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EIG Week in Review (May 16, 2014)

May 19, 2014

Highlights

  • Switzerland Removes Work Permit Quotas for Several EU Countries
  • Brazil Rolls Out Electronic Visa Application System
  • Poland Implements Immigration Reforms Under EU Directive
  • New Requirements for Companies in Dubai’s TECOM Free Trade Zone

Switzerland Removes Work Permit Quotas for Several EU Countries

By May 31, 2014, nationals of 25 EU countries will be able to live and work in Switzerland on a Swiss employment contract without being subject to quotas.  The Swiss government recently announced that it will not renew work permits quotas that were set to expire for the following countries:  Belgium, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.  Bulgaria and Romania are subject to work permits quotas until at least May 31, 2016, dependent upon whether the Swiss government decides to renew the limitations after that date.

However, it is unclear how long the quota-free system will remain in place.  We reported in February that a slight majority of Swiss citizens voted to curb large-scale immigration, in part by re-establishing quotas for EU and EFTA citizens. However, the amendment is not immediately in force, as the Swiss legislator has been granted a three year transitional period.

An implementation plan is scheduled to be completed next month, and a draft law is expected to be completed by the end of 2014.  Until there is concrete legislation, bilateral agreements on free movement between the EU and Switzerland remain in effect.

Brazil Rolls Out Electronic Visa Application System

Brazil recently passed a new law introducing an electronic visa processing system for certain foreign nationals applying for Temporary Visas for business, tourism, and artists/athletes. The law takes effect immediately, but regulations regarding eligibility criteria and application procedures have not been published.

The law will benefit the entertainment industry as well as companies that frequently send employees to Brazil for business.  Eligible applicants will no longer be required to submit applications to their Brazilian Consulate of jurisdiction and can instead apply online. Processing times are also expected to be faster.

However, applicants should note that this new process will only be available to countries that enter into an international agreement with Brazil or that allow reciprocal treatment for Brazilian nationals.

Poland Implements Immigration Reforms Under EU Directive

Pursuant to the EU directive, Poland implemented a series of immigration reforms earlier this month, which included the implementation of a combined work and residence permit. Third-country nationals intending to work in Poland under a local employment contract will now apply for the combined work and residence permit rather than separate authorizations. With the new combined permit also comes a new requirement for applicants to appear in person to submit fingerprints.

In addition, mandatory filing windows for residence permit and visa renewal applications have been eliminated and can now be filed up to and on their expiration dates.  Reforms also included new employer notification requirements, which mandate that employers notify labor officials within seven days of certain changes in connection with any work permits they have sponsored, including:

  • If the employer’s registered name or address changes, or if any part of the employer has been taken over by another entity;
  • If the Polish employer’s work permit point of contact person changes (in intracompany transfer cases);
  • If a foreign national has not started working in Poland within three months of the work permit’s issuance date;
  • If a foreign national stops working for a period exceeding three months; and,
  • If a foreign national’s employment ends more than three months before the work permit’s expiration date.

Employers should note that failure to adhere to the notification requirements may result in cancellation of the work permit.

In light of these new regulations, employers should expect processing delays over the coming weeks.  However, the changes should streamline the work authorization process and make it more efficient in the long run.

New Requirements for Companies in Dubai’s TECOM Free Trade Zone

By June 10, 2014, all companies operating in the Dubai Technology, Electronic Commerce and Media (TECOM) free trade zone are required to update the names and salaries of all currently sponsored foreign employees with TECOM.  Failure to update employee data will result in the suspension of processing employee visas, residence permits, and renewals.

All TECOM-based entities should receive an email notification about the data request. If an employee has been terminated, the employer must provide proof that it cancelled the employee’s resident permit. Failure to cancel a permit may result in penalties and subject the former employee to deportation.  As such, employers should review the TECOM-provided list immediately to ensure compliance with the deadline and to avoid future delays in processing.