Discover key changes to immigration regulations in Finland, the Philippines, Saudi Arabia, and Vietnam.
FINLAND | Notification Requirements for Posted Workers In Force September 1
As of September 1, companies posting employees for assignments in Finland will have new notification requirements. Finland has become the latest European Union member nation to revise its national laws and procedures in response to the EU Posted Worker Enforcement Directive (2014/67/EU) (the “Directive”): the follow-up enforcement directive to the 1996 Posted Worker Directive. While Finland already had various protections for posted workers in place, the current amendment to its national Posted Workers Act (447/2016) now adds the notification requirements provided for in the EU Directive.
Effective September 1, any company posting a foreign worker on an assignment in Finland must submit notification of the posting to the Finish Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSH) prior to the start of the assignment, either by post or online in the field-fillable form on the OSH website here. “Postings” include those instances where a foreign employee is assigned through internal transfers or assignments within a corporate group (an intra-company transfer), temporary agency work, and cross-border contract work, including subcontracted work. Information that must be included in the notification includes:
- Identifying details of the company, contact information, foreign tax identification number, and information on the responsible persons of the posting company in the country where the company is established;
- Identifying details and contact information of the contractor;
- Identifying details and contact information of the builder and the main contractor for companies in the construction sector;
- Estimated number of posted workers;
- Identifying details and contact information of the postings company´s representative in Finland, or information indicating why a representative must not be selected;
- Starting date of the posting of workers and the estimated duration of the posting;
- Place where the work will be carried out; and
- Branch in which the worker will work.
In the event that any of the information in the initial notification changes significantly, a subsequent notification must be submitted. Should the company fail to either submit the initial notification, or any subsequent notification of changes, the OSH may impose a penalty of EUR €1,000 to €10,000.
At present, all of the EU member nations now have similar posted worker rules in place governing working conditions, notification, and document retention requirements for companies either sending or hosting foreign employees. However, local variations remain in how countries have chosen to implement these requirements based on their national law and governmental structures. Therefore, companies posting foreign employees throughout the EU should reach out to their Pro-Link GLOBAL Immigration Specialists for instructions on how to comply with these requirements if ever in doubt regarding a posting in a particular country.
Immigration Changes from Around the World
THE PHILIPPINES | Chinese Nationals Now Eligible for Visa-Upon-Arrival
On August 15, the Philippines Bureau of Immigration (BI) issued a circular (DOJ No. 41) making certain Chinese citizens eligible for visas-upon-arrival (VUA). These VUAs are issued valid for stays of up to 30-days and renewable in-country for up to six months. Chinese nationals eligible for entry into the Philippines using the VUA include:
- Investors and business persons endorsed by the Philippines Board of Investment, Philippines Retirement Authority, Philippines Chamber of Commerce and Industry, foreign chambers of commerce and industry, other Filipino government agencies, and various local business councils;
- Officials of the World Bank, Asian Development Bank, and other international development partners and their spouses and minor children;
- Athletes and delegates to sports competitions, conventions, or exhibitions;
- Delegates, participants, and speakers in international conventions or conferences;
- Tour groups organized by tour operators accredited by the Philippines Department of Tourism; and
- Others at the discretion of the Commissioner of the BI.
Note, however, that Chinese nationals who wish to avail themselves of this entry option will need to apply for these VUAs 10 business days prior to their arrival in the Philippines. The official implementation date of this new policy is yet to be announced; thus, Pro-Link GLOBAL advises all Chinese visitors reach out to their Immigration Specialists well ahead of their next planned trip to the Philippines to receive up-to-date information on entry requirements.
The new policy is in response to the growing diplomatic, cultural, and business ties between the two countries. More than 675,000 Chinese citizens visited the Philippines in 2016, an increase of 37 percent from 2015. China lifted a previous travel warning for its citizens traveling to the Philippines after the October 2016 meeting between Chinese President Xi Jinping and Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte, and early estimates already indicate that Chinese visitors to the Philippines should top one million travelers in 2017.
