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EIG Dispatch | May 20, 2016

May 20, 2016

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Travel Advisory: Protecting Essential Travel Documents
  • Canadian Government Offers Assistance to Wildfire Victims in Alberta
  • Mexico Announces Expansion of Visa Exemptions
  • Significant Processing Delays Expected in June and July for Ramadan
  • H-2B Cap Reached for Fiscal Year 2016

Travel Advisory: Protecting Essential Travel Documents

As a result of increased reports of stolen immigration documents, EIG advises travelers to take extra precautions and secure their passports, work permits, resident cards and all essential immigration papers while traveling abroad. This is especially important considering the increase in the volume of crimes during high seasonal travel. Please make sure to:

  • Keep original travel documents and work authorization in a safe place (avoid leaving them in cars).
  • Keep digital copies of documents in a secure email account, Dropbox, or cloud storage system.
  • Always be aware of your surroundings and report any suspicious activity.
  • Keep items close to you. Always carry your passport on your person when you travel internationally and consider using a travel wallet worn around the waist or neck.

If your documents are lost or stolen, please contact:

  • The police and report the incident.
  • The Embassy of the visa issuing country to obtain a replacement visa, if necessary.
  • EIG to assist and address any concerns.

Canadian Government Offers Assistance to Wildfire Victims in Alberta

The Canadian government is offering assistance to replace passports and travel documents that have been lost, damaged, or destroyed as a result of the raging wildfires in Alberta. Individuals that lost documents as a direct result of the fires, will be offered a complimentary replacement. This assistance is offered to both Canadian and non-Canadian citizens and will be available until August 3, 2016. Please consult the Canadian Immigration and Citizenship website for specific requirements.


Mexico Announces Expansion of Visa Exemptions

Effective immediately, the Mexican Government has authorized significant visa exemptions for certain visa-required nationals. As a result of the new policy, visa-required nationals who hold a visa to enter, or are permanent residents of Canada, Japan, the United Kingdom, the United States or the Schengen countries, are now permitted to enter Mexico without obtaining a visa for up to 180 days. Additionally, visa-required nationals who are permanent residents of Chile, Colombia or Peru will be exempt from business, tourist, and transit visa requirements for up to 180 days on or after July 1, 2016.

Furthermore, visitor visa holders to Mexico, or those with visitor visa exemption status, can remain in Mexico for up to 6 months. Work is allowed for holders of a visitor visa if they remain on a home contract and are paid outside Mexico. However, foreign nationals staying over 180 days or planning to be paid in Mexico are not eligible for this exemption and should contact their immigration counsel to discuss work authorization options.


Significant Processing Delays Expected in June and July for Ramadan

Slower processing times are expected from approximately June through July, for countries observing the Islamic Month of Ramadan. Because government agencies will have shortened business hours, time-sensitive visa and work permit applications should be initiated well in advance. Immediately following Ramadan, the Eid al-Fitr holiday is expected to completely close government buildings and private institutions between 3-10 business days in countries across the Middle East, Africa, and Asia.


H-2B Cap Reached for Fiscal Year 2016

On May 12, 2016, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) reached its Cap quota of 66,000 H-2B petitions for non-agricultural temporary workers for Fiscal Year (FY) 2016. May 12, 2016 is the “final receipt date” for new cap-subject petitions that are requesting employment with a start date before October 1, 2016.

USCIS will continue to accept H-2B petitions that are exempt from the congressionally mandated cap. These petitions will include “returning workers” already counted against the H-2B cap; pending H-2B extension petitions; fish roe processors, technicians, and supervisors; and workers performing labor or services in the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands or Guam from November 28, 2009 to December 31, 2019.

Employers filing H-2B cap petitions requesting employment on or after October 1, 2016 will be subject to the eligibility requirements for FY 2017 H-2B cap filings. For more information regarding the H-2B work program, please visit the USCIS website.