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EIG Dispatch – February 6, 2015

February 6, 2015

Highlights

  • Canada Kicks Off Express Entry Program
  • Russian Nationals Required to Carry International Passports to Enter Ukraine
  • Government Closures and Travel Delays in East and Southeast Asia Expected Due to Lunar New Year
  • UK Introduces Biometric Residence Permits for Non-EEA Foreign Nationals

Canada Kicks Off Express Entry Program

As an update to our previous alerts, Canada held the first ever Express Entry drawing for its new permanent resident program. 779 candidates were invited to apply for permanent residence in this initial selection. Candidates were selected based on a point-based ranking system determined by factors such as education, work experience, and language skills. Additionally, those applicants holding a Labour Market Opinion, a Labour Market Impact Assessment, or a Nomination Certificate from a Canadian province were guaranteed selection, but may not receive permanent residence status this year. Canada aims to approve 180,000 permanent residence applications in 2015 in the Federal Skilled Workers, Federal Skilled Trades, and Canadian Experience Class categories. Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) will process most complete applications in six months or less. In addition, applicants who filed under the cap-subject Canadian Experience Class category on or after October 20, 2014 may have to refile under the Express Entry program as the category reached the cap of 8,000 applications but CIC failed to provide appropriate notice.

Russian Nationals Required to Carry International Passports to Enter Ukraine

In a move to strengthen its border security, Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk signed a resolution restricting entry for Russian nationals to those holding foreign, diplomatic, and service passports. As part of this restriction, Russian nationals will no longer be permitted to enter Ukraine with only domestic identification documents, such as birth certificates. Effective March 1, 2015, Russians who entered with only domestic identification documents and have remained in Ukraine may be fined, expelled, or prohibited from entering Ukraine in the future. However, they will be permitted to exit and reenter the country with an international passport.

Government Closures and Travel Delays in East and Southeast Asia Expected Due to Lunar New Year

Business travelers, tourists, and visa applicants should expect travel delays and government closures throughout East and Southeast Asia due to the upcoming Lunar New Year holiday season, which falls on February 19, 2015. In addition, the holiday season is expected to cause government and business interruptions through late February.

Due to the millions of people expected to travel on those dates, many airlines and trains are providing additional services to meet the increased demand. Tourists and business travelers should keep potential delays in mind as they make travel plans during the holiday season. Similarly, visa applicants should submit applications as early as possible and consult with their local processing office to confirm possible closures.

UK Introduces Biometric Residence Permits for Non-EEA Foreign Nationals

Beginning March 2015, the United Kingdom is expected to introduce the Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) for non-European Economic Area (EEA) nationals applying for stays longer than six months. This new regulation will be implemented to comply with an EU rule requiring Member States to issue standard biometric residence permits. The BRP can be used as evidence of lawful status and work authorization. Implementation of the new procedures is still subject to Parliament’s approval.

The UK visa application process remains unchanged, however BRP applicants will now be required to provide their expected date of travel and a UK address with a postal code. All successful BRP applicants will receive a letter instructing them to collect their biometric residence permit at a designated UK post office and will be authorized for entry into the UK for thirty days from their expected date of travel. The same travel document can also be used to evidence work authorization before applicants obtain the BRP. Applicants must pick up their permits within ten days of arrival in the UK.  Employers should require employees to collect their permits before starting work, as this will allow them to meet the right-to-work requirements in a single step.