- UPDATE: Libya, Somalia, and Yemen Added to U.S. Terrorist Travel Prevention Act of 2015 List of Countries of Concern
- Australia Announces New Path to Citizenship for New Zealand Nationals
- Colombia Introduces New Permit Categories Affecting Schengen Nationals
- New Online Application for KITAS Temporary Stay Permits
- Sweden Reports Increased Processing Times for Visa Applications
UPDATE: Libya, Somalia, and Yemen Added to U.S. Terrorist Travel Prevention Act of 2015 List of Countries of Concern
As an update to our previous article, regarding significant changes under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act of 2015, three additional countries have been added to the countries of concern list: Libya, Somalia, and Yemen. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced last week that certain individuals who have traveled to, or been present in, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen on or after March 1, 2011 may not be eligible under the VWP. Individuals who are dual nationals of Yemen, Somalia, and Libya are not automatically affected.
Currently, there are recognized exceptions for individuals who have traveled to countries of concern for diplomatic or military purposes. However, the Secretary of DHS can waive the restriction on a case-by-case basis if it is determined that a waiver is in the best interest of the U.S. in regards to law enforcement or national security interests.
It is recommended that nationals of VWP countries, who have traveled to or been present in Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Syria, Libra, Somalia, or Yemen on or after March 1, 2011 check their eligibility for the VWP before attempting to travel to the U.S. Additionally, individuals who are current Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) holders should check their eligibility on the CBP website before attempting to travel to the U.S.
DHS, the Department of the State, and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence will continue to determine whether additional countries will be added to the list.
Australia Announces New Path to Citizenship for New Zealand Nationals
On February 19, 2017, the Australian Government announced there will be a new path for New Zealand nationals to apply for permanent residency and, eventually, Australian citizenship. Permanent residency will be available to foreign nationals from New Zealand who are 1) Special Category Visa (SCV) holders, 2) have arrived after February 26, 2001, and 3) were present in Australia on February 19, 2016. Although SCV permits allow New Zealand nationals to temporarily visit, work and study in Australia, SCV permits do not currently confer any rights and benefits of permanent residence. However, as of July 1, 2017 SCV holders will become eligible for permanent residency by meeting certain criteria.
In order to be eligible, New Zealand foreign nationals must meet several requirements, including:
- An Australian Taxation Office Notice of Assessment, demonstrating the applicant has earned the minimum of the Migration Income Threshold (TSMIT) throughout their qualifying residence period;
- Physical presence in Australia for five years, immediately prior to filing a visa application; and
- Proof that the applicant has not been absent from Australia for more than one year within the four year period, including no more than 90 days in the year before applying for citizenship.
The new route to permanent residency will allow New Zealand nationals to apply for citizenship after one year of permanent residency.
Colombia Introduces New Permit Categories Affecting Schengen Nationals
Colombia announced a new category of Entry and Stay Permit, known as PIP-10, which allows nationals of Schengen Area countries to visit Colombia for up to 90 days in a 180-day period. The Schengen Area consists of 22 European Union (EU) Member States and four non-EU Member States, including Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland. Nationals of Schengen Area countries are already permitted to enter Colombia without obtaining a visa, but will now be given the PIP-10 upon entry. PIP-10 permit holders may participate in any non-remunerated activities while in Colombia and, most importantly, will not have to pay an extension fee to extend their permitted stay. In return, on December 3, 2015 the EU signed a short-stay visa-waiver agreement with Colombia on behalf of its Schengen Area Member States, thus allowing Colombians to enter any Schengen Area country without a visa.
New Online Application for KITAS Temporary Stay Permits
Starting February 1, 2016, individuals in Indonesia who wish to apply for the Kartu Izin Tinggal Terbatas (KITAS) temporary stay visa must submit an online application. KITAS permits can be granted for a maximum of two years, one year, six months, 90 days, or 30 days. The period of stay is based on the reason for entry; such as type of work, type of business field, and the individual’s age, among other factors. Individuals must also submit an online application for visit visa renewal.
After submission, an email confirmation will be provided within seven days. This confirmation must be included in the physical KITAS application for KITAS applications submitted at the following Immigration Offices: West Jakarta, South Jakarta, Soekarno Hatta, Central Jakarta, East Jakarta, North Jakarta, Tangerine, Bogor, Depot, Karawang, and Bekasi. Since the application is permitted upon arrival, as long as the individual has a valid work permit, submitting the online application will not cause any delay for an applicant beginning work in Indonesia.
Additionally, the Ministry of Manpower of Indonesia has removed work permit validity restrictions for Indian, Chinese, Hong Kong Chinese, Taiwanese, and Macanese individuals. The restrictions limited work permit durations to six months for nationals of these countries. Nationals from these countries, if eligible, are now allowed to obtain 12 month work permits in Indonesia.
Sweden Reports Increased Processing Times for Visa Applications
Due to the refugee crises affecting much of Europe, Sweden reports increased processing times for visa applications. Currently, processing times for work permits and visa applications with the Migration Board are up to eight weeks, as opposed to the typical five-day processing times. Although the Migration Board anticipates reduction of backlog and improved processing times by the summer, employers should be aware of delays when considering relocation timelines. EIG and our local partners will remain in weekly contact with the Migration Board and keep you informed of processing time improvements.