- UPDATE: U.S. Consulates Across India Experiencing Significant Backlog
- Vietnam Announces Extension of Visa Waiver Program for Certain EU Nationals
- UPDATE: Canada Eliminates Visa Requirements for Citizens of Mexico
- The Netherlands Announces Work Permit Requirements for Japanese Nationals
- Deadlines Extended for Conversion of Indian PIO to OCI
- USCIS Returns Unselected H-1B CAP Petitions
UPDATE: U.S. Consulates Across India Experiences Significant Backlog
As an update, lengthy delays, ranging from 18 to 31 days for business visa appointments, and 36 to 114 days for nonimmigrant visa appointments, can be expected at U.S. Consulates across India. The backlog is attributed to a seasonal increase in student and visitor visa applications as well as a general increase in demand for U.S. visas. Currently, business visitor visa appointments are booked until early August and appointments for H-1B and L-1 visas are backlogged by approximately 2 months.
EIG recommends that applicants seeking visa appointments via U.S. Consulates in India actively check online for possible appointment cancellations and schedule visa appointments well in advance for future travel.
Vietnam Announces Extension of Visa Waiver Program for Certain EU Nationals
The Vietnamese Government extended the visa waiver program, initially introduced in 2015, to foreign nationals of France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and the United Kingdom for another year. The program is now set to expire June 30, 2017, but may possibly be extended further. Substantively, the waiver program remains unchanged from the original program. The visa waiver program allows nationals of the five European countries to enter and remain in Vietnam for up to 15 days without pre-approval. The 15-day stay cannot be extended, but foreign nationals can re-enter using the visa waiver program after spending at least 30 days outside of Vietnam. In order to enter Vietnam using the visa waiver program, the foreign national’s passport must be valid for at least six months.
The visa waiver program should not be used for travel with the intent to work. Business travelers should consult with both EIG and the Vietnamese Consulate in their area to assure that planned business activities are appropriate under the visa waiver program prior to travel.
UPDATE: Canada Eliminates Visa Requirements for Citizens of Mexico
As an update to Canada’s immigration priorities for 2016/2017, and in an effort to foster a greater relationship with Mexico, Canadian Prime Minister Justine Trudeau announced the end of visa requirements for Mexican nationals, effective as of December 1, 2016. Mexican passport holders will now simply need to apply for Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) prior to flying to Canada. An eTA is not required for a Mexican national who already possesses a valid Canadian visa.
The Netherlands Announces Work Permit Requirements for Japanese Nationals
Starting October 1, 2016, Japanese nationals intending to work in the Netherlands will need a work permit. Currently Japanese nationals are able to work freely due to the 1912 Treaty of Commerce and Navigation between the two countries. The change in policy is due to a reinterpretation of the 1912 Treaty by the Dutch Government, determining that residence and work permit requirements are rightly mandated by preemptive national legislation rather than the Treaty. Aside from the change in interpretation regarding immigration requirements, the 1912 Treat remains in force. EIG will continue to monitor this situation to see if there are any legal challenges to the reinterpretation.
Deadline Extended for Conversion of Indian PIO to OCI
In January 2015, the Indian Government announced the discontinuation of Person of Indian Origin (PIO) cards in lieu of the newly authorized Overseas Citizens of India (OCI) cards. This week, the Indian External Affairs Minister announced that the deadline for converting from PIO status to OCI status is extended until December 31, 2016. Applicants must submit their application requesting conversion to the nearest Foreign Regional Registration Office in India or the appropriate overseas Mission/Consulate. PIO cardholders are still permitted to use their valid PIO card while their conversion to the OCI card application is pending.
USCIS Returns Unselected H-1B CAP Petitions
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) officially announced that it has returned all unselected Fiscal Year 2017 H-1B CAP subject petitions. Applicants who have not received a receipt notice or a returned petition are urged to contact USCIS for assistance.