Friday, April 18, 2014

Italy - Eased Requirements for EU Blue Card Applicants, Scientific Researchers

EU Blue Card applicants and scientific researchers now face reduced requirements in Italy. EU Blue Card applicants require one less step in the diploma validation process: only the validation from an Italian consulate (called “declaration of value”) will be needed. The Ministry of Education validation is no longer required; processing of this validation ranges from one to three months.


Scientific researchers applying for work authorization have more flexibility in choosing who can sponsor their research and no longer need to prove Italian language skills for long-term residence permits or a certain level of accommodations for accompanying family members.
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Colombia - Visa Applicants from Venezuela Temporarily Exempt from Passport Requirements

The Colombian government has temporarily relaxed passport requirements for Venezuelan nationals applying for a Colombian visa. In July 2013, Colombia began to require that all visa applicants hold a passport with two blank visa pages and a minimum remaining validity of six months. Upon filing for a Colombian visa, Venezuelan applicants can be exempted from the passport requirements by presenting proof of a passport renewal in process. Venezuelan passport processing continues to be unpredictable amidst mounting political demonstrations and unrest.
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China - Visa-Free Transit Through Xi’an Soon Available to Select Nationalities

Nationals of 51 countries transiting through Xi'an Xianyang International Airport will be allowed to formally enter China without a visa and visit for up to 72 hours. Eligible travelers must hold a valid passport, visas for their onward destination countries (unless visa-exempt for those countries) and confirmed onward air tickets. Xi'an’s border security department has not announced an exact implementation date yet. Similar programs are in place in Beijing, Chengdu, Chongqing, Dalian, Guangzhou, Shanghai, and Shenyang.
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USA - USCIS Updates H-2B Cap Count

USCIS continues to accept H-2B petitions for employment start dates in the second half of FY 2014. The agency reports that as of April 11, 2014, it had received filings on behalf of 20,589 H-2B beneficiaries for the second half of FY 2014. Of these, 17,382 had been approved and 3,207 remained pending. The cap for each half-year is 33,000, but USCIS accepts filings in excess of the cap because some cases will be denied or withdrawn and because employers may ultimately employ fewer H-2B beneficiaries than reflected in their petitions.
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US B-2 Visa - (Tourist Visitors for pleasure) Services

Centivu Immigration+'s experienced immigration attorneys will prepare and file all the required documents for tourist visitors applying for the B-2 visa.


B-2 Visa is Suitable For

  • Tourists on a pleasure trip to the U.S.
  • People visiting friends and relatives in the U.S.
  • People coming to the U.S. for medical treatment
  • Foreign nationals coming to the U.S. to marry a U.S. citizen or Green Card holder, upon establishing to the consular official and the USCIS that after the marriage, they will depart from the U.S., even though intending ultimately to immigrate
  • Athletes, Musicians etc. who participate in their respective activities in the U.S. without remuneration
  • People coming to participate in the conventions of social organizations
  • Dependents of alien members of the U.S. armed forces temporarily assigned duty in the U.S.
  • Dependents of crewmembers (D visa holders) or B-1 visa holders solely to accompany the principal foreign national
  • Dependents of nonimmigrant for whom no derivative classification is available. For example, the elderly parent of an E visa holder
  • Persons to enter the U.S. to apply for special naturalization benefits on the basis of U.S. military service
  • Persons seeking a change to another visa status if they so advise the U.S. Consulate, and if the consulate is fully appraised of the circumstances
  • U.S. citizens, green card holders and nonimmigrant visa holders to invite their friends and relatives to the U.S.

Why Use Centivu Immigration+ Service?

  • Process your visa: Fast, Easy & Secure
  • Experienced immigration attorneys prepare and file your case
  • Avoid costly mistakes and subsequent delays with the USCIS
  • Access to legal advice from the comfort of your home or office
  • Send unlimited case questions to your Centivu Immigration+ and receive timely responses online
  • Low, flat fee - No hidden costs

B-2 Visa Immigration Service Includes

  • Full Review of your personal circumstances
  • Confirmation that the B-2 visa is appropriate for you
  • Checklist of documents that you need for your B-2 visa
  • Accurate preparation of your visa application
  • Submission of your visa application to the proper government agencies
  • Careful co-ordination of all correspondence with government agencies
  • Expert advise on how to handle yourself at your Consular or USCIS interview, and what to expect
  • Online access to your case status
  • Unlimited personal communication with your own Centivu Immigration+ immigration attorney
  • Fast, easy and secure processing through your personal online Centivu Immigration+ account

