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EIG Week in Review (June 27, 2014)

July 8, 2014

Highlights

• Latin American Pacific Alliance Countries to Offer Work Visa for Young Professionals

• Xi’an Labor Bureau Requiring Interviews for Chinese Work Permit Applications

• Senate Confirms New Director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services

• Changes in Korean Immigration Policy for Real Estate Investors

Latin American Pacific Alliance Countries to Offer Work Visa for Young Professionals

Pursuant to the recently-signed Working Holiday Program, young professionals between the ages of 18 and 30 will soon be eligible to apply for a one year work/visit visa for Pacific Alliance trade bloc countries (i.e., Chile, Colombia, Mexico, and Peru). Beginning August 1, 2014, visa holders will be able to work and visit any or all of the four member countries for up to one year under the Working Holiday Program.

Although citizens of Pacific Alliance states can visit other member countries for up to 90 days without a visa, work visas have always been required for employment. The Mexican Foreign Ministry issued a statement about the program, noting that it will allow young professionals to “visit and at the same time get paid for activities that will help cover their stay.”

Each member country is authorized to grant 300 visas per year, totaling 1,200 work-visit visas for the 2014-2015 fiscal period. Specific application requirements have yet to be determined but are expected to be announced shortly ahead of the official launch date and will be geared toward enabling visa holders to pay for their travel by working within the country in which they are visiting.

Xi’an Labor Bureau Requiring Interviews for Chinese Work Permit Applications

The Xi’an Labor Bureau in China has recently imposed a new requirement for work permit applications. Effective immediately, applicants are required to attend an interview at the time of the work permit filing. Consequently, applicants will be interviewed twice – once for their work permit application and a second time for their resident permit application.

At this time, the new interview requirement only applies to work permit applicants in Xi’an. Accordingly, work permit applicants in Xi’an should be prepared to appear for interviews and should account for the additional time to do so when filing work permit applications.

The Labor Bureau has not commented on any particular questions it will ask of any work permit applicants during the interview but has noted that applicants’ personal appearance is mandatory.

Senate Confirms New Director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services

U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Jeh Johnson announced the Senate’s confirmation of Leon Rodriguez as the next Director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Rodriguez currently serves as Director of the Office for Civil Rights at the Department of Health and Human Services, a position which he has held since September 2011.

Rodriguez previously held the position of Chief of Staff and Deputy Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights at the Justice Department. In addition to overseeing the administrative operations of the Civil Rights Division, Mr. Rodriguez’s background includes civil rights matters involving discrimination based on national origin and immigration status, legislative affairs, and community outreach.

Secretary Johnson noted that this is the 8th Senate-confirmed appointment to senior level positions within DHS in the past 6 months and comes at a time when immigration reform remains to be a hot-button issue on the Hill. Secretary Johnson further noted his anticipation of a “new energy” within DHS leadership in light of these recent confirmations.

Changes in Korean Immigration Policy for Real Estate Investors

The Korea Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport announced that it will extend a legal provision on immigration related to real estate investment. This immigration policy grants permanent residency or a few years of temporary residency to immigrants who purchase resort property in one of six free economic zones in Korea.

The Ministry is planning on amending the policy to require an investment of up to 500 million won in both Jeju Island and in the Incheon Free Economic Zone (IFEZ). This new requirement is much more generous than the policy’s previous criteria, which required an investment of over 500 million won in Jeju and Pyeongchang or over 700 million won in IFEZ. The new policy will also expand the eligible list of the investment assets to include unsold apartment units in the IFEZ.

The new policy is expected to keep attracting more investments while simultaneously facilitating immigration to the area.