Pearl Global Immigration NewsFlash
The Australian government has announced new visa application fees, to be effective January 1, 2012. The fees for a number of visa categories will be increased by five to fifteen percent, in an effort by the government to lessen the burden of the visa system on the local taxpayers. The most common Subclass 457 Business Long Stay visa fee has been increased from $305 to $350. There are additional plans in 2013 to charge a fee for each dependent family member's visa application, which are currently included with the principal's application. Please check with the DIAC for the most current visa fees based on the visa categories: www.immi.gov.au.
The Chinese government plans to crack down on expats working illegally in their country. The outdated laws on exit and entry administration are being updated to address the increasing problem of illegal employment of foreigners in China. In addition to fines and detainment of foreigners, employers will also face significant fines. See the full article at www.shanghaidaily.com.
RESTRICTIONS EXTENDED FOR BULGARIAN & ROMANIAN NATIONALS
While Bulgaria and Romania joined the European Union (EU) in 2007, the other full member EU countries were permitted to limit these two countries' access to the local labour market during the seven year transition period. Four years after their accession (2011), the full member countries were required to review the restrictions and only be allowed to extend the limits if there were adverse impacts to the labour market.
The German government has made a decision to require Bulgarian and Romanian nationals to continue to require work permits to take up employment in Germany through 2013. However, beginning January 1, 2012, Bulgarians and Romanians who hold a university-level degree that is relevant to their proposed position in Germany will be exempt from the work permit requirement.
The Dutch cabinet agreed on November 18, 2011, not to open the Dutch labour market to Bulgarian and Romanian labour migrants until January 1, 2014. This implies that their employers will still need a work permit until that date. The cabinet is against the free movement of persons for this group because of rising unemployment in the Netherlands and a recession. After January 1, 2014, the agreement on the free movement of persons within the European Union will also apply to Bulgarian and Romanian nationals.
The UK Border Agency announced on November 23, 2011, that they will be extending the restrictions placed on Bulgarian and Romanians nationals seeking employment in the UK until the end of 2013. Romanian and Bulgarian nationals will need to continue to obtain work authorization before working in the UK.
LAUNCH OF A NEW EU IMMIGRATION PORTAL
The European Union (EU) Immigration Portal contains practical information for foreigners intending to move to the EU. The website includes specific immigration information for every EU Member State and for every category of foreigner (from highly skilled migrant to family reunification). The website is an initiative by the European Commission and was launched on November 18, 2011. See http://www.ec.europa.eu/immigration.
*Special thanks to our ABIL colleagues for contributions to this update.
CHANGES FOR HIGHLY SKILLED MIGRANTS
Salary thresholds for 2012. The salary thresholds for highly skilled migrants (knowledge migrants) as of January 1, 2012, have been published. Foreigners aged 30 or older must earn a gross annual salary of €51,239 to be eligible for a residence permit to work as a highly skilled migrant. For foreigners under the age of 30, the highly skilled migrant salary threshold is €37,575. For graduates in the Netherlands, the threshold is €26,931.
Pilot short stay. Short stays for highly skilled migrants will become possible after January 1, 2012. A pilot program will run for two years. "Short stay" is defined as a stay for less than three months. Only employers already accepted in the Highly Skilled Migrant Scheme may participate in this pilot. The highly skilled migrant salary threshold for foreigners 30 years and older (in 2011 €50,619) will also be the threshold for a short stay as a highly skilled migrant, prorated for the period that is worked.
The employer must apply for a work permit. The Labour Directorate strives to issue this within two weeks. The Labour Directorate will also assess the job function of the highly skilled migrant.
Salary. The Dutch Parliament has raised questions about the requirement that as of June 19, 2011, the salary of a highly skilled migrant must be at market level. Does it make the Netherlands less attractive to such migrants? The Minister of Social Affairs thinks not. The assessment of whether the salary of the highly skilled migrant is at market level will only be performed in cases where the Immigration Service suspects fraud. So far, the Immigration Service has not rejected any application based on this new ground. The Minister reiterated that highly skilled migrants must only fulfill one criterion: the salary threshold.
*Special thanks to our ABIL colleagues for this update.
The Work Permit Quota for 2012 will remain the same as in 2011. The Swiss Federal Council sets quotas for the number of foreign nationals who are authorized to work in Switzerland every year. The quota does not affect extension applications, only first time applicants and those converting to new categories. Of the 12,000 set quota, B Permits for long-term assignments will be capped at 4,000 and L permits at 8,000. There are separate quotas available for EU and EFTA (European Free Trade Association) members.
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The Pearl Global Immigration NewsFlash provides periodic alerts about noteworthy developments in business and corporate immigration and related topics. It is provided as information only and is not a substitute for legal counsel. If you have questions about the NewsFlash, please contact your Pearl attorney or write firstname.lastname@example.org.
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