the elimination of the Tier 1 (General) Visa:

Tier 1

Effective April 5, 2015, the Tier 1 (General) visa category will be eliminated, and the United Kingdom’s Home Office will no longer accept applications for extensions of stay under Tier 1 (General). The Home Office will also stop accepting applications for permanent residency under Tier 1 (General) on April 6, 2018.

Consequently, foreign nationals in Tier 1 (General) status who wish to seek permanent residency in the UK should ensure they will meet the requirements no later than April, 6, 2018.  Foreign nationals should also maintain detailed records of the time spent outside of the UK since permanent resident applicants must not have absences that exceed 180 days per year in the five years preceding the application date.

In addition, Tech City UK has been recently designated by the Home Office to be a competent body to assess applications of foreign nationals wishing to enter the UK under Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent).  Effective April 4, 2014, the Tier 1(Exceptional Talent) category was expanded to include the digital-technology sector.

Tier 2

On July 1, 2014, Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfers) and Tier 2 (General) applicants will be eligible to apply for a five-year visa; however, employers must pay a higher fee for the extended duration.  Employers that require a five-year term will not be required to apply for an extension after three years.  Employers should be advised that five-year Certificates of Sponsorship must meet certain salary requirements, depending on occupation.

Visit Visas

Beginning May 5, 2014, Venezuelan nationals will be required to obtain a visit visa prior to entry into the UK.  Existing UK visa requirements for work, study, and family migration of Venezuelan nationals will remain intact.

China Strictly Enforcing Registration Requirements

Police in Shanghai are strictly enforcing foreign registration requirements by conducting random residential checks to ensure foreign nationals have registered their street address with local police.   China’s Exit and Entry Law took effect in July 2013, which requires all foreigners to register with the local police within 24 hours of arrival.

This requirement applies to all foreign nationals visiting or living in Shanghai pursuant to any Chinese visa or permit. Employees should take note of the increased enforcement of the registration requirement, as they can be fined up to 5,000 RMB for failure to comply. Employees staying in hotels and apartments should contact management hotel reception and apartment management to ensure compliance with the registration requirements.

Italian Court Allows Registration for Same-Sex Couples

An Italian court recently held that Italian nationals who are legally married abroad must be allowed to register their same-sex marriage in Italy. This ruling is a step toward marriage equality, as Italy does not officially recognize same-sex marriage or civil unions.  Family residency permit holders and those couples with a valid marriage certificate can benefit from this ruling immediately but should keep in mind that the decision is pending an appeal.