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EIG Dispatch | April 14, 2017

April 14, 2017

HIGHLIGHTS

  • PERM and Prevailing Wage Determination – Processing Updates
  • United Kingdom – Home Office to Begin Compliance Visits
  • Canada Implements Visa-Free Requirement for Brazilians, Bulgarians, and Romanians
  • Chinese Government No Longer Requiring Government Invitation Letters for Z Visa

PERM AND PREVAILING WAGE DETERMINATION – PROCESSING UPDATES

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has released processing times for prevailing wage determination requests and PERM applications. The processing times for prevailing wage determinations have reduced significantly, from 16 weeks to 12 weeks. PERM processing times have not changed.

As of March 31, 2017, the DOL was currently adjudicating and processing:

  • Prevailing wage determination requests filed in January 2017 and earlier.
    • Current processing times approximately 12 weeks.
  • PERM applications filed in January 2017 and earlier.
    • Current processing times approximately 12 weeks.
  • Audit reviews filed in August 2016 and earlier.
    • Current processing time approximately 7 months.

UNITED KINGDOM – HOME OFFICE TO BEGIN COMPLIANCE VISIT

As the United Kingdom Home Office continues to implement the changes that went into effect on April 6th, UK Visas and Immigration (UKVS) will take steps similar to those announced by USCIS on April 3rd, to ensure compliance with regulations that govern sponsoring Tier 2 (skilled workers) and Tier 5 (temporary workers). The UKVS may now conduct visits to work locations, including third party sites where foreign nationals are contracted for services. Ensuring that employers comply with their sponsorship duties is not new.

The guidance updated on April 6th specifies that the UKVS may conduct compliance visits at random to sponsoring employers before and after their license application is approved. During compliance visits, officers may interview foreign nationals and recruiters, review and verify sponsor license applications, inspect records, and ensure that the sponsoring employer is abiding by the regulations. For employees placed at third party locations, the sponsoring employer is responsible for ensuring that the third party is aware that they may be subject to an unannounced compliance visits. The consequences of being found noncompliant may include penalties, prosecution, reduction in sponsorship, and/or denials of future applications.

EIG will continue to provide updates as information becomes available. For specific questions or to discuss best practices, please do not hesitate to contact us.


CANADA IMPLEMENTS VISA-FREE TRAVEL FOR BRAZILIANS, BULGARIANS, AND ROMANIANS

Effective May 1, 2017, Brazilians, Bulgarians, and Romanians will be able to enter Canada visa-free if the following requirements are met:

  • They have held a Canadian visa at any time in the last 10 years prior to their travel, or
  • They have held a U.S. nonimmigrant visa at any time.

In light of the new immigration law, qualifying citizens of Brazil, Bulgaria, and Romania should register for Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) via the online registration system if they plan flying or transiting through Canada. eTA does not apply if a person is entering Canada by land or sea.

Employers should ensure that they inform qualifying business travelers of eTA requirements in order to ensure compliance, starting from May 1, 2017.


CHINESE GOVERNMENT NO LONGER REQUIRING GOVERNMENTAL INVITATION LETTERS FOR Z VISA

Chinese Labor and Immigration authorities have announced Z work visa applicants will no longer be required to submit invitation letters from a Chinese government agency in support of their applications. This change applies to governmental invitation letters only. Corporate invitation letters should still be provided.

This move is an additional step in efforts to streamline visa processes throughout China. Previously, local Foreign Affairs Offices (FAO) in China issued Z visa invitation letters to Z visa applicants. However, Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Guangzhou, Hefei, Hangzhou, and Suzhou have already stopped issuing Z visa invitation letters and other cities will soon adopt the same practice. In addition, Chinese Consulates and Embassies will no longer require governmental invitation letters, reducing the amount of documentation required during the Z visa application process.

EIG will continue to monitor developments in China and provide updates.