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EIG Dispatch – March 6, 2015

March 6, 2015

Highlights

  • House Judiciary Committee Passes Mandatory E-Verify Legislation
  • UK Introduces “Super Priority” Visa Processing Option for U.S. Applicants
  • India Consulates in the UK now Require Biometrics
  • Long-Term Visas Available to Business Travelers in South Africa from Certain Countries 

House Judiciary Committee Passes Mandatory E-Verify Legislation

The U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Committee passed the Legal Workforce Act (H.R. 1147), a bill that aims to replace the current paper-based I-9 system with a fully electronic employment eligibility verification system.  As drafted, the Legal Workforce Act gradually requires mandatory employer participation for new hires, in six-month increments, based on business size.  All businesses, including agricultural businesses, would be expected to participate.  The bill raises penalties for any employer who knowingly hires undocumented immigrants, but also provides a safety net for those employers who use E-Verify in good faith and receive erroneous information through no fault of their own.

E-verify participation has increased throughout the United States because many businesses have a favorable view of the program.  Mandatory participation in the program for agricultural businesses is more controversial because of the difficulties that those businesses face when attempting to hire workers.

UK Introduces “Super Priority” Visa Processing Option for U.S. Applicants

On March 9, 2015, the British Consulate General in New York will begin offering a new “Super Priority” visa processing option to U.S. applicants applying for certain UK visas.  This expedited option will allow the applicant to obtain a decision in 24 hours for an additional service fee of $936 USD in addition to the standard visa fee.  Short-stay, tourist, and Tier 5 (Creative and Sporting) applicants are eligible for “Super Priority” visa processing. Tier 2 and Tier 4 visa applicants must reside in the U.S. in order to be able to take advantage of the “Super Priority” option.  Applicants will be able to pay the “Super Priority” fee online at the VFS website before their appointment date.  If approved, applicants will be able to collect their passport 24 hours after their appointment.

Indian Consulates in the UK now Require Biometrics

The High Commission of India in London has announced that commencing in March 2015, Indian Consulates in the UK will require biometric data capture for consular services.  Biometrics will be required for Indian passports, visas to India, or Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) cards.  In addition, anyone requiring these services must book an appointment online prior to appearing in person at a visa center in the UK.  Those failing to book appointments online may be turned away.  Diplomats and those traveling on official business are exempt from the online appointment requirement.

The change in process is part of India’s Immigration, Visa and Foreigners’ Registration and Tracking (IVFRT) program, which requires biometrics for all future visa applicants.  Mandatory biometric data collection has already been implemented in number of countries, including Australia, Malaysia, and the Netherlands.  Biometrics will be collected across the UK at 14 visa centers.

Long-Term Visas Available to Business Travelers in South Africa from Certain Countries

Continuing its efforts to ease restrictions on business travel from top emerging markets, South Africa now permits nationals of Brazil, Russia, India, and China to apply for long-term business visas at a port of entry.  These visas are valid for up to 10 years and allow multiple entries of up to 30 days at a time.  The Department of Home Affairs (DHA) Minister Malusa Gigaba has stated that this change is effective immediately and will be back-dated to December 23, 2014.  The DHA has indicated that it will process the new long-term visas as quickly as possible.