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EIG Dispatch | May 12, 2017

May 12, 2017

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Next Round of Australian Immigration Changes – Effective July 1, 2017
  • Portugal and Italy Temporarily Reinstating Border Controls During Major Events in May
  • France Elects a Centrist President
  • USCIS Releases H-1B Lottery Documents in Response to Lawsuit
  • Department of Labor Responds to Senators’ H-1B Fraud Concerns
  • Canada Issues Report on Express Entry Pool Program for Permanent Residence

Next Round of Australian Immigration Changes – Effective July 1, 2017

As previously announced, Australia is in the process of reforming its immigration system. The next set of changes go into effect July 1st and impact applications filed after that date. A new foreign worker levy has also been announced on May 10th, which goes into effect in March 2018.

Revised Skill List
A revised skill list is currently being developed, with advice from the Australian Department of Education and Training and the Department of Employment. Details will be announced closer to July 1, 2017.

English Language Requirements
As of July 1, certain 457 visa applicants will have to demonstrate they are competent in the English language (IELTS score of 6 in each category, or an equivalent level of ability).

This requirement does not apply to citizens of Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, Ireland, or New Zealand. It also does not apply if the applicant can demonstrate completion of at least 5 cumulative years of full-time study in a secondary and/or higher education institution where the instruction was delivered in English.

Please take the English Language Requirements into consideration for the timing of the visa approval.

Police Clearance Certificates
As of July 1, all 457 visa applicants, including dependents aged 17 years or older, will have to provide police clearance certificates from countries where they have lived for a significant period of time.

Please take the time required to obtain police clearance certificates into consideration for the timing of the visa approval.

Processing Fee Increases
Also effective July 1, the Australian government will increase processing fees for several frequently used categories. A full list of increases is available here.

Highlights include:

Category Type of Applicant Current Fee New Fee
Temporary Work (Skilled) Subclass

457

Main Applicant AUD 1,060 AUD 1,080
Adult Dependent AUD 1,060 AUD 1,080
Child Dependent AUD 265 AUD 270
Employer Nominated Scheme Subclass 186 Main Applicant AUD 3,600 AUD 3,670
Adult Dependent AUD 1,800 AUD 1,835
Child Dependent AUD 900 AUD 920

New Foreign Worker Levy
In March 2018, employers sponsoring temporary and permanent employment-based visas will be required to pay into a “Skilling Australians Fund.” This requirement will replace the current benchmark training requirements. The levy amount varies depending on business turnover as explained below. The levy will considerably increase the costs to sponsor a foreign worker. Companies should plan ahead for the additional costs and budget accordingly.

Businesses with total sales of less than AUD 10 Million:

  • Temporary Skills Shortage Visas – AUD 1,200 per visa per year for each employee
  • Permanent Visas – AUD 3,000 for each employee sponsored for a Subclass 186 or Subclass 187 visa

Businesses with total sales of more than AUD 10 Million:

  • Temporary Skills Shortage Visas – AUD 1,800 per visa per year for each employee
  • Permanent Visas – AUD 5,000 for each employee sponsored for a Subclass 186 or Subclass 187 visa

EIG will continue to carefully monitor the changes to Australia’s immigration system. If you have additional questions, contact EIG’s Global team for more information.


Portugal and Italy Temporarily Reinstating Border Controls During Major Events in May

Portugal and Italy are temporarily suspending the Schengen agreement, and are temporarily reinstating border controls due to major events in May.

In Portugal, border controls are in place from now through Sunday May 14th, for the Papal visit to Fatima.

In Italy, border controls are in place from now through Tuesday May 30th; one of many security measures taken for the G7 summit to be held in Sicily on May 26th and 27th.

During this time, all travelers, regardless of citizenship or point of origin, must carry a valid travel document, such as a valid passport or ID card to enter Portugal or Italy. This includes EU citizens who normally are not subject to border controls.

