EIG Dispatch | February 17, 2017


  • Update: UK Immigration Skills Charge to be Implemented on April 6, 2017
  • United Arab Emirates Extends Visa on Arrival to Russian Nationals
  • EU Parliament Approves Schengen Visa for Georgian Citizens
  • Greece Temporarily Suspends Residence Permit Applications
  • Belgium Announces New Documentation and Integration Requirements

Update: UK Immigration Skills Charge to be Implemented on April 6, 2017

As an update to our February 3 article, the UK’s Home Office has issued an addendum to the Tier 2 guidance, which indicates that the Skills Charge is expected to be implemented on April 6, 2017. The Skills Charge will subject employers of Tier 2 General and Intra-Company Transfer workers to an additional fee of £1,000 per sponsored employee per year of sponsorship, while a reduced fee of £364 will apply to Tier 2 applications from small businesses and charitable entities. The fee, calculated for the total period of time covered by the Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS), will be collected at the time that the CoS is assigned.

The Skills Charge will apply to foreign workers applying outside the UK, and to those in the UK applying to switch from another visa category. The Skills Charge is also anticipated to apply to foreign workers in the UK seeking an extension of stay, however this is yet to be confirmed.  Tier 2 applications related to workers in Ph.D.-level roles, graduate trainees, graduates on student visas switching status, and workers sponsored before April 6 seeking an extension of their Tier 2 visa from within the UK with the same or with a different employer will be exempted from this additional fee. The Skills Charge is designed to incentivize investment in training and hiring UK workers.

The addendum also mentions a possible fee increase for passport application processing, however the associated fee and implementation time frame are currently inconclusive.

EIG will continue to monitor the progress of the Skills Charge regulation.

United Arab Emirates Extends Visa on Arrival to Russian Nationals

In an effort to facilitate stronger diplomatic relations between the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Russia, the UAE announced extension of the visa on arrival to Russian nationals in accordance with cabinet decree No. 24. The decree allows Russian nationals an entry visa to the UAE, valid for an initial 30 days with the option of a one-time 30-day extension for an additional fee.

Russia now joins several other countries granted the benefit of a 30-day visa on arrival, including Andorra, Australia, Brunei, Canada, China, Hong Kong, Ireland, Japan, Malaysia, Monaco, New Zealand, Russia, San Marino, Singapore, South Korea, United Kingdom, United States of America, and Vatican City.

The 30-day entry visa does not automatically grant employment authorization in the UAE. Foreign nationals wishing to work in the UAE are still required to obtain an employment entry permit in order to obtain a residence visa and an Emirates ID card.

EU Parliament Approves Schengen Visa for Georgian Citizens

Earlier this week, the European Parliament voted to extend visa liberalization to Georgia, allowing Georgian citizens to travel within the Schengen Zone for short stays without obtaining a visa. The European Council and Parliament still need to vote on certain suspension of visa-free regime mechanisms before Georgians can effectively benefit from the visa free travel. Diplomats anticipate the legislation to be in full force by March or early April of this year.

EIG will continue to monitor the progression of this legislation and provide any updates.

Greece Temporarily Suspends Residence Permit Applications

As a result of technical reforms, Greece’s Ministry of Interior announced a temporary block on residence permit applications from February 15-24, 2017. Among the reforms, the Ministry will likely introduce new fingerprinting requirements and new residence permit cards.

Employers should anticipate processing delays for residence permit applications currently pending approval, and start dates will need to be adjusted accordingly.

Belgium Announces New Documentation and Integration Requirements

Belgium will implement integration requirements to third-country nationals seeking an initial long stay visa or a resident permit. Effective February 18, 2017, applicants will be required to submit a signed  statement attesting to their understanding and adherence to the fundamental values and norms of Belgian society. Upon renewal of their visa or permit, applicants will be required to present proof of their integration into Belgian society, which includes evidence of one of the following:

  • Completion of an integration course;
  • Registration to or completion of a subsidized or recognized education program;
  • Working or studying in Belgium;
  • Active participation in the community;
  • Knowledge of the official language of the place where applicant is registered; or
  • Lack of a criminal record.

The integration requirements apply to individuals seeking a work visa or residence permit and to their dependents. A finding that an applicant has not met the integration requirement may result in the cancellation of the individual’s residency rights. Students and European Union/European Economic Area citizens will be exempted from the integration requirements. The integration requirements will impact applications pending from January 26, 2017 and all new applications.