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EIG Dispatch | April 1, 2016

April 1, 2016

HIGHLIGHTS

  • UK Tier 2 Visa Category Changes
  • USCIS Announces Redistribution of Pending Cases
  • UAE Government Makes Changes to Employment and Residence Visa Requirements
  • Certain Visa Applicants to South Korea Now Require Tuberculosis Testing

UK Tier 2 Visa Category Changes

On March 23, 2016, the United Kingdom announced changes to the Tier 2 work authorization category.  The Tier 2 visa category includes five sub-categories.  The two most often pursued visa categories are the Tier 2 (General) visa and the Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer) visa.

Under the Tier 2 (General) visa, salary threshold for experienced workers will be increased to £25,000 in fall 2016, and £30,000 in April 2017.  Certain professionals in the health and education fields will be exempt from the new threshold until July 2019. The threshold for new entrants will remain at £20,800.

Under the Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer) visa (“ICT”), all intra-company transferees will be required to qualify under a single visa category with a minimum salary threshold of £41,500 beginning April 2017.  Those affected will be allowed to plan for the changes during an upcoming transition period expected to end April 2017.  Furthermore, the minimum salary threshold for ICT applicants who will be working in the UK between five and nine years will be lowered to £120,000 beginning April 2017 and applicants will no longer be required to have a year of experience with the annual salary at or above £73,900.

The government will also implement some changes that are meant to simplify the ICT visa category.  By the fall of 2016, new applicants will not have access to the Skills Transfer category. The minimum salary threshold for the  ICT Short Term visa category will be increased to £30,000 in fall 2016 and the category will be unavailable to new applicants in April 2017.

Additionally, changes to the Graduate Trainee program will be enacted to encourage employers to hire overseas graduates.  The changes include an increase of the quota per company from five to twenty graduates per year, a lower salary threshold to £23,000, and the ability for graduates to switch roles by securing a permanent position within the company after training positions are complete.  The government will also give extra weight to overseas graduates’ applications who were sponsored under the graduate Tier 2 program.


USCIS Announces Redistribution of Pending Cases

On March 29, 2016, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced it will be transferring certain pending cases from the Vermont Service Center (VSC) to the California Service Center (CSC). The shift is intended to balance workloads and improve processing times. The redistribution comes as USCIS prepares to accept H-1B Petitions under the Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 cap, which began on April 1, 2016. Under the announced changes the CSC will now begin processing some of the following petitions:

  • Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, for petitioners requesting L-1 Intracompany Transferee nonimmigrant classification;
  • Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status, for the L-2 nonimmigrant classification; and
  • Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, for L-2 nonimmigrants applying for employment authorization.

USCIS also announced the transfer of cases from the VSC to the Nebraska Service Center (NSC) and Texas Service Center (TSC) as part of an effort to improve case processing times. Individuals who have their cases transferred will receive a transfer notice from USCIS. Case receipt numbers will not be impacted so individuals with receipted and pending cases can continue to track their case status online at www.USCIS.gov.  EIG previously reported on USCIS adjudication delays in February. We will continue to monitor developments impacting the processing timelines at USCIS.


UAE Government Makes Changes to Employment and Residence Visa Requirements

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) made two significant changes to their employment and residence visa applications.

First, the UAE Ministry of Health and Prevention will no longer require residence visa applicants to have a health card prior to taking a medical test. Instead, applicants for a UAE residence visa can immediately take the medical examination and will be required to obtain an insurance or health card only after the medical test has been completed. In addition, all Dubai residents, including foreign employees and their dependents, must have basic health insurance coverage by June 30, 2016. Applicants for business or tourist visit visas will be required to have travel health insurance as before.

Second, new, renewal, or transfer employment visa applicants will be required to provide birth certificates if they are from an Arab country. Applicants from non-Arab countries, but who hold nationality and/or ancestral ties to an Arab country, must also submit their original birth certificate. All birth certificates will be processed by the UAE embassy in their home country and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the UAE.


Certain Visa Applicants to South Korea Now Require Tuberculosis Testing

South Korea implemented new visa requirements, effective as of March 2, 2016. As a result, nationals of eighteen “high TB-burden countries,” must submit a “Certificate of Health,” including a Tuberculosis (TB) test result, when applying for South Korean Long-Term consular visas (more than 90 days), post-arrival change of status, or visa extensions.  Applicants for Long-Term visas abroad must include a TB test result that is valid for at least one year and was issued by a hospital designated by a South Korean diplomatic mission.  Among the countries considered “high TB-burden countries” are: Nepal, East Timor, Russia, Malaysia, Mongol, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, Uzbekistan, India, Indonesia, China, Cambodia, Kyrgyzstan, Thailand, Pakistan, and the Philippines.

Applicants exempted from submitting TB test results include:

  • Diplomats,
  • Foreign government officials,
  • International agreement status holders, and
  • Children five years old and younger.