- USCIS Suspends Premium Processing for H-1B Petitions Effective April 3
- Revised Executive Order Issued Monday, March 6
- UPDATE: United Kingdom – Tier 2 Skills Charge Effective April 6, 2017
- Longer Stays for Visitors Performing Work Pass Exempt Activities in Singapore
- Belgium introduces New Requirement for Posted Workers
- Visa-Free Travel to Peru for Certain Indian Nationals
USCIS Suspends Premium Processing for H-1B Petitions Effective April 3
Last Friday, as covered in EIG’s Special Alert, USCIS announced it will be temporarily suspending premium processing for H-1B petitions starting Monday, April 3rd. The suspension may last for up to 6 months. The suspension is to allow USCIS to adjudicate the backlog of H-1B cases in attempt to ensure timely adjudication. Due to this, H-1B Cap cases prepared for the FY2018 cap lottery cannot be filed via premium processing.
Please contact EIG with any questions specific to your case.
Revised Executive Order Issued Monday, March 6
On Monday, March 6, 2017, a revised Executive Order was signed that will go into effect on Thursday, March 16 at 12:01 am EST. Please note that the new Executive Order supersedes the first Executive Order, signed on January 27, 2017.
The new Order excludes Iraq from the list of six countries subject to the travel ban. The countries that will be subject to the travel ban include Sudan, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen. Unlike the previous Executive Order, this Order carves out exceptions for nationals of the six countries subject to the travel ban, such as legal permanent residents and dual-citizens, among others.
Nationals of the countries subject to the travel ban should contact EIG before traveling abroad or to discuss if an exception may apply to them.
UPDATE: United Kingdom – Tier 2 Skills Charge Effective April 6
Following up on our February 17 article, the UK’s Home Office is moving forward with planned changes to the UK Immigration Skills Charge. The second phase of changes go into effect on April 6, 2017.
As previously announced, as of April 6, 2017, a new Skills Charge will apply to foreign workers applying for Tier 2 status from outside the UK, and to those in the UK applying for a change to Tier 2 status from another visa category. The Skills Charge is designed to incentivize investment in training and hiring of UK workers.
The changes include:
- A £1,000 per year Skills Charge will be required for most Tier 2 applications.
- Smaller businesses and charities will be charged a lower amount of £364.
- The fee, calculated for the total period covered by the Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS), will be collected at the time that the CoS is assigned.
- Some applications are exempt from the fee including applications for occupations requiring a PhD, Tier 2 Graduate Trainees, and Tier 4 students switching to Tier 2.
Longer Stays for Visitors Performing Work Pass Exempt Activities in Singapore
Effective immediately, Singapore’s Ministry of Manpower (MOM) has extended the per-visit limit for work pass exempt activities performed while in Singapore from 60 to 90 days. The length of stay for work pass exempt activities is now controlled by a Short-Term Visit Pass, which will be issued upon entry. The annual cumulative limit of 90-days per calendar year remains in place.
To take advantage of this exemption, employees must be engaged to perform eligible work activities prior to entering Singapore, must have a valid Short-Term Visit Pass issued upon entry, and must notify the MOM of their intent to engage in work pass exempt activities after entering Singapore and before beginning to work. Employers should ensure that employees traveling to Singapore to perform work pass exempt activities do not engage in work that is outside the scope permitted for work pass exempt activities and do not overstay. Employees should apply for a work pass from the MOM to perform work that is not included in work pass exempt activities or exceeds 90 days in duration.
Permissible work pass exempt activities can include organizing, conducting, or exhibiting at seminars and conferences, or providing expertise/specialized skills on commission provided that the skills/expertise are not available in Singapore. Attending meetings, seminars, conferences or exhibitions as a participant is permissible for business travelers and does not require notification to MOM of work pass exempt activity. A complete list of permissible work pass exempt activities can be found here.
Please contact EIG for an assessment of your anticipated travel purpose to better understand if your planned activities fall within the exemption.
Belgium Introduces New Requirements for Posted Workers
As of January 1, 2017, Belgium has implemented EU Directive 2014/67, creating new requirements for companies assigning employees from other EU member states to work temporarily in Belgium. The goal of EU Directive 2014/67 is to provide for the protection of intra-European assignees within a more transparent and predictable legal framework. These new regulations implement that Directive and apply to “posted workers”, individuals who are employed by a company in a EU member state and are temporarily transferred to Belgium for a set period (usually 12 months).
Per the new regulations, companies posting workers to Belgium are required to appoint a representative to liaise with Belgian authorities prior to posting, retain certain documents related to the posting (such as contract and salary information), and provide these documents to Belgian authorities on request. Moreover, these documents must be retained for one year after the end of the posted worker’s assignment to Belgium. Additionally, the regulations provide for financial penalties for non-compliance with the documentary and representative requirements.
Companies wishing to post employees to Belgium should revise their posting procedures to ensure they comply with the new regulations.
Visa-Free Travel to Peru for Certain Indian Nationals
Effective March 27, 2017, Indian nationals will be allowed to enter Peru for business or tourism without the need of a visa so long as they already hold permanent residency or other long-term status in the US, Australia, Canada, the UK, or a Schengen Zone country. Long-term status includes visas that are valid for 6 months or longer. Eligible Indian nationals will be able to stay in Peru for up to 180 days per year.
A similar Peru visa-exemption for analogous Chinese nationals took effect in September.