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EIG Week in Review (Feb 21, 2014)

February 21, 2014

Highlights

  • J-1 Unannounced Site Visits by U.S. Department of State
  • Australia Removes Nomination Ceiling on Subclass 457 Visas and Expands Automated Border Processing
  • Brazil Changes Visa Procedures for Same-Sex Couples 
  • India to Require Polio Vaccines for Certain Visitors

J-1 Unannounced Site Visits by U.S. Department of State

The U.S. Department of State will be conducting unannounced J-1 site visits to hosting businesses over the coming weeks. These visits are part of a larger assessment of the Intern and Trainee categories of the J program.

During the J-1 site visit, the DOS Officer will likely ask to speak to hosting businesses as well as J-1 Interns/Trainees to ensure compliance with the J-1 program.  J-1 interns/trainees and hosting businesses should be prepared to answer questions on the topics below:

1. The DS 7002 Training Plan:  Please note that it is very important for hosting businesses to follow the Training Plan as outlined.

2.  The J-1 Sponsor’s Role:  Please be sure you are fully aware of how to contact the J-1 sponsor organization in case of emergency, or if you have any questions or concerns.

3.  Cultural Activities:  The cultural aspect of the internship and training programs are paramount.  As noted in the Training Plan, host businesses are asked to facilitate opportunities for the J-1 Intern/Trainee to engage in these types of activities.  Please be prepared to answer what type of cultural engagements have been provided to the J-1 Interns/Trainees since their arrival.

EIG recently released memorandums to hosting businesses regarding preparation for the site visits.  A site visit should not be a cause for alarm and is a routine procedure.


Australia Removes Nomination Ceiling for 457 Visas and Expands Automated Border Processing

Australia’s Department of Immigration and Border Protection has removed the nomination ceiling for subclass 457 visas for standard business sponsorship applications.  Consequently, businesses whose sponsorship applications were approved after February 14, 2014 can lodge more applications than the nomination ceiling stated on their application form until three years from the date of the application approval.  This will increase flexibility for companies that may discover a need for more subclass 457 visas than originally anticipated.

In addition, as of February 24, 2014, Singaporean nationals holding an ePassport will be able to use Australia’s self-processing passport control system, known as “SmartGate,” at Australian airports.  This addition brings the number of countries that can use SmartGate to six, including Australia, New Zealand, Switzerland, the UK, and the U.S.  This change is expected to produce faster passport processing times in Australian airports.


Brazil Changes Visa Procedures for Same-Sex Couples

On February 18, 2014, Brazil’s Ministry of Labor published New Normative Resolution #108, revising the procedures relating to dependent and family reunion applicants.  Formerly, dependents in same-sex and unmarried stable-union relationships were required to get their visas approved by the Brazilian National Immigration Council, which could be done only after the main visa holder had arrived and registered in Brazil. Such process was unpredictable and lengthy, with processing times ranging from 2 to 5 months, as the National Immigration Council only adjudicates such cases once a month.

Under the new resolution, dependent partners in a stable union or a same-sex relationship no longer need to petition Brazil’s National Immigration Council for a visa; instead, the couples can apply directly to a Brazilian Consulate abroad.


India to Require Polio Vaccines for Certain Visitors

Beginning next month, India will require a polio vaccine certificate for nationals of the following countries who are traveling to and from India:

  • Afghanistan
  • Ethiopia
  • Kenya
  • Nigeria
  • Pakistan
  • Somalia
  • Syria

India will require that Nationals of these countries demonstrate that they received a polio vaccine at least four weeks prior to arriving in India.  Indian nationals traveling to the above-listed countries must also obtain a polio vaccine.  However, third-country foreign nationals residing in India or one of the seven designated countries are exempt from this new requirement.