Services Do Not Include

  • Administrative or court review
  • Appeals from adverse initial decision
  • Deportation proceedings
  • Any certification to the successful outcome of the case

B-2 Visa Notes

  • If you wish to stay longer than the date indicated in the Form I-94, you must apply to extend your B-2 status. Note: You must submit the application for an extension of stay BEFORE your current authorized stay expires. Apply for B-2 Visa Extension
  • To change the purpose of your visit while you are in the U.S. on a B-2 tourist visa, you must change your visa status. Apply for Change of Status

Centivu Immigration+'s Guarantee

We thoroughly review your circumstances, select appropriate visa and submit an accurate application to the necessary Government Agencies.

What's Next ?

We are glad to provide any clarifications you may require and anticipate the opportunity to work for you on this assignment. Please Click Here to contact us.
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US B-1 Visa - Business Visa Services

Centivu Immigration+ experienced immigration attorneys will prepare and file all the required documents for business visitors applying for the B-1 visa.


B-1 Visa is Suitable For:

  • Participants to attend scientific, educational, professional, business, or religious conventions 
  • Business professionals to participate in commercial transactions (which do not involve gainful employment) such as negotiating contracts and consulting with business associates
  • Persons to undertake independent studies such as feasibility studies, market research or any such activity
  • Persons to attend professional or business conferences, workshops, or seminars
  • Business professionals to explore possibilities to set up a subsidiary of a foreign corporation, or to make investments
  • Personal or domestic servants to come to the U.S. with a U.S. citizen or nonimmigrant employer on B, E, F, H, I, J, L, M, O, P, R, or TN status 
  • Technical personnel to install or service equipment pursuant to a contract of sale, or to provide after sales service
  • Business professionals to attend meetings as a member of the Board of Directors of a U.S. corporation
  • Persons to observe business, professional, or vocational activity as long as it does not involve any hands-on activity
  • Professional athletes to compete for tournament money and not for a salary 
  • Professionals to conduct business consultations with business associates in the U.S. 
  • Purchasing agents of a foreign employer to come to the U.S. to procure goods, components, or raw materials for use outside the U.S.
  • Foreign business persons coming to the U.S. in conjunction with Litigation
  • Persons rendering professional services in the U.S. that would otherwise qualify them for an H-1B visa, but who are paid for those services by a source outside the U.S.
  • Persons employed outside the U.S. who are paid from abroad, and who come to the U.S. to undertake an established training program that would qualify them for an 
  • H-3 visa
  • Employees of foreign airlines who are engaged in productive employment in the U.S. and paid in the U.S. who are not eligible for E-1 treaty trader status 
  • Other persons such as for bona fide religious missionaries and crew members on yachts
  • Special situations involving Canadians and Mexicans such as Canadian truck drivers who are paid by either Canadian or U.S. firms and who transport commodities across the Canadian Border
  • Foreign companies to send their personnel to the U.S. to install or service equipment pursuant to a contract of sale or to provide after sales service
  • U.S. companies to bring foreign business consultants for training or expert advice
  • U.S. universities to bring foreign guest speakers or lecturers

Why Use Centivu Immigration+ Service?

  • Process your visa online: Fast, Easy & Secure
  • Experienced immigration attorneys prepare and file your case
  • Avoid costly mistakes and subsequent delays with the USCIS
  • Access to legal advice from the comfort of your home or office
  • Send unlimited case questions to your Centivu Immigration+ attorney and receive timely responses online
  • Low, flat fee - No hidden costs

B-1 Visa Immigration Service Includes:

  • Full Review of your personal circumstances
  • Confirmation that the B-1 visa is appropriate for you
  • Checklist of documents that you need for your B-1 visa
  • Accurate preparation of your visa application
  • Submission of your visa application to the proper government agencies
  • Careful co-ordination of all correspondence with government agencies
  • Expert advise on how to handle yourself at your Consular or USCIS interview, and what to expect
  • Online access to your case status
  • Unlimited personal communication with your own Centivu Immigration+ immigration attorney

Services Do Not Include:

  • Administrative or court review
  • Appeals from adverse initial decision
  • Deportation proceedings
  • Any certification to the successful outcome of the case

