- Immigration Relief Available to Individuals Affected by Hurricane Matthew
- Switzerland Announces Increase in Work Permit Quotas for 2017
- Update: Saudi Arabia Visa Fee Increase
- South Africa’s Automated Biometric System Postponed
- New Zealand Announces Changes to Visitor Visa Requirements
Immigration Relief Available to Individuals Affected by Hurricane Matthew
Last week, many countries and U.S. states felt the devastating impact of Hurricane Matthew. Upon request, USCIS may offer immigration relief measures to customers that can clearly and effectively show a need for relief directly tied to Hurricane Matthew. Below are a few of the measures USCIS may grant on a case-by-case basis:
- Expedited processing of employment authorization applications and off-campus employment authorization requests by F-1 students experiencing severe economic hardship. USCIS may also provide expedited processing of advance parole applications.
- Processing of change of nonimmigrant status or extension of nonimmigrant stay for a person currently inside the U.S., even if the request was submitted after the individual’s current status had expired.
- Accommodation for individuals that were unable to appear for a scheduled interview or biometrics appointment, or who were unable to submit evidence to a Request for Evidence/Intent to Deny.
- Replacements of lost or damaged immigration and travel documents.
For a full list of the relief measures offered by USCIS, click here.
Switzerland Announces Increase in Work Permit Quotas for 2017
The Swiss government has increased work permit quotas by 500 per category for highly qualified workers from non-EU/EFTA countries. The increase comes after complaints were received from cantons that their quotas had already been reached.
The quotas apply to B permits, which are 5 year residence permits. They will be applied on a national basis, not a per-company basis. Once the quota has been met, foreign nationals may be issued L permits, which are issued for 12 months and are renewable. After 2 years, L permits may be upgraded to B permits.
2017 Quotas for Non-EU/EFTA Nationals
- 4500 L permits
- 3000 B permits
2017 Quotas for EU/EFTA National Assignees
- 2000 L permits
- 250 B permits
The quotas for assignees from EU/EFTA countries to Switzerland for more than 90 days and more than 120 days are the same as they were in 2015 and 2016. The qualifying criteria for each permit remains unchanged
Update: Saudi Arabia Visa Fee Increase
As an update to our previous article, The Saudi Arabian Ministry of Labour has announced that U.S. nationals will be exempt from the fee increases announced earlier this month. U.S. nationals will continue to be eligible for the 5 year multiple entry visa with a visa fee of SAR 500 ($133 USD), in compliance with current bilateral agreements.
South Africa’s Automated Biometric System Postponed
The South African Department of Home Affairs has postponed the launch of the Automated Biometric system, which was set to be effective on October 1, 2016. The System will use an applicant’s fingerprints recorded at application centers to check against the South African police database. This System will replace hard copy police clearance certificates.
The Department of Home Affairs has not announced a new launch date. EIG will continue to monitor the status of the Automated Biometrics System, and provide any updates.
New Zealand Announces Changes to Visitor Visa Requirements
New Zealand will change the visitor visa requirements for nationals of South Africa, Mauritius, and Seychelles.
As of November 21, 2016, all South African nationals will be required to obtain a visitor visa before traveling to New Zealand. New Zealand is implementing this change as a result of the increase of ineligible passengers who do not meet New Zealand entry requirements when applying for visitor visas on arrival. The New Zealand government is recommending that applicants apply six weeks before their intended travel date. The cost of the visitor visa online will be $165.00 (NZ).
As of November 21, 2016, nationals of Mauritius and Seychelles will no longer be required to obtain a visitor visa to enter New Zealand for up to three months at a time. However, health and character requirements will still apply to all foreign nationals travelling to New Zealand. Visitors from visa waiver countries must also provide proof of financial ability to support themselves while in New Zealand and intent to depart.