SAUDI ARABIA | Foreign Engineers Now Required to Have Five-Years of Experience
Saudi Arabia continues the trend of frequent refinements to its employment-based immigration rules to further its goal of the “Saudization” of the local labor market. Last week the Saudi Ministry of Labor and Social Development (MLSD) and the Saudi Council of Engineers (SCE) announced an agreement to require foreign engineers to have at least five years of professional experience in order to be eligible for work permits. Motivation behind the decision was two-fold: to ensure that engineers working in the Kingdom are properly qualified and to increase the hiring of experienced local Saudi engineers. It is estimated that of the more than 200,000 registered engineers currently working in Saudi Arabia, 85 percent are foreign nationals.
The new agreement increases the previous requirement that foreign engineers provide documentary evidence of a minimum of three-years’ experience, pass professional engineering examinations administered by the SCE, and submit to personal interviews as part of the work permit application process. These measures are similar in intent to measures announced earlier this year designed to place limitations on recruiting foreign nationals in other occupations, including dentists and customer service workers in retail establishments.
High unemployment in the local labor market has been a perennial concern in Saudi Arabia for some time; but efforts at increasing Saudi citizen participation in private employment and decreasing the numbers of foreign workers appears to have intensified after the local unemployment rate rose above 12 percent earlier this year. The Saudi government also introduced higher local minimum worker requirements this year for companies in its Nitiqat system and imposed a new “expat levy” on foreign nationals living in the Kingdom. For more details on the Saudi labor market and the ongoing efforts at “Saudization,” see our recent Global Brief of August 18.
VIETNAM | New 90-Day Visa-Free for Chilean Citizens, and Guidance on New Online Work Permits System
Vietnam continues to make improvements to its business and employment immigration processes. This week, Pro-Link GLOBAL reports on improvements to business travel options and updates on the implementation of the new online work permits application system.
90-Day Visa Free Stays for Chilean Nationals – Effective August 11, Chilean citizens may now enter Vietnam visa-free for stays of up to 90-days for all non-employment purposes, including business. Chile has now joined the list of 23 nations whose citizens enjoy visa-free entry into Vietnam, becoming the first nation in the Americas to do so and the only nation to be given visa-free stays of up to 90-days. In 2014, Chile likewise negotiated to become the first and only nation in the Americas to enter into a bilateral free trade agreement with Vietnam.
In related news, the popular 15-day visa waiver program for citizens of France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and the United Kingdom, which was introduced as a pilot program in 2015, was recently extended for another year until June 30, 2018. In addition, over the past year Pro-Link GLOBAL has reported on a new 30-day e-visa program available to business travelers from 40 countries and a new one-year visa now available to United States citizens. For more details, see our Immigration Dispatches of February 27, September 26, and September 6.
Online Work Permits Application System – The transition to the new online electronic work permits application system continues. With an implementation date of October 2, the Ministry of Labor, Invalids, and Social Affairs (MOLISA) has issued a new instructional circular (Circular 23/2017/TT-BLDTBXH) providing the details for online submission and management of applications in the new online process. While the new system remains optional for now in most Labor Department offices, the offices in Hanoi have completed their transition over to the new system, and electronic application submission has been mandatory there since July 1. For more details, see our Immigration Dispatches of June 19 and April 24.
The new Circular 23 provides detailed process instructions – including suggested submission timeframes and estimated processing times – of applications for job position approval, initial and renewals of work permits, and work permit exemptions. Companies not yet using the optional electronic applications process in the offices outside of Hanoi are encouraged to register for accounts and familiarize themselves with the new system now, as it is likely to become mandatory in other cities as more offices transition to the new system.
Caveat Lector | Warning to Reader
This is provided as informational only and does not substitute for actual legal advice based on the specific circumstances of a matter. Readers are reminded that Immigration laws are fluid and can change at a moment's notice without any warning. Please reach out to your local Pro-Link GLOBAL specialist should you require any additional clarification. This alert was prepared by Pro-Link GLOBAL's Counsel and Knowledge Management teams. We worked with our PLG | KGNM Finland Office “Finland Relocation Services Oy Ab Ltd.”, our PLG | KGNM Philippines Office “Asian Tigers Mobility Limited”, our PLG | KGNM Saudi Arabia Office “Proven”, our PLG | KGNM Vietnam Office “Asian Tigers Mobility Limited”, and “Peregrine Mobility Management” to provide you this update.
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