B-1 Visa Notes

  • If you wish to stay longer than the date indicated in the Form I-94, you must apply to extend your B-1 status.
  • Note: You must submit the application for an extension of stay BEFORE your current authorized stay expires. Apply for B-1 Visa Extension
  • To change the purpose of your visit while you are in the U.S. on a B-1 business visa, you must change your visa status. Apply for Change of Status
  • Attendants and personal servants on B-1 visa can accept employment in the U.S. only by obtaining an Employment Authorization Document.
  • Obtain Employment Authorization

Centivu Immgiration+'s Guarantee

We thoroughly review your circumstances, select appropriate visa and submit an accurate application to the necessary Government Agencies.

What's Next ?

We are glad to provide any clarifications you may require and anticipate the opportunity to work for you on this assignment. Please Click Here to contact us.
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United Kingdom - Minimum Salary Levels Increased for Tier 2 Workers

April 17, 2014

Minimum salary requirements for Tier 2 foreign nationals working in the UK increased by approximately one to three percent on April 6, 2014.

The United Kingdom has increased the minimum salary requirements for foreign workers under Tier 2 - the UK’s primary temporary employment category – effective April 6, 2014. The changes broadly parallel salary inflation.

Employers are required to ensure that Tier 2 foreign nationals earn not less than the higher of the following two options:
  1. The salary threshold for their Tier 2 subcategory, which increased by approximately one percent; or
  2. The published minimum salary for their occupation, which increased by approximately three percent for most occupations.

The new salary levels apply to all Restricted Certificates of Sponsorship issued after April 6, 2014. Restricted Certificates of Sponsorship are assigned to foreign nationals through the Sponsor Management System online tool.

What This Means for Employers


Employers should ensure that all relevant teams and managers are aware of the increase and plan for any effect on budget.
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Ukraine - Stricter Requirements for Russian National Workers

April 17, 2014

Russian national workers must now obtain a residence permit for stays beyond 90 days.

Ukraine has implemented more stringent requirements for Russian national workers, who must now obtain a temporary residence permit for stays exceeding 90 days. Previously, Russian nationals needed only a work permit for employment in Ukraine and did not require a separate residence permit.

Ukraine is considering implementing entry visa requirements for Russian nationals, but no official announcements have been made. Russian national business visitors and tourists can travel to Ukraine without an entry visa and remain in the country for a period of 90 days during any 180-day period (counted from the first entry date).

What This Means for Employers and Foreign Nationals


Employers should identify their Russian national employees in Ukraine and apply for residence permits as well as work authorization.
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Canada - Four-Year Limits on Stay for Temporary Foreign Workers Become Effective in April 2015

April 16, 2014

From April 1, 2015, temporary foreign workers who have worked in Canada for four years and who do not fall within certain exempt categories will be required to depart Canada and may not be able to re-apply for a work permit for up to four years. Employers should begin working with their immigration counsel now to develop strategies to meet future staffing needs.

From April 1, 2015, some foreign nationals working temporarily in Canada will be required to cease working and depart the country and may not be able to work in Canada again for up to four years. These limits on work stays apply to non-exempt foreign nationals who were approved for temporary work permits on or after April 1, 2011 and who have worked in Canada for a cumulative period of four years since the work permit was issued. Not included in the cumulative four-year limitation are any periods of more than one month spent overseas or on an authorized work break such as parental leave and extended unpaid leave.

The following four categories of foreign workers are exempt from the four-year limit on work stays:
  • Temporary foreign workers who are exempt from Labor Market Opinion (LMO) requirements based on (1) international agreements, (2) Canadian interests, (3) self-support, or (4) humanitarian reasons;
  • Temporary foreign workers in managerial occupations (classified under job code, NOC-0) and professional occupations (NOC-A);
  • Temporary foreign workers who have applied for permanent residency and have received an approval in-principal letter or positive selection decision (depending on the permanent residence program); and
  • Provincial Nominees applying for an employer-specific work permit.
What This Means for Employers and Foreign Nationals

Employers with non-exempt workers should work with their immigration service provider now to identify affected individuals and review available immigration options.

When planning for LMO cases that propose work beyond April 1, 2015, employers will need to confirm how much of the four-year limit the foreign worker has used, including any time spent working for another employer.