All travelers should also allow for extra time to go through passport controls.


France Elects a Centrist President

On May 7, 2017, voters in France chose Emmanuel Macron of the En Marche! movement to be their next president. This election signified a rejection of traditional mainstream political parties in France, with all mainstream party candidates eliminated in preliminary rounds of voting, and the final round featuring Macron and Marine Le Pen of the National Front party.

As a political newcomer, Macron’s 13-month-old EN Marche! Movement ran on a centrist platform favoring globalization, while strengthening and integrating France’s membership in the European Union. In contrast to Le Pen’s restrictive approach to immigration, Macron’s immigration policies favor a structured, nationalist approach in vetting qualified immigrants while maintain tight border security.


USCIS Releases H-1B Lottery Documents in Response to Lawsuit

In response to a lawsuit brought last year by two business immigration groups, USCIS has released documents that outline how they administer the H-1B lottery.

The documents released by USCIS include H-1B cap action plans for the California and Vermont Service Centers for Fiscal Year 2015. These plans provide details as to how H-1B petitions are handled before and after USCIS conducts the H-1B lottery. In addition, USCIS released a reference sheet used by contractor staff in Fiscal Year 2015 when triaging H-1B cap-subject petitions, as well as a list of the top 7 reasons H-1B petitions were rejected in Fiscal Year 2015. Lastly, USCIS released a summary on how H-1B petitions are allocated to USCIS adjudicators. USCIS’ release of these documents is noteworthy because USCIS had initially claimed that these documents were exempt from disclosure.

In preparation for next year’s H-1B visa lottery, EIG attorneys are reviewing these documents carefully for insights about the policies and procedures that USCIS follows in administering the H-1B lottery.


Department of Labor Responds to Senators’ H-1B Fraud Concerns

On April 27th, in a letter to several senators, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) described its efforts to combat abuses of the H-1B program and highlighted its focus on responding to complaints, investigating potential discrimination against U.S. workers, and investigating other forms of fraud and abuse.

The DOL was writing in response to senators who had urged DOL to investigate allegations of H-1B abuses after an episode of 60 Minutes raised concern over businesses replacing U.S. workers with cheaper foreign labor. Specifically, the Senators’ letter requested the Labor Secretary’s response to questions about the department’s current methods of investigating H-1B violations and plans to address program abuse.

In the DOL’s response, the department reminded the senators that its authority to review violations of H-1B rules is limited by the Immigration and Nationality Act and provided an overview of its scope of authority and active intiatives.

What does this mean?
In light of USCIS’s recent policy updates to prevent and combat H-1B program abuse, the DOL’s response letter highlights two important points:

  1. As the DOL does not have the legal authority to investigate all potential H-1B abuses, given its limited authority under current immigration law, it is up to Congress to pass new legislation if they wish to see broader investigations and enforcement.
  2. A collaborative effort is underway, with the Departments of Labor, Justice, Homeland Security, and State working on a memorandum of understanding for information sharing, that would allow for a more robust approach to H-1B violations.

Canada Issues Report on Express Entry Pool Program for Permanent Residence

Canada’s Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) recently issued a comprehensive 2016 end-of-year report on its Express Entry Pool program. The Express Entry Pool program is the system through which potential immigrants can apply for Canada’s economic-based immigration programs. This report provides data for the first two years of the program, which was launched on January 1, 2015.

The report revealed that between January 1, 2015 and January 1, 2017, 353,230 Express Entry Profiles were submitted. Of these, 41,466 applicants were invited to apply for permanent residence in 2015 and 2016. The report also shows the diversity of the applicant pool, with a wide range of nationalities, occupations, and province destinations. The IRCC expects to make changes and improvements to the Express Entry Pool Program later this year to ensure it continues to allow Canada’s immigration policy to be flexible, responsive to the labor market, and attracts top talent around the world.

If you are interested in more details about Canadian permanent residency, contact EIG’s Global team.