EIG Week in Review (Feb 14, 2014)


  • French Resident Permit for Spouses of Employees Cut Short in Practice 
  • Swiss Citizens Vote in Favor of Constitutional Amendment to Curb Immigration
  • United Kingdom Proposes Increases to Application Fees and Tier 2 Visa Validity Period
  • Two-Year Work Permits Now Available in Israel

French Resident Permit for Employee Spouses Cut Short in Practice

By law, spouses of an employee on assignment and spouses of a European Blue Card holder are entitled to 3-year resident permits in France.  In practice, however, employees receive the 3-year resident permit, whereas their spouses receive a 1-year resident permit.  On a regular basis, the French government sends an internal notice to all prefectures in France, demanding that the 3-years resident permits also get issued to spouses.  However, the French Government has failed to create codes for issuing the 3-year resident permit for spouses.

In lieu of issuing the 3-year resident permit for spouses, some prefectures have started using a different immigration tax for the resident permit renewal of the spouses in an effort to show acknowledgment of the discrepancy in permit durations.  Recently, in Paris, spouses who applied for a resident permit renewal after 1-year were only required to pay the 19 EUR tax for the biometric resident permit, as opposed to the fee for the biometric permit and the immigration tax.  Although Paris has made an attempt to rectify the situation, to date, similar approaches have not been seen in other areas.

EIG will continue to monitor developments by the French government and provide updates as necessary.

Swiss Citizens Vote in Favor of Constitutional Amendment to Curb Immigration

A very slim majority of Swiss citizens recently voted in favor of a constitutional amendment against large-scale immigration.  The amendment restricts access of foreign workers to the Swiss labor market by re-establishing quotas for EU and EFTA citizens.  The Federal Council, the Federal Parliament, and all Swiss political parties other than SVP fought against the initiative, but 50.3% of the Swiss citizens ultimately voted in favor of the change.  However, new rules are not immediately in force, as the Swiss legislator has been granted a three year transitional period.

The amendment is driven by the influx of immigration from EU countries since Switzerland became a party to the Agreement on the Free Movement of Persons in June of 2007.  The amendment enables the Swiss Federal Council to re-negotiate international treaties within 3 years and mandates that the Swiss Federal Parliament regulate the details within 3 years by federal law.

The amendment is largely aimed at prohibiting immigration of low-skilled workers and less socially integrated work forces.  Commentators predict that the amendment will restrict the immigration of low-skilled workers and encourage the immigration of high-skilled and more qualified workers.  The new text of the constitution authorizes the Federal Parliament the discretion to implement new rules with respect to the needs and expectations of employees and employers.  However, currently admitted EU/EFTA citizens and EU/EFTA citizens arriving in Switzerland in the near future should not expect significant changes before new rules are implemented.

EIG will provide further updates as they become available.

United Kingdom Proposes Increases to Application Fees and Tier 2 Visa Validity Period

Fees and Expedited Services

The UK Minister of Immigration recently proposed fee increases for long-term visit visas and reduced fees for workers in shortage occupations and the direct air-side transit visa (DATV).  The UK Home Office expects to introduce the new fees on April 6, 2014 and expects to promulgate fees for premium processing services, effective March 31, 2014 (subject to Parliamentary approval).  The Home Office also plans to open more visa processing centers and to offer more services for overseas expedited visa processing and customer service.  These services will enable foreign nationals to pursue more options for priority service.

Changes to Tier 2 Visas

Tier 2 visa applicants will now be able to request 5-year periods of validity, which will be advantageous for businesses requiring foreign workers for lengthier periods. Currently, Tier 2 applicants can only request a maximum validity of 3 years.  Despite the overall increase in fees for the application, sponsorship fees for frequent Tier 2 employers will be reduced.  The filing fee for Tier 2 applications submitted on behalf of foreign nationals employed in shortage occupations will also be reduced.  Employers considering sponsorship for the 5-year visa should carefully evaluate the benefits of longer-term visas against the tax and compliance obligations for employees when making business decisions regarding employee transfers to the UK.

The official statement regarding these changes can be found at https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/immigration-and-nationality-services-change-in-fees-for-2014-to-2015.

Two-Year Work Permits Now Available in Israel

Israel’s Ministry of Interior is now accepting 2-year work permit applications.  The Ministry continues to accept the standard work permits for three month and one-year increments.  The application process for the 2-year permit is expected to be more rigorous.  Israel’s Government will soon be issuing regulations covering the processing times and filing fees for the two-year permit.  In addition, employers will be expected to adequately justify the necessity for work authorization of a longer duration.