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EIG Dispatch | July 29, 2016

July 29, 2016

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Singapore Announces Increased Qualifying Salary for Employment Pass
  • U.S. Department of Justice Announces Increased Fines for Form I-9 Offenses
  • Taiwan Introduces Visa Fee Entry and Extension of Travel Authorization Certificates for Certain Nationals
  • Saudi Arabia Announces Insurance Exemption for U.S. Nationals
  • Ireland Announces Online Immigration Registration System

Singapore Announces Increased Qualifying Salary for Employment Pass

Singapore’s Ministry of Manpower (MOM) recently announced that as of January 1, 2017, the minimum qualifying salary for  Employment Pass (EP) applicants will increase from 3,300 SGD to 3,600 SGD. The Ministry will provide companies with the following grace period for existing EP applicants:

  • EP applicants whose passes expire before January 1, 2017 will be able to renew for up to three years based on existing EP criteria; and
  • EP applicants whose passes expire between January 1, 2017 and June 30, 2017 will have the option to renew for up to one year based on existing EP criteria.

Employers are encouraged to utilize the Ministry’s Self-Assessment Tool on the MOM website  to determine whether an EP candidate will meet the new salary level and should ensure salaries are raised where appropriate.


U.S. Department of Justice Announces Increased Fines for Form I-9 Offenses

The U.S. Department of Justice has announced an increase in fines for Form I-9 offenses to take effect as of August 1, 2016. The new penalties, including nearly doubled fines for specific offenses, will apply to incidences occurring on or after November 2, 2015. As addressed in a previous article, U.S. employers must complete a Form I-9 for all U.S. workers, whether the worker is a foreign national or a U.S. Citizen. Failure to comply with Form I-9 requirements can result in significant fines for the company.

Specifically, penalties in the form of fines for unlawful employment of unauthorized workers, failure to comply with I-9 requirements, and unfair employment practices in relation to Form I-9 will increase as follows:

Violation Previous Penalties Penalties as of August 1st
Unlawful Employment, First Offense $375 – $3,200 $539 – $4,313
Unlawful Employment, Second/Third Offense Up to $16,000 Up to $21,563
Failing to Comply with Form I-9 Requirements $110 – $1,110 $216 – $2,156
Unfair Employment, First Offense $375 – $3,200 $445 – $3,563
Unfair Employment, Second/Third Offense Up to $16,000 Up to $17,816
Document Abuse $110 – $1,100 $178 – $1,782

EIG recommends that employers review Form I-9 practices and employee files to assure that such offenses, and penalties, are avoided. Current penalties and Form I-9 offense information can be found here.


Taiwan Introduces Visa Free Entry and Extension of Travel Authorization Certificates for Certain Nationals

The Taiwanese Government announced that they will be offering visa free entry for nationals of Thailand and Brunei. Visa free entry for qualifying nationals will be effective on August 1, 2016, and visa free stays will be allowed for up to 30 days for an initial period of one year. Additionally, starting September 1, 2016, Taiwan will extend the Taiwan Travel Authorization Certificate (TAC) scheme to nationals of Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, the Philippines, and Vietnam. The TAC scheme allows qualifying nationals to enter Taiwan visa-free by registering online if they have received a visa within the last ten years from Australia, Canada, the Schengen area, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea, the United Kingdom, or the United States.

These program extensions are intended to optimize economic relationships with Southeast Asian countries as a part of Taiwan’s “southbound policy.” The new visa-free privileges will allow more nationals of Southeast Asian countries to travel to Taiwan for up to 30 days to fulfill business or service contracts without requiring a visa.


Saudi Arabia Announces Insurance Exemption for U.S. Nationals

In June 2016, Saudi Arabia announced a new insurance requirement for short-term visitors, including: business visitors, commercial visit visa, and family visits visas. Applicants within these visa categories are required to purchase travel health insurance for the duration of the trip prior to submitting the application to the Saudi Consulate through the online “Enjaz” registration process. Effective immediately, U.S. nationals are exempt from this insurance requirement. This will enable U.S. nationals traveling into Saudi Arabia to rely on existing health insurance and avoid an additional step during the registration/application process.


Ireland Announces Online Registration System

Expected to launch in Autumn, Ireland’s new online registration system will allow Non-EEA nationals to book their post-arrival appointments well in advance and at times most convenient for them. This change came in response to exceptionally long wait times and lengthy appointment queues, causing employees to miss significant time from work in order to obtain their certificate of registration from the immigration authorities.  EIG will monitor the progression of the online system roll-out and its impact on the registration process.