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EIG Dispatch | January 27, 2017

January 30, 2017

HIGHLIGHTS

  • President Trump’s Executive Orders: Impact on Immigration
  • Chinese New Year Expected to Cause Heavy Delays Across Asia
  • Update on Immigration Strike in Portugal
  • Israel Announces Plan to Attract Hi-Tech Workers
  • Mandatory “Pre-Arrival Registration” for all Indian Nationals Traveling Through Hong Kong
  • Criminal Background Checks to be Required for U.K.’s Tier 2 Skilled Worker Visa

President Trump’s Executive Orders: Impact on Immigration

On Wednesday, President Trump signed two executive orders related to immigration, “Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States,” and “Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements.” Neither of these two orders has an impact on employment authorization, the H-1B process, or other aspects of business and employment based immigration.

Additional immigration-related executive orders are expected in the coming days and weeks. EIG will continue to keep you updated, providing context and overviews as new signed executive orders are published.

In the executive order regarding the interior, the President stated his intention to increase domestic enforcement of immigration laws and set forth various policies to that end. The policies include a direction to the Secretary of Homeland Security to prioritize cases of removable aliens posing a risk to public safety or national security, hire more immigration officers, and take steps to encourage local authorities to cooperate with immigration officials, and along with other policies focused on identifying removal individuals charged with crimes. The force of this order is constrained by existing law and appropriations.

The executive order on border security focuses on the US-Mexico land border. The order directs the Secretary of Homeland Security to review current border security and take steps to plan, design, and construct a physical wall along the border, and to take other steps focused on border security. The force of this order is constrained by existing law and appropriations.


Chinese New Year Expected to Cause Heavy Delays Across Asia

Starting this week, Chinese (Lunar) New Year celebrations will affect businesses across Asia. The new year will be celebrated on Saturday, January 28th, with many government and private offices closing for 2-3 days the following week, and with some offices closing the entire week for “Golden Week” celebrations.  The U.S. Embassies in China are closed from Friday, January 27th through Tuesday, January 31st, and the U.S. Visa Office in Taiwan is closed from Friday, January 27th through Wednesday, February 1st.

In addition to China and Taiwan, offices will be closed for one or more days in Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, and Vietnam. Other upcoming holidays that will affect business in multiple countries include Easter (April 16th) and Ramadan (May 26th to June 25th). EIG urges employers to keep these dates in mind when determining start dates and processing times.


Update on Immigration Strike in Portugal

As an update to last week’s article, some office clerks within the Portuguese immigration office (SEF) have announced plans for rotational strikes over the next six months. The striking workers are giving advanced notice of which office will be impacted and the corresponding dates, meaning those with cases involving the impacted offices will have time to adjust their plans accordingly. Furthermore, the strikes will mainly affect residence permit applications processed within Portugal, and as of now are not expected to impact applications processed at Portuguese Consulates.


Israel Announces Plan to Attract Hi-Tech Workers

On January 15, 2017, the Israeli government announced an expedited immigration process benefiting “hi-tech” companies and workers. Currently, processing time for a standard Israeli work permit is seven to nine weeks. The new option for “hi-tech” workers will provide initial eligibility determinations in three weeks. In addition, under the new program, spouses of “hi-tech” employees with be eligible for work authorization, a benefit not available to spouses through the current work permit program. Additional details about the program will be announced in the coming months with full implementation expected by mid-2017. EIG will continue to monitor and report the progress of this regulation.


Mandatory “Pre-Arrival Registration” for all Indian Nationals Traveling Through Hong Kong

Effective January 23, 2017, Hong Kong has officially withdrawn its visa-free facility, which had previously permitted Indian nationals with valid passports to enter Hong Kong for up to 14 days without a visa. Indian nationals must now complete an online “Pre-Arrival Registration” screening prior to entry. Those travelling without a certified Pre-Arrival Registration Slip will be denied access to board any mode of transportation bound for Hong Kong,with the exception of those travelling directly by air and not leaving the airport transit area. The Pre-Arrival Registration Slip will generally be valid for six months, or until the traveler’s passport expiration date, whichever comes first. Indian nationals will be allowed multiple entries using a valid notification slip and a valid Indian passport that is connected to the approved pre-arrival registration.

To apply for Pre-Arrival Registration, applicants must visit the Hong Kong Immigration Department website and complete the application. The system will then process the registration and release the results to the applicant automatically.

The recent change in Hong Kong’s immigration policies comes amidst growing concerns over the influx of predominantly Indian refugees and asylum seekers entering Hong Kong, causing a backlog of over 10,000 refugee applications with its Immigration Department. The steady increase of asylum claims is likely attributed to the region’s offering of subsidized food and housing to claimants until their requests are processed.


Criminal Background Checks to be Required for U.K.’s Tier 2 Skilled Worker Visa

Effective April 6, 2017, all individuals (including dependents) applying for the Tier 2 Skilled Worker visa classification in the U.K. seeking employment in the Education and Healthcare sectors must submit an overseas Criminal Record Certificate with their applications to be granted entry. The certificate(s) must include all countries, excluding the U.K, where the applicants have resided for one year or more in the last ten years. If the applicant is unable to provide the required information, letters explaining the missing certifications may be supplemented with their application, subject to the discretion of the reviewing officer.

Employers in the Education and Healthcare sectors now have a duty to inform their prospective employees of the latest certification requirement. Failure to comply on either side could result in a denial of the visa application. The extended requirement does not affect applicants who are already assigned certificates of sponsorship and will be applying for entry before April 2017.