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EIG Dispatch | September 23, 2016

September 27, 2016

HIGHLIGHTS

  • USCIS to Accept Adjustment of Status Applications Based on October Filing Dates Chart
  • Visa and Work Permit Delays Expected in the Czech Republic
  • Australia Announces Change in Temporary Visa Framework
  • Vietnam Issues One-Year Multiple Entry Visa to U.S. Nationals
  • Canada Extends Leniency Period for Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA)
  • Malaysia Eliminates Job Advertisement Exemptions in Sarawak

USCIS to Accept Adjustment of Status Applications Based on October Filing Dates Chart

Applicants have been using the Final Action Dates Chart to determine when they may file their applications for adjustment of status (AOS). However, beginning October 2016, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has decided to accept family-sponsored and employment-based AOS applications based off of the Dates for Filing Chart published by the U.S. Department of State (DOS).

By way of background, at the beginning of FY-2016, the DOS began publishing two charts for each immigrant visa preference category on the monthly Visa Bulletin: (1) Final Action Dates Chart and (2) Dates for Filing Chart. The former chart provides information as to when applications for AOS may be filed, and the latter chart provides information as to when such applications may be approved. USCIS announces monthly which chart it will use in deciding who may apply for AOS. For most categories, the Dates for Filing Chart provides priority dates that are significantly more recent than the dates provided in the Final Action Dates Chart.

The USCIS’ determination is significant because applicants will now be able to file for AOS sooner than if they were restricted by the Final Action Dates Chart. As such, USCIS can expect a greater volume of AOS applications for the month of October. Eligible applicants should file their immigrant visa petitions as soon as possible, as USCIS’ decision to use the Dates for Filing Chart is not permanent.


Visa and Work Permit Delays Expected in the Czech Republic

New restrictions on short-term visa applications and the closing of a Ministry of Interior office in Prague will likely cause delays in visa processing times in the Czech Republic.

On September 30, 2016, the Ministry of Interior office serving central and west Prague will close permanently. A new office will open in November at Žukovského 888/2, Prague 6 that will serve the same jurisdiction. Delays should be expected as a limited number of visa appointments will be available during the transition through an alternative office available in the interim. Starting on October 1, 2016, the Ministry of Interior Office at Cigánkova 1861/2, Prague 4 will be able to assist those in need of immigration services in Prague 1, 3 and 6 through 9.

Additionally, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs enacted new rules on short-term visa applications that may cause delays for those seeking to work in the Czech Republic. The new rule states that short-term visas will only be issued to applicants intending to stay in the country for up to 90 days. Prior to the issuance of this rule, foreign nationals seeking employment in the Czech Republic were able to file concurrent short- term visa and employee card applications.The concurrent filing allowed foreign nationals to enter the Czech Republic and commence working while their employee card application was pending. Now, foreign nationals will need to wait for the approval of their employee card, a process that can take anywhere from 60-90 days, before the foreign national can enter the Czech Republic.

EIG encourages employers to take into account the processing time for employment cards when determining start dates for foreign nationals in the Czech Republic.


Australia Announces Change in Temporary Visa Framework

On November 19, 2016, a new process for temporary visas will be instituted in an attempt to simplify and shorten the procedure for applying for temporary visas and sponsoring applicants. Changes will include re-organizing the Temporary Work (Short Stay Activity) Subclass 400 and Temporary Work (International Relations) Subclass 403, and creating two additional visa categories: the Temporary Activity Subclass 408 and the Training Subclass 407.

In addition, the below six sponsor classes will be replaced by a single Temporary Activities sponsor class:

  • Long Stay Activity
  • Training and Research
  • Professional Development
  • Entertainment
  • Special Program
  • Superyacht Crew

These proposed changes stem from a review initiated in 2014 by Australia’s Department of Immigration and Border Protection.


Vietnam Issues One-Year Multiple Entry Visa to U.S. Nationals

Effective August 28, 2016, U.S. nationals may apply for one-year multiple entry visas in Vietnam for business or tourist purposes. Vietnam has implemented this change due to a reciprocity arrangement with the U.S., under which Vietnamese Citizens are issued a one-year multiple entry visa. As a result of this change, U.S. nationals will automatically be issued a one- year multiple entry visa, with a visa fee of $135 USD, when applying for a business/tourist visa.The Vietnamese Government has eliminated the option to obtain a one-month or three-month single or multiple entry visa. For business travel, the maximum period of stay remains 90 days for each entry.


Canada Extends Leniency Period for Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA)

Canada extended the leniency period for its Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) until November 9, 2016. Implemented in March 2016, the eTA program is a mandatory online registration and pre-screening system for visa exempt foreign nationals traveling to Canada by air. A six-month leniency period, set to end on September 29, 2016, was implemented so travelers unfamiliar with the eTA program could still board their flights to Canada. The leniency has been extended to allow travelers and airlines more time to prepare for changes when flying or transitioning through Canada.

Further, starting November 10, 2016, Canadian citizens, including dual citizens, who cannot apply for an eTA, will need a valid Canadian passport to board their flight to Canada.


Malaysia Eliminates Job Advertisement Exemptions in Sarawak

Effective immediately, Malaysia has eliminated job advertisement exemptions for all employers filing an Employment Pass (“EP”) applications at the Central Immigration Department in Kuching, Sarawak. Holding specialists, rotational positions, and company shareholders are no longer exempt from job advertisements. Professional Visit Pass applications filed with the Department in Kuching will continue to be exempt from the job advertisement requirement. Employers seeking to file EP applications in Kuching, Sarawak must first post a job advertisement on the Malaysian Government’s jobs electric portal, “Jobs Malaysia” for 21 consecutive days. Due to the job advertisement requirement, employers should expect processing delays for EP applications.