Temporary foreign workers should maintain detailed records documenting time they spend outside of Canada and any authorized interruptions from work. They may be required to present this evidence when seeking to recapture time.
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Nigeria - April 30 Deadline for Residence Card Applications

April 16, 2014

Long-term foreign workers who have not already done so must apply for the Nigerian residence card by April 30 or face possible deportation. Nationals of ECOWAS member countries and short-term workers of three months or less do not need to apply for the residence card.

The Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) has issued a directive to remind long-term foreign workers that they are required to apply for a Combined Expatriate Residence Permit and Aliens Card (CERPAC). To ensure compliance, affected workers will face possible deportation if they do not obtain a CERPAC by April 30, 2014. The CERPAC requirement does not apply to nationals of the 15 Economic Community of West Africa States countries or to short-term workers who hold a Temporary Work Permit and Visa valid for up to three months.

The Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) issued the mandate while introducing new CERPACs with enhanced security features and an increased validity of a maximum of two years — up from one year, although the validity of an individual’s CERPAC depends on the sponsor’s expatriate quota granted by the Ministry of Interior and the foreign worker’s Nigerian position.

The CERPAC application process begins after a foreign national arrives in Nigeria under the Subject to Regularization (STR) visa. Foreign nationals who hold CERPAC cards valid beyond April 30, 2014 and those with CERPAC applications in process do not need to complete any additional procedures. Holders of CERPACs valid beyond April 30, 2014, will receive the new version of the card when they apply to renew their current CERPACs.

What This Means for Employers and Foreign Nationals


Employers should ensure that all affected foreign nationals working in Nigeria have applied for the corresponding CERPAC by April 30, 2014, as the NIS has announced that foreign nationals who do not comply with the directive could be deported.
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Australia - New Surcharge for All Immigration Fees Paid by Credit Card

Effective April 19, 2014, credit card payments for any Visa Application Charge or other immigration-related fee will incur a surcharge. The surcharge will range between 1.08% and 2.91% depending on the credit card used to pay the fees.

The Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) will impose a surcharge to credit card payments for immigration-related fees and charges, including Visa Application Charges, beginning April 19, 2014. Originally, the DIBP indicated that the surcharge would take effect on March 22, 2014, but the implementation has been delayed by one month. 

The credit card surcharge will apply to all payments made by Visa, MasterCard, American Express, JCB and Diners credit cards for both onshore and offshore visa applicants and for payments both made online and at a DIBP office. The rate of surcharge will depend on the credit card used to pay the fees as follows: 


·         Visa and MasterCard – 1.08% 
·         American Express and JCB – 1.99% 
·         Diners Club International – 2.91%


The DIBP indicated that it is considering making other payment methods, such as electronic funds transfer or PayPal transactions, available in the future but did not provide further information. 

What This Means for Employers

Employers should incorporate the new surcharge into their budgets for immigration filings and be aware that the imposition of the surcharge will become increasingly common as the DIBP continues to move towards a system of compulsory online application filings for which credit cards are the only acceptable payment method.
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Ecuador - New Residence Permit Introduced for Select MERCOSUR Nationalities

April 15, 2014

A new two-year residence permit with shorter processing times and fewer document requirements will be available to eight MERCOSUR nationalities later this year. The permit will grant work authorization without requiring company sponsorship.

Nationals of Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay will soon be eligible for a new two-year work-authorized residence permit in Ecuador, though an implementation date is not yet known. The permit will be created under the MERCOSUR agreement and will not require employer sponsorship.

A streamlined application process will require fewer supporting documents than are required for standard work authorization (the 12-VI visa). Processing times for the new permit are expected to be five business days. Applications will be made with an Ecuadorian consulate or with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs after arrival in Ecuador. Holders of the new permit will be eligible to apply for permanent residence after residing in Ecuador for two years, provided that they have maintained continuous residence in the country.

An implementation date for the MERCOSUR residence permit is expected to be announced at the end of April.

MERCOSUR is a regional economic and political bloc that includes Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay and Venezuela as full members, and Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Peru and Suriname as associate members. Permit concessions to member states vary among countries.

What This Means for Employers and Foreign Nationals


Employers who do not have an Ecuadorian entity to sponsor foreign nationals under other work permit categories will benefit from the nationality-based residence permit, as it does not require company sponsorship. Foreign nationals from the eight eligible MERCOSUR countries will have the option of relocating to Ecuador to seek employment without needing a local sponsor.
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Canada - New Processing Model for Permanent Residence Program

April 12, 2014

Canada will change how it selects and processes permanent residence applications in 2015, under the recently announced Express Entry program. Under Express Entry, foreign nationals seeking to immigrate to Canada will be matched with employers seeking to fill positions based on regional needs.

Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) has announced a new processing model for permanent residence applications that it intends to implement in January 2015. Modeled after similar programs in Australia and New Zealand, the Express Entry program will feature a two-part electronic matching program that pairs skilled foreign workers seeking to immigrate to Canada with employers seeking to fill positions based on regional labor needs.

Under the Express Entry program, formerly named “Expression of Interest,” foreign nationals seeking to immigrate to Canada will file an online application detailing their language proficiency, work experience and educational credentials. Applicants will be assigned a score based on an assessment of their personal circumstances against a pre-defined points test.

Applicants will then be placed in a pool from which employers will be able to select candidates who best match their national and regional skills needs. Selected candidates will be invited to submit an immigration application under an existing permanent residence program, such as the Canadian Experience Class, Federal Skilled Worker, Federal Skilled Trades or Provincial Nominee program. Candidates who are not selected will not be able to apply for permanent residence, thus reducing the number of applications CIC has to fully adjudicate.

Express Entry seeks to eliminate application backlogs, improve processing times, and better address each region’s labor needs. CIC aims to process applications in six months or less. Current permanent residence processing times range from ten to 30 months, depending on the category and filing location.

What This Means for Employers and Foreign Nationals

Express Entry will allow employers to access a pre-assessed candidate pool, potentially providing an additional recruitment tool and a cost-effective way to enter the international labor market. The pre-assessment process will also mean that permanent residence may be an alternative route for employers seeking ways to transfer senior or crucial staff. It could also provide an alternative to successive work permit extensions.


Foreign nationals considering the Canadian Experience Class, Federal Skilled Worker, Federal Skilled Trades and Provincial Nominee programs are advised to submit applications as soon as possible before eligibility criteria change.
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Friday, April 11, 2014

United States - USCIS Receives 172,500 FY 2015 H-1B Cap Cases, Runs Selection Lotteries

April 10, 2014

This year, cases had a roughly 42 percent chance of being selected for processing in the standard cap lottery – a drop of some 20 percent over last year.

USCIS today announced that it received approximately 172,500 FY 2015 H-1B cap petitions between April 1 and April 7, 2014 – some 48,000 more petitions than were received during the FY 2014 filing period.

The agency ran two lotteries to choose the cases that will be processed to completion. The first lottery selected enough cases to fill the cap exemption for 20,000 holders of U.S. advanced degrees. Once the advanced-degree lottery was completed, USCIS placed the remaining cases – approximately 152,500 – into a second lottery to select enough cases to fill the standard H-1B quota of 65,000. The number of advanced-degree cases filed with USCIS is not known.

This year, cases had a roughly 42 percent chance of being chosen in the standard cap lottery – a significant drop from last year, when some 62.5 percent were chosen.

What This Means for Employers

Employers will not know which of their cases were selected in the lottery until USCIS completes initial case data entry and issues filing receipts, which could take several days or weeks. Cases that were not chosen in the lotteries will be rejected and returned with their filing fees.


As we have reported previously, the agency is expected to begin adjudication of premium processing cases no later than April 28. Today’s announcement made no change to that estimate.
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United States - May 2014 Visa Bulletin: No Movement in EB-3 Worldwide and China Cut-Off; Modest Advancements for EB-3 India and EB-2 China

April 9, 2014

The cutoff date for EB-3 China and most other countries will remain at October 1, 2012. EB-3 India will advance by two weeks, to October 1, 2003, and EB-3 Philippines will advance by eighteen weeks, to November 1, 2007. EB-2 China will advance by five weeks to April 15, 2009.


According to the State Department’s May Visa Bulletin, the priority date cut-off for the EB-3 subcategory for professionals and skilled workers will remain at October 1, 2012 for China and most other countries. EB-3 India will advance by two weeks, to October 1, 2003. 

The priority date cut-off for EB-2 China will advance by five weeks to April 15, 2009 next month, but EB-2 India will remain unchanged at November 15, 2004. 

May 2014 Priority Date Cut-Offs 

In May 2014, EB immigrant visa priority date cut-offs will be: 

EB-1 
Current for all countries. 

