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EIG Dispatch | September 30, 2016

September 30, 2016

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Class Action Lawsuit Challenging H-1B Lottery Moves Forward in Federal Court
  • Changes to Invitation Letter Requirements for Business Visas in China
  • China Announces Consolidated Work Permit Process for Foreign Workers
  • EEA and Swiss Nationals Allowed to Travel While U.K. Permanent Residence Applications are Pending
  • New Requirements Imposed on Companies Seconding Workers to France
  • Webinar: EIG Presents Special Super Tuesday Edition. Click here to register!

Class Action Lawsuit Challenging H-1B Lottery Moves Forward in Federal Court

The H-1B visa is a non-immigrant visa popular for companies that want to employ highly skilled foreign workers in specialty occupations. However, obtaining an H-1B visa is becoming harder as the demand far exceeds the number of visas available every year. For fiscal year (FY) 2017, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) received over 236,000 H-1B petitions but was only allowed to accept 85,000 petitions under the current cap. USCIS uses a lottery system to distribute H-1B visas each year in April when the number of applications exceeds the number of available visas. Applications are accepted for the first five business days of April then placed in a lottery system where 85,000 applications are selected at random.

A class action lawsuit, Tenrec, Inc. v. U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Servs., 2016 BL 312928, D. Or., No. 3:16-cv-00995, was filed by two employers, Tenrec Inc. and Walker Macy LLC, whose job candidates lost the H-1B visa lottery. The lawsuit alleges that the current H-1B lottery system is unlawful because it does not process applications on a first-come, first-served basis. On September 22, 2016, Judge Michael H. Simon of the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon, denied the government’s attempts to dismiss the case, ruling that the employers had sufficient standing for the case to go forward. Oral arguments are scheduled to be head in December. EIG will continue to follow the progression of this case.


Changes to Invitation Letter Requirements for Business Visas in China

Business travelers to China seeking M (Business) Visas to the cities of Beijing and Shanghai no longer need to obtain government-issued invitation letters. Instead, immigration authorities in those cities have begun accepting letters issued directly by the local Chinese company that is sponsoring the foreign national. This new policy is designed to reduce visa processing times. However, immigration authorities in other regions of China have not yet adopted this change and may still require the applicant to present a government issued letters. EIG recommends business travelers to China to contact the appropriate immigration authority prior to applying for an M visa.


China Announces Consolidated Work Permit Process for Foreign Workers

Effective October 1, 2016, the State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs (SAFEA) will launch a consolidated work permit process for foreign workers in select cities in an attempt to simplify and shorten the application procedure for foreign workers and attract top talent. Currently, foreign nationals may apply for the Alien Employment License and the Foreign Expert Permit, each of which is administered by separate government agencies. Under the new process, these two permits will be replaced by a single permit in the form of an ID card with a unique permanent ID number. The new work permit application procedure will also feature a streamlined online application process.

Workers will be categorized into three employment categories based on criteria such as salary, educational background, Chinese language proficiency, age and work experience. These categories are “A” for high-end talent, “B” for professional talent, and “C” for unskilled workers or temporary/seasonal personnel. Starting October 1, 2016 the new foreign work permit will be implemented in a pilot scheme in Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin, Anhui, Guangdong, Hebei, Shandong, Sichuan, and Ningxia. The new permit is expected to be rolled out nationwide in April 2017.


EEA and Swiss Nationals Allowed to Travel While U.K. Permanent Residence Application are Pending

Effective October 1, 2016, European Economic Area (EEA) and Swiss nationals will be able to travel abroad while U.K. permanent residence and residence card applications are pending. Nationals from these areas will be able to submit their applications online and make appointments with local authorities. Once applications are submitted, local authorities will send photocopies of the applicant’s passport to the Home Office and then return the original passport to the applicant, allowing the applicant to travel freely while residence applications are pending. For a full list of countries included in the EEA, please visit https://www.gov.uk/eu-eea.


New Requirements Imposed on Companies Seconding Workers to France

Effective June 15, 2016, companies are required to submit a secondment declaration for all employees working in France of a foreign company’s payroll.

The declaration will need to address details regarding the secondment, including the company’s designated French representative, Director of the company, and the anticipated activities to be performed by the seconded employee. Effective October 1, 2016, all secondment declarations must be submitted online through SIPSI, a government website. Companies are required to register and submit company information on the SIPSI website prior to submitting declarations. Improper submission of secondment declarations may result in fines of up to €2,000 per employee or €4,000 for a repeat violation. Fines will not exceed €500,000.


Webinar: EIG Presents Special Super Tuesday Edition

On Tuesday, October 4, 2016, join members of the EIG team as we separate fact from fiction and examine the possible ramifications of Election 2016 on mobility professionals, global employers, and foreign nationals currently working in the United States.  This free and educational webinar will uncomplicate the complicated when it comes to the issue of Business Immigration and the upcoming election.

Click here to register!