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EIG Week in Review (May 23, 2014)

May 23, 2014

Highlights

  • APEC Business Travel Card Coming Soon for Eligible U.S. Citizens
  • Proposed Changes to Irish Employment Permit Regime
  • Additional Requirements for Turkish Dependent Residence Permits

APEC Business Travel Card Coming Soon for Eligible U.S. Citizens

Effective June 12, 2014, eligible U.S. citizens will be able to apply for a U.S. APEC Business Travel Card (ABTC).  The card grants access to fast-track immigration processing at participating airports in member countries of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) organization.

The ABTC will be available to U.S. citizens who are bona fide business persons engaged in business in the APEC region or a U.S. government official actively engaged in APEC business and are existing members or have been approved for membership in the Global Entry, NEXUS, or SENTRI trusted traveler program.  The U.S. ABTC is valid for three years or until the expiration date of the card holder’s passport, whichever is earlier.

Currently, APEC member countries include:  Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, China, Hong Kong China, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Philippines, Russia, Singapore, Chinese Taipei, Thailand, the United States, and Vietnam.

While ABTC card holders should experience reduced wait times and fewer delays in immigration clearance procedures while traveling, card holders should be aware that a visa may still be required for entry into APEC member countries.

Proposed Changes to Irish Employment Permit Regime

On April 23 2014, the Irish Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation (the “Minister”) published the Employment Permits (Amendment) Bill 2014. The Bill proposes significant changes to Ireland’s work authorization framework, which is currently governed by the Employment Permits Acts of 2003 and 2006. The amendments are aimed to rectify perceived deficiencies in the current system and to update the current employment permit process.

The expansion of the employment permits regime has been identified as a key platform of the Irish Government’s Action Plan to create 100,000 jobs by 2016.  It is intended that the Bill will enable a more flexible and robust application process.  The Bill is expected to be introduced by July 2014.

50:50 Rule

One key change to the current system is the proposed amendment to the eligibility criteria
for an employment permit. Specifically, the amendment explicitly requires that sponsoring employers demonstrate compliance with the “50:50 Rule” (i.e., that employers seeking to hire non-EEA nationals on an employment permit maintain a workforce composed of at least 50% of EEA nationals).  However, start-up companies may not be subject to the 50:50 Rule.

In addition, compliance with the Labour Markets Needs Test will apply to applications by both the employer and the non-EEA employee.  However, the exemption for compliance with the Labour Market Needs Test for Critical Skills Employment Permits and/or IDA supported employment permit applications will remain in place.

Critical Skills Employment Permit

The Bill also proposes changes to the number and category of employment permits available to non-EEA nationals, including the replacement of the current Green Card Permit with the Critical Skills Employment Permit.  This permit will be available to non-EEA nationals in sectors deemed to have critical shortages of skills.  Permit holders will be entitled to avail of immediate family reunification and a fast track to residency.  Part of the reasoning behind the renaming is also to avoid confusion with the U.S. Green Card system.

General Employment Permit

The Bill further proposes that the General Employment Permit replace the current Work Permit and will be issued in cases where a contract for a designated highly-skilled occupation has been offered for a duration of less than two years, or for other occupations apart from those included on a list of ineligible jobs, subject to satisfaction of the Labour Market Needs Test (demonstrating that the role could not be filled by an EEA national) and the other relevant criteria.

Intra-Company Transfer Employment Permits

Intra-Company Transfer Employment Permits will be remain in place under the proposed legislation, which allows for the temporary transfer of employees between affiliated foreign and Irish companies on a temporary basis.

EIG will continue to monitor these amendments and provide further updates as they become available.

Additional Requirements for Turkish Dependent Residence Permits

As we reported last month, Turkey implemented a new immigration law that will gradually change procedures and requirements for business travel as well as residence permits.  While clear guidance is still yet to be issued, the following documents are generally being requested for dependent residence permit applications:

1.  Police Clearance Certificate(A police clearance certificate for the principal showing an absence of family violence crimes that covers the five years prior to the date of application)

2.  Proof of Accommodations(A notarized copy of the lease agreement for the principal’s place of residence in the principal’s name)

3.  Proof of Medical Insurance(Each dependent must provide either the registration in Turkey’s national health system or private medical coverage from a Turkish entity)

4.  Proof of Sufficient Financial Support (A payroll record for the principal, signed by an authorized signatory of the principal’s employer)

While the above list includes documents that are generally being requested, applicants should be prepared to provide additional documentation/information upon request.  Accordingly, individuals applying for residence permits in the short-term future should also plan for additional processing times in order to obtain all necessary documentation.

EIG will continue to monitor these changes and provide updates as necessary.