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EIG Dispatch | May 13, 2016

May 13, 2016

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Indonesia Extends Visa Exemptions
  • Israel Announces New Individual Signed Affidavit Requirements for Sponsoring Companies and Delays Due to Office Closures
  • USCIS Accepting Inquiry Requests for Petitions Pending for 210 Days or More
  • Canada’s Annual Quota Met for Ontario Immigration Nominee Program Streams
  • Ghana Increases Fees for Certain Permits

Indonesia Extends Visa Exemptions

Indonesia exempted nationals from 169 countries from visitor visa requirements. In addition, Indonesia has defined  and limited permissible business activity for visa exempt travelers as follows:

  • Attending meetings held by the head office or representative office; or
  • Attending seminars.

Visa exempt travelers who will participate in any other business activity not listed will require a business visa to enter Indonesia. These changes will conserve time and resources for visa exempt business travelers conducting permissible business activities.

Prior to these changes, visa-exempt nationals could travel to Indonesia without a visa for tourism or leisure only, with the exception of ASEAN nationals who could attend business meetings. These recent changes expand the number of visa-exempt countries and allow visa exempt travelers to enter for leisure, family and social visits, tourism, government visits, flight transfers, and permissible business activity. The list of countries from which travelers are visa exempt can be found at the Indonesian Directorate General of Immigration’s website.


Israel Announces New Individual Signed Affidavit Requirements for Sponsoring Companies and Delays Due to Office Closures

On May 10th the Israeli Ministry of Interior announced that employers sponsoring work permits for foreign workers must now submit separate affidavits for each foreign employee. The Ministry of Interior anticipates the change will significantly add to the processing time as each affidavit must be legalized by an Israeli lawyer. If submitted abroad, the affidavit must be legalized at an Israeli consulate or notarized and apostilled. Companies must also submit the affidavit to the employee and to the Israeli state. Until now, a company could use one original affidavit covering several foreign assignees. The work permit application now requires an original affidavit for each individual employee, increasing the documentation, complexity, and length of processing per work permit application. These changes will primarily affect B-1 work permits and are effective immediately.

Additionally, Israeli government offices were closed on May 12th for the Israeli 68th Independence Day, “Yom Ha’atzmaut“. Visa applicants may experience processing and issuance delays following the May 12th closure as work permits and visa applications were not adjudicated. Israeli consular posts abroad also suspended operations or conducted limited processing due to the holiday. Applicants should check with their local consulate for specific information on holiday operations.


USCIS Accepting Inquiry Requests for Petitions Pending for 210 Days or More

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issued a reminder to employers who have submitted either an extension or change of employer petition (Form I-129) on behalf of a foreign worker that, as of April 21st, they can submit inquiries if the Petition has been pending for 210 days or more. Employers whose petitions have been pending for 210 days or more can inquire as to the status based on overly extended processing time. Inquiries based on cases pending outside of normal processing times may be submitted by calling the National Customer Service Center at 1-800-375-5283 or submitting an e-Request. To submit an inquiry, the petitioner will need the original receipt number and will need to specify the amount of days the case has been pending.


Canada’s Annual Quota Met for Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program Streams

As of May 9th, the Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program (OINP) met its 2016 federal quota of applications. As a result, the province of Ontario has temporarily paused intake of the following high-volume OINP streams:

  • Employer Pre-screen;
  • International Student – Masters Graduate stream; and
  • International Student – PhD Graduate stream.

New applications under the Employer Pre-screen and International Student (Masters and Ph.D. graduate students) streams that were sent after 5:00 p.m. EDT on May 9th will not be accepted and will be returned to the applicant along with any filing fees. Foreign nationals seeking permanent residence through certain OINP streams will have to wait until new federal quotas are allocated later this year unless they can identify an alternative. The OINP will, however, continue to accept applications in the Foreign Worker and International Student with a Job Offer stream. The OINP will only accept those applications in which the job offer has been approved through the Employer Pre-screen application process. Eligible applicants may apply to the OINP within 60 days of the approval letter. The OINP will continue to accept applications in the Corporate, French-Speaking Skilled Worker, and Entrepreneur streams.

The province of Ontario has experienced a positive impact on its economy due to the OINP and assures that it will continue to engage with the Canadian government regarding increased quota numbers for future years.


Ghana Increases Fees for Certain Permits

Effective May 15th, the Ghanaian Immigration Services will raise government filing fees for certain work permits and residence permits. Fees are expected to double for oil and gas workers’ rotator permits. Fees for resident permits will increase from $300 to $500. Additionally, a resident permit fee of $300 will be introduced for nationals of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and a fee of $150 for Ghanaians holding foreign passports. The monthly penalty for expiration of a resident permit will also increase over fifty percent, with comparable monthly penalties for expired permits of ECOWAS nationals and Ghanaians holding foreign passports. Companies sponsoring foreign nationals in Ghana should budget for the government fee increases.