EB-2 
China: April 15, 2009 
India: November 15, 2004 
All other countries: Current 

EB-3 Professionals and Skilled Workers 
China: October 1, 2012 
India: October 1, 2003 
Philippines: November 1, 2007 
All other countries: October 1, 2012 

EB-3 Other Workers 
China: October 1, 2012 
India: October 1, 2003 
Philippines: November 1, 2007 
All other countries: October 1, 2012 

EB-5 
Current for all countries and subcategories. 

Family-Based Immigrant Visa Availability in the Coming Months 

The State Department projects that cut-off dates in the family-based F-2A category for the spouses and minor children of lawful permanent residents may retrogress for Mexico and most other countries within the next several months due to a recent surge in demand. For May, the F-2A cut-off date for Mexico is April 15, 2012 and for most other countries is September 8, 2013.
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Turkey - New Law to Place Restrictions on Business Visitors, Cause Gradual Changes to Residence Permit Rules

April 8, 2014

The new immigration law — to be implemented in stages beginning on April 12 — will create significant changes to residence permit requirements and filing procedures and will place new restrictions on business and tourist visa applicants.


new immigration law will gradually introduce changes in procedures and requirements beginning on April 12, 2014, although the government has yet to release guidance about how the changes will be applied in practice or how individual implementation dates will be scheduled. 

It is expected, however, that the first four changes listed below will be rolled out first, on April 12, 2014. 

Residence Permits Required Only for Stays Beyond 90 Days
Residence permits will only be required for foreign nationals who intend to remain in Turkey for more than 90 days. Currently, a residence permit is required for a stay of more than 30 days. 

Restrictions on Business Visitor Stays
Business visitors will be limited to a maximum cumulative stay of 90 days during any 180-day period (counted from the first entry date). This restriction currently applies only to tourists. 

Increased Passport Validity
Foreign nationals will need to hold a passport valid for a minimum of 60 days beyond their intended stay. Currently, the passport must be valid solely for the period of intended stay. 

Proof of Funds and Health Insurance for Most Visa Applicants
Applicants for any visa that is not a work visa may be required to demonstrate (either at the consulate or port of entry) that they have sufficient funds for their intended visit. It is not yet known whether the government will set a particular amount, or if consular and border officials will have the discretion to determine if the foreign national’s funds are sufficient. Evidence of valid health insurance will be required. 

New Categories of Residence Permits and Changes in Filing Procedures
Several new residence permit categories will be introduced for foreign nationals who intend to open a business or buy real estate in Turkey, some long-term tourists and dependent adult family members. 

Most initial residence permits will need to be filed at a Turkish consulate outside Turkey and not at a local police office after arrival in Turkey, which is the current procedure. 

In addition, foreign nationals who wish to work in Turkey will no longer have to apply for a separate residence permit because work permits will authorize both employment and residence. As the implementation date of this policy is not yet known, foreign nationals should continue to apply for residence permits until advised otherwise. 

Additional Requirements for Dependent Residence Permits
New criteria for Dependent Residence Permits (which dependents of residence permit applicants may obtain) will require the principal residence permit applicant/holder to demonstrate that he or she has not been convicted of a domestic violence offense within the previous five years. The principal applicant/holder will also need to demonstrate that he or she can provide adequate accommodation for all dependent family members. 

No guidance has yet been provided about the exact documentation that will be required to satisfy these new criteria; but foreign nationals should be prepared to provide police clearances spanning five years of residence immediately preceding the application. 

What This Means for Employers and Foreign Nationals

Although the first four changes expected to take effect on April 12 have clear guidance, guidelines for the other reforms have yet to be issued. Until the government finalizes its interpretation of the remaining provisions, their effect on employers will not be fully known. Employers and foreign nationals should be prepared for additional documentary requirements, changes in procedures without notice and delays associated with the implementation of the new law.
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Australia - Changes Proposed to Work Authorization Requirements for Offshore Resource Workers

April 7, 2014

The Australian Parliament is now considering a bill to repeal legislation that would require all foreign offshore workers to hold a visa granting employment authorization if they will work in any capacity on an offshore resource project, effective June 30, 2014.

A bill currently before Parliament would, if approved, repeal the Migration Amendment (Offshore Resources Activity) Act 2013 (the ORA Act), which is set to take effect on June 30, 2014. If the repeal bill becomes law, immigration rules will remain unchanged, and employment authorization will not be required for foreign nationals working on vessels within Australian territorial waters that are not connected to the seabed or working on vessels involved in pipe-laying activities within territorial waters.

The ORA Act was passed by the previous government, and it alters the boundaries of Australia’s Migration Zone – the area in which Australia’s standard immigration rules apply – to encompass all offshore work. As a result, the ORA Act effectively requires all foreign offshore workers to hold a visa granting employment authorization if they will work in any capacity on an offshore resource project, including workers on a seismic or pipe-lying vessel, geophysicists conducting a seismic survey and support staff on the vessel, such as on-board cooks, cleaners and others involved in offshore resource projects.

What This Means for Employers

If the repeal bill is successful there will be no change to the existing system. Employers should continue to ensure that, where required, foreign nationals working within Australia’s territorial waters hold valid work authorization.


If the repeal bill is not successful, employers will need to ensure that all foreign nationals engaged in offshore resource projects conducted within Australian territorial waters hold a valid visa with work authorization.
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Russia - Employers Can Apply for 2015 Work Permit Quotas from April 7, 2014

April 7, 2014

Employers will be able to apply for 2015 work permit quotas beginning April 7, 2014. Quota applications must be lodged by July 1, 2014 and employers are advised to act quickly to ensure applications are filed as soon as possible. Employers that rely on the Highly Qualified Specialist program, which does not require approved quota numbers, are advised to obtain quota numbers for 2015 as a backup.

Russia’s Department of Labor and the Federal Migration Service (FMS) will accept applications for 2015 work permit quotas from April 7, 2014 until July 1, 2014. The start of the quota application period was delayed due to technical difficulties with the FMS’s new online application system. As a result, the deadline for 2015 quota applications has been extended to July 1, 2014.

Each year, the Russian government sets a national quota for the maximum number of available work permits. Employers cannot file work permit applications on behalf of foreign workers unless they obtain an allocation of quota numbers, for which they generally apply in the year preceding their need.

In some cases, employers that failed to obtain quota numbers in advance are permitted to re-file quota applications during their year of need. For the 2014 quota, the FMS has extended the re-filing deadline to September 1, 2014, as a result of technical issues.

What This Means for Employers

Employers are advised to apply for 2015 work permit quota numbers as soon as possible to ensure that the application is received by the FMS before the deadline.

Though quota numbers are not required for the Highly Qualified Specialist (HQS) program, employers that rely on the program are still advised to apply for 2015 quota numbers, to use as a backup if there are unforeseen issues with HQS applications next year.
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United States - FY 2015 H-1B Cap Has Been Reached

April 7, 2014

The annual limit of 85,000 new H-1B petitions was reached within a week, though USCIS will continue to accept cases through today. USCIS will then conduct a random lottery to choose enough H-1B petitions to result in 85,000 approvals.

USCIS has announced that the annual limit for Fiscal Year 2015 H-1B employment has been met. The agency has received more than enough petitions to use up the standard H-1B cap of 65,000 and the cap exemption of 20,000 for foreign nationals holding U.S. advanced degrees. USCIS will continue to accept cap filings today, but will reject any filings received April 8 or later. After today, USCIS will not accept cap-subject H-1B petitions until April 1, 2015.

To choose the FY 2015 cases that will be processed to completion, USCIS will run two lotteries. The first will select enough cases to meet the exemption of 20,000 for holders of U.S. advanced degrees. The second lottery chooses from all remaining cases, including those not selected in the advanced-degree lottery, to draw enough filings to fill the standard quota of 65,000.

Because of the large number of cap filings, USCIS has not specified when it will complete initial case intake and run the lotteries. As such, it could take several days or weeks for the agency to issue filing receipts and announce the total number of cap filings. USCIS is set to begin premium processing for FY 2015 cap cases no later than April 28.

Last year, some 124,000 H-1B cap petitions were filed and roughly 62.5 percent of the standard cap cases received were chosen in the lottery. This year, the volume of H-1B cap petitions is expected to be much higher and the likelihood of selection in the lotteries consequently lower.

What This Means for Employers


Employers should be prepared to wait several weeks to learn whether their cases were accepted in the H-1B cap lotteries. If any of your organization’s cap filings are not chosen, you’re the-immigration.com’s professional can assist in identifying alternatives for affected employees.
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