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EIG Week in Review (Sept 26, 2014)

September 26, 2014

Highlights

  • U.S. FY2016 Diversity Visa Lottery Opens October 1, 2014
  • UPDATE: Application Forms Available Soon for Newly-Reformed Irish Employment Permits
  • India Considering Extending Visa-on-Arrival Program to U.S. Citizens
  • Australia Reconsiders Changes to Visa Categories and Fees
  • French Lawmakers Propose Employment-Based Immigration Reforms

U.S. FY2016 Diversity Visa Lottery Registration Opens October 1, 2014

Beginning October 1, 2014, the U.S. will open its online registration for the FY2016 Diversity Lottery.  The Diversity Lottery is administered by the U.S. Department of State and makes up to 50,000 immigrant visas available to foreign nationals from countries with historically low rates of immigration to the U.S.  The visas are drawn from random selection among all applicants.

Applicants must generally meet the following eligibility criteria:

  1. The applicant must be born in an eligible country.
  2. The applicant must meet the educational or work experience requirements.

A complete explanation of the eligibility requirements can be found in the DV-2016 Program Instructions.

Applicants must register online at www.dvlottery.state.gov and complete the application requirements.  The registration period will close on Saturday, November 2, 2013 at 12:00 P.M. EDT. The U.S. Department of State selects lottery winners through a random computerized process, and applicants may check their status at the official E-DV Entrant Status Check website by entering their confirmation number.

More information on the FY2016 Diversity Visa Program can be found at http://travel.state.gov/content/visas/english/immigrate/diversity-visa/instructions.html.

UPDATE:  Application Forms Available Soon for Newly-Reformed Irish Employment Permits

As an update to our previous report, Ireland’s Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation (DJEI) will make available new forms for the nine new employment permit categories under the Employment Permits (Amendment) Act.  Effective October 1, 2014, employers and foreign nationals applying and renewing employment permits must submit the applications using the new forms, which will soon be made available online.

Applications previously submitted with the old forms that have passed the pre-check stage by September 30, 2014 will still be processed after October 1, 2014.  In addition to the new employment permit application forms, beginning October 1, 2014, application fees will only be accepted by electronic payment. The DJEI anticipates initial processing delays with the release of the new forms, but the reformed scheme should streamline the process in the long-run.

Due to the upcoming changes to the Irish employment permit regime, site visits at employer’s offices are expected to increase in the coming months.  Accordingly, employers should ensure that they are prepared by having certified copies of employees’ work authorization readily available on site and by establishing clear procedures to follow in the event a site visit should occur.

India Considering Extending Visa-on-Arrival Program to U.S. Citizens

The Indian government is currently drafting a proposal that would make the Tourist Visa on Arrival (TVoA) Program available to U.S. citizens.  Currently, the TVoA Program is available only for citizens of 12 countries:  Japan, Singapore, Philippines, Finland, Luxembourg, New Zealand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Myanmar, Indonesia, and South Korea. The TVoA is valid for a maximum of 30 days with single entry at the Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Thiruvananthapuram, and Cochin Airports.

The proposal is still being discussed, and a decision to extend the program to U.S. citizens has not been finalized; however, if approved,  the TVoA is expected to play a major role in encouraging U.S. tourist and business travel to India.  Of particular significance for employers is the expectation that the program will streamline the process for U.S. citizens traveling to India for short-term business trips, though specific eligibility criteria for business travel under the TVoA has not been confirmed.

An official announcement on the program is expected to be made in the coming weeks.  EIG will continue to monitor development and provide updates as they become available.

Australia Reconsiders Changes to Visa Categories and Fees

On September 25, 2014, the Australian Senate reinstated four non-contributory visas that had been eliminated by controversial legislation this past June:  the Age Dependent Relative visa, the Remaining Relative visa, Carer visa, and the Aged Parent visa.  Effective immediately, citizens and permanent residents seeking to bring dependent family members to Australia in these categories may submit applications.  The categories offer a pathway for citizens and foreign national permanent residents to sponsor family members living in Australia.  The processing times for these visa categories remain lengthy, so prospective applicants should apply as early as possible.

In addition, Australia is conducting a review of its border and visa application fees, including the A$55 Passenger Movement Charge (applied to all travelers arriving and departing the country on international flights or by sea).  The review was announced earlier this month, and the public comment period closes on October 31, 2014.  While the impact of the review will predominantly affect business travelers and tourists, it is still undetermined if and/or how the fees will be altered.

French Lawmakers Propose Employment-Based Immigration Reforms

French legislators recently proposed a series of changes to the current French employment permit regime:

Talent Passport

One of the proposals includes the establishment of a Talent Passport, which would be a four-year visa for certain high-skilled foreign nationals and their dependents, who could also obtain work authorization upon reaching age 18. The Talent Passport would create nine employment-based visa categories.

Five categories would not require separate work permits, thereby enabling employers to onboard foreign nationals more efficiently and easing the administrative burdens of obtaining work authorization. In the event of involuntary termination, the foreign national would benefit from a one-year grace period to search for a new job. The five proposed categories are as follows:

  • Foreign Graduate of French University (new category)
  • Highly Qualified Worker (would absorb the EU Blue Card category without substantial changes)
  • Intra-company Transferee (would replace the previous ICT category)
  • Artist (no substantial changes from the present Artist category)
  • Foreigner of Outstanding Ability in the area of science, literature, intellectual, education or sports (present category that would undergo changes upon implementation).

The other four categories include:

  • Scientist (no substantial changes from the present Scientist category)
  • Entrepreneur (new category that would require a Master’s Degree and five years of experience and would require the foreign national to create a business)
  • Investor (would lower the minimum investment threshold to €500,000 and would only require 10 new jobs to be created instead of the current requirement of 50)
  • Executive Officer (presently covered under the Competence and Talent category)

Changes to Residence Permit Requirements

The proposed law also aims to ease the reporting requirements for foreign nationals residing in France.  As drafted, the law confers a one-year permit, followed by a four-year residence permit, upon satisfaction of a French language and civic knowledge test.  The test would eliminate the requirement for foreign nationals to report in person with proper documentation to renew their permits every year. Certain categories, such as trainees, self-employed professionals, and visitors, would not be eligible for this permit.

Elimination of the Temporary Work Permit (APT)

The proposed legislation would also eliminate the temporary work permit (APT), which is currently required for work assignments of three months or less.  Short assignments must still be registered with the French labor authorities. While this change would alleviate administrative processing for short-term workers, the change may be considered unfavorable for French job-seekers.  In contrast, this change would make it significantly easier for companies needing to transfer non-EU foreign nationals to a French entity for a short-term project or assignment.