- Travel Advisory: Long Delays Expected at U.S. Consulates for Summer Travelers
- Denmark Announces Changes in Minimum Salary for the Pay Limit Scheme and Repeal of the Greencard Scheme
- June 23: UK’s European Union Referendum Taking Place
- Form I-9 Issues: The Dangers of “At-Home” and Telecommuting Employees
Travel Advisory: Long Delays Expected at U.S. Consulates for Summer Travelers
Canada: The U.S. Consulate in Toronto has suspended third country national (TCN) appointments during the summer months of June, July, and August. The remaining U.S. Consulates in Canada are expected to significantly limit nonimmigrant visa appointments for TCNs. EIG recommends that TCNs seeking to renew their nonimmigrant visas in Canada this summer schedule appointments early at U.S. Consulates in Canada, other than the one in Toronto, while appointment slots are still available.
India: The current visa appointment wait times for U.S. Consulates in India are as follows: Chennai – 75 calendar days; Hyderabad – 93 calendar days; Mumbai – 88 calendar days; and New Delhi – 100 calendar days. EIG highly recommends that travelers applying for visa stamps in India schedule their appointments well in advance.
China: Although U.S. Consulates in China are not currently experiencing long visa appointment wait times, please be advised that visa appointment and processing wait times are subject to change. U.S. Consulates in China are expected to have prolonged wait times due to increased travel expected throughout the summer months.
Travelers may continue to monitor consulate-specific visa appointment and processing wait times here.
Denmark Announces Changes in Minimum Salary for the Pay Limit Scheme and Repeal of the Greencard Scheme
Effective immediately, individuals seeking work and residence permits under Denmark’s Pay Limit scheme must have a minimum salary of DKK 400,000 per year to qualify. The Danish Agency for International Recruitment and Integration has announced that it will continue processing applications for residence and work permits submitted prior to June 10th under the previous regulation, which requires a minimum salary of DKK 375,000 per year. Additionally, individuals may apply for an extension of an existing work and residence permit subject to the previous salary requirement as long as employment conditions remain the same.
Danish Parliament also passed a bill to repeal the Greencard scheme, which allowed qualifying applicants to obtain a residence permit and work authorization as determined by a point-based system. The program will be abolished as of today, June 10th, but current Greencard holders may seek extensions despite the repeal. Additionally, dependents of current Greencard holders may still apply for residence permits under a valid Greencard.
June 23: UK’s European Union Referendum Taking Place
The European Union (EU) consists of 28 European countries involved in an economic and political partnership. The EU was created to foster relationships with the mindset that countries interacting and trading with each other would not go to war. The United Kingdom (UK) is holding a referendum to decide whether Britain should remain a part of the EU. Irish, British, and Commonwealth citizens over the age of 18 with residency in UK, as well as UK nationals who are currently living abroad, are eligible to vote.
Parties in favor of Britain’s departure from the EU, including the UK Independence party and about half of the Conservative Members of Parliament, argue that, as members of the EU, British businesses are subject to far too many regulations and high yearly membership fees. Those in favor of leaving the EU also argue that separation would result in Britain regaining full control of its borders while reducing the number of people entering to work and live. These parties are against one of the EU’s main benefits: being able to freely move between countries without the need for a visa.
Those in favor or Britain remaining a member of the EU argue that free movement between EU countries is key to Britain’s economic success. If the UK is no longer a part of the EU, work authorization of foreign nationals in the UK, as well as UK nationals working in other EU member countries, would be effected. Various research groups have proposed solutions to the trade and work issues, such as implementing a European Free Trade Association (EFTA), modeled after the North American Free Trade Association (NAFTA).
Voting on the referendum will take place on June 23, 2016. UK nationals who are registered to vote will be sent an instructional card regarding when and where to vote. UK nationals overseas can also vote by mail. More information can be found at the UK EU Referendum website.
Form I-9 Issues: The Dangers of “At-Home” and Telecommuting Employees
U.S. employers must complete a Form I-9 for all U.S. workers, whether the worker is a foreign national or a U.S. Citizen. In order for an employer to correctly complete Form I-9, Section 2, a designated person at the U.S. employer’s facility must physically review the employee’s original documents. This means that the designated person must physically touch the documents to verify authenticity. The documents cannot be provided by photocopy, fax, or an online-chat program (over webcam). By signing Section 2, the designated person affirms that they have physically reviewed the employee’s required original documents. If the designated person has not reviewed the physical, original documents, the designated person is committing perjury, which may cause the employer to incur fines and penalties.
In a recent case, United States v. Employer Solutions Staffing Group II, LLC, 11 OCAHO no. 1242 (2015), the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) filed a four-count complaint, alleging that the Defendant failed to properly complete Form I-9 for over 200 employees. The Minnesota based Defendant company employs roughly 6,000-8,000 temporary workers, many of whom work remotely. To handle the high volume of new hires across the U.S., the company typically collected photo copies of original documents at designated client sites, and forwarded the copies to human resources in MN to complete the I-9. This was found to be a violation of the Form I-9 requirements; case law consistently directs that the person designated to complete Form I-9 by an employer must personally review original documents before signing Section 2. The Administrative Court concluded that Section 2 of Form I-9 for each employee was improperly completed and the Company was subjected to civil penalties totaling $227,251.75.
For employees that regularly work from home or telecommuting employees, employment compliance risks may arise when employers never meet these employees face-to-face. It is recommended that employers reexamine their on-boarding procedures and policies, especially for “at-home” and telecommuting employees, to ensure original documents are being reviewed in person by a designated employer representative.