At Zelnick & Erickson, we provide global case management solutions for companies conducting business around the world. As such, below is a summary of recent global immigration changes that may impact how you conduct business or how your employees engage in international business travel.
Brazil is revising their visa system for foreign workers, including the addition of visas for graduate student internship participants and the lessening of the bureaucratic burden placed on Brazilian employers wishing to bring foreign nationals to the country.
For short-term foreign workers (on assignments 90 days or less) the new process will allow work visas to be granted much faster by removing the requirement that the Brazilian Ministry of Labor process all visa applications. All that must be submitted with a short-term visa application is the Brazilian company’s letter of invitation to the worker and the company’s proof of enrollment in Brazil’s Corporate Tax Registry.
Companies wishing to bring over foreign workers for longer than ninety days are no longer required to submit all of the worker’s paperwork prior to their entering the country; the new regulations give the company sixty days from the foreign worker’s start date to file all of the paperwork.
Currently, Chilean nationals wishing to visit the United States must first obtain a visa, as Chile is not part of the United States’ Visa Waiver Program (“VWP”). There are thirty-seven countries participating in the United States’ VWP, none of which are South American countries–however, Chile hopes to become the first of its continent to join the program. Chile’s President, Sebastian Piñara, recently stated that Chile has made “important progress toward winning Chileans permission to visit the United States for up to 90 days without a visa.”
To qualify for the VWP a country must demonstrate: its ability to share law enforcement and security-related data with the United States; the ability to issue e-Passports; a visitor (B) visa refusal rate of less than 3%; the ability to report lost, blank, and stolen passports in a timely manner; and the maintenance of high standards of counterterrorism, law enforcement, border control, and document security. As of 2012, Chile has a visa refusal rate of 2.8% and has contracted with a company to create e-Passports, bringing the country closer to fulfillment of all of the United States’ objective VWP requirements. Though meeting all of the requisite requirements does not guarantee a country’s admittance into the VWP, Piñara is hopeful about Chile’s prospects and states its admission would “facilitate tourism and relations” with the United States.
Colombia has issued a new immigration statute, “DECRETO 0825,” which will become effective on June 24, 2013. Some of the major revisions consist of reducing the six visa categories to three: Business, Temporary, and Resident, with each category containing sub-categories for more specific visas. The statute will also require all visa-holding foreign nationals to register before Migracion Columbia, and will require companies wishing to hire or terminate foreign employees to inform the government of the hiring or termination within thirty days of the occurrence.
United Arab Emirates
The European Union is reportedly deciding whether to allow the United Arab Emirates (“UAE”) onto the list of the countries exempt to visa requirements for visits to the members of the Schengen Agreement.
The Schengen Borders Agreement allows fluid internal border crossing by those travelers qualified to enter the Schengen area. This area consists of twenty-six European countries including Austria, Sweden, Spain, and the Czech Republic. Currently, United Arab Emirate citizens are not qualified travelers under the agreement and in order to enter the Schengen area Emirati nationals must gain visa approval prior to traveling.
Though it is unlikely that this decision will be made this year, the UAE’s undersecretary for Foreign affairs, Shaikh Abdullah Bin Mohammed Bin Butti Al Hamed, is optimistic about the outcome and has thanked many of the European Union countries that have come out in support of the motion, a list that includes France, Spain, Switzerland, and Greece.
As of May 15, 2013 Indian nationals wishing to travel to the United Kingdom have the option of the Super Priority Visa service, which allows for same day visa approval for those applying for a six month or two year multiple entry visitor visa. This program is the first of its kind in the UK and it is currently available in Delhi and Mumbai with plans to expand to in Chennai.
Applicants wishing to take advantage of this service must have travelled without difficulty in the past five years to the UK, United States, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, or to one of the countries subject to the Schengen Agreement, or, the applicant must be an employee of a member of the UK’s Business Express Programme and travelling as an “official business visitor.” The service will cost £600 or Rs51000. Despite the cost, the British High Commissioner to India expects this additional fast track service will be useful to businesses stating, “Opportunities arise at short notice. We want Indian entrepreneurs and businessmen to be able to seize these.”