- Possibility of government shutdown could have significant travel and immigration consequences
- Spanish legislative body recently approved the Act for Entrepreneurs, which establishes measures to facilitate entry and stay in Spain for economic reasons
- Singapore implemented the Fair Consideration Framework, which will tighten requirements for Employment Passes beginning in 2014
Potential Immigration and Travel Consequences in the Event of a Government Shutdown
With the possibility of a government shutdown quickly approaching, the U.S. Senate is set to vote on a plan to fund the federal government on Friday afternoon. To date, government agencies have not provided an official response regarding contingency plans due to the possibility of a government shutdown on or after October 1, 2013. It is reasonable to believe, however, agency plans in development in the event of a government shutdown next week will mirror plans developed in anticipation of a government shutdown in 2011.
Mandatory spending programs that are not subject to yearly appropriations will continue to operate, including the Social Security program, Medicare, border patrol, and air traffic control. Self-funding agencies, such the U.S. Postal Service, will continue to deliver mail; however, non-essential federal services will cease operation.
Delays in or suspensions of services, such as the processing of visa and passport applications, PERM filings, and the E-Verify program, can be expected if a government shutdown occurs. EIG is closely monitoring developments and will provide updates as more information becomes available.
Spanish Congress Approves “Act for Entrepreneurs”
The Act for Entrepreneurs was approved last week by the Spanish Congress. Article 2 (International Mobility) of Title V (Internationalization of the Spanish Economy) establishes measures to facilitate entry into and stay in Spain for economic reasons for foreign nationals seeking to enter, reside, or who are already residing in Spain, provided they belong to the following groups:
- Highly qualified professionals
- Foreigners subject to intra-company transfers
- Spouse or children under 18 years accompanying the foregoing subjects or children of legal age who are not able to attend their needs due to their health condition
Foreign nationals covered by the EU Community Scheme are expressly excluded.
The Act for Entrepreneurs will coexist with immigration legislation in force in the field and without prejudice to compliance with regulations related to the prevention of money laundering and terrorist financing as well as tax and Social Security obligations.
Applicants applying for visas under these provisions will be adjudicated within 10 business days by the Consulates, and authorizations by Big Unit Companies will be issued within 20 days. Residence authorizations indicated in the Act will be processed under the provisions established in EU Directive 2011/98 (single permit). The labor market test will not be applicable to resolve such applications.
It has not yet been established when this law will take effect. EIG will provide more information as it becomes available.
Singapore Tightens Employment Pass Requirements
Beginning in 2014, employers will be subject to more stringent requirements for hiring foreign professional workers. The Singapore Ministry of Manpower (MOM) recently announced upcoming changes to the qualifying salary for new Employment Pass applications as well as new rules that will require employers to fairly consider Singaporean applicants before hiring foreign nationals.
Known as the Fair Consideration Framework, these new regulations will go into effect on August 1, 2014 and will require employers to advertise the job prior to submitting an Employment Pass application. A job vacancy advertisement must be placed in the new jobs bank (administered by the Singapore Workforce and Development Agency) for at least 14 calendar days before an Employment Pass application can be submitted.
Small companies with 25 or fewer employees or jobs paying a fixed monthly salary of SGD 12,000 or more are exempt from this advertising requirement.
In addition to the new advertising requirements, there is also the possibility for additional reporting requirements for companies with disproportionally low numbers of Singaporeans at the executive, management, and professional levels (according to industry) and those with repeated complaints of “discriminatory hiring practices.” These companies may be required to provide the MOM with additional information, which may include:
- Organizational charts showing employee nationality
- Recruitment processes
- Staff grievance handling procedures
- Staff progression framework
- Development plans for local staff to advance to higher roles in the company or plans that show other ways of reducing reliance on EP holders
If the MOM determines that an employer has not shown improvement in their recruitment and training practices, it has the right to introduce additional requirements, such as imposing a waiting period for displacing a Singaporean employee when filing a new or renewed Employment Pass for a similar position. The company may also be required to display a fact sheet listing the information provided to the MOM in the workplace.
Effective January 2014, the income threshold required to qualify for an Employment Pass will be increased from SGD 3,000 to SGD 3,300. This measure reflects rising salaries in Singapore and is consistent with the MOM’s overall objective of raising the quality of foreign workers and encouraging companies to embrace productivity initiatives to reduce reliance